New Trends: Fifteen Contemporary Chinese Artists
On View March 12, 2009 through Sept 26, 2009

Sponsored by United Commercial Bank, the Pacific Heritage Museum presents New Trends: Fifteen Contemporary Chinese Artists. The exhibition is curated by Tsungwoo Han, a photographer and art curator who lives in Beijing and who has first-hand access to some of the latest trends developing in Chinese art. The 15 artists that he has selected for this exhibition are: Geng Xue, Guo Hongwei, Han Lei, Huang Wanlin, Kevin Fung, Kong Weimeng, Li Jikai, Liang Yuanwei, Man Tao, Meng Jin, Song Yonghong, Wang Jinsong, Xie Qi, Yang Dazhi, and Zhang Wei. Most of these artists are from Beijing with the exception of Huang Wanling of Taiwan and Kevin Fung of Hong Kong.

Analogous to the country’s dramatic transformation, Chinese art has changed considerably since the early days of the People’s Republic. Since the late 1970s, many artists began exploring new materials and concepts earning contemporary Chinese art its place in the international scene. From the 1990s onwards, Chinese artists working in an international idiom participated in exhibitions worldwide; their works, collected by American and European admirers, have been exhibited in major contemporary art museums throughout the world.

Artists working today are either familiar with or well versed in western art ideologies. From the politically-charged artworks of the late 1980s, artists have shifted to more introspective views of the individual self and its relationship to the larger society in the new millennium. Most of the artists in this exhibition work with the figurative image and explore themes of identity, time, nostalgia, and psychological states of mind. Emotions are inferred rather than explicitly depicted through the use of cartoons or abstracted human forms. This aspect is most evident in the works of Song Yonghong and Kong Weimeng whose works are characterized by oversimplified human forms set against minimal, dream-like backgrounds.

Themes of the passage of time and memory are explored in the works of Guo Hongwei. He believes that memories are imprinted in the brain like marks, and they can be indelible or fleeting. His paintings are reflections of that believe. The passage of time, along with entropy versus order, is explored by the artist Meng Jin. In his photographs of abandoned rooms, disorder is clearly revealed by the dilapidated architectural settings and discarded furniture. The disorder made manifest by the discarded furniture in dilapidated architectural settings is contrasted against symbols of institutionalized order.

Contemporary Chinese art has been well received worldwide and is collected by private individuals and art institutions, especially in Europe and Asia. Audiences in the U.S., however are relatively unfamiliar with this developing art form. We are encouraged by recent exhibitions at various museums throughout the U.S. that have made Chinese art more accessible. This exhibition at the Pacific Heritage Museum will no doubt add to the repertoire of shows introducing contemporary Chinese artists to the public.

As China strives to maintain its economic growth and political power amid the current global recession, more changes in an already constantly evolving society will continue to take place affecting the lives of its people. When artists respond to these changes and how they reflect them in their work will perhaps open a new chapter in Chinese art.

Green Filed, by Song Younghong, oil painting The little World, by Guo Hongwei Figure No. 115, by Wang Jingsong Falling, by Gen Xue Migratory Bird by Kevin Fung
Green Filed
by Song Younghong

(oil paint)
The Little World
by Guo Hongwei

(oil painting)
Figure No. 115
by Wang Jinsong

(ink on paper)
by Gen Xue

Migratory Bird
by Kevin Fung

(carved wood)

The Pacific Heritage Museum is located at 608 Commercial Street, San Francisco, CA 94111.
Tel: (415) 399-1124. Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is free.