Xun Dao, Seeking the Way: Spiritual Themes in Contemporary China
curated by Patricia Karetzky
May 21st to June 27th 2009
Frederieke Taylor Gallery is pleased to present Xun Dao: Seeking the Way, Spiritual Themes in Contemporary China, curated Patricia Eichenbaum Karetzky.
Feeling increasingly fragile in the struggle for survival in a China driven by commercial interests and intense modernization, some of the Chinese have been turning to religion. Worshippers are now a familiar sight at the refurbished Buddhist and Daoist temples, where newly ordained monks and priests instruct them in the old beliefs and rituals. There are also several important schools of Christianity -- both official and unofficial. Perhaps it is natural that such responses are visible in the contemporary art being produced. This exhibit presents a variety of artists whose art is imbued with spiritual images and ideals. Trained in western technique as well as in traditional Chinese painting, they make works that reveal knowledge of Christian art and iconography. Though some are not necessarily practitioners, they use Christian themes to present a new spiritual and complex message to today's society. In their work they express belief in spiritual values beyond those now commonly practiced in China and invoke these values as an antidote to rampant capitalism, lack of human rights, befouling the environment and military posturing.
Miao Xiaochun contributes a video in which he reproduced Michelangelo's Last Judgment by replacing the figures with nude cyborg images of himself and a large C print which places images of modern society in a Hieronymus Bosch like fantasy.
Cui Xiuwen continues her angel series with a composition that uses her alter ego, a beautiful pre pubescent school girl, placed in scenarios set in the Forbidden City, which draws questions about the way female "angels" are treated in contemporary China.
Pang Yongjie's sculptures portray the human as an animal walking on all fours, often grouped together in a herd or carrying their young. Cast in stainless steel, they reflect their surroundings, reminding us of how deeply affected we are by the world in which we live, and how we project images outward that may not be true to our inner nature.
Li Qiang has made a multi media work that looks at rural expression of Christian faith.
Long-Bin Chen, famous for his unique technique of using discarded books and magazines to make large scale sculptures has in recent years begun a series of monumental works that replicate the Buddhas of China lost in the upheaval of the centuries.
Daozi, the famous critic has turned to traditional Chinese ink painting to express the ideal of saintism in response to contemporary art and culture.
Cao Yuanming has recorded the ritual objects of rural practitioners of Christianity as the subject of both aesthetic and religious contemplation.
Liu Yong and his wife Liu Fenghua have embarked on the ambitious project of recreating Qin Shihuangdi's soldiers and decorating them with a variety of themes to reflect the various influences on Chinese culture of the last fifty years.
Gao Yuan has made a series of photos imitating the roundel paintings of the Madonna and Child by using itinerant workers' wives and their young babies.
The Gao Brothers, Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang, have reproduced a performance with itinerant workers, prostitutes, friends, and passersby that took place in one of the unfinished buildings of Beijing to suggest the frenetic life in the city.
Zhao Suikang has taken various religious texts and written them over one another and encased them in bees wax to express the homogeneity of the religious experience.