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‘Church in Assisi, 2021’ – Yang Qi

A recent conversation with Yang Qi about his new installation has touched me profoundly.
The installation titled ‘Church in Assisi, 2021’ is full of artistic energy and mysticism. The material is stone-heavy “stones” cast from expensive, pure paper pulp. It Intentionally expresses a historical and chronological sensation. It wins with a casual, simple form of beauty.Sentimental, melancholic, Christian and pure! Somehow poetic in an ancient architecture from Zen.

The installation has a long history behind its creation. Yang Qi has lectured at the summer art school at Koster Steinfeld for the last 23 years. One day after his teaching, he found this 11-century monastery. It seems to appear from nowhere with towers, temples and architectural styles from Medieval to Renaissance. Since then, the place has been engraved in his soul; its spirit somehow coincides with his artistic mind.

Three years ago, Yang Qi read a book about Medieval Art in Europe and discovered the story of San Francesco d’Assisi. He was deeply touched by the Saint’s kindness, determination and self-realisation. Immediately after completing the book Yang Qi made a painting.

A few months ago, they were lockdown at home in Dusseldorf; his wife Birgit brought some DVD from the library to watch; it happened one film was about San Francesco from Assisi. He told her ‘ This isn’t a simple coincidence; it is the message from God; he is telling me to be compassionate and be a good being.’ So ‘Church in Assisi’ installation was born.
In the installation, each ‘brick’ has the colour of the original pulp. It is the raw material of papermaking from a large German paper mill. It has a gigantic machine that presses paper pulp into big “stones”. Yang Qi has to break each ‘stone’ into unequal pieces, but it’s still so heavy to move into a perfect position. Labouring and long hours into consideration is the press of his work.

              I felt Iprivileged to share the artist’s spiritual journey of their creation.’Church in Assisi’ is the temple of his art. He offers his devotion, his compassion, enduring on his artistic journey. He shared his answer, ‘What is an artist?’ with the world.


Stress and Iterate Creativity

Tang Chenghua’s creation during the period of epidemic prevention and control 

Words by Wang Boxun Postdoctoral Fellow, Qinghua University Associate Professor 

The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 interrupted our daily routine.

In the highly developed modern era, the new coronavirus blindsided us. We reluctantly and resolutely enter a state of stress that we’ve never experienced. Fortunately, we are now ushering in the dawn of the post-epidemic period. 

As an integral part of the human labour system, artistic practice faithfully reflects social life. Nearly 150 small oil pastels, completed by Tang Chenghua during the year, reflect upon the reality of life.

Tang Chenghua was working in his studio for ‘The Colours of Life’ series in Spring 2021.

‘The Colours of Life’ series created by pastel and acrylic on paper, all the work are size 42cm x42cm, 2021.

The solicitude of life is the ultimate internal cause for the occurrence of these works. Although being alone is the daily life of an artist, being alone under the epidemic differs from the past. The time that was once flowery has become dim and messy under the impact of the epidemic. For some time, the virus threatened human freedom with invisible tentacles. Essential human needs such as love, affection, trust, and helping others, have become more precious. The question of what is an artist as the origin of artistic practice has naturally emerged.

Tang Chenghua was doing life drawing in the suburb of Beijing in Spring 2021.

Tang Chenghua lives in his studio in the suburbs of Beijing. He stacks many cardboard and oil pastels there. The artist feels inexplicable oppression, which comes from a helpless wait and sees on the impermanence of life. Of course, the life carrier described by the artist is not only the image of the characters but also the memory of the scenery he once saw. 

Regarding this creative experience, he wrote in his diary: ‘To deal with emergencies and the resulting mental pressure, the artist can only create.’ Art creation embodies not only the individual. We should consider the value concept to return to the essence of nature and the ultimate meaning of life. It is this pursuit of the ultimate meaning of life that supports the artist’s continual creativity. Therefore, the small series of works we have seen have surpassed the definition of works in the general sense and should be regarded as the artist’s image handwriting for questioning the life and soul under the passion of society. The purification of formal language is another breakthrough in this series of works.

Throughout the decades of Tang Chenghua’s artistic career, cross-border integration based on synaesthetic expression has become normalised. However, pursuing a sense of painting is the central focus that he has never drifted away from. Therefore, Tang Chenghua pays more attention to the consideration of formal language than other painters. The depth of its scrutiny on the language of images is already close to the exacting requirements of scientific calculations. We can find sufficient evidence in the traces of his paintings.

In his studio.

The cardboard used to complete this batch of works has a thick texture and a rubber sole, which has the flexibility of a canvas. This provides a technical guarantee for the artist’s repeated adjustments during the drawing process. This batch of paper works by Tang Chenghua partly continues the creative principle of ‘C Minor Long Yanqu’ ten years ago. The difference is that, based on the specific experience during the epidemic period, compared with the soft and smooth of “C Minor Proliferation”, these works are closer to the sadness and vigorous of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5 in C Minor”.

I can say that through these works completed during the outbreak of the epidemic. Tang Chenghua intelligently achieves an infinite approach to the spiritual core of traditional Chinese culture by using contemporary media. 

His studio is by the Chaobai River in the suburbs of Beijing and the winter in the north is cold and quiet. Because of the size of the space, it can’t help but feel cold even if fully heated. Perhaps the moderate cold is more conducive to his penance. I once visited the studio whilst the epidemic receded and saw him working under a thick cotton coat. The scene is like a monk wrapped in an old garment practising his daily prayer, but also like a spring silkworm spinning, the sight is moving. The artist devotes himself to the piety that is close to religious behaviour in his works, which is accurately and completely restored in the interpretation process between the work and the reader. 

The post-epidemic era is approaching, and the social body is completing its mechanism by iterate attacking passively. Therefore, we have every reason to look forward to a bright future. This is the spiritual inspiration gained whilst interpreting Tang Chenghua’s recent works!

Click the picture to see the video of Tang's creation of this series.

 Click the picture to see the video of Tang’s creation of this series.


My Visual Diary

In January of 2020, I just finished an exhibition in Beijing, as the Spring Festival approached, I went back to my parents home, after a few days, Covid-19 began to spread. My parent and I did not panic a lot, every day we paid attention to the news, did our best to wear masks, reduced the purchase of daily needs, and carried on our everyday life in the lockdown step by step. Since then, I spent four months in the lockdown with my parents and two cats. It is the most extended period since I left home at 16. We sit around a different table every day, moving from desk to dining-table, making me feel like every day is a cycle of Deja Vu. 

The biggest problem for me was that I couldn’t get into the print studio for the first few months; this sudden change disrupted my printing plans. This situation also has dramatically changed how I paint; I began to use the iPad to record these unusual days. I try to use a way to document my daily emotions by using drawing for my diary.

Each day, I will add one arm to record my day’s feelings (the arms and hands’ position represent the day’s mood). I wonder what diary of emotions I will have on the day when Covid-19 ends.

In my daily repeated record of the state simultaneously, my city also ushered in lifting the lockdown around May 2020. Due to everyone’s efforts, my city is not troubled by Covid-19, but such actions also need our persistence. It’s been a year since the start of the 2020’s epidemic and will usher in the Spring Festival of 2021. I write this paragraph, and this diary work is still going on. I believe that all these things happened during this period will potentially influence my creation.

Words by Kecheng Zhu on 01/02/2021

Dialogue between abstract, figurative and contemporary

Yang Qi’s, who has lived in Dusseldorf for 30 years, originated from Wuhu, China. Recently he has shortlisted for ‘Wolfgang Hahn Preis’ Wolfgang International Contemporary Art Award, Cologne Ludwig Museum, 2021. There are 43 artists nominated for this award, recommended by important institutions of contemporary art in Europe and the US, have been pioneers of art that have been active on the international’s stage for many years. For example Thomas Bayle, Wolfgang Laib, Christian Boltanski, Tracey Emin, William Kentridge, Brigitte Kowanz, Zoe Leonard etc.

Here are some photos from his recent solo exhibition ‘ Here is There’ at Chun Art Museum in Shanghai, 2021. 

Today we would like to share a collection of his large paintings, with the article ‘Dialogue between abstract, figurative and contemporary’ by Beate Reifenscheid, Prof. Dr Director of Ludwig Museum Koblenz.

                                         Alone is not lonely 2020, Acrylic-on-canvas, 100cmx80cm

Yang Qi is renowned as an abstract painter in Germany. By the end of the 1990s, the viewers had become familiar with his free brushwork and sharpness, the impasto and rich texture, and retained Chinese culture with the blackest Chinese ink in his painting.

                                         Get together, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm

From many perspectives, Yang Qi has seriously challenged Chinese brush painting that has dominated Chinese art from ancient times to the present. He uses his brush unrestrainedly, powerfully, exploring extremely concise compositions, fascinated the simplest of forms. If his new language in his painting, can clearly illustrate Chinese spirit and reflect the colour changes in those brush works; then many of his sculpting structures are undoubtedly nurtured. This language works well for his particularly eye-catching large-scale abstract paintings in mixture materials especially. The texture and volume of asphalt surface, vividly express the difference between it and Chinese ink painting. The artistic characteristic is that he can use a mixture of ink and water to paint on thin rice paper and paint with asphalt instead of ink. The texture, especially the rhythm his brush makes in his painting, reminds us of the mixed material painters, the famous German abstract artists Homer and Schumacher. The works reflect their endeavour, the paintings achieved a vivid and lively nature, and embody the perfect abstraction’s figurative expression.

                                        One night story, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm

                                                      Magic boy, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm

Homer created his fascinating ‘Aitna – Circular’ Works in the 90s. He incorporated volcanic stones into the sculpture. On the other hand, Schumacher used big fast asphalt fragments and sand to mix abstract and real natural materials. They clearly stated that the creative power of nature and its auxiliary materials appearing in the paintings, while also reflecting the abstract painting language of nature itself. It is sufficient to prove that abstract forms are equivalent to the most realistic and concrete. The witness of existence is real. The painting language related to abstract painting is inseparable from its current object conditions; otherwise, it will be greatly distorted in recognition. Because abstract painting emphasises getting rid of the set concrete form. This also applies to a natural and realistic mindset. 1992 Nian Emil – Schumacher wrote his own profound feeling: ‘In fact, painting is always a process of changing form. I have a dialectical view. Break and stand. In this sense, I want to let them explain some paintings. Therefore, I often try to break the picture.’

                                                        The artist as Hermit 2004-19 oil and acryl on canvas 160 cm x 120 cm

                                                         The artist as Hermit 2004-19 oil and acryl on canvas 160 cm x 120 cm

In recent years, Yang Qi’s works have become more intriguing. He has constantly challenged two painting concepts. This is actually in line with the law of contradiction and harmony. For example, the Chinese ink painting developed from Chinese calligraphy is already very abstract. It was not only influenced by Zen Buddhism but also inspired European artists after World War II. Also, in Chinese ink painting and “The “non-figurative” painting produced a direct response. In his second vision, Yang Qi broadened China and Europe’s artistic concepts and questioned abstraction and figurative. Therefore, his easel painting combined the use of comprehensive materials. Although he drew lessons from Homer and Schumacher, he devoted himself to image painting and was close to the real-life world. Emil Schumacher realised that his paintings could not remain abstract in the long run. So he turned to the image. He was using extremely refined lines to determine the picture. He once said in 1997, “Colour has created a world of mine, but she needs image support. I paint, I combine, and I integrate it all into one. ”

                                                        The artist as Hermit 2004-19 oil and acryl on canvas 160 cm x 120 cm


                                                  The artist as Hermit 2004-19 oil and acryl on canvas 160 cm x 120 cm

For more than 20 years, Yang Qi has always used various possible expression techniques to inject figures into his paintings. These are clearly reflected in his photographic works, installation art, video works, ceramics, and ink paintings, especially in his easel paintings. Interestingly, these works of his characters still have a more or less abstract feeling to the audience. The audience can tell at a glance that, like the past works, they are a bridge between two cultures. Yang Qi has maintained the particularity of his own cultural model for a long time, and at the same time incorporates elements of Western culture into his art. Obviously, without Yang Qi’s profound foundation in Chinese tradition, his large-scale ink paintings would not have reached such a high level in the past five years. He has mastered the picture’s spatial layout, the exciting plot, including a unique combing of the overall picture. He is unassuming and lives quietly in a profound connection that is more meaningful than Chinese culture. Don’t deliberately insist on what you must win. His expansive free images directly hit the audience, and even the audience often involuntarily enters the plot in his paintings. The plot in his painting comes directly from the centre of his life. The narration of his pictures transcends national boundaries and maintains the cultural origins of various nationalities. Each story has its own history. Some are even personal experiences, but he does not make special statements.

                                                             A man with lotus, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 210cmx160cm


Together, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm

Yang Qi is good at occupying the whole canvas with a single figure. Eliminate trivial descriptions. From this, it reminds me of the narrative of the plot in a surrealist painting. The compositions of his paintings are specific plots and images that are related to the context. That allows the audience to use their imagination freely.

                                   Angelika, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 120cmx100cm

Yang Qi’s easel paintings developed the tradition of the layout. What he is concerned about is how to express the theme. Each painting focuses on the figures and then makes an individual’s artistic description according to their behaviours. Yang Qi uses extremely simple or agitated lines to outline objects. Unlike his ink painting, the figures on the canvas are usually in a specific theme. It expresses a fixed, unchangeable, independent character painting without extra space. Yang Qi’s colour method is also consistent with this form of expression. Thinking back to how Yang Qi succeeded in painting with abstract materials and integrated materials, people will naturally understand how his experience of using materials has given new life to these new works. He used the abstract techniques developed since his 90s to express the realistic figures in his new works uniquely. The narrative festival updated the artistic expression of ancient Chinese painting.

Theater, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm.

                                 Monika, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 120cmx100cm

                                                  Venus and her friends, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 210cmx160cm

Yang Qi’s painting art has three decisive themes: figure painting (portraits, and other styles), landscape (mountain, water), and animals (especially birds). For Yang Qi, these all belong to his special category of figure painting and object painting. He always observes and watches them in his life. This will help the audience understand the art and character composition of Yang Qi’s paintings. At least the audience can find themselves to explain Yang Qi’s paintings. Simultaneously, he expanded the spatial distance through close-ups of the pictures’ Colour and texture, highlighting the difference between the real world and the other art world. The characters in Yang Qi’s paintings live vividly in his traditional Chinese painting environment.

                                                Illusion 2018 Acrylic on canvas 210cmx160cm

Where you are from, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm.

                                                          A friend Indeed, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 210cmx160cm.

                                       We love art, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 100cmx80cm.

Yang Qi’s CV

For any enquiries, please email: info@artchinauk.com

‘Ground Floor’ A Biennial Exhibition of New Art From Chicago at Hyde Park Art Centre

Date: 10/12 2020 – 28/02 2021

We are delighted to share this exciting news, Qianwen Yu, features in the above exhibition with 19 other young talented artists. 

Artist: Qianwen Yu

Ground Floor’, an ongoing Biennial exhibition since 2010, founded by the Andy Warhol Visual Arts Foundation, Illinois Arts Council and National Art Foundation Grant, brings together work by Chicago’s most promising emerging talent. The exhibition offers a single destination to discover artists, who have recently graduated (in 2019 and 2020) from one of Chicago’s five outstanding MFA programs and whose work demands to be seen and supported. 

Ground Floor presents art made in the past couple of years and hopes to investigate and articulate conceptual and stylistic trends coming out of Chicago art schools right now. Many of the artists in this year’s exhibition came to Chicago from other cities and countries, attracted by the city’s reputation as a hotbed of experimentation in art and activism. Ground Floor—so named because it provides a crucial platform for young artists and expands the entire lower level of the Art Centre, gives exhibiting artists a major public venue in which to display their works at a critical juncture in their careers, helping to build, support and ensure a strong and vibrant community of artists in Chicago.

Image from ‘Ground Floor 2016’

This year, the exhibition will present for the first time in person the thesis work of ten 2020 graduates, whose thesis exhibitions were largely presented online because of the ongoing pandemic.The artists in the exhibition were selected by the Art Centre’s Exhibitions Committee from a competitive pool of applicants who were nominated by respected Chicago-based artists, curators, and administrators. 

The Rhythm Behind the City, 2019, Media: woven fabric, woven video, installation, by Qianwem Yu

‘In Rhythm Behind the City’ (2019) Qianwen Yu takes experiments from 20th century Modernism in animation, weaving, and architecture and reimagines them in the contemporary moving-image arena. Inspired by “Metabolism”, a Japanese Architectural Movement, throughout 2019 Qianwen captured the “skin” of Chicago with photographs of the city’s exterior. These images were woven into the fabric and reanimated with techniques inspired by 20th-century Direct Animation works. Through the mutual decomposition and reconstruction of different mediums, and the journey back and forth between hand and digital, the source material is transformed and returned to the city’s environment. The transition between these mediums adds motion and reveals a vibrant and vital rhythm behind the city.

Check the link for this coming exhibition: https://www.hydeparkart.org/exhibition-archive/ground-floor-2020/

Contact us if you have any enquiries.

All images copyright @Qianwen Yu

Cao Ou: The entropy disappear at absolute zero

On 17th September 2020, the “Nanshan 138: Zhejiang youth promotion project of contemporary art (2020)” hosted it’s third solo exhibition: “Cao Ou: The entropy disappear at absolute zero” in the Zhejiang art museum. Cao ou attended the museum and provided a live review of the exhibition, which opened a new model of online and offline interaction, which received lots of viewers with very positive feedback. The exhibition continues until 18th October 2020.

The origin of the “Coexistence” series comes from Cao Ou’s two years of work experience within natural museums. At that time, he visited many natural museums and came into contact with animal, plant fossils and bones, and viewed many animal and plant specimens and drawings. “Coexistence” is literally understood as living together in nature, but the inspiration for Cao Ou is more about the cycle of life and death, as well as the way of getting along with each species. It is a metaphor for there are many law of life cycle in nature. Human beings live in nature. So we are also participants of the law. The “Coexistence” series depicts animals and insects. Cao Ou arranges these animals like chess pieces and expresses his thoughts on the laws of nature from the perspective of the viewer.

Things that seem to be out of order in nature are carried out in an orderly manner and follow the law of life cycle. The primary law of nature is from disorder to order and then back to disorder. For example, the solar system has evolved from disorderly chaos to orderly, and will fall into disorder in the future; life will evolve from chaotic inorganic matter to a colourful life form, and it will also die out and turn into dust in the future.

In this print, Cao Ou created a wasteland where a person coexists with animals and plants. They seem to be unrelated, but they all exist disorderly on the wasteland. The subconscious self-protection becomes their fortress, forming a disorderly absurd image. 

“Physics Diary Series” is Cao Ou’s first attempt to intervene in the “archaeological” performance of anthropology from an artistic perspective. A random contingency is used to contrast the scientific rigour of professional archaeologists, and the absurd words formed by these contingencies can dispel the public’s perception of familiar attitudes in museums.

‘Watching’ – Tang Chenghua’s Solo Exhibition Now

It is good news that Tang Chenghua is going to open his solo show, titled ‘Watching’ on 27th Sept. 2020 at Qiandu Changjiang Art Museum in Taiyuan, China. The exhibition will be open to the public until 5th Jan. 2021. 

As we know how difficult it is for artists and art exhibitions this year. Tang said: “Due to the epidemic, my many schedules in this year, such as sketching, exhibitions and other activities have been forced to cancel. Recently, I haven’t done much painting but reading, exercising and resting. During quarantine, I did in-depth thinking of art and life, especially the revaluation of life.”

‘Blossoming Apricot Tree II’, Acrylic on Canvas, 105cm x 690cm, 2020

The exhibition title “Watching” is Tang’s reflection on the present situation in our world. When humans are facing the unknown virus which is causing a worldwide disaster. The kind nature of “watching and helping each other” has naturally become common sense for all humans, and the fundamental support for “Watching” must be the expectation and yearning for a happy and beautiful future. 

‘Blossoming Apricot Tree III’, Acrylic on Canvas, 200cm x 750cm, 2020

The new series painting ‘Blossoming Apricot Tree’, which Tang painted recently, is also the focus piece for this exhibition.  “When we see apricot flowers in early spring, we should not forget the Bible’s revelation that the apricot tree, as a tree of vigilance and watchfulness, heralds the coming of spring and the revival of all things. God is in charge of the universe, and his promises are unchangeable and never delayed” Tang said this is where he takes inspiration from for the new paintings.

‘Blossoming Apricot Tree IV’, Acrylic on Canvas, 320cm x 240cm, 2020

‘Every collision will make you unforgettable, will let your endeavour rise again at the moment when your encouragement is about to disappear. Each time, the failures and setbacks experienced in this situation create a context of real experience that cannot be obtained by painting.’ Tang added. 

‘Blossoming Apricot Tree V’, Acrylic on Canvas, 320cm x 240cm, 2020

His painting depicts the mythical relationship between self-awareness, physical space, and daily experience. He employs the language of aesthetics for an order to sway the brush on his canvas, between space and objects, to seek the colour interaction and balance between human and reality, nature and the state of the moment. 

‘Blossoming Apricot Tree VI’, Acrylic on Canvas, 320cm x 240cm, 2020

It is not difficult to see that the series of new works exhibited in the show and the source of inspiration cannot be separated from the artist’s experience during the quarantine period.  Through this philosophical formal language, it shows that Tang is deeply inquiring about perception, imagination, and the fundamental power of beauty.

If you are interested in Tang’s painting or for commission’s by Tang, please email aimin@artchinauk.com. 





‘The Collection of Puppet People’ – Woodcuts series by Guo Shuang

‘The collection of Puppet People’, is a collection of 57 black and white woodcuts by the young female artist Guo Shuang. These prints and the stories behind them touched me deeply. Her bold cutting lines vividly portraits each character and the words in the background that tell their stories adds, along with the sheer amount of time that has gone into creating them, weight to this provocative series of prints.

Here are Guo Shuang’s own words about ‘The collection of Puppet People’:

There is a group of unusual people who are very lovely. They all got this disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. The disease has caused some of them to be blind, and some to be paralysed, and being disabled they have had to stay in their houses, sometimes for years. Yet, they have managed to open a window and to connect, with the outside world.

The little things in our daily life that we take for granted can often be a major endeavour for them. I can still remember all the start points of my own uncle who able to do first time in his life, such as to be able to sit up eating, to walk without walking sticks, to get on a train, go to the cinema, climb the mountain…

I started this series in August 2018, and I did not finish it until 2020. Each person suffering from the disease has a moving story to tell.

Take Tao Youhua from Guangxi, for example, his legs and feet are completely stiff, his heels are aligned inward, and his left foot point to the left and the right foot point to the right. They are in a straight line, like fishtails. He walked with crutches to prop up his legs. From a distance, his body looked like a piece of clothing hung on a hanger and floating above the ground. He said that if he ever stars in a horror movie, he doesn’t need any special effects.

Another example is 40-year-old Li Hua, whose arms can be lowered, but not raised. He can’t hold chopsticks for eating properly and can’t move them to his mouth. So, he instead uses “T” crutches with a fork. Tie a spoon at one end, hold the lower end of the crutch in your hand, turn it, one spoon for rice and one fork for other food. Three meals a day, every day is the same.

Zhang Jian from ShanXi said: “We have always been told to read as much as you can, travel as far as you can go. I cannot walk in my lifetime, so I built a small library called ‘Loving to Read’ for the elders in my village”.

Liu Qinggang from Inner Mongolia told me that: “Initially, I was very uncomfortable with this way of walking. I hung my body on the stick and dangled. Later, I figured out that there is no rule on how to walk. I just imagined that I was flying on the stick. Got my head around the thought, and the road unblocked…”

Yu Erwei is blind and his whole body is suffering from Ankylosing. He uses a special mobile phone to do morning calls to the morning runners in order to encourage them kept going without failing for the last eight years. He does his exercise on his bed afterwards every day.  If you woke up by this morning call, how would you feel? Everyone called him the ‘Messenger of Dawn’. 

There are so many people and stories, and each one touches me very much, each of them has such a vivid soul. They all defeated everyday problems themselves, went out of the door to open the window to their souls and helped others as much as they could. I admire them very much.

‘Sleepless’ – Ink Painting by Yang Qi

Conversation with Yang Qi is always inspiring and fills you with joyful laughter. He got this great sense of humour and endless passion, qualities that also make their way into his art which poignantly depicts the spirit of the contemporary experience. His recent large painting titled “Sleepless” is a great example of this.

Yang Qi, lives in Dusseldorf. He started painting “Sleepless” at the beginning of the German lockdown and for 2 months he painted through the whole of every night, thus creating a 70m x 50cm Neo-expressionist painting that is dominated by only two colours: Black and White.

This is an absurd and surrealistic painting process, and it reveals Yang’s inner psychological activities during those nights. By only applying black and white colours he expresses the intensity and originality of his emotions, and coincidentally the contrasts that this creates also fit in well with Yang’s background, as an Eastern artist lives in the Western world for the last thirty years.

The painting is a labour of love, absurd, suspicious, unknowing, inspiring and dream-like, bringing us into a surreal world. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen so many people and countries that are in a state of isolation, even panic, and many people rightly feel nervous. In this kind of collective depression, as an artist, Yang Qi transcends the state of reality by engaging in a very interesting activity, which is a psychological activity of the artist himself, an activity which is confined to his own world, but also an activity that is art. By his nightly creations he has jumped out of our collective reality and when studying the painting you have to look at the world and what is happening through his mind, which he himself has fully immersed himself in. His mind is like the state of a game, so are his characters, his surrounding, his depictions, his performance, and they are all different from those of a realist. In his painting Yang Qi has expressed himself absolutely and unreservedly, his own unconscious activities, and through his subjective force, it can resist the current external interferences and disturbances.


Read about more about Yang Qi.

Then & Now: 2020 CAFA Online Graduation Season

“Then & Now: 2020 CAFA Online Graduation Season” was officially launched on https://art2020.cafa.edu.cn at 5:20 pm on May 20, the postgraduate thesis presentations were unveiled. On June 15, the Graduation Exhibition of Undergraduates will be unveiled.

The “2020 CAFA Online Graduation Season” will present over 10,000 graduation works by 31 Ph.D candidates, 376 postgraduate students and 846 undergraduate students. The exhibition will be presented in 9 virtual galleries with a total area of 54000 square meters in the virtual art museum of CAFA. Over 20,000-30,000 works will be fully displayed in the form of web pages through the “hyperlink” of each student. More importantly, this is a “2020 Graduation Art Museum of CAFA” which will be fixed on the internet and will never go offline.


—A Speech for 2020 CAFA Online Graduation Season, By Fan Di’an, President of CAFA on 20 May, 2020

The spring and summer of 2020 are destined to become a particular memory for all. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has aroused sadness in mourning the loss of lives and brave songs that fight to prevent and control the virus, all of which reverberate throughout earth. Confronted with such a sudden catastrophe, it seems hard for art to narrate the complicated situation but artists ultimately have affection and faith. The Central Academy of Fine Art (abbr. CAFA) has comprehensively conducted online teaching. With a joint effort from all the teachers and students, we overcome the difficulties caused by the pandemic through sincere artistic feelings and firm artistic obligations. We hold fast to the teaching positions, among which the most precious are the perseverance and endeavor of all graduating students and their supervisors. With excellent thesis presentations and achievements, they jointly won a collective glory for CAFA and a self-fulfilling journey for themselves. All of the thesis presentations therefore have their own unique connotations and testify to the national fight against the pandemic in artistic ways.

Ever since the establishment of “CAFA Graduation Season” in 2015, CAFA has established a grand talent festival of art by turning the campus into a great art museum. A broad platform is established for the display of works from diversified disciplines and schools of CAFA, and it further becomes a bridge to disseminate the achievements in talent training and promotes the employment and entrepreneurship of graduating students. Although 2020 CAFA Graduation Season cannot be implemented on-site at the CAFA Art Museum and other venues, CAFA has decided to use the online exhibition to present the talent shows of graduating students and repay the concerns of society. The complete preparation process was full of expectation and creativity.

Despite the rapid changes that occurred to internet technologies, there are no established rules for online art exhibitions and visual art galleries. In order to provide a comfortable display and appreciative experience as perfectly as possible, the curatorial team of CAFA and many teachers from various departments and schools have devoted great effort to this, NetDragon Websoft undertook the overall development of this project, nearly 100 employees have been working day and night and their endeavors make the grand exhibitions of the online graduation season become unique and fascinating. The works of graduating students presented in the spacious galleries of CAFA Art Museum, can be appreciated in an immersive way and visitors can change the scenery along their path while observing the momentum and subtleties. Visitors can also open up layers of links to enter the microcosmos of thought as created by each artist. The three-dimensional enrichment and expansion of CAFA Online Graduation Season has exceeded the existing level and added the latest experience to the social communication of contemporary art.

The pandemic has separated us from each other, but it cannot block our communication. The graduation season is the blossom season of the academy. In this year, it particularly sends out a message for firmness of faith and the strength of life. From then to now, from spring to summer, time and space, that and this, all make us feel warm and full of hope:

Then, it was a wonderful time to study in the campus,

Now, it is an exciting moment to enter society.

Then, having the dream of the ivory tower,

Now, walking into the earthly reality.

Then, filled with students’ enthusiasm, they cast all restraints aside,

Now, they are flourishing and striking trends and fads.

Then, youth was brilliant by grinding,

Now, life is sublimated by struggles.

Then, they knew the world through art,

Now, they reflect the world by art.

Then, they saw creations from beauty,

Now, they produce beauty from creations.

Then, the students looked forward to the glory of their alma mater,

Now, CAFA feels delighted with their achievements.

There are two main ways of viewing this online exhibition, namely with a mobile phone or computer. By clicking the link or scanning the QR code, you can enter the virtual venue. You can freely roam, jump, appreciate details, browse videos, play with models by clicking with the mouse or touching the screen of your cell phone. Various models and systems of computers or cell phones might cause different compatibility situations. Therefore, if you have difficulty in visiting it, you can try another device or refresh it.

After entering the virtual museum, visitors can choose any mode from “3D Virtual Graduation Exhibition” or “Online Graduation Exhibition”: if you choose the first one, you can virtually walk and visit the CAFA Art Museum by choosing the online galleries from 1 to 4 to gradually find presentations from various departments and schools; the “Online Graduation Exhibition” is more like an archive, through which you can intuitively understand the situation of thesis presentations from various departments and schools from graphic information.

More Ways to Play👇

🔍Search: Both viewing methods offer a chance to search and browse the work and thesis information by entering the name and student ID through the “search” function on the upper right corner.

➡️Share: Each page supports the function of “share” by clicking the graphic button of “arrow” to share the work with others.

👍Like: Click the red heart ♥️ at the bottom of the page, you can like the work and show your support.

We hope you enjoy this wonderful unique show!

Image Source: 3D Virtual Graduation Exhibition Hall Screenshot

@copyright by CAFA ART

Translated and Edited by Sue and Emily

The Boundary of Desire

The primary object in Chen Long’s new print titled “The Boundary of Desire” is “Bo”, a mythological beast featured in the ancient Chinese book of “The Classic of Mountains and Seas”. It is horse-like with a white body, black tail, a horn, sharp teeth, four-legged and has feet with claws. It sounds like a drum and feeds on wolves, tigers, and leopards. In some versions it is also appears as an imperial soldier.

 Chen Long in his studio, Beijing.

Legend tells us that “Bo” was born out of chaos, originally to pull the vehicle for the Western Queen Goddess. Later on, as a spiritual creature, it was sent to the Kunlun Mountains to rescue humans in suffering.

If you meet it during the day, it is a fairy beast, which can take you on a ride and fly with you over the mountains and fields. If you see it in the night, it becomes an evil beast, and wherever it goes people and animals will disappear. It is said that “Bo” can predict the future and if you can master it you will be able to dominate the world.

As you can see, unlike the beast in “The Classic of Mountains and Seas” Chen Long’s “Bo” is not four-legged. Rather, through his artistic process, “Bo” becomes a 14-legged beast. Let us call it the “Bo Horse”! It visually conveys the daily hustle and bustle of people and life in today’s material world, where we have so many desires to keep us constantly busy. Just like the person riding the “Bo Horse”, who wishes it has as many legs as possible to help him fulfil all of his desires, good and evil, and who rides like the wind, and sometimes without aim or end, we often just follow the existing path, riding day and night, crazily and aimlessly.

In this print, Cheng Long has strived to achieve the ultimate visual effect by integrating various techniques such as woodcut, side cut intaglio, acrylic embossing, mineral colour, biotite hand-printing, and wood engraving. The rider in this artwork and the “Bo Horse” both have a strong metallic texture, and the background is grainy with obvious metal particles. Looking at it, it almost seems as if you through the surface can hear the clicking sound of the sharp claws of the running horse scratching the ground.

The dual character of good and evil, and night and day, associated with the “Bo Horse” portrayed by Cheng Long metaphorizes the two sides of human desire. The rider communicates with the “Bo Horse” through its sharp horn, from time to time he urges the running horse to go faster and faster. The “Bo Horse” is the rider on the back of himself appearing in another space, and as long as human desires exist, the “Bo Horse” will keep on running and running forever. The greater the desire becomes, the faster it needs to run. The rider’s strive to control the “Bo Horse” metaphorizes that everyone in today’s society has a “master” in his heart that desire to control their destiny, but that people often lose themselves in a rush, and can no longer tell whether they are riding the “Bo Horse” or if they are being ridden by the “Bo Horse”. In the end, who is in control?  Perhaps one day in this constant confusion and entanglement, the “Bo Horse” will gradually slow down, whether it is because the desire grows smaller or because it just gets too tired of running and rushing, and strive to integrate with nature and return to the embrace of the earth. How big is the human desire? Is there a boundary that delimits it? Good and evil, beauty and beast…often in one thought, maybe everyone will give different answers …

Chen Long

Trudge Through the New Year – My Diary by Cao Ou, Part III

This book, Rong Rong East Village, is about a group of performance artists in the East Village of Beijing in the 1990s, it records the life of their group and the reasons behind their art. It is a fascinating read, although it is about performance art, but the writing is very accessible.

Seeing pictures of these performance artworks and reading this book which records them made me yearn for those days, when artists instead of having money had a very strong aim, their goal being an artist, as well as an artist different from all other artists 

Thinking about the book now that I have finished it, I remember Zhang Huan who said, “I just came to Beijing, if I am not ruthless, how can others beware of my existence”. This group of artists: Zhang Huan, Ma Liuming, Zhu Ming, Duan Yingmei, Zuo Xiaozu, they were indeed ruthless in the ’70s. They boldly stated: anyone who continue painting is stupid, composing must not have a melody. Of course, these artists would later on become famous. But as I read the book I also found it a bit disappointing that the artists who do performance art generally don’t seem to pay much attention to the audience’s thoughts and feelings, almost exclusively focusing on their own, no matter what. For example, in 1991 there was a group exhibition with 16 artists in the National Art Museum, and each participating artist paid more than 10,000 RMB to the Museum, which was a lot of money back then. Just before the opening, Zhang Huan was wearing pants only and poured a bucket of blood coloured liquid on himself and ran into the museum, this performance titled “Angel’s tears”, resulted in the closure of the museum and the cancellation of the scheduled exhibition. As a consequence, all participating artists lost their money.

Zhang Huan became famous,the media love this kind of performance. Personally, I think that if an artwork is only aimed at grabbing the headlines, then that makes the artist selfish. But, fortunately, there were also a lot of performance artworks by this group of artists that became classic works in this field based on their own artistic merits rather than infamy. For example, the collective work “A meter higher for a nameless mountain”, Zhang Huan’s “12 square meters”, “65 kilograms”, “Raising the water level for a fish pond”, and Ma Liu Ming’s “Fin-Ma Liu Ming” and so on. At the time, these works struck the public’s vision like a sharp blade. Radical ideas must be “ruthless” if they are to break the model of secular cognition.

@ Zhanghua

Link to Part 1

Trudge through the New Year – My Diary by Cao Ou, Part II

The news continually reports COVID-19 daily on the TV and I think about it every day too. The focus is on numbers, the number of deaths. After a while my mind became numb and I didn’t feel nervous anymore. I played games for a few days, my eyes became sore, so I decided to find some books to read.

After reflecting on my works, I decided that I needed to systematically read some books on Chinese contemporary art, performance art, installation art and so on. I think if I want to make a breakthrough in my work, then I need to think outside of my box. The first book I read was Wu Hong’s “The Best Use of Everything, No Waste”.

The book is about Song Tong’s installation titled “The Best Use of Everything – No Waste”. The artist’s father died unexpectedly which his mother found very hard to accept. She started to keep every used item in the house, no one was allowed to throw anything away. More and more things accumulate in the house, so Song Dong persuaded his mother to move them to a museum. Making the most of everything, no waste, was the philosophy of his mother’s generation. Through this exhibition, Song Dong’s mother starts to tell the story of each object to the audience, gradually his mother’s sadness subsides and smiles return to her face.

This book makes me believe there is life in each object, that’s why Song Dong’s mother didn’t just throw them away after use. Instead, she puts them in the museum. Such as a lighter, a mineral water bottle, a piece of soap and a piece of cloth. These ordinary and worthless objects are finally shown to people in the most dignified way in the museum. After being consumed by people, they survive in the most dignified way. Each of them has a life and a story. Many of the objects are decades old, and they are also witnesses of historical change. The exhibition was a healing experience for Song’s mother, who probably didn’t understand contemporary art. But, the show is more effective than any medical treatment for her, and that’s probably the value of art. It really can be therapeutic.

Natural Wonder – Yu Chengyou

An air of serenity runs through Yu Chengyou’s prints, found in each      delicate stroke and curve. His wonderful woodcuts show his vision of the Chinese landscape and the natural world with effortless grace.Words by Jake Kennedy, article in issue11 of Pressing Matters.


“For decades I’ve spent a lot of time every year sketching and collecting materials – I’ve almost walked through all the mountains, rivers and lakes in HeiLongJiang Provence.” YU CHENGYOU

Pressing Matters first encountered the peaceful serenity of Yu Chengyou’s prints via the ArtChina stand at Woolwich Print Fair in 2019. Their sense of space, contemplation and clear respect of the natural world was evident from every fern, blade of grass or cloud, truly taking the viewer to somewhere more relaxed – certainly more so than the busy print fair! Yu explains that this love of nature began way back in primary school, and with a simple act of mimicry. “I started out trying to imitate popular folk New Year prints,” he recalls. “The themes were always flowers and birds, vegetables and fruits and insects,” he adds.

Soon, Yu’s experimentation found him out in the country with his pad. “When I graduated from junior high school in early 1969 – during the cultural revolution – I became an ‘educated urban youth’ – I was 16 at the time – and went to work in the countryside and mountain areas. Together with others from Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and other cities who loved art, we drew everyday, but it was mainly portraits, life sketches – but without missing a single day. This practice built the foundation for me in the future… but the inspiration of my early creations mostly came from work and life in Beidahuang – every blade of grass and tree, the local folk and each passing season.”

Printmaking soon followed on from the sketching and observation in this artist’s life. “I studied printmaking in the early 1980s. I attended a course taught by Mr. Hao Boyi, one of the founders of Beidahuang printmaking,” Yu recalls. “During six years from 1982 to 1987, I spent about  three months every year learning printmaking. Beidahuang has been a most influential creative group in China since it was founded in 1958, incorporating a complete scheme of systematic printmaking research and teaching. Chinese critics call it the ‘real academy of printmaking” and it’s trained many dozens of outstanding Chinese contemporary printmakers. in 1978 I started to apply some of my landscape sketches on plywood and transfer into black and white woodcuts. So essentially my formal printmaking practice began in 1982, after I joined a BeiDaHuang printmaking class.”

Yu’s technique goes on at length to describe his printing process, forming the backbone of his output, you feel. “First, I have to select images from collected materials – which are mostly my own photos – sometimes using a few, or at other times dozens of them, and I decide how to create a particular print,” he explains. “Then I’ll draw several full size complete pictures to choose the best composition of a print, and this process will take five to seven days. Next, I transfer the drawing to the plywood, which is specially used by the printmakers. Generally speaking I need four to five blocks for a print, and each is cut separately. It takes 10 to 20 days to complete a colour print. I take about three or four attempts to get a good result, and then I’m ready to print.”

“I like to be quiet, and that’s maybe because of my personality.I try to keep my work peaceful.” YU CHENGYOU

Indeed, most of Yu’s prints are really just the result of a lengthy, involved process, with ideas set in place long before he even goes anywhere near the printroom. “For decades I’ve spent a lot of time every year sketching and collecting materials. I’ve almost walked through all the mountains, rivers and lakes in HeiLongJiang Provence, and Heilongjiang covers 473,000 square kilometres! I’ve taken over 200,000 photos. Except for Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang, I’ve been to almost all of the other places in China to sketch or paint nature,” he says. “I like to be quiet, and that’s maybe because of my personality. I try to keep my work peaceful. I use simple language and try to express things sincerely, to calmly communicate with the viewer. I think this kind of communication is more equal. To naturally express something is the artistic concept I’ve been pursuing in my works,” he adds.

Again, Yu believes it comes down to a harmony in both the work and the nature he is representing. “A human is a part of nature. Humans should live in harmony with animals and plants in nature. I’ve always tried to express this harmony in my work, the feeling I’ve experienced after I’ve traveled to remote areas many times in the north of China – I want to capture this peaceful sensation with wildlife such as the reindeer and others.”

Another charming element of Yu’s prints is an often unusually high horizon line, allowing viewers to place themselves right in amongst the landscape of the pieces. “This allows for many expressive objects to be added into a work, but also
provides a much richer detail and a more completed narrative. The composition is based on the subject matter of the idea. However, for some of my other works I’ve done in recent years, I’ve lowered the horizon,” he says.

Yu’s work has been brought to the wider world by the ArtChina initiative, as mentioned earlier. “I have to thank Ms. Aimin Liu and ArtChina as she’s introduced my work to the UK since 2011, he says. “ArtChina show my works several times through its exhibitions in UK each year. However, in 2018 my biggest solo show, titled Clean Journey – Yu Chengyou’s Print Works, opened at the China print museum in ShenZhen.” Yu also had a touring exhibition that traveled the country in 2019 and will continue this year.

For now though, any remaining time left in 2020 is an opportunity for personal development for Yu, he hopes. “I plan to complete the construction of my personal studio and strive to build a better printmaking studio in China which will include all types of printmaking and the first class presses,” he says. “I’m also planning to create a series of prints to present the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter using oil paints, watercolor and ink as a simultaneous creation, and I plan to print 60 of each edition,” he concludes.

Since 2002, Yu Chengyou has been working as a professional printmaker in Heilongjiang Printmaking Institute and is a member of China Artists’ Association. His print ‘The Night of a Small Village’ won silver medal at the 6th National Print Exhibition.
His prints are widely collected in China and abroad.

Special thanks to Aimin Liu from Art China for her invaluable help with this article.


The power of Art – Zhu Jianhui’s 2020

Words by Zhu Jianhui, edit and translate by Aimin Liu.

The coronavirus broke out at the Chinese Spring Festival of 2020. As an artist I created 18 posters, prints and watercolours and published them online. I hoped to encourage people to fight against the virus through the visual impact.

Zhu Jianhui at his studio in Qi Dong, Shanghai.

Music and my paintbrush are my companions in the voyage of creating a new artistic concept and discovering a different language for my art. During quarantine, I have created more than 20 water based woodcut and Chinese ink paintings.

Sometimes it is necessary to hold the wound flat, Poster.

My Eyes, water colours

2020, water-based woodcut, 70cm x110cm

Staying at home, leisure time allows me to look back and think freely about my art. The series of water-based woodcuts “Magic Cube” and the series of experimental ink painting “Cube” are the new narration and expression of my artistic concept.

Magic Cube II, Water-based woodcut.

Magic Cube IX, Water-based woodcut.

The “Magic Cube” series runs through the whole process based on rebuilding structure and it has a new way of expression. I constantly reshaped the combination of the Rope symbol and colour, then printed it on paper. And I continually illustrated it with the combination of “Cube” to narrate stories in ink painting.

Magic Cube XIV, Water-based woodcut.

Water based woodcut and Chinese ink painting are two different organisms, they differ in their technique and format, but both are traditional art forms and have roots deep in our culture. So, they can be blended as well as exist independently.

Cube II, Chinese Ink Painting

I enjoy the alternate use of the two art forms, such as “Five Colours of Ink” and “Vivid Charm”. The world is always full of contradictions, the perceptual ‘Magic Cube’ is presented rationally in the print, and the rational ‘Cube’ is painted in a perceptual form.

Cube X, Chinese Ink Painting

Starting from the minimalist, then adding repetitive work and the unconscious psychological experience into a visual form. The abstract expression is the consciousness of the artistic concept. It’s also a new way to express which I’m looking for while staying at home.

Cube IX, Chinese Ink Painting

May the world be in peace! Everyone stay healthy and well!


Joined hands to fight the virus – A video created by nine artists


Joined hands to fight the virus

前言 Introduction


People across the world are going through a difficult time due to the outbreak of CONVID-19. In this we’ve seen the authority of the nature, the fragility of lives, the importance of health and the complexity of human nature. It also gives us reflection on reverence, solidarity, self-discipline, gratitude, responsibility, dedication, trust, courage, integrity and caring.


Virus knows no boundary, race, status, gender nor age, which makes it our common enemy. While we are staying home in self-quarantine, there are brave soldiers fighting the virus in the front line and trying their best to protect us from it. With joined efforts, the epidemic in China is now under control.


In this time we’ve witnessed different measures taken by different countries in the world, and heard different voices which are worth listening and reflecting on, both voices of approval and voices of criticism. No man is perfect, nor is any country. Seeing the journal of Fang Fang being published overseas, mixed feelings arise. We can’t judge things without knowing the whole picture, especially not with bias. Truth can only be shown from different angels and by different people.


For that, Nine artists from different provinces of China have voluntarily created this video together with limited conditions and invited famous singer Ye Lu as the voice. With this bilingual video, we intend to show the world what China is like under the epidemic, and hope that it can help people from different countries and regions see the real China comprehensively and objectively from different perspectives. Let’s join hands and fight the virus together.


As Queen Elizabeth II said in her televised speech on April 5th: better days will return; we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.


We will meet again!

Script of the video: 


Chinese people are well protected by the bravest among them.


January 23rd, 2020, Wuhan City was locked down.

钟南山赴武汉  An Academician who rushed to Wuhan


Led the fight against SARS 17 years ago, ZHONG Nanshan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, 84 years old, has once again stepped forward and rushed to Wuhan from Guangzhou to fight in the front line.


“Peaceful times are only possible because of those who shelter us from the storm.”

白衣天使请战书 A Petition to join the battle


When our country was in need, the Angels in White (the doctors and nurses) asked for assignment to join the battle voluntarily.


“Could you keep it from my mother? she’ll be worried!”


“With no consideration for payment or even their own safety.”


There is no Angles in White, they are just some young people changed into medical uniforms, who endeavor to save lives and fight against Death, like their elders do.

5.12汶川地震幸存女孩留武汉做志愿者 A girl who stayed in Wuhan as a volunteer


A girl who survived the 2008 Wunchuan Earthquake in Sichuan Province chose to stay in Wuhan and joined the logistics team in her community to provide free transportation service for more than 2000 residents and patients, without telling her mother. “As long as we fight together, we will triumph over the virus!”

一位妈妈给儿子的一封信:要活下来 A letter from a mother to her son: Stay alive


In Wuhan, an elderly stayed in the hospital alone for five days and nights just to wait for a vacancy in the hospital for her infected son. Right before her son was taken into the inpatient ward, she asked for a pen and wrote to him:”Stay alive.”She was 90 years old and her son was 65.

“生命摆渡人”顺丰小哥汪勇WANG Yong, a deliveryman from SF Express, is called “Ferryman of Lives”.


WANG Yong, a deliveryman from SF Express, is called “Ferryman of Lives”. He voluntarily took on the commuting of the medical staff in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital by himself, and then their transportation and meals, and later gathered a group of volunteers to support more than 1000 doctors and nurses and provide logistics service in the hospital. “I’m always here whenever needed.”WANG Yong said, “I’d like to spend more time with my family when this is over.”All the heroes in this battle are just plain human who choose to stand up and fight.

娃娃要抱抱 A hug


An infected infant in the quarantine room reached out trying to get a hug from the nurse. She burst into tears outside the window.

当爱情遇到疫情 A promise (When love is caught by the virus)


A young couple was going to get married during the Spring Festival. When the virus struck , they had to put their love away and postpone their wedding in order to fight for Wuhan. Seeing each other across the window with their masks on, they said: “my love, let’s get married when this is over.”

吹哨人李文亮医生去世 A Whistle-blower: Dr. LI Wenliang passed away


Dr. LI Wenliang, a brave and respectable doctor, fought in the front line during the most crucial time in Wuhan. Even when he was infected and sent into ICU, he kept a positive attitude and said that he would come back and fight again. We desperately hoped for a miracle. Yet a horrible news came. In the early morning of February 7th, the whistle-blower Dr. LI Wenliang left us. The miracle didn’t happen.

中国奇迹,10天建好火神山医院 A Wonder of China: 10 days to build the Huoshenshan Hospital


Because of the virus outbreak , Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital project was established on January 24th and the construction was completed on February 2nd. It took China 10 days and nights to build a modern hospital with a accommodation for 1000 people, during which 40 million people “supervised” online.


This is the speed of China. Many people may think China is“infrastructure-holic”. It’s only possible because of a group of people who go all out and work from day to night.

清洁工老人匿名捐赠12000元 An anonymous donation of 12000 yuan


An elder man with a sanitary hat put a piece of paper and 12000 yuan on the counter of the police office and left. A surveillance camera caught this–he was 68 years old, a janitor in this village.


It concerns every single one of us.

人民子弟兵 The people’s army

“若有战,召必至!” 疫情就是命令,大年三十,在战“疫”关键时刻,人民子弟兵逆行奔向最危险的战场。

“We’ll be there whenever called for during a war.”The outbreak was like an order. In the crucial time a day before Chinese New Year, the people’s army reached the most dangerous battlefield in Wuhan.

全国各大医院全力支援 Full support from hospitals across the country


Xiehe from the north, Xiangya from the south, Qilu from the east, Huaxi from the west, these four top hospitals in China joined efforts in Wuhan. 31 medical groups from across the country, more than 40 thousand people, joined the fight in Wuhan, and none of them was infected.

海外华人 support from overseas Chinese


Overseas Chinese and students donated medical materials and chartered a plane to deliver them directly back to China.

世界各国捐赠 Donations from other countries


Despite the variation in landscapes, we share the same sky and moon, so together we stand in times of difficulty. A great number of countries have showed their support to China.

浦东机场严防境外输入Shanghai Pudong International Airport,strictly prevent the virus importation from overseas


As the largest “air corridor” in China, Shanghai Pudong International Airport can accommodate 50 million passengers annually, and has become the front line and main battlefield against the epidemic. “Strictly prevent the virus importation from overseas and guard our country!”Chinese policemen put on their outfits and went off to this special war with no hesitation, like Baymax. They are fighting together with their friends and for their motherland. They may be plain human, but they are our heroes.

张文宏医生Dr. ZHANG Wenhong


Dr. ZHANG Wenhong, director of Infections Department in Shanghai Huashan Hospital, who is candid, practical and reliable, checked on the patients in quarantine in person every week in order to lift the concerns of the medical staff who worked in the front line. “

携手抗疫 Hands in Hands to fight the virus


The virus knows no border. In this time of massive outbreak overseas, let us join hands and fight the virus to protect this planet we share.

出品:中华文化促进会苏州代表机构, 中国沙画家协会,上海协申联合企业大学艺术人文学院, Artchinauk, 予艺艺术

Presents: Chinese Culture Promotion Society(SuZhou), Sand Painters Association of China, College of Arts and Humanities of Shanghai United University, ArtChinauk,Yuyi Art


Trudge through the New Year – My Diary by Cao Ou, Part I

Our whole family drove back to my hometown in Shandong just five days before Chinese New Year’s Eve in 2020. We saw the news about Wuhan’s pneumonia on our phones. The report said it was not serious. I didn’t even watch the news and only heard a few words about it from the family.
My studio
We stopped a few times in the services on the highway during our journey. The services were busy, and nobody was wearing a mask. It surprised me how many people went back home much earlier, and there were not so many people around this time as in previous years. It usually gets crowded 2 days before the New Year. Normally this is a 12 hour journey, but it took us over 16 hours because of the traffic. It was ok for us, but my poor cat suffered as it couldn’t go to the toilet for the whole duration.
My lovely cats
Since I hadn’t been home for two years, I went out for a drink with friends most nights before my departure. After we arrived at my parents’ home, Wuhan’s epidemic was getting worse. I watched the news and paid more attention to the situation.
I have a friend in Wuhan. So I chatted with him and asked him how it was there. He was shopping at the supermarket and was wearing a mask by then. There were many people in the supermarket. He said that the news of the epidemic was bad. However, people remained very relaxed. Life continued as normal,the epidemic seemed to be no big deal.
My work used for this book’s cover.
At noon on New Year’s Day, our family was still eating out at a restaurant. On the next day, my city suddenly issued an emergency notice that all restaurants, shops, leisure centres, and other public places should close at once – this was mandatory. We lined up outside a shop and started buying masks. The medicine in the pharmacy was almost wiped out. Everyone bought hundreds of RMB worth of medicine to prepare for a long time staying at home. A mask was a few cents, so I bought a pack. The next day we remained at home. The first thing in the morning is to watch the news. We found the number of affected people had increased several times from the previous day. Two days later, all the residential districts were closed. Now you must wear a mask and measure your temperature when entering the residential district. At the beginning of New Year, from the first day to the fifteenth, is a time for families and friends to come together. However, everything had to be cancelled.

A Sketch of the Wuhan Epidemic

Words By Mu Beini at 31/03/2020, translated by Aimin Liu.

From the beginning of the epidemic to the end of January, Wuhan shut down the whole city. For me, life did not change that much as I paint and work mostly from home.

 City of Wu Han, after shut down.

Empty Bullet Train Station

Besides, I had previous experience of disasters, the Tohoku earthquake and the nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. Following these events, I ended up at home for more than a month. With this previous experience, I felt very calm as we encountered the epidemic. My close friends would joke that I would be the last person to take the epidemic seriously. Also, maybe my character is more pessimistic. I believe in fate and that people’s lives and deaths are already pre-determined. Irrespective of whether you panic or not you will not change your fate. So, I would rather stay calm and work on how to protect my family and try to live fruitfully every single day. Fortunately, the simple pleasures of life in a small family of three makes my life quite satisfying and reassuring.

Overgrown communal garden in our residential district.

Spring is here.  When the sun came out, people in the flats took their quilts out on the balcony.

Since the residential district restrictions on people going out, the management of our building has been very responsible and well organised. Such as – there is a shopping platform for door-to-door delivery, distribution of free food, offers of postal services and haircuts and so on. My thanks go to those who have been working in the front line in property management, to the volunteers and the party members. I’m grateful in my heart for what I’ve seen and for what I’ve experienced. I broke into tears when I watched Chinese medical workers fighting with soldiers on the front line of Corvid-19 on TV. However, as an ordinary citizen, the only thing I could do to help was to stay at home.

During the epidemic, I draw pictures, read books and check my phone every day.

Every day, the family of three stays at home with the cat and waits for the summer, and has been waiting quietly for more than 2 months.

During the epidemic, my students and I drew a set of fight-epidemic postcards for the Hubei Red Cross. These drawings have already been printed and should be published nationwide when the epidemic is over. They are the record I made during the epidemic and I hope they make a small mark in history.

Wu Han’s train station welcome the first group of people since the epidemic broke out.

New work by Mu Beini.

All the images’ copyright belongs to the artist Mu Meini.


“Under the Mask of Us”: He Kun’s Response to the Coronavirus

This week, we are going to talk about our artist He Kun’s latest ink painting series, titled “Under the Mask of Us”. This collection of work relates to the impact of the coronavirus on China and we are sharing as part of our ongoing project at present: “Art for Wuhan, China”.

1: “Under the Mask of Us”

Image: “We, They, 33cm x 33cm, ink painting on Xuan paper

You can’t see full faces under the masks, only sadness, kindness, and confident eyes. Masks cover us, all of the beautiful faces; who are you, who is she? These are no longer important questions. These are the ordinary, normal people under the masks, those of us who have taken on the responsibility to save lives.

This is a group of portraits depicting medical staff specifically. The iInk paintings show us close-ups of people’s faces during this special period – people with masks. Masks are the only defence for them to fight this invisible virus; they know the risk is high, but they have chosen to help and save lives, despite whatever the cost may be to them. 

In this painting from the series shown above, titled “We, They”, the strong black lines convey the contour of head and torso, the precise, free brushstrokes showing the artist’s confidence and how he incorporates the art of calligraphy into his painting. Through those strong outlines, he conveys the determination from our nurses and doctors. The changes in the tones of grey create beautiful texture in the hat, mask, and clothes. The background of each of these paintings is white, which symbolises that these medical professionals are our “White Angels”.

We always say that human eyes are the window to our soul; in each of He Kun’s portraits, the doctors and nurses wear a hat, mask, and hospital uniform. Only their eyes are naked in front of viewers. Can you see their sadness, kindness, hope, or hopelessness? Have they evoked your strongest emotion inside you? Have you felt that we are all connected, and are all experiencing this together?

Click to read more about He Kun’s work in our previous blog.

Awakened Circles by Lu Jun

We are very excited to introduce you to our new artist, Chinese sculptor, Lu Jun.

He graduated from the sculpture department of Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, and has, for more than 40 years, been engaged in painting, public art, and sculpture. He then lived in Shenzhen, China, a city that is becoming the front line for contemporary Chinese art in China. His public sculpture is easy to spot in the city.

Recently, Lu Jun moved in Cambridge, in the UK to continue his creativity. Below are two sculptures which we are going to exhibit at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London. They are titled the “Awakened Circle” series which is an extension of his “BABY” series. The sculptures explore the idea of combining and deconstructing various life forms, connecting with public environments and facilities in our real social lives, as well as inspiring the senses to inspire viewers to think about the next generation and our future.

The “BABY” series originates from his unpredictable childlike innocence and love for children. The childlike bodies and naive expressions, seemingly weak but actually very strong and bursting with vitality, are fascinating. 

In real life, Lu Jun enjoys being around children. They also see him as a big child. They are the driving force and source of inspiration for the creation of this series of works. He has also found endless creative pleasure from this series and as well as profound social significance. 

A baby is in the very beginning stages of human life, and this is also the most innocent, carefree, sincere, pure, viable, hopeful, and infinitely imaginative life stage. This series focuses on the future of individual life and our world in the future; paying attention to babies is paying attention to the development of human beings. He is combining and deconstructing various life forms with a baby’s vulnerable image.

To see Lu Jun’s work in person, visit our stand at the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, in London from 12-15 March. For half price tickets, click here and enter the code: ARTCHINAHP.

Narrative Art

Here is another set of artworks created by our artist He Kun, which relate to the impact of the coronavirus on China; this is part of our ongoing project at present – “Art for Wuhan, China”.

Words by He Kun, edited by ArtChina. 

The Coronavirus ravaging our world is modern humanity’s common disaster; fighting against the virus is not only for China and all of those impacted across the globe, but also for the dignity of humanity.

Whenever people are in the face of disaster, each one finds his or her own way to fight. As an artist, one of the best ways to fight is to record, in the familiar form of my work where each line signifies an emotion, what is happening during this time in our lives.

The works that I’ve done so far are very much a record of the Coronavirus outbreak from the beginning.

For example, in “The Silent Spring”, the Spring Festival should be lively and decorated, but the town I depicted was very quiet. The small town of Simao was not a centre of the epidemic area; the city was less severely impacted, so the artwork was more relaxing.

The “We Are Fighting” theme is naturally present in artwork depicting those health workers on the frontline  working against virus.

“Don’t Go Out This Spring” painted a picture of the people who have been quarantined at home.

These works convene our emotions and actions: fighting, helpless, sadness, promising, and hope for the future.

The current paintings in this collection are sizes 137cm x 68cm, 198cm x 98cm, up to 365cm x 147cm. I will soon complete two new works in the largest size, before painting several smaller size portraits of medical staff and the public during this period.

The above video is a recording by the artist showing the working progress of his large painting, ‘Angel with Us’.

As the coronavirus is continuing to spread globally, we hope we can learn from this experience which has cost so many lives in China already; we hope we will overcome this disease soon and restore harmony in our lives again.

Art Enables Understanding of Diseases and Healing | 艺术、疾病与治愈

Originally published by CAFA Art Info


How much do people fear diseases and death? An individual’s disease and death do not just mean the destruction and end of human life, but also have a close relationship with the environmental changes and development of living systems. Since the 20th century, people have been creating miracles while also bringing about disasters. The material wealth of society has grown rapidly, but meanwhile the manmade damages to the natural and biological environment also repeatedly occur.

尽管疾病伴随着人类的生活,痛苦却让我们真实地感觉活着并在某种意义上证明了我们的存在。正是在思考疾病、研究疾病、惧怕灾难和逃避死亡的探索中, 人类致力于去寻求慰籍与治愈。伴随着人类文明的发展,艺术家们敏锐地提供了各种各样表现疾病及其内涵的创作,进而警示人类行为并探讨人类治愈这样的普世主题。

Although diseases have always accompanied human life, pain makes us feel alive and, in a sense, proves our existence. It is through the exploration of thinking about diseases, studying diseases, and fearing disasters while avoiding death that people are committed to seeking comfort and healing. Along with the development of human civilisation, artists have keenly provided a variety of creations portraying diseases and their connotations, and further give us a profound warning regarding human behaviour while exploring such a universal topic as healing.

Images: 1985年11月15日 纽约市政厅附近的示威游行者抗议市政厅考虑立法禁止携带艾滋病毒的师生进入公立学校。Demonstrators protest near New York City’s City Hall on Nov. 15, 1985, as City Council committee considered legislation to bar students and teachers with the AIDS virus from public schools. IMAGE: APAP PHOTO/RICK MAIMA, Source: https://mashable.com/2016/10/26/aids-epidemic-study/

谈到疾病对当代艺术的影响,艾滋病危机是无法回避的话题。二十世纪七十年代艾滋病(AIDS)从加勒比海地区(Caribbean)传入美国纽约并在其后的十年间就带走了几十万生命。理查德·彭斯,曾在1986年至2009年之间担任美国纽约LGBT团体中心负责人(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender), 他在Mashable于2016年进行的相关报道中[1],表示二十世纪八十年代的纽约感觉像是处于战区,“你会感觉那时的生活伴随着恐惧、不断的死亡、彼此看护、还有战斗疲劳症”。

When it comes to the impact of diseases on contemporary art, the AIDS crisis is an unavoidable topic. In the decade after AIDS “jumped” from the Caribbean to New York City in 1970 or 1971, hundreds of thousands of US lives were taken by the disease of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Richard Burns, who was the Executive Director of the New York City LGBT Community Center from 1986 through 2009, told Mashable that New York City in the 1980s felt like a war zone: “you were living with fear and constant dying and caregiving and shellshock.”


Even before health institutions recognised the AIDS crisis, artists started drawing attention to the issue. Art that started to concentrate on this controversial theme emerged from a broader cultural community in the 1980s. The questions about AIDS opened significant debates and they later triggered activities to fight for equal rights of minorities. Since then, people have gradually realised that art can also participate in the dialogue of social issues, and they further exert some significant influence.

Image: 妮基·桑法勒为艾滋病主题创作的艺术家手制书 , Niki de Saint Phalle – AIDS, you can’t catch it holding hands, 1987, book. Photo via artnews.com

直到1985年美国总统里根才在公众演讲中第一次提到了“AIDS” ,由于起初公众都不了解病毒来源和传播方式,艾滋病传播的危机让许多艺术家和创作者都在不知不觉中身陷疾病,凯斯· 哈林(1958-1990)也是其中之一。疾病并没有使他消沉沮丧,他创建了凯斯· 哈林基金会并为艾滋病研究治疗和儿童福利做努力,同时继续艺术创作直至生命终结,正如他在日记中所表达的,“你所做的一切都是一种对永生的追求,因为你在创造这些你知道有不同生活的东西,它们不依赖于呼吸,所以它们的寿命比我们任何人都长,它们在某种程度上延长了你的寿命。” [2]

It was not until 1985 that US President Reagan mentioned “AIDS” in a public speech. Since the majority of public did not understand the source and transmission of the virus in the decade before that, many artists and creators had been affected by the crisis, Keith Haring (1958-1990) was one of them. Although he felt frustrated because of the disease, he did not fall into a depression; instead, he founded the Keith Haring Foundation contributing to AIDS research and therapy as well as children’s welfare. He kept working on art until the end, as he wrote in his diary, “all of the things that you make are a kind of quest for immortality. Because you’re making these things that you know they have a different kind of life. They don’t depend on breathing, so they’ll last longer than any of us will. Which is sort of an interesting idea, that it’s sort of extending your life to some degree.”

Images: 凯斯· 哈林  《无视=畏惧》(1989), Keith Haring, “Ignorance = Fear” (1989), Courtesy of the Keith Haring Foundation

艾滋病流行所产生的社会危机感成为了二十世纪八十年代很多美国艺术家创作的主题,并且极大地改变了当代艺术世界。“愤怒、困惑、恐惧和蔑视,一切皆由艺术家的生存现状和文化的兴起所激发,既是对危机的一种回应,也很大程度上改变了主流自我反省式的艺术创作手法,使艺术更接近政治和生活。” [3]

The AIDS epidemic crisis became the topic of artworks in the 1980s by many American artists using diversified methods and transformed the world of contemporary art significantly. “Anger, confusion, fear and defiance, all triggered by the artists’ existential situation and the emergence of culture which formed a response to the crisis, having immensely changed the dominant self-reflexive art practices, bringing art closer to politics and life.”

Image: 弗兰克·摩尔 《竞技场》(1992) 木板布面油彩丝网, Frank Moore, “Arena,” 1992. Oil and silkscreen on canvas mounted on wood, in antique gilded frame. 61 x 72”. Collection of Gian Enzo Sperone, Sent, Switzerland. Image: Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.

美国艺术家弗兰克·摩尔(1953 – 2002)在作品中描述了DNA重组、人体工程学和基因组合等等意象并表现了他所处的炼狱般现实(艾滋病感染者)和他对地狱的想象,正如他所述,“尽管我们现代的世外桃源看起来如此美丽,但这是融合了现代生活所有复杂性和毒性的美丽。”[4]

Frank Moore (1953 – 2002) portrays a brilliant parade of DNA manipulations, human engineering and genomes in his work, with which he conveyed the reality of his purgatory and his own dream of hell, on which he stated that, “as beautiful as our modern Arcadia may appear to be, it is a beauty that is alloyed with all the complexities and toxicities of modern life.”


These complexities and toxicities are still spreading as humans trample on the destruction of non-renewable resources and the remains of other animals and stride into the “brave new world” in the 21st century. In addition to the diseases that human beings have not completely overcome, we are  constantly confronted with more threats and challenges.

Image: 埃里克·艾弗里  《新兴传染病》(2000)  石版套麻胶版画 Eric Avery, “Emerging Infectious Diseases” (2000), linoleum block print over lithograph (Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library © Eric Avery)

美国普林斯顿大学美术馆近期的展览《健康的状态:设想疾病与治愈》(2019年11月2日至2020年2月2日)纵观历史和多元文化,呈现了从上古到现今关于疾病与治愈的八十余件全球性艺术作品。[5]其中埃里克·艾弗里的作品 《新兴传染病》刻画了围绕流行病和传染病的社会焦虑,生与死转瞬切换的距离,发人深醒。

The recent exhibition throughout history and across cultures, entitled State of Health: Visualizing Illness and Healing (November 2, 2019 through February 2, 2020) presented by the Art Museum of Princeton University, featured over 80 works of globe-spanning art. “Emerging Infectious Diseases” (2000) by Eric Avery examines the societal anxiety about pandemics and infectious disease, the instantaneous switching between life and death, which has a sobering connotation.

Image: 俄罗斯艺术家宝琳娜 《屏住呼吸》 曾于2017年3月24日(世界肺结核日)在世界卫生组织日内瓦总部展出。 Russian artist Paulina Siniatkina, “Hold Your Breath”, was exhibited at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on 24 March 2017 (World TB Day).


For artists who have been inspired by illness, “gratitude outweighs pain”. In 2015, Russian artist Paulina Siniakina spent six months and 17 days in a TB clinic in Moscow. She went through fear, misunderstanding, anger, despair, loneliness, silence, love, friendship, and hope. Her “Hold Your Breath” series tells stories of herself and other people who shared her fate, which she takes as a weapon to fight the stigma of disease and urges people not to be afraid to talk about TB.

美国艺术家迪伦· 莫蒂默经历了两次双肺移植手术,他曾患有囊性纤维化,疾病使得他呼吸困难而艺术成为他处理和探索疾病的方式。迪伦· 莫蒂默由肺和身体细胞的结构图形受到启发进行创作,每一件作品都承载着他痛苦的重量,但他依然很乐观地说,“我相信在最绝望的情况下仍有希望,这也当然是我还活着的原因。” [7]

American artist Dylan Mortimer has endured two double lung transplants during his life. Cystic fibrosis clogged his lungs, making him feel it is hard to breathe, but art has become a way for him to process and explore his disease. Inspired by the structure of lungs and cells of his body, he creates with their patterns and shapes, yet every piece holds the weight of his pain. He still believes that “there is hope in the most hopeless situations, that’s certainly what has kept me alive.”

Image: 迪伦· 莫蒂默 《升》(2016);右:迪伦· 莫蒂默 《带来和解的拒绝》(2019) From left: “Ascension” by Dylan Mortimer, 2016; “Rejection that Brings Reconciliation” by Dylan Mortimer, 2019(COURTESY OF DYLAN MORTIMER)


In addition to starting from their own experiences, there are more international artists using scientific and medical perspectives, exploring and questioning the relationship between humankind to bacteria, viruses, and infectious diseases, as well as the interventions of biological research and new technologies.

Photo: 玛拉·哈瑟汀《抑制非典》(2006) “SARS Inhibited” Materials: bronze, paint, rocks. Dimensions: 30′ wide, 9′ tall ©Mara G. Haseltine


A bronze sculpture entitled “SARS Inhibited” (2006) by Mara G. Haseltine permanently stands in front of the Epi-Center of Biopolis in Singapore. This outdoor sculpture was created to memorise the functions of the SARS Protease Inhibitor discovered by the international team of scientists working at Biopolis. In a mimetic form, it vividly integrates biotechnology with artistic expression, hope of healing with surrounding environment.

Photo: 安娜·杜米特和亚力克斯·梅 《古菌机器人:以个后奇点与后气候变化生命》(2018) ArchaeaBot by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May, Photo credit Vanessa Graf at Ars Electronica 2018 Source:  http://digicult.it/articles/an-engagement-with-bacteria-interview-with-anna-dumitriu/.

英国牛津大学现代化医学微生物学项目的驻地艺术家,英国艺术家安娜·杜米特的创作涵盖雕塑、装置、织物和生物学创作, 在作品《古菌机器人:以个后奇点与后气候变化生命》(ArchaeaBot: A Post Singularity and Post Climate Change Life-form)中安娜·杜米特和亚力克斯·梅以幽默诙谐的方式想象和创作人类对抗未来灾难性炎热环境效应的方式。[8]

As an artist-in-residence with the Modernizing Medical Microbiology Project at the University of Oxford, Anna Dumitriu’s creations span sculpture, installation, textiles, and biological work. With “ArchaeaBot: A Post Singularity and Post Climate Change Life-form,” Anna Dumitriu and Alex May imagine and prepare humans for a way of living to battle the catastrophically scorching umwelt.

Photo: 玛格丽塔·佩弗 《互联系统的剖析》(2017)  “Anatomy of an Interconnected System” (2017). Performative lecture (Media: animal bones, blackboard, chalk, soil, cotton cloth, animal blood, caput mortum pigment. Duration: 2 h 30′). Source: www.margheritapevere.com

着眼于当今环境危机中人与自然的复杂联系,《互联系统的剖析》 是欧洲艺术家玛格丽塔·佩弗在2017年进行的行为艺术讲座,该项目由柏林艺术实验室委托,并在柏林参议院文化和欧洲部的支持下得以实现。该艺术项目致力于讨论高科技时代中,涉及生物体和技术的艺术实践探讨人类与生物圈的相互关联性。Focusing on the complicated relationship between human and nature in context of current environmental crisis, “Anatomy of an Interconnected System” (2017) is a performative lecture conducted by Margherita Pevere. It was commissioned by Art Laboratory Berlin and realised with the support of the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. It contributes to the discussions on how artistic practices that involve living organisms and technology explore the interconnection between humans and the biosphere in this high-tech age.


From the health and survival of human beings to the coexistence and healing of human beings and the environment, the participation and intervention of biotechnology, art does not only provide rich and diverse interpretations for people but it also proposes more possibilities and suggestions. Diseases are not that terrible; what’s more terrible is that one lacks courage and imagination. This is true whether it is for the rights of vulnerable groups or the future of the entire human race, even the earth, all of which have gained a deeper understanding and evoked more attention and reflection due to the participation of artists.



[1] Gallucci, M. Researchers exonerate ‘Patient Zero’ in U.S. AIDS epidemic, https://mashable.com/2016/10/26/aids-epidemic-study/ , October 7, 2016.
[2] Haring, K. About Haring, http://www.haring.com/!/about-haring/transitions.
[3] Dačić, A. Art in America : Before and After AIDS Crisis, https://www.widewalls.ch/art-aids-hiv-america/ , December 1, 2017.
[4] Oisteanu, V. FRANK MOORE Toxic Beauty, https://brooklynrail.org/2012/10/artseen/frank-moore-toxic-beauty, Oct 2012 Issue
[5] Art Museum of Princeton University, State of Health: Visualizing Illness and Healing, https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/art/exhibitions/3617.
[6] Wold Health Organization, “Hold Your Breath”, paintings made by Russian artist while in a TB clinic, https://www.who.int/features/2016/russia-tuberculosis/en/, September 2017.
[7] Anthony, C. For Artist Inspired By Illness, ‘Gratitude Outweighs Pain’, https://khn.org/news/for-artist-inspired-by-illness-gratitude-outweighs-pain/view/repubish/, December 2, 2019.
[8] Marietta, D. An Engagement with Bacteria: Interview with Anna Dumitru, http://digicult.it/articles/an-engagement-with-bacteria-interview-with-anna-dumitriu/.

Text by Sue Wang

More Art for the People of Wuhan, China

February 10 was the first day back to work in many places outside of Hubei, China. At least hundreds of millions of people have either started working from home or walked into factories or offices wearing masks. It’s a tough choice, and all of us can only choose the relative balance between health and life. On the first day back to work, still hundreds of millions of people are also absent; it is the most profound collective practice for the Chinese people. A new case of pneumonia in Wuhan has turned into a disaster. It is close to all of our hearts and has made this Spring Festival holiday feel especially long.

In the book The Wandering Earth author Liu Cixin wrote: “At first, no one cared. It was nothing more than a mountain fire, a drought, the extinction of a species, the disappearance of a city. Until this disaster touches everyone.”

A question posed online to the Chinese people: “How did you feel on the first day returning to work with this ongoing coronavirus epidemic?”

The most poignant answer was: “There has never been a time, like now, when I have felt I had been too perfunctory in my life. In the future I will work hard to earn money, work, and live seriously.”

Yes, only when the world is quiet, can you hear your own heartbeat.

Only through life or death and sudden changes can you realise the truth of life.

After almost 20 days at home, when the day is suddenly paused, will made you understand life more than ever.

From today on, at least hundreds of millions of people who have not lived seriously before are destined to “disappear” or “missing”.

And you, what is your biggest feeling?

The coronavirus epidemic has not only changed the way society functions; it has changed everyone’s attitude toward the world.

If we say the disaster is inevitable, well, the past 20 days or so have shown the most profound collective practice from the Chinese people.

The artworks below were created by ArtChina artists Yang Qi, Tang Chenghua, and Hou Weiguo in reaction to the epidemic:

Image: Kindheartedness”, oil painting by Yang Qi

Image: Spring is coming”, oil on canvas, 80cm x200cm, by Tang Chenghua

Image: We are all One”, print by Hou Weiguo

We invite all artists who are using their artwork as an outlet for critical reflection or portrayal of the ongoing crisis surrounding the coronavirus to submit work to be included in our series. Please contact Aimin Liu at aimin@artchinauk.com.

Art for Wuhan, China: He Kun’s Journal

This week, our blog will show a watercolour painting diary series by one of our Chinese artists, He Kun. He started this series from the first day of Chinese year with the intention of recording how did the coronavirus has impacted our daily lives especially during this special period of time that is the new year for every family in China in 2020.

This painting above was created on the first day of the Chinese New Year. It is titled “Wish Happy New Year”.

The setting is the Yunnan province, located in Southern China, where warm weather and brightly coloured plants bloom throughout the entire year. In this painting, the plum tree blossoms with beautiful pink flowers in the background. You can imagine birds chipping, jumping on the ground, signifying that spring is here. But in the middle, two men wear masks, glasses, hats, and long coats; they remain distanced from one another but great each other hello with their hands.

Usually we will shake hands, and pat each other’s backs as a greeting, wishing one another a good year ahead, and we exchange gifts.

On the second day, He Kun painted “Go out for a walk”, shown below.

Now, it is not as simple as before to go out for a walk with your do. Before, you only needed to put on the collar and lead, and off you go. But now, you need to cover yourself from head to toe, just like the person depicted in He Kun’s image. Normally, this park would be such a relaxing place to take a dog for a walk, and now that has become a dangerous task. You can’t even dare to take a deep breath outside without wearing a mask! Flowers are still blooming, birds are still singing, the sun is still shining, but you can’t enjoy it; there is no relaxing outdoors as the outbreak of the coronavirus has changed every single aspect of our daily lives.

How can this have happened to us? Why? Where did the coronavirus come from? When did the coronavirus start to spread to humans? How long is this going to last? How many people will die from this sudden tragedy before it’s under control? These are the questions people in China who are suffering are asking, and others around the world too.

If you have created artwork relating to the impact of the coronavirus on China or the wider world, please contact us; we would love to share your work. 

Art for Wuhan, China

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to our artists on the behalf of ArtChinaUK. The response was overwhelming.

Below is the letter and some of the responses from the artists. I hope, through the art we are sharing, we will bring hope, compassion and love to everyone, especially the people of Wuhan.

“Dear artist friends,

I sincerely wish you good health and that your families are safe and sound during the current outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Through the centuries, artists have been driven by suffering, and hardship inspired the creation of many important works, such as Giovanni’s “The Decameron ” or Picasso’s “Guernica”.

Now, artists are standing with the people of Wuhan, and our hearts go out to those who are struggling with the coronavirus, whether physically or sadly watching family or friends suffering, and to those who are struggling to contain or cure the virus or invent a vaccination.

The sudden outbreak of the disease has not only plunged the Chinese people into panic and suffering, but has also alarmed the world.

At this critical time, ArtChina hopes to collect all artworks, including photos and videos, reflecting this moment in our history. We will organise and publish these pieces as a series of reports on our website and our relevant social media platforms.

We hope to connect the hearts of all mankind, bring attention to what is happening, and reflect and think critically together through your artworks.

I hope to see your work soon. Thank you very much!”

Yan Qi, a Chinese artist who lives in Dusseldorf, Germany, said, “I communicate with China every day and crave good news. I paint the most romantic pictures every day to comfort my restless heart! I hope China gets out of the epidemic soon. Chinese people will be in peace and happiness in the New Year.”

Hou Weiguo, a PhD student at the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, replied: “Hello Miss Liu, Thank you very much for your invitation. I have been considering how to create a work which reflects these days in China, but I don’t want to paint a simple work, such as Mr. Zhong Nanshan’s portrait (who discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003), so I am in my deep thoughts. If I have a good idea, I will share it with you as soon as possible! Thank you very much!”

We invite all artists who are using their artwork as an outlet for critical reflection or portrayal of the ongoing crisis surrounding the coronavirus to submit work to be included in our series. Please contact Aimin Liu at aimin@artchinauk.com.

Below are two examples of work that have already been submitted: a painting by Zhu Kecheng, and Zhu Jianhui’s “Smiling Face, Believe in Victory”.


“Save the Child”: Art for the People of Wuhan by He Kun

Words by Aimin Liu

The Decameron, by the 14th century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose. The book is a collection of 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and the three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside of Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. 

Today, in Wuhan, China, the centre of the outbreak of the coronavirus, the whole city has been blocked out from outside world. People there have to stay home most of time. Even in the less affected cities, people are still be suggested to stay home, not to go out unless for food or medicine.

Artists often use their creativity to reflect on the environment and society where they live, to evoke their thoughts and emotions. They are always the pioneers in this sense and one of the forces that help to move our civilisation forwards. Many masterpieces in art were born during hardships in human history. Would now be the chance for our Chinese artists to create some masterpiece while the illness challenges our virtue, humility, unity?

He Kun, who lives in Yunan, 2,000km away from Wuhan, recently has created a series of paintings which relate to the people in Wuhan.

In his painting “Save the Child”, a father is carrying his son on his back on the left, and the mother is portrayed on the right. One of her hands caresses the child’s back, and in her other hand, she is carrying a bag which suggests some belongings prepared in a rush for the hospital. The boy’s right arm is hanging over his dad’s left shoulder feebly. His eyes are closed, scowling eyebrows suggestive of his suffering. From those sections of the painting shown below, you can see the eyes of the both parents which deeply reveal their emotions: sad, anxious, full of worry, etc. The whole family are wearing masks. There is much uncertainty, but they hope to save the child; that is their only wish.

On the left side, artist He Kun wrote: “There were happy families, but coronavirus destroyed them.”   

See more work from Chinese artist He Kun on our website.

A Solo Exhibition by Wuhuan Artist Zhang Lian

The Year of Rat in China didn’t start well, especially in Wuhuan, the capital of Hubei province and the centre of the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Several artist friends of mine are living there. I contacted them through social media, found out they are well and staying positive.

Zhang Lian is one of them. He is the lecture at the printmaking department in Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, he said, “I hope life will be back to normal soon.” He said that his everyday life activities, such as going to the institute, teaching, and printing at the studio now seem more precious than ever.

We chatted about art, including his first major solo show at Hubei Museum, titled ‘Folded Time and Space’ in October and November last year. In 2020, he will have his another solo exhibition in Beijing.

Here are some details and photos from his solo show. This is an exhibition that breaks through the boundaries of printmaking, from artworks to on-site installations. One example is of a staircase incorporating the water element. Whether it is the re-creation of landscape graphics, or the various materials and techniques used in the work, Zhang Lian’s exhibition has largely refreshed viewers’ perception of printmaking.


Art critic Lu Hong, who is currently writing a history of Chinese contemporary art, is interested in Zhang Lian’s re-transformation of traditional Chinese language icons on various materials. 

Since the beginning of the new century in Chinese contemporary art history, one of the biggest trends is to re-signify it. “In the New Trend of 85, in order to break through the extreme left wing art pattern, artists have made greater use of Western modern art concepts and methods. This has a positive impact on the development and innovation of contemporary art, but it has also caused a problem, which is ‘de-Chineseisation’, or excessive Westernisation.

After the new century, artists have been working to correct this problem. In Zhang Lian’s exhibition, it can be clearly seen that while the artist tested and explored various materials, he also included a connection with the traditional, such as is seen in the modern re-creation of the traditional landscape painting images. His excavation and transformation of traditional culture not only opened up new depth and space for printmaking, but also formed his new language.”

If you want more informations about Zhang Lian or interest in his art works, please email us: info@artchinauk.com.


Expression Through Mixed Media in Printmaking

Tang Chenghua, a printer, painter and installation artist who teaches at the printmaking department of China Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA), has a rich international background as far as academics go. Having floated about between East and West for a decade, Tang Chenghua’s work emphasises the serendipity of the creation process, and shimmers with the passion of abstract expressionism and movement art. His abstract art, which straddles the divide between materials and mediums, has traces of a magnificent personal style, but Eastern culture dominates his artistic world.

Thick, bold ink strokes are the backbone of Tang Chenghua’s artwork, forming the foundation for a freewheeling clash between colour and space. The image structure is marked by Chinese Kuangcao calligraphy, with its bizarre combinations of cursive Chinese script and empty space. The finely textured strokes sweep across the space, adding vivid and lively tones to the overall image. Vast swaths of blackness hint at an empty void, giving the picture pure power. On the other hand, the famous Western abstract expressionist Willem De Kooning uses blackness as a supplement, merely a supporting role in the image.

‘In 1996, Tang Chenghua, a Chinese artist residing in Japan, held a solo show at the China National Art Museum. The show made a big impact with his sensational abstract form and large-scale printmaking. Seven years later, his works came back again to China and were exhibited at the Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and Tang Chenghua himself also started carrying out educational exchange activities within the Department of Printmaking. It seems to me that the basic themes of Tang Chenghua’s art are his life and cultural experiences. From Japan to the United States, he has had for a long time the “cross cultural” experience. This experience is spiritual and perceptual, and affected Tang’s artistic expression. Tang Chenghua’s artistic sensitivity is inspired, embarking on a spiritual journey that breaks the boundary of oriental and Western cultures.’ Words by Fan Di an, Director of China National Art Museum

We have good news to share, which is that Tang is going to visit UK in May. He will be giving a talk on 2nd May at 2pm at the Royal Academy during the London Original Print Fair. He will also be running a one-day masterclass at the East London Printmaking Studio.

If you are interested in attending either of those events, please email us to book your place.

Large Print: A Space for Poetry – The Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou

Words by Zhu Kecheng
Translated by Aimin Liu

From October 2019, I was fortunate to have participated in a talent training program for major themes by water-based woodcut artists, which was organised by the National Art Foundation, and led by Professor Chen Qi of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. I was the youngest person on the program, and I successfully set foot in the field of creation of major themes under the leadership of a group of academic and professional teachers, artists, and students. We were a group of 15 people engaged in art education, or freelance artists who have begun a great creative themes journey of returning to the classroom. Our object of study was the canal between Beijing to Hangzou, which was built during the Shui Dynasty.

On 26 October, we set out on our Yangzhou trip. During the fieldwork sessions on the Yangzhou section of the canal, and through the words of Professor Chen Qi, our guides, commentators and local residents, the impression of the canal I gathered gradually began to reveal itself, little by little, from a hazy vision to reality.

By chance, I watched the entire operation of the Shaobo lock opening and enjoyed a conversation with a real canal boatman. These experience helped me came out of the confusion of the creation of the big theme and found a specific point to explore, which evoked my strong interesting in the creation of great themes.

At the gates of the non-stopping locks, there was the captain (also the head of the family). He was struggling to step out, stretch his feet and arms to check the height of a ship so he could tell whether the container was safe or not to pass through the lock. There was an old couple sitting on a small wooden boat fishing on the canal. There was a little boy in a yellow puffer life jacket, with a running nose. There was a white dog with a wagging tail running around the deck of a ship. The alley vendor sold snacks called “Da Da Zi” and he asked me heartily if it was delicious. At Yucheng Station, a group of young workers carefully measured on the Drum Tower and discussed whether to repair it next year. Elders played chess in a circle around Gudaogou Lane…

During our 9-day journey, these experience made me want to explore the canal. The Grand Canal has gradually formed in my mind a long dragon with water as the carrier. The sparking surface of the water bears more than just the political economy created by cargo ships. Value, instead, bears the name of each person who is dedicated to the construction, navigation, transportation, wisdom, and sweat that goes into its running and maintenance.

I added an element of “readability” to the sketch, and there is specific text on an abstract river. I hope that this can create new visual conclusions. After undergoing three transformations of the work, although there are still many details to be considered, they are finally getting closer to the visual I want to portray.

To purchase prints by Zhu Kecheng, please visit our online shop.

News from Yu Chengyou in 2020

Chinese New Year will start on 25th January this year, different from most of the countries in the Western world. This is the Year of Mouse in China, as illustrated in the drawing by our young artist Zhu KeCheng below.

I recently caught up with one of our all time favourite artists, Yu Chengyou, to see how he is doing and what he is planing for the new year. I found out that he is staying in Hainan during the winter season, one of the sunniest islands in southern China, then he will return to his home town, Harbin, which is the coldest province in Northern China. I like his living plan.

‘Clear Journey’, 100cm x160cm, water-based woodcut, 2015

Mr Yu’s solo show ‘Clean Journey’ recently toured to JiangShu Huaian Art Museum. The exhibition started from 31st Dec. and runs through to 15th Jan. The exhibition includes his recent prints, the size of which has increased hugely, even up to 2m. This is evidently to demonstrate his artistic strength and ability in his profession. The car series and farmer’s  series give the viewer maximum visual impressions.

‘East Red 75’  120cm x 160cm, water-based woodcut, 2014

“Distant . Sunshine” 90cm x 150cm, water-based Woodcut, 2015

Works like ‘East Red’ Tractor and ‘Combine’ Harvester show the progress and the development in our national technology and modernisation. By applying photo surrealism to represent those big machines’ construction, texture, colour, and the micro-details inside is an extreme challenge with the woodcut technique.

Mr Yu has retired from the institute, often invited back to consult young artists in institutes across the country. As shown in the above photo, Mr Yu was recently in the Hunan Changling Printmaking Institute teaching as a visiting Professor.

Mr Yu also released another good piece of news to me: that he has been appointed as one of only 26 researchers across the country selected to join the printmaking department at the China National Academy of Painting in Beijing.

I admire Mr Yu’s artistic creation and his enduring printmaking practice. I also applaud him for his latest achievement and it is delightful to see his art widely shown nationwide.

Words by Aimin Liu.


Chen Qi 2019: Renewal and Coexistence

In July 2019, ArtChina artist Chen Qi left his Huan Tie studio after 10 years of working and moved into a new studio located in the Winery International Park Beijing. During the move, a roll of unused paper from a decade ago indicated his artistic practise in paper-based media creation. It represents the past, the present, and the future.

Chen Qi said: “Life is in the process of growing and changing. So a farewell to the past is not a dead end. Instead, it is a newborn.”

This roll of paper triggered the idea which turned into an exhibition titled “Renewal and Coexistence: Chen Qi 2019”, which commenced at the Amy Li Gallery on 30 November 2019. Two exhibiting spaces in the gallery are occupied by the artist’s new ink paintings, woodblock prints and paper sculpture. Particularly, a 1:1 reproduction of “A place without whence or whiter” is exhibited for the first time in Beijing after it became the most popular artwork in the China Pavilion of the 58th Venice Biennale, 2019.

Images: Exhibition view

Photo: Exhibition opening

The exhibition is divided into two units, namely, “Renewal” and “Coexistence”, which respectively present Chen Qi on two dimensions. One showcases Chen Qi’s sensitivity to time travel, while the other illuminates his ability in terms of interpreting space. By bringing together two dimensions of the artist’s work, the exhibition enables Chen Qi’s complete world view and artist view to be composed. The farewell to the past does not stop Chen Qi’s extension of his previous art context. In Chen Qi’s current practise, his artistic expression and language based on printmaking as well as his insight into the notion of time are continuously being developed and he keeps absorbing new inspiration for his innovations.

Renewal: “Origin of Essence”

In the process of his printmaking practise and research over many years, Chen Qi’s consideration regarding the history and the essential attributes of prints can be reflected in the two viewpoints he put forward in 2018 —“purposeful imprints” and “non-mechanical plural”. The alleged “purposeful imprints” refer to the function of printmaking at present which has long been different from the image reproduction and dissemination of the past. When cameras and digital images have replaced obligations in printing and reproduction, what is the unique identity that makes printmaking irreplaceable? In Chen Qi’s point of view, prints need to keep a clear distance from painting. When printmaking no longer serves as a bridge for image copying, each printing plate is hidden behind the image and every imprint on it is unique.Those purposeful imprints contain rich information of the creator’s psychology, behaviours and emotions as a whole. By being concerned with printing plates and imprints, Chen Qi actually deconstructs the function of printmaking in history, and he attempts to reconstruct its uniqueness as an independent art category in the contemporary art field. The notion of “non-mechanical plural” emphasises the differences and changes that each plate should present in the specific practise of contemporary printmaking. By jumping out of the restrictions of the one plate that corresponds to one image, the simplex “plurality” of printmaking can be broken.

Image: “Origin of Essence” woodblock printing, 185x560cm, 2019

Image: “Origin of Essence” woodblock printing, 185x565cm, 2019

In the unit of “Renewal”, the woodblock printing “Origin of Essence” is displayed together with its woodblock plate, which shows Chen Qi’s continuous exploration of these two concepts. Chen Qi introduced this piece of work in the interview with CAFA ART INFO. He mentioned that the whole picture is composed of two types of images: one is the ripple of water which runs through the context of his art creation; the other is the Arabic geometric patterns. In the Arabic culture, patterns do not serve beauty and decoration, but they explain the world by visualising mathematical reasoning in the form of graphic vision. Through the superposition of these two types of images, Chen Qi would like to express the logic and “rationality” behind everything. In this print, the arranging graphics support the logic and rationality of the dynamic water waves. The mutual switching between these two kinds of images provides viewers with a fantastic visual experience.

Image: View of “Origin of essence”

From the recent work “Puncture the Ice Lack” showcased in the exhibition “Chen Qi —Experimenting With Curation and Comprehension” in Deji Art Museum (Nanjing) earlier this year, Chen Qi continuously attempts the technique of “reduction woodblock print”(减版), which makes his works full of uncertainty. There are five chapters in the work “Origin of Essence” series, and each of them is a monoprint. These five editions are different but interdependent with each other, realising Chen Qi’s deconstruction of prints’ pluralism. During the process of creation, some editions finished with Chen Qi’s perception and control of their particular degree of completion. On this basis, the printing plate was continuously enriched, and the new pictures were able to be gradually produced. Each imprint on this developing woodblock plate demonstrated a choice and an emotion of the creator. In this case, the juxtaposition of the five editions seems to reveal our cognitive process of knowing a matter. It starts with disorder and non-induction but will eventually approach logic and rationality.

Renewal: Flower and Ink

Lily is a new theme in Chen Qi’s artwork, and painting with ink as a medium is also a new artistic language for him.

The story takes place on a roll of paper that appeared during the move of Chen Qi’s studio. What this old paper brings to Chen Qi is a sense of warmth without any desiccation. It is gradually polished to a unique texture over time. Chen Qi painted various forms of lilies with ink on this roll of paper. He mentioned that although the medium of ink requires the creator to paint quickly, he still draws in his own slow pace. He recalled that each time he drew a layer; he then waited for it to dry before he painted the second layer. He created the ink paintings layer by layer. He is obsessed with the blooming feeling and the visual effect of the edges from water stains. He still creates ink paintings within the framework of prints, superimposing layers of colour. However, under the influence of water, the ink and colours depict a sort of emotional splash and integration.

Image: “Lily No.1”  ink on paper, 103x113cm, 2019

Image: “Lily No.2” ink on paper, 85x150cm, 2019

Image: “Lily No.3” ink on paper, 134x180cm, 2019

Image: “Lily No.4” ink on paper, 198x151cm, 2019

Chen Qi found a new artistic language while creating the lily ink painting series, and he took inspiration from this to create “Banquet”. It is different from the general language of ink and wash paintings; it presents expressiveness in itself. In “Banquet”, the ink colour diffuses from the inside to the outside with the infiltration of water. It is an extension of an ink mark, imitating the posture and rhythm of the blooming flowers. In order to break the singularity of evenly filling the blank area, Chen Qi applied the effect of the collision of ink to mobilise the self-expression of every element in the picture. Thus, it realises and resonates with the artist’s emotion.

Image: “Last Lily” ink on paper, 277x152cm, 2019

Image: “Banquet” ink on paper, 329x151cm x4, 2019

Ink is a brand-new creative medium that Chen Qi has engaged in through the practise of printmaking. However, no matter the way of painting or the expression of artistic language, the ideological framework of printmaking always runs through his experimental attempts. Presenting this new series in the section of “Renewal” demonstrates Chen Qi’s artistic shift from previous works to ink painting experiments, and also symbolises the extension of this artistic context in a broader dimension. But for all kinds of extensions, Chen Qi sets an academic language limitation—a divergence based on the dimension of printmaking. His insistence on the inheritance and revitalisation on prints that may reflect the unlimited possibilities of contemporary printmaking that he has proved with his own practise over many years.

Coexistence: “A place without whence or whither”

The Coexistence unit depicts Chen Qi as an artist who is adept in interpreting space and creating a multi-dimensional spatial experience. From “Notations of Time”, to “Wormhole” and “A place without whence or whither”, the notion of “time” acts as a vital clue in Chen Qi’s artistic context. A series of works in this section retrospect his consideration and transformation of it. In particular, Chen Qi’s grasp of time starts from nuanced feelings, captures the passage of time with keen perception and eventually presents a view in a macro universe. Through combining his nuanced perception with the intervention of spatial dimension, Chen Qi visualises the abstract notion of time.

Image: “Exploring the original world No.2”, paper installation, 120x260x30cm, 2019

Image: “A Place without Whence or Whither – ∞”, light installation, 1000x1000x400cm, 2019

The title “A place without whence or whither” comes from the content of “Diamond Sutra”: “It does not matter if it comes; it does not matter if it goes. This is the spirit of Buddha.” In Chen Qi’s view, it reveals the appearance of life—sometimes what seems to be non-existent actually exists. It is the case with daylight and the package of time implicated in the natural changing of light.

The work “A place without whence or whither” was presented as a public artwork outside the China Pavilion of the 58th Venice Biennale. It was a gift of life and time from Chen Qi to Venice. In order to form a virtual and realistic scene, light is transmitted through the engraved “wormhole”, which symbolises the evolution of time and life. With the change of time, the intensity of light and the thickness of clouds both provide different visual effects in the scene.

In this exhibition, Chen Qi applied new media technology to transform this public artwork into a new indoor interactive installation. He attempts to use the multimedia projection device to simulate natural light in three different scenarios, namely, sunlight, moonlight and light in water. Apart from the imitating of the daylight and moonlight reflecting the direct changing of daytime, he introduces the light in water to realise the fusion of reality and illusion. Also, the reappearance of the element “water” traces back to the ideas derived from “Notations of Time”.

Image: View of “A Place without Whence or Whither”

Image: Artist Cheng Hongyu performed Guqin in the opening ceremony

Qiu Zhijie once commented that Chen Qi is an “elegant controller” but a “crazy experimenter”. It is known that printmaking is one of the earliest art categories exposed to technological updates, and it never refuses the involvement of new technologies. Therefore, within the academic framework of printmaking, Chen Qi is practising increasingly diverse art media and languages. For him, it is these experiments that allow the continuous vitality of printmaking.

In the opening ceremony, Wu Hongliang mentioned that he used to use “rationality to the extreme which is super sensible” to evaluate Chen Qi and his art practise. However, from Chen Qi’s new series of works in this exhibition, he thought that such a description was insufficient to conclude Chen Qi. He recognised that Chen Qi could create works in a more relaxed way. He can place the uncontrollable under his control and convey the profound feeling through simple expressions. Chen Qi, as a time traveller, is always experimenting and is always achieving breakthroughs. Thus, it is difficult to depict or comment on his art creations as they have never been fixed and are always updated.

Image: Group photo of honoured guests

This exhibition starts with Chen Qi’s experiment on the concept of his annual solo show, which is planned to be conducted at the end of every year. Chen Qi regards it as a reflection of himself and a presentation of his thinking and creation during the year. As he said: “This series of annual exhibitions are like layers of rock. The thicker it is, the harder it becomes. Year-end means farewell to the past; it also means welcome to the future.” The exhibition “Renewal and Coexistence” showcases Chen Qi and his artistic practise in the year 2019. What kind of “new vitality” will Chen Qi bring in every subsequent year?

Text by Emily Weimeng Zhou
Edited (CN) by Zhu Li
Edited (EN) by Sue
Additional edits by ArtChina UK
Photos courtesy of the artist and the organiser

Cao Ou’s Award-Winning Theatre Landscape Prints Address Environmental Issues

Words by Aimin Liu, founder of ArtChina UK

We’re thrilled to share the great news that in November, one of the young Chinese artists in our collection, Cao Ou’s newest print series continuing his ‘Theatre’ Landscape theme was shortlisted for ‘The Fourth Muban Educational Trust Woodblock Printmaking Award’.

Image: ‘Theatre’ Landscape – Feature Mountain, Water-Based Woodcut, 45x60cm, 2019

Back in June, when I was visiting Cao’s studio in Hangzhou, he was telling me about his ideas for these new works, and he showed me some of his drafted drawings too. Now at end of this year, he not only finished his creations, but also won the award – what an achievement for him, especially while at the same time he has been busy creating, he has also been looking after his young baby.

Image: ‘Theatre’ Landscape – Machine Made, Water-Based Woodcut, 45x60cm, 2019

In the ‘Theatre ‘ Landscape series, the landscapes come from his imagination. They are his own abstract interpretations different from the classical Chinese landscape paintings; the visuals of landscapes in these works have a strong distinction from work created in the old days. This imaginative series, revealed to us by Cao, was created by using difference image coding, media, and methods.

Image: ‘Theatre’ Landscape – Analyse, Water-Based Woodcut, 45x60cm, 2019

Landscapes in Cao’s prints no longer represent nature in our reality; instead, viewers will discover big changes to our environment that have come from importing western culture, technology’s revolution, new techniques, pioneer philosophy, and the fast developments of the cities in China.

Image: ‘Theatre’ Landscape – Unfolded Structure, Water-Based Woodcut, 45x60cm, 2019

Image: ‘Theatre’ Landscape – Waterfall Mountain , Water-Based Woodcut, 45x60cm, 2019

This series has 18 prints. Cao had chosen five of them to participate the competition.

He used the traditional printing technique, called ‘Do Ban’ which dates back to the 17th century. Each of his prints used more than 10 pear wood blocks, and were hand-printed on Pi Paper (a type of bark paper) with water-based ink. This series continues and expands on the style of ‘flat design’ from his previous series which was titled ‘Construction Landscape’. This time, he also added narrative into each print, so that every print not only purely represents the landscape, but you also can also read a story or find more interesting details added into each of them. There are words, figures, animals, houses, and other variety of objects inserted in order to convey to the audience the dynamic relationships between our living environment today and us as human beings. They are meant to evoke further questions ‘How can we protect our blue planet for ourselves right now and for our future generations?’

Liu Shiming: The Spiritual Journey of “Savant II” in New York

As one of the first-generation of native sculptors cultivated in New China, Liu Shiming concluded his artistic creation as the “Chinese Method”, understood from his own experience. In his career as a sculptor that spans more than 60 years, he always maintained a clear distance from the concepts and forms of Western sculpture that dominated his era. Instead, he persistently grounded himself in a local Chinese context, uncovering various styles of folk art within the Chinese tradition and perpetuating ancient Chinese modelling methods. He advocated absorbing nourishment from past clay statues and combining this with modern elements to realise a contemporary transformation. Professor Shao Dazhen once commented on Liu Shiming’s art that he developed the sculptural language from ancient pottery statue techniques, but what he represented was the contemporary life of his time. In Liu Shiming’s artworks, including large-scale themed sculptures commissioned by the state and small-scale pottery statues depicting ordinary people’s everyday life, the development process since the establishment of New China and people’s livelihood are vividly reproduced.

In the twenty-first century, every country is immersed in the context of globalization. Currently, cultural exchanges and art forms are increasingly diverse. What is the significance of re-examining and discussing Liu Shiming and his sculptures in this era? Liu Shiming’s art practice spans more than a half-century and his research process actually illuminates a modern route that characterises Chinese features. This modern narrative inspires artists to “look backwards” and draw inspiration from history. Thus, various creative concepts can be produced and developed based on different eras. The idea exchange and collision brought by placing this modern narrative based on our national identity in the Western context, is one of the primary directions of the project “A Liu Shiming Travelling Sculpture Exhibition” series.

Image: “Liu Shiming Portrait”, Professor Wang Shaojun, Bronze, 2007

Image: Exhibition view

On 28 October 2019, “Departure and Return: Liu Shiming’s Sculpture” commenced in the Asian Cultural Center in New York. In order to deepen the significance of Liu Shiming’s sculpture research and expand the discussion on the origination of his works, a related academic symposium was held at Columbia University in November.

As the first stop of “A Liu Shiming Traveling Sculpture Exhibition” series project, the exhibition in New York presented a systematic and chronological review of Liu Shiming’s artistic career. By combining the topics proposed and discussed in the symposium, the value of Liu and his works in an international context are gradually revealed. When multiple cultures and perspectives converge here, the inner strength and common spiritual ideas behind Liu’s “Chinese Method” are able to be explored in-depth; thus the second exhibition in Washington DC is gradually foreshadowed.

In this case, three sections are discussed in this article as a retrospective to the presentation of the exhibition “Departure and Return” in New York as well as the interpretation of the modernity behind Liu Shiming’s work.

Departure and Return: The Review of Liu Shiming’s Artistic Career

Liu Shiming concluded his life experience and pursuit of his self-statement. Although he experienced vicissitudes in life and drifted around the country, he has always pursued real life. Though he left the bustling capital city for more than ten years after 1931, he engaged deeply with the poor villages and pursued the most affectionate nature in the world and the genuine kindness and beauty of life in the Central Plain Region of China.

Curator Hongmei, the Associate Professor of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, has systematically combed Liu Shiming’s artistic career. From 1946 to 1960, Liu enrolled in Beiping Fine Arts School (now the Central Academy of Fine Arts), where he was supervised by Wang Linyi and Hua Tianyou, members of the first generation of Chinese sculptors to study in France. This study period features Liu Shiming’s acceptance and accumulation of Western sculptural language. Five years of study enabled him to integrate into the French academic school and Rodin’s modern ideas about sculpture. Liu’s graduation work “Measuring Land” won first prize in the “Red May” exhibition and later was collected by the National Museum of Czechoslovakia (now the Czech National Museum). In 1958, aged 32, the sculpture “Cutting Through Mountains to Bring in Water” brought him great social prestige. Following that, he received a number of national commissions and has engaged in different public sculpture projects on glorious history, grand narrative and hero statues. At this time, Liu Shiming and the artistic figures he created not only represented the image of China in the 1950s, but also gained international influence to some extent.

Image: Exhibition view

However, at the time when Liu Shiming experienced honours and successes, he chose to follow his inner calling, moving to remote villages in China’s Central Plains and engaging with people’s daily lives at the bottom of society. By doing so, Liu sought the motif of his art creation. In Liu’s perspective, although the poor people in the village live in a feudal and old-fashioned area, they present infinite vitality and live authentically. These vivid figures were deeply imprinted in Liu’s mind. He desired a language or a container to carry and express themselves.

In 1974, Liu Shiming organized a “health retirement” at the Baoding Mass Art Museum (Bao Ding Qun Zhong Yi Shu Guan) in order to move his household registration back to Beijing to reunite with his family. Once back in Beijing, he restored and replicated artifacts at the National Museum of China. This period of experience presented a significant shift in Liu Shiming’s art career. During his time working in the National Museum of China, he established and persisted in working on his artistic path, focused on the localization of sculpture. Spending seven years working with Chinese artifacts from various dynasties compelled him to concentrate on Chinese historical pottery statues. He began to return to China’s own artistic traditions and realized the emotion and connection contained in the techniques of “kneading” and “modelling” used in these works in the past clay and pottery sculptures. It was at this stage that Liu embarked on a unique path of sculpture based on the local context of China, namely the “Chinese Method” entitled by himself.

Image: “Cutting Through Mountains to Bring in Water”, Liu Shiming, Bronze, 1970

Image: “Guangling San”, Liu Shiming, Bronze, 1986

Since the 1980s, Liu Shiming, who has accumulated a large number of motifs and themes and gradually clarified the artistic language, has come to the outbreak of his artistic creation. In 1980, he returned to teach in the Sculpture Department of CAFA. In CAFA’s electric kiln studio, he made more than a thousand pieces in 15 years. Then in 1995, Liu retired from CAFA and returned to the warmth of his family, continually creating sculptures at home until 2010 when he passed away.

Overall, the artistic career of Liu Shiming is unique. He was educated in the tradition of Western sculpture, but he chose to stay away from Western techniques as he realised the limits in terms of expressing Chinese identity. Instead, he turned to look back to traditional Chinese culture and folk art for an artistic language. In this case, the “Chinese Method” not only refers to techniques developed from classic pottery statues, but also emphasises a bond that connects the root of Chinese culture and the modern expression of current daily life.

The exhibition of Liu Shiming’s sculpture in New York extracted two crucial choices in his life as clues, namely, “departure” and “return”, to sort out artworks and related archives in different stages of Liu Shiming’s art development process. The word “departure” means leaving the glory and prosperity in the capital city and staying a clear distance away from the Western sculptural system in which he was educated. While “return” refers to the time when Liu was back to Beijing after more than 10 years of experience of real feelings of life and an emotional connection among people. He dug into the traditional art and national spirit of China to seek an artistic language to express what he saw and experienced in rural areas, which realised a revival of traditional artistic techniques. Moreover, in his later years, he created pottery works to pin his affections to his family, which manifested in an internal return of his family life and personal emotion.

“You are here.” & “I am here.”: About Liu Shiming

“Savant II” is Liu Shiming’s nickname, which was given by his friends in his early years. Liu has suffered from polio since his childhood. Professor Ma Lu, Dean of Fine Arts Department at CAFA, holds the view that it was such a hell-like experience that made Liu Shiming not afraid of images representing death and hell, but rather eager to learn about Water and Landscape Paintings (Shui Lu Hua, CN.水陆画) and paper-made figures and horses for funeral. When he was a teenager, Liu Shiming liked to go to the Dongyue Temple to see mud-dyed idols. In his memory, in addition to the ghost and gods statues in the temple, he was impressed by the four shocking Chinese characters “你可来了”(Ni Ke Lai Le EN. You are here), which reveals the helplessness of people confronting the hell trial after their death. However, Liu Shiming replied “I am here” (Wo Lai Le, CN.我来了) as the response to the death trail, which shows him as calm and magnanimous. He was well aware of life’s beauty and value so that he could confront the inherent fate of death valorously and frankly.

Liu Wei, the son of Liu Shiming, recalled his father in the article “Long Live Savant II”. Liu Wei mentioned that Liu Shiming contracted polio when he was a child, which later developed into progressive muscular degeneration. “All his life, he searched for ways to cure himself—he often wrote prescriptions for himself.” It seems that Liu Shiming’s destiny may have been fixed since his childhood, but he positively fought against the negative factors in his life. He sought every opportunity to heal himself and exercise himself. He also trained his eyes in the darkness so that he could capture the faint changes and minute details so as to experience various personalities of images.

Image: “Boatman on the Yellow River”, Liu Shiming, Bronze, 1989

Image: “Silk Road”, Liu Shiming, Bronze, 1988

Liu Shiming enjoyed staying with authentic people, and he was always impressed and remembered others’ help and kindness. His enthusiasm for life was intertwined with his experience in the China Central Plains Area. Thus, he gradually clarified the motif of his own art creation. His frank attitude towards death, the interest of hell-related images and his experience of working with cultural relics in the National Museum of China allowed him to retrospect the traditional techniques rooted in the Chinese context in the process of seeking his own artistic language. The trace of history enabled him to achieve his unique way of containing his own artistic image and expressing his emotions.

There is a “humanist spirit” behind Liu’s sculpture. It is either because of his life vicissitudes or due to his life-long consideration of life and death. Based on traditional techniques and the culture of folk art, the “humanist spirit” connects various series of his works and conveys the spiritual energy that is rooted in everyone’s deep heart.

The Spiritual Journey of “Savant II” in New York: The Empathy of Liu Shiming’s Sculptures

Can Liu Shiming’s pottery sculpture based on traditional folk statues be accepted within a Western perspective? Can the national modernity conveyed by Liu Shiming’s art arise resonance across cultures and languages? When Liu Shiming’s sculptures and the“Chinese Method” traveled to New York, the exhibition extended the discussion to the contemporary and cosmopolitan nature behind Liu’s works. Furthermore, the direction and possibility of Chinese contemporary art in the future can be explored as well.

Following the exhibition in Asian Cultural Center New York, the academic symposium featuring Liu Shiming’s art and art spirit commenced at the Columbia University. The symposium integrated topics of “Chinese Method” under the Western perspective, a comparison of Chinese and Western sculptural materials and techniques as well as the emotions and modernity rooted in both cultural contexts.

Image: “Mother Returns”, Liu Shiming, Pottery, 1993

Image: “Self-Portrait”, Liu Shiming, Bronze, 2000

French visual artist Aima Saint Hunon has been exposed to ceramic and pottery art in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, China. This exhibition allowed her to learn about Liu and his works for the first time. From her point of view, Liu’s sculpture can convey the unique soul of Chinese people. Using clay as the medium, Liu expressed the inner portrayal of himself as well as millions of ordinary people in China. His sculptural subjects focus on the daily life which represents the cultural identity and national character of China. As a material, clay is primary and straightforward. It comes from the earth, so the creator can apply their most direct emotion to it. Liu Shiming transferred clay into an intermedia for freedom. The humanist spirit transmitted by his works has spanned languages, cultures and fields and has been passed on to viewers around the world.

The encounter between Liu Shiming and Italian professor and sculptor Dionisio Cimarelli happened as early as 1986. He learned about Liu’s works through his friend’s introduction. At that time, Dionisio was also engaged in the practice of sculptural art and felt the resonance with Liu’s artworks. In his view, Liu Shiming did not make pottery sculptures as maquettes for future works. Instead, he regarded them as the final pieces. Liu Shiming is thinking of clay when he is making sculptures, which is essential. By doing so, viewers can perceive the expression and natural position of the figure. His works feature simplicity and fewer details, which presents Liu’s interpretation of the soul of the sculpture. As terra cotta in the ceramic showcases a part of Italian culture, Dionisio believes clay as a natural material, although simple and cheap, can convey an extremely interesting expression. Dionisio is glad to see the promotion of Liu Shiming as an artist. No matter if they are Chinese artists or Italian artists, they should look back to their history, which does not mean to repeat previous works. Instead, it requires the artists to present the identity of the man in a new and contemporary way. It is worthwhile seeing Liu’s work concentrate on the human being, on expression and the soul of human beings.

Professor Ma Lu, Dean of the Fine Arts Department at CAFA, discussed the spirit behind Liu Shiming’s sculptures. We admire Liu’s works in this era mainly because he has completely jumped out of the conception of the past. From the theme matter, many of his works may be duplicated with others, but the unique feeling inscribed on his sculpture makes his works unparalleled. It is not the subject of art creation but an emotion delivered through works that counts. Such a feeling can provide visual arts with the best content. In this case, Liu Shiming’s sculptures not only bring to the Western art world the intervention of traditional Chinese figurative art techniques, but can also allow viewers to cross the gulf among diverse cultures and languages to experience sincerity in art and the power of the humanist spirit.

In fact, in addition to traditional monumental sculptures, with the development of contemporary art trends and theories, the sculpture itself is developed as a container for the transmission of artists’ thoughts, such as Joseph Beuys’ notion of “Social Sculpture” and Matthew Barney’s constant attempt on diversified experimental sculptures, etc. In such a context, the empathy between artists, artworks and viewers is particularly important, which is reflected as one of the main characteristics in Liu’s sculpture. It is precisely the “modernity” that his work can make discourses for itself no matter what era or field it is in.

The power of this “modernity” is that even if such a work with Chinese characteristics and reflecting Chinese cultural emotions is placed in the Western field and challenges art forms and techniques of Western art, its nationality will not be ignored and dissolved. Instead, its nature and identity attract Western spectators to actively read “Chinese stories”.

The exhibition in New York ended with the exploration of the humanist spirit behind Liu Shiming and his works in the Western context. This issue will be further discussed in the next exhibition “Kindness Expresses Truth and Love” in Washington, DC. As the intersection of Chinese culture and Western culture, the humanist spirit will facilitate the cognition and the insight of Liu’s artistic spirit in the Western context.

Text by Emily Weimeng Zhou
Edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Additional edits by ArtChina UK
Photos by Qi Siyang and Lu Weijia
Courtesy of the organizers

Shop New Prints & Attend Our Seminar

A Seminar: Investing in Contemporary Chinese Art

Mark your calendars: As a part of our ongoing exhibition at Henley & Partners in London, ArtChina will give a seminar on how to invest in art, particularly in Chinese contemporary art, on 6 December, at 20 Grosvenor Place.

Please email Aimin at aimin@artchinauk.com for details if you would like to attend or visit our exhibition before it closes on 15 December.

ArtChina founder Aimin has been asked many times, question such as: China is so big, and with so many artists, so how do I know which to choose if I want to start collecting contemporary Chinese art?” She likes to suggest that they choose the one artwork that first caught their eye and start their collection from that artist, focusing on one print technique or one type of art, beginning with a price they can afford. After a period of time, they will be able to explore the work of new artists and begin to collect higher value pieces.

There are many choices now for collectors who are young or just starting out to discover, starting with some of the brand new prints we’ve recently added to our online shop.

Yu Chengyou: Prints so new you can smell the paint!

Print: ‘River in Autumn’, oil-based woodcut by Yu Chengyou, framed, £200

Yu Chengyou has released a new series of landscape woodcuts, all 22cm x 30cm. “River in Autumn” captures the beauty of autumn colours, golden yellow, burgundy red, sky blue. At the foreground, the reflections of trees with ripples perfectly blended together guide your eyes to the bank, where there’s a contour of a reindeer and Nordmann Fir with contrasting Silver Birches and trees with golden leaves. In addition to a wonderful composition, this print fully demonstrates Yu’s artistic strength and conveys the peaceful aesthetic of nature.

Mu Beini: An intricate new series of lithography prints!

Print: ‘Flower’s Whisper’, offset lithography by Mu Beini, framed: £200

One of the talented emerging Chinese female artists in our collection, Mu Beini has released a brand new series of 10 offset lithography prints titled ‘Flower’s Whisper’. This intricate work was inspired by Mu Beini’s observations of the flowers in her garden each day, in different seasons and weathers, as well as her personal emotions during these studies. The full series is now is available on our online shop.

Art keeps us hopeful!

Roots of Clouds Adrift —Temporality: OCAT Nanjing Public Art Project 2019

First published on CAFA.com

“OCAT Nanjing Qixia Public Art Project”, a long-term public art project designed for the exhibition area of OCAT Nanjing, aims at creating a top-notch public art landscape of China by integrating the socio-cultural ecosystem of Nanjing with the architectural layout of OCT Qixia Project—a cultural and tourist holiday resort real estate project to be constructed in sync with the Qixia Public Art Project. The public art project, as part of the efforts to build the new landmark of urban culture, is also dedicated to bringing pure and cutting-edge contemporary art into Nanjing.

Traditionally known as the “Ancient Capital for Six Dynasties”, Nanjing has bestowed the project with abundant classical resources and topics. To make the best use of them and to guard against the narrow-minded and empty regional nostalgia, the organizer will unroll their discussions in a holistic cultural context by addressing the literary, philosophical, historical, architectural and chorographic dimensions of the city while unifying senses with sensibilities. The cross-disciplinary collaborations of the project will never let their guard down against the abuses of supplanting personal experiences with knowledge systems of any kind, sustaining an in-depth differentiation of the connections and contrasts between the roles of artists and that of the traditional literati and contemporary intellectuals.

Each edition’s “OCAT Nanjing Qixia Public Art Project” features a particular subject and form. Every year, internationally-renowned artists from China and other countries will be selected to make public art in the designated area of the OCT Project in Qixia District, where their works will blend seamlessly into the geographical, recreational and residential space of the area in an effort to transform it into a first-rate outdoor art museum. This project will encompass exhibitions and public projects of various forms.

Mr. Zhu Zhu, the well-known art critic and curator invited to curate the project, has proposed a three-year public art proposal known as “Temporality— Qixia Public Art Project, OCAT Nanjing”.

“Temporality”, emphasizes creative understandings and expressions on “Now and Here”, championing review and reexamination of the historic heritage, traditional values and modernization through artistic practices. Such emphasis on temporality will be exemplified by “Roots of Clouds Adrift”, the second themed exhibition for this ambitious art project.

The exhibition title alludes to the phrase “cloud-roots,” which has multiple meanings in classical Chinese. It refers to mountainous terrain from which clouds arise; it can also refer to mountain-like rockeries in gardens; it can also refer to monastery buildings. For traditional Chinese literati, visiting old temples on legendary mountains was always a favourite activity, and it offered a way to ponder and express themselves in an expansive setting. Qixia Mountain, which is adjacent to the exhibition site, has long been characterized as “a nexus of Nanjing’s history” and “a geological museum.” This mountain not only gives a special view of the ancient city, but it also gives a window upon geographical and historical changes that have affected Chinese civilization overall. In this modern-day environment filled with unsettledness and displacement, the loss of connection with tradition and nature has set us adrift like floating clouds. How can we regain roots to a spiritual homeland, or should we say, how can contemplative dialogue serve as a possible means to reconfigure our cultural disorder and confusion? These questions constitute an important premise for further inquiry. As the British sociologist Mike Featheringstone wrote in his book Undoing Culture, “It is precisely this ongoing fact of relocation and migration, to which some people have attached the label ‘post-modern,’ which is considered to be both a methodological key and a real-life description of the contemporary world.”

This exhibition will strike a note of thematic counterpoint with the previous year’s exhibition “A Flowing Book,” which focused on the element of water. It is both a refrain and a variation on the Chinese cultural theme of landscape (i.e., “mountains and streams”).

Under the premise of respecting the artists’ consistent creative context, the exhibition was bred and structured a kind of artistic creation in dialogue style. The form and composition of the exhibition not only covers installation, sculpture and video art, but also extends to sound art and performance art.

This year, the organizer focuses on the most energetic artists in China, and invites the local independent art institution — “Huamao First Floor”, graphic designer and artist — Zhu Yingchun as participant, as well as, the architect —Chen Weixin to do the space design.

About the exhibition
Dates: Nov 15, 2019 – Mar 8, 2020
Opening: Nov 15, 2019, 16:00
Venue: OCAT Nanjing Qixia Exhibition Site
Artists: Cai Lei, Loris Cecchini, First Floor, Gao Lei, Hu Qingyan, Ju Anqi, Li Jingxiong, Lin Ke, Ni Youyu, Hans Op de Beeck, Catherine Opie, Shi Jinsong, Song Hongquan, Xiang Jing, Yang Fudong, Zhu Yingchun
Courtesy of the Organizer

Looking Back: Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair 2019

Words by ArtChina Founder Aimin Liu

Sunday was our last day exhibiting at this year’s Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair. It was our second time participating in this event. We loved seeing lots of locals walking around with their friends and family, and the fair attracted many printers and students as well, searching for new ideas and inspiration. Alongside the artworks on display at the fair, there were plenty of hands-on activities for children and fascinating talks for the adults. Fair director Jack Bullen very excitedly told that us that tickets sale increased 300% compared with last year! And It has showed during the fours days as a steady flow of people walked through the stands.

One of the most appreciated pieces in the ArtChina stand was “Cranes in the wetland” by Yu Chengyou. This popular image draws upon the nature surrounding the northern China, with wildlife that, through the simplicity of his style, seems tranquil and uncluttered – quite a contrast to the metropolises’ of modern China. It speaks of seeking solace from the madding crowd and industrialisation of China. His work promises something better for us, a peaceful world for which we can strive. These are prints of vision and style, created with analytical precision and imagination that is unique to Yu Chengyou.

One of our youngest artists, Cao Ou’s “Theatre Landscape” series continually caught viewer’s eyes. In this series, he continually uses repeated patterns to form landscapes, the same motif which shows the artist himself strongly concern about our present climate changes and environmental issues. In these latest prints, he executes both technique and aesthetics very well. By contrasting classical objects with modern geometric landscapes and wildlife in his work, he evokes a strong visual effect and the artwork draws out the viewer’s emotions. He certainly has achieved his goal, and at the same time, has also improved his talent in his artistic practise.

One of our young female artists, Kelly Mi’s “AI Series’” which asks what artificial intelligence can do was also very well received. One of her pieces we had on display shows a mechanical babysitter and a robotic lover, depicting perfect harmony. Are there really substitutes for human needs for family bond and true love, Kelly wonders?

A huge thank you to everyone who stopped by our stand to admire the work of these talented Chinese artists and others, and especially to those of you who went home with a piece of artwork for your walls.

The above prints are all available in our online shop, so if you missed us at the fair, there’s still time to catch up!

Cao Ou’s New “Tin Toy Series” at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

Cao Ou talks about his newest work,”Tin Toy Series” as the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair begins today.


This painting addresses the stress of living. The background of the painting is a congested modern metropolis and, without a foothold for a nest, birds can only dully stare at each other in the nest which is supported by an extremely thin pillar. The nest is isolated and in danger, a damaged aircraft is falling towards it, which implies that accidents are unavoidable even though living in an isolated nest. The scene is surrounded by black colour, which is to increase the oppression of the picture, and to create a sense of tragedy.


This painting expresses a confusion I had about my future path and didn’t know where to go when I just graduated. In the picture, it’s a tunnel at the end of the path (because the tunnel is dark, it can be interpreted as the road leading to darkness, but only after passing through the tunnel will the light come). On the road, there are two signposts for passage and no passage, the roadblock is also half open. All those details imply that the choice is yours, you have to make decision on your own, that was the mindset for new graduate.


I was living near a bridge over the Qian Tang River. In the picture, the bridge in the background has a delineated base. Due to the situation of the spring tide, the Qian Tang River drowns people who come to watch it each year, and those victims mostly are tourists. Thereby, I addresses the event as a beautiful thing, while unexpected accidents still happen while people are enjoying it which is not something that can be controlled by human beings.


“LEAP FORWARD”, the title of the work, was implanted with a meaning. In the 1050s in China, there was a historical event of “the great leap forward” which was to develop the social economy at all costs. I was inspired by the fact that I’m living in today’s era of rapid economic development, (certainly conditions of development have improved), yet I want to reflect that there are still some trade-offs. There’s an old saying in China: Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards. In the picture, I depicted an arched roof as a background. It’s a perspective of looking up, and the frogs (referring to the people) are struggling to reach higher. Some of them are already fragmented in their bodies, thus incurring the phenomenon of collapse, signifying overloaded behaviour such as people working overtime, etc.

Contact us for available prints.

New York, It does not belong to the US, it belongs to the world

It has been nearly two months now I have been holding a place as a Visiting Scholar at the university of Alfred in the US. I spend  my time mostly working in the studio, but I have also been to New York recently to visit museums and galleries which I find stimulating in search of additional inspiration. As a Printmaking Artist, naturally I am more interested in the relation between the Printmaking and the contemporary art. Previously I have seen a lot of contemporary art which is mostly connected with the subjects of ‘identity’ and ‘political issues’ in Germany and Italy. Admittedly, I did not understand those artworks, in fact, could not connect myself with them either.

In order to save money, I found a place in Brooklyn. This being a less privileged area, where mostly black population lives, with high instances of crime and shootings occurring daily on the streets, was a totally new experience to what I had been used to as my usual neighbourhood. It was somewhat shocking to witness scenes such as: black people on the street who looked very high, homeless people laying on the bare concrete of the sidewalks. Our landlord is a white man, his wife is a black lady.He is not very hospitable, I am afraid. The day when I drove over from Alfred, I parked, accidentally blocking the fire hydrant. When I brought the $115 fine ticket to my landlord, in the hope he could clarify to me the official details/reason for the fine, his response was utterly unhelpful: ‘This is not my problem, it has nothing to do with me.’

In the days to follow, I have met with the Chinese artists who live oversea, Chinese museum director who I knew from before , friends who are here to study and lecture, etc. We visited the Metropolis, MOMA, GuggenheimMu Art Museum, we went out for dinner in Chinatown, we have been introduced to friends’ friends,  and I had the opportunity to see their real life in New York. We also visited Xu Bing’s studio, and in a few days’ time I will go to the printmaking workshop of the Pace Gallery and so on.

New York is a place  full of confusion,  but at the same time full of desire too. This is a cradle for artists. It has attracted and accumulated all the cultures and all contradictions in the world, but it is still  New York, the centre of the world. People here  always say:  “New York,  It does not belong to the US, it belongs to the world.” I think this sentence can sum up my feelings for New York.

In a few days’ time, I will go back to Alfred University continuing my printing art,  I think the trip to New York has given me more insight knowledge of the world, I hope to express these feelings through my new artworks.

Wrote by Hou Weiguo on October 28, 2019 in Brooklyn, USA

Echo of System: Sui Jianguo 1997-2019

Photo: “Echo of System: Sui Jianguo 1997-2019”.

Since 1997, Sui Jianguo has explored the rich contexts of “classicism, realism, modernism, political pop, conceptual art, and post-conceptualism” and he has tried multiple type of expressive media such as sculpture, performance arts, installation, and moving images. Now, he continues to develop in the era of “3D printing” and “Industry 4.0”. It can be said that he has stationed countless personal coordinate points on the huge map of art and the seemingly indistinct “system” has gradually become clear.

Sui Jianguo’s solo exhibition “SYSTEM” was held in Shenzhen, China in January 2019, an  accumulation of Sui’s art from the past decade.

Photos: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEM

In September, the same curator, Cui Cancan, and his team brought “Echo of System: Sui Jianguo 1997-2019” to the Beijing Minsheng Art Museum. The exhibition features six sections interspersed with several subtitles and more than 200 works, making it the largest phrasal retrospective in his artistic career to date. It was the first time the museum showcased the creations of only one artist on all three floors.

Photo: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEM

The exhibition inspired a variety of interpretations. It provided an outstanding representative and view of a Sui’s work in retrospect, simultaneously encouraging its viewers to reflect on the overall development of Chinese contemporary art.

Over the last 20 years, what kind of system did Sui Jianguo construct and how was it explored?

“The revolutionary era is over, but none of the Chinese have truly taken off their Mao Suits.”

Photo: Sui Jianguo, Legacy Mantle, 1997; fiberglass, 240 × 160 × 130cm

Sui Jianguo was born in Qingdao, China’s Shandong Province, in 1956. He graduated from the Department of Sculpture, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), with a master’s degree in 1989 and he remained at CAFA as a teacher. In 1997, as curator Cui Cancan referred to his work as this, “was not a starting point for Sui Jianguo, nor for sculpture art in China. More or less, it was a time when experiences were superimposing and trends in literature and art were occurring repeatedly.” The year 1997 means a lot to Sui because it was in this year that he came out with “The Legacy Mantel” which was included in the history of Chinese contemporary art and it became a symbol of art of the time.

In his early 40s, Sui Jianguo served as Director for the Department of Sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Together with the teaching team, he reflected on and analysed the basis of the previous experience model while conducting research in universities at home and abroad. It is the first time that he has introduced such concepts as “modernism sculpture, conceptual sculpture, and postmodernism sculpture” into the education programme in the Department of Sculpture. On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of CAFA (in 1998), he succeeded in comprehensively promoting the teaching reform of sculpture. During the period around 1997, Sui Jianguo began to explore art in a broader way and began a variety of trans-boundary experiments.

Photos: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEM

Reconstruction of Classicism, Complexity of the Epoch

Before the reform and opening up, the Western classical realism system from Europe, America, and the Soviet Union became the model. In the following 40 years, modern and contemporary sculptures in China began to undergo developments and tremendous changes.

“Cloth Vein Study—Right Hand” in the central gallery on the first floor, invites spectators to enter into the exhibiting area of “Legacy Mantel” with a group of works around the theme of “CLASSICISM IN CONTEMPORARY THEORY” right in front of the entrance. At the end of gallery, “Mao Suits” look silent and grand; they are parallel to each other which creates a sense of solemnity. It creates an illusion, as if one stands in a Louvre-style gallery of classical sculptures, or in a temple with “Heavenly kings” with intricate thoughts and imagination.

Photo: Photo: Sui Jianguo, Cloth Vien Study—Marx in China 13, 1998; painted fibreglass

Photo: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEM

While looking around, “Jesus”, “Marx”, “Discobolus” and “Great Slaves” dressed in Mao Suits show a dramatic contrast. Western “thoughts, doctrines, and models” have led to a judging of standards, so where can Chinese own modern roads and aesthetic beliefs be found? Does it ignite the equality of values when a unified modelled coat is put on? Under the huge hollow body, what should be used to fill the spirit? Sui Jianguo reinterprets the classical category of works and presents reflections and deconstructions on the national and artistic roads over the past century.

After the millennium, thought trends and standards have been subjected to constant innovation, and everything has been greatly affected by the influence of consumerism. In the chapter “THE COMPLEXITY OF GLOBALISATION AND CONSUMERISM” the “dreary” pile of works reveal a form of information: Sui Jianguo has also stepped into a ‘disorderly middle ground” in his art explorations.

The symbolic sculptures of “Mao Suits” are reproduced in multiple colors and array; representative of social entrepreneurs and public figures who are embedded in the flesh of the “new discobolus”, lined up with the same posture and different appearances; lovely pandas, as well as fairy tales of the windmill cows create a pleasant atmosphere, where realism and contemporary art are juxtaposed. All the works, in a complex and magical exhibition space, mirror and blend well with each other.

Photo: Sui JIanguo, MADE IN CHINA, 2005; neon lamp L2000cm

Photo: Sui Jianguo, Dinosaur of Windy City, 2009; steel structure, H540cm

Curator Cui Cancan commented: “Sui redirected his attention from the idea of sculpture itself to the focus of conflict of sociological narratives and popular culture.” Here “MADE IN CHINA” and “THE DINOSAURS” are presented as special units. Both of them adopt the concept of ready-made products. “MADE IN CHINA” branded the most realistic and specific social relationship. The giant red stamps of “MADE IN CHINA” and the deconstructed slice of dinosaurs obtained a visual dominance through amplification while challenging people’s experience of visiting the exhibition.

As Sui Jianguo once said, “An epoch creates individuals, and individuals also highlight the epoch.” In the era of globalisation, artists’ perceptions, reflections, and feedback on cultural symbols are concentrated under the externalisation of these ideas. They do not just witness and tell about the past, but they do hint at the future.

The Motivation of Conceptual Art

Photo: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEMS

Sui Jianguo’s solo exhibition has aroused a strong sense of feelings about change. When he shuttles through different “systems” he will suddenly jump to the era when he “presents”. In 2006, he entered a crucial period of conceptualism. Through 900 km away from the remote control of other people, he created paintings; more than 10 positions set to record the video of a travelling train; jointly pushing a car to more than 50 meters away…Obviously, Sui Jianguo’s eyes shifted to the study of creative behaviour and the process of presentation.

The image and result of creation cease to be the artist’s purpose, the concept is prioritised and the moving images, installations, and performances become another means of “sculpture.” Manuscripts, sketches, and production methods in action become a part of the work. This also opened up new perspectives and new models for Sui Jianguo.

The work at the latter exhibition hall, “Three Stones” reinforces the conception. Stones that have been grabbed at random become the creative body and the origin, and it has the meaning of “nature is the creator.” The artist broke an established purpose. The contingency and randomness dominated the creation. Everything was attributed to fate, but then they were given new meaning by human beings. At the end of the first floor, the huge ball of the movement was recorded differently. The image of the trajectory may be a metaphor for the trajectory of Sui Jianguo’s trekking. He walked between various “isms”, introspected, reconstructed, and communicated, with thousands of turns and often overlapped, but never stopped. At this point, Sui Jianguo’s joint work with other trends that began in 1997 was approaching its end.

Shuttling through Clouds in the Garden to Capture the Shape of Time

“Limited scenes. Form a space that is indispensable, everything is visible, considerable, and sensible; infinite creations, pointing to a trend of change at any time, like the beginning of a dark tunnel.”

Photos: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEM

Although a tunnel is dark, there is light guiding in the darkness. The 50-year-old Sui Jianguo found a “skull” which was dug up occasionally, and he naturally accepted the thought of “knowing one’s fate in one’s fifties” which also triggered the capture and interpretation of “uncertain”.

Since 2008, he has pushed the concept further, and the second floor has concentrated on important works from 2008 to 2019. The “Cloud Garden” series built by the scaffolding in the middle hall is like a silver stalactite cave, glittering and light, but also huge and heavy. This “cloud” is not a cloud,” but is intended to be a drive storage, created by 3D printing via photosensitive resin, hand-scratch traces and fine fingerprints are enlarged, subverting the inertia idea, the original accidental small piece of “mud” through an art conversion has obtained the monumental attention of the public, the ancient “mud” has been re-interpreted. Sui Jianguo once expressed his views on new technologies: “3D printing technology has become a new ‘artificial organ’ beyond the original vision and the touch of human beings.” The original sculpture characteristics have obtained vitality with the intervention of emerging technologies. With extraordinary shock, they occupy the entire field.

Then, the four spaces of “behaviour and action”, “proportion and cutting”, “material and surface” and “work site” are connected and followed the previous space. Since 2008, Sui Jianguo has used sculpture as an object of imitation. He started with the basic modelling rules, smashing, pinching, pulling, and cutting from the combination, zooming in, zooming out, cutting, etc… The core is placed on exploration and dialogue, and he realises the infinite possibilities between “the instrument and the Tao”. The massive group of objects have different forms, mixed with time and behaviour, and they become the “material evidence” of the externalisation of thinking, the record of action and the concept.

Photo: Sui Jianguo, Shape of Time, 2016-2018; paint

Photo: Sui Jianguo, Physical Trace, 2012; video projection, 7m18s

Through this pile of meteorites in various shapes, the reverberating “system” will excite more intense resonances in the cavity. More than 1,430 manuscripts in different sizes and shapes in the South Gallery run through the central axis. At the end, the “Shape of Time” is the starting point for the whole story. The blue paint ball that has solidified for twelve years suddenly broke the fantasy for time: people will feel incredible, does time really have shape? What is the shape of other people’s time?

The existence of the abstract change of “time” is still inconclusive. People can only describe it by individual reference. This kind of implication and mystery is not separated from its source. As Cui Cancan said: “‘The Shape of Time’ echoes the most central part of Sui Jianguo’s concept of creation; that is, the constant transformation of time and space, the beginning of a dark tunnel, the formation of a new concept of time and space and a world view.”

On the two sides of the central axis of the exhibition hall, there are six different spaces which display the earliest mud drafts and various details of the “Portrait of the Blind” where the artist’s creative process is clearly visible. Sui Jianguo said: “From the time of ‘The Blind Portraits’ in 2008, I put my body and its movements at the core of the work. In day-to-day work, the sculptor’s body and repetitive sculptural movements (behaviours) are as important as the finished sculptures. The sculptural medium is the field of the sculptor’s actions and movements; the sculpture is a proof of the presence of the sculptor’s body and sculpture.”

Photo: Sui Jianguo, Deviation from 17.5 ° Installation, 2007; cast steel, 120cm × 120cm × 120cm

Photo: Sui Jianguo, Motion and Tension, 2009; steel and electric machine, dimensions variable

In this long and complicated system, the intervention of behaviour, the accumulation of time, and the change of ideas are all revealed, and one of the factors that we cannot ignore is the technical renewal, and its intervention has no doubt a great influence on Sui Jianguo’s creation.

Both the curator and the artist mentioned the important value of technology. “If there is no 3D printing, traditional sculpture cannot be used to cut the fingerprints.” The production method is important but the artist is more valuable.

“Body in 3D” becomes the final conclusion of the exhibition hall. “It ends the history of imitating nature, expressing emotions or ideas in the history of sculpture.” Obviously, from “The Shape of Time”, more than 1,430 manuscripts to “Body in 3D”, Sui Jianguo injected these thoughts into the works for more than ten years, and the “unfinished, lively feelings” which are deliberately reserved will inevitably create a situation of dialogue with the audience, and he also intends to stimulate different thoughts.

Photos: Exhibition View of ECHO OF SYSTEM

When technology has a qualitative impact on the connotation and extension of sculpture, the boundaries of art are constantly being dispelled and expanded. The old system is being broken, the context is expanding, and the future is going to evolve. The artists, as if they were born with insight, thinking, and action challenge the solidified experience. The system can be reformed, destroyed, and restructured to welcome the establishment of a new system. From the beginning to the end, the artist is the core of energy.

Text by Zhang Yizhi
Translated by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Additional edits by ArtChina UK
Photo Courtesy of the Organizer

Regional Art Exhibition Model and the Myth of the Anren Biennale

Originally published by CAFA Art Info.

Photo: The Press Conference of the Second Anren Biennale

The question of how to inject the vitality of contemporary art into an ancient town full of historical emotions is no longer a new one, although geographical differences make similar attempts seem unique. The entry of contemporary art into the cultural ecology of ancient towns, in most cases, leads to an increase in existing cultural resources. This dualistic cultural industry strategy of presentation provides a unique perspective for research in contemporary art.

Regional and Biennale Models

Regionalism as an increasingly prominent element of a biennale has become the unique temperament of the biennale, which has also made the biennale become prey to commercial spies. A mature and well-known biennale has already established huge influence and has become a potential space for commercial development. The Documenta in Kassel abandons the light touch of business with a serious academic attitude; the Venice Biennale creates the most enjoyable artistic dreams while accepting the shackles of business; the Japanese Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, awakens the country with art, which also serves as the most nutritious fertilizer to heal the earth.

Photo: Li Jiankang, Deputy County Magistrate of Dayi County, Chengdu, delivered a speech

Photo: Qiao Xiaoyan, General Manager of OCT Culture and Tourism Development Company at Anren, Chengdu, delivered a speech

Photo: Co-curators introduced Second Anren Biennale

Looking back at art biennales in China, the first that took place in the country was “Guangzhou Art Biennale (oil painting) in 1992. Since then, with the development of art in China for over 30 years, the biennale model has become the most important driving force and method for the development of Chinese contemporary art.

China is not the pioneer of the biennale model, but it strives to be the biggest user of this model. Different historical situations have endowed different epochal routes, and regional choice has given advanced thought to the Chinese biennale. The opening of biennales from the first-tier cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing show that the art of urban selection has become a feature of the early biennales. However, the urban culture sentiment, which is too homogenous, makes the biennales gradually lose their new provocation to the public. Perhaps a city’s capital magic makes art a tool that is readily available for commercial promotion, and it is difficult for the public to concentrate on the art itself. Regional advantages have gradually subsided in the development of China’s urban biennales, which has led to the glamour of urban biennales gradually disappearing.

Photo: Artist Miao Xiaochun made a speech

Photo: Artist Xu Bubing made a speech

When the paces of cities slows down, ancient towns and villages become another option for art exhibitions. When cities gradually lose their unique geographical advantages––ancient towns which are full of rich cultural and historical emotions and are pleasant regional environments––become particularly prominent choices favored by tired urban people. The Wuzhen contemporary art exhibition mode, combined with the strong advantage of the cultural resources and the vitality of contemporary art, also provides more space for commercial operations. A benign art exhibition model will allow commercial modes to swim freely while also suppressing negative business practices.

Could the Anren Biennale Recreate the Myth?

Photo: Communications at the Press Conference

Photo: Communications at the Press Conference

Any successful art exhibition model will quickly attract the attention of scholars and businessmen. The Wuzhen model and the Anren Biennale are both imitations of successful experiences. The non-replica of Wuzhen area is precisely the rationality of Anren’s attempt. The non-essential features of the ancient town’s long-term brewing make the imitation traces cease to be offensive. Art has become an inspiration for the outline, which encourages the integration of business and culture, past and present, elite and public, leisure and bustling, and makes it all into a rationalized model for an art exhibition.

The Anren Biennale seems to have some unique strengths, and the confidence that culture is injected into the ancient town is extraordinarily abundant.

First of all, Anren has a unique historical and cultural past and the resources to go with it, as well as beautiful natural tourism resources. Located in the western part of the Chengdu Plain, the ancient town of Anren condenses the modern history of the western Sichuan in the past century. The ancient town has completely preserved 27 old mansions in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, 35 modern museums, sculptures of the “Rent Collection Courtyard”, Jianchuan Museum Group, and so on. Thus it is known as the “Chinese Museum Town.”

Photos above: The Old Town of Anren

Secondly, the injection of OCT (Overseas Chinese Town)’s commercial strength, has conducted explorations in models with a sense of mission. With the support of the local government, OCT Group is looking forward to making Anren Ancient Town into a business model which also takes into account multiple interests, and on this basis, it will achieve fame and fortune. The OCT Group’s attention and promotion of Chinese contemporary art demonstrates the unique wisdom and “goodwill” of commercial capital. But without the support of funds, art may still remain in the state of primitive society. Art needs to embrace money, but it cannot sleep like a baby in arms of capital.

Thirdly, the Biennale has a professional curatorial team. The artistic level of the Anren Biennale has obtained a better artistic status after the first survey. The curatorial team does demonstrate its strong artistic resources and the Biennale features the works of Chinese and foreign contemporary artists. However, the purpose of the exhibition is not just to provide the spectators with the benefits of appreciation, but it also trigger more artistic contemplation before and after the exhibition, so that Anren becomes a place steeped in the art of thinking.

Photo: Poster for A CONFRONTATION OF IDEALS, The Second Anren Biennale

The forthcoming Second Anren Biennale, themed “A CONFRONTATION OF IDEALS”, will open the strategic pace of international art exhibitions at Anren. The transformation of Anren from the “old town of the Republic of China” to the “Chinese Museum Town” is also a possibility for exploration in the developments of urbanization with Chinese characteristics.

Text by Lin Lu
Edited and Translated by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Additional edits by ArtChina
Photo Courtesy of the Organizer

Fang Xiaolong: Chinese Artist-Curator to Give Talk & Workshop at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

This week, I would like to introduce another young talent artist, Fang Xiaolong, to you. He’s going to be giving a talk and holding a workshop during our Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair exhibition in London, from 7-10 November, 2019. We’ll be announcing the exact times and dates on social media soon. 

Fang was born in Shanghai, China. He is a candidate of Professional Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of East London. Fang completed his Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking at Kendall College of Art and Design located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. 

Image: “Chinese Dry Out·No.1”, 60cm × 90cm, reductive coloured woodcut

Fang’s works have been collected by different art museums and included in many private collections. He’s currently is a member of Shanghai Artists Association, China Art Research Institute as well as American Midwest Printmaking Artists Association. Fang’s video interview was shown at 2015 Venice Biennale. In addition to working professionally as an artist, Fang is also involved in supporting cultural exchanges between artists from different cultural background.

Image: “Chinese Dry Out·No.2”, 60cm × 90cm, reductive coloured woodcut

With extensive interests in the interaction between cultures, Fang’s works mostly circulate around the theme of cross-cultural interaction, with a focus on linguistic translations, particularly the translation and interaction between the East and the West. In further exploration, growing from the experience of living in different cities and nations, Fang narrows in on the emotional relationship people have with their environments, and the culture identity they struggle with as these environments evolve over time.

Image: “Migration 2013-1”, 52cm × 172cm, black & white woodcut

Beyond his personal identity as an artist, Fang has always maintained a passion for exhibition curation. The concept of slashing the identity of an artist and a curator shares similar features of the conceptual ideas applied in Fang’s work; he constantly seeks to explore the hybrid features and ideas between these identities, attempting to break the boundary between the two. Fang purposely chose the exhibition with giant installation works, with the intention of closing the boundaries between being an artist and a curator. Fang has successfully curated some international art exhibitions in Shanghai, aimed to promote communication between the West and the East, such as the Greetings from the West to the East, and A Prayer, A Wish, A Spell.

Image: “Spring Sea in the Distance – A Day in Eternity”, 34cm × 100cm, screen-printing

By exploring the concept of “multiple identities” as an artist-curator, Fang continues to develop skills as an artist while adding other skills that will help to build his career in the world of art. 

Visit the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair website for tickets.

Continuous Images: A Father and Son Dialogue

2017 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Zong Qixiang.

During this year, a series of chronological exhibitions, along with archival documents that researched Zong Qixiang’s artistic context, were launched. It is this series of events that have made Zong Qixiang, known as a student of art master Xu Beihong, and his typical artistic style of “the integration of Western and Chinese art”, gradually emerge within the realms of the academic and the public. However, after the bustling atmosphere of Zong Qixiang’s centennial birthday, how can Zong Qixiang and his work be further recognized through exhibitions, publications and research in the future? This is a topic academics should be exploring.

Image: Zong Qixiang sketching in Lijiang, 1978

In September 2019, the exhibition “Continuous Images: Art Dialogue Between Zong Qixiang and Zong Haiping” commenced in Shixiang Space, which could be regarded as a contemporary attempt to continue the discussions on Zong Qixiang. The exhibition presents 68 sketches from Zong Qixiang, together with 68 photographs of Zong Haiping who created in the way of tracing the original sites of his father’s paintings. Using a form of artistic dialogue to represent Zong Qixiang’s creative thread, this exhibition intends to discuss the themes of paintings and photographs, father and son, family and country, as well as epoch and art.

Images: “Continuous Images: Art Dialogue Between Zong Qixiang and Zong Haiping” – Exhibition view

When stepping into the exhibition hall, spectators may notice that the entrance hall is divided into four sections by a rotating mirror poster, namely, “Curator’s Words”, “Qixiang’s Sayings”, “Haiping’s Phrases” and “The Public’s Interpretations”. The main hall features four pillars marked “East”, “South”, “West” and “North”, which indicates the various original coordinates of Zong Qixiang’s sketches. Moreover, paintings and corresponding photographs are attached to opposite sides of the numbers of hanging devices. The use of mirrors and the time tunnel-like design of chronology transform the space into a contemporary exhibition scene.

Although Zong Qixiang’s landscape paintings are with the imprint of times, the delivered spirit behind those paintings remains lively and fresh. He used brushes to record the national landscapes, social changes and urban scenery from 1939 through to 1992. Based on this, Zong Haiping has traced his father’s footprints and used the camera as the tool to represent the views recorded in Zong Qixiang’s paintings, and he further integrates them with contemporary social images and people’s livelihood.

Images: View of Preface Hall

Exhibition Space: Painting Frame, View-finder and Dialog Box


Liu Xiang, the designer of the exhibition space, shared his design concept in the opening ceremony. The form in terms of involving corresponding photographs with Zong Qixiang’s original artworks is unique compared to any other previous exhibitions related to Zong Qixiang. The use of light-boxes and mirrors has reinforced the concept of father and son dialogue across time and space. The notion of “frame” repeatedly appearing in this exhibition can be interpreted through three perspectives, namely, Zong Qixiang’s painting frames, Zong Haiping’s camera viewfinder and the dialog box. Various dimensional understandings of “frame” encounter each other in this space.

Immersing in such a space for dialogue, spectators can move around to view 68 sets of photographs and paintings. The time tunnel-like chronology depicts Zong Qixiang’s life experience in every decade, which implies the shared future of Zong Qixiang and Zong Haiping. At the very end of the times tunnel, the image of Zong Haiping’s daughter showcases the next generation’s inheritance.

This dialogue around Zong Qixiang and his artistic inheritance is visualised in the exhibition hall using the language of design. It leads the audience to reflect on China in the last century, meditate on and experience the present and look to the future.

The Scenes Behind the Paintings: Zong Qixiang’s Artistic Representation


Image: Zong Qixiang, Han River at Night, Ink and Color on Paper, 49×68.4cm, 1979

Image: Zong Qixiang, Luxun’s Former Residence, Ink and Color on Paper,31.3×43.5cm, 1956

Image: Zong Qixiang, Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Watercolor on Paper, 30.2X38cm, 1955

Image: Zong Qixiang, Wuhan Wharf, Ink and Color on Paper, 31.2X43.7cm,1955

In Zong Qixiang’s artistic career, he advocated to experience life in-depth and learn from nature. Through real-life sketching, Zong Qixiang explored the charm of the famous mountains and rivers across China and recorded our changing society. Various motifs involved in his paintings in this exhibition witness his experience over thousands of miles and efforts on depicting a number of scenes during his entire life.

When Zhou Zhilong recalled his supervisor Zong Qixiang’s sketches in the opening ceremony, he described the details of those drawings as a few strokes, some small arrows and a few words which greatly impressed him. “They are abstract and even not readable.” Zhou Zhilong commended on those sketches. He explained that Zong Qixiang’s sketches are nothing about technique, but it is the instant experience and considerations that count. Based on these abstract lines and patterns, the artistic transformation can eventually be realized.

Image: Zong Qixiang, Tian’anmen Square, Watercolor on Paper, 26.5×39.9cm, 1954

Image: Zong Qixiang, The Back Hill of the Summer Palace, Watercolor on Paper, 17.7×12.6cm,1977

Zong Qixiang developed the traditional way of expression in his landscape paintings by involving western notions. During his exploration of “the integration of Western and Chinese paintings”, he introduced the concepts of perspective and light and shadow into ink paintings, which enables Chinese ink paintings to become lively and bright. Viewing Zong Qixiang’s works at present, audiences can experience both a sense of history and an eternal spirit and emotion behind these works.

A Dialogue Between Father and Son: About Love and Inheritance


Curator Yu Yang uses painting and photograph, father and son, home and country as well as epoch and art to summarize the contents of this exhibition. Besides Zong Qixiang’s homeland feelings and times which are conveyed through his works, the dialogue between father and son across time and space could be the most touching composition in this exhibition.

It is known that Zong Qixiang’s night scene painting is both characteristic and an excellent embodiment of his exploration of “integrating Western and Chinese paintings”. By employing Western painting techniques and combining them with Chinese painting media, Zong Qixiang used the darkness of the ink in various degrees to outline the foreground and background. He paid attention to depicting the changing clouds and misty moonlight to present a peaceful night scene.

Image: Zong Qixiang, The Night of Rong Hu, Ink and Color, 46×69.5cm, 1992

Image: Zong Haiping, The Night of Rong Hu, Color Ink on Paper, Photograph 2013.8.14

In Zong Haiping’s perspective, taking the camera as a vehicle to deliver his artistic pursuit, he traces his father’s ways of exploration and focuses on the same coordinates as the scenes in Zong Qixiang’s paintings for recreation. Additionally, he involves elements such as vibrant lights and colors in his photographs to showcase the contemporary development and social and technical changes as well as scene representation.

Since 2013, when Zong Haiping conducted the “contrast photos” project, the whole process has showcased a family dialogue between father and son, as well as an artistic inheritance between two generations.Mr. Xu Qingping shared his feelings regarding the rapid development of this new epoch in China at the symposium after the opening ceremony. In his view, in this era, although many artists could paint with machines, he believes that the more rapid development and transformation that has been triggered, the more valuable a real painter is. Zong Qixiang used ink and brushes not only to depict realistic scenes but also to inject fresh vitality and a dynamic spirit into the subjects. In Zong Qixiang’s works, an artistic expression based on the artist’s examination, consideration, selection and transformation to realistic subjects can be embodied. By doing so, artworks can stay alive and vivid after experiencing significant social development and changes over hundreds of years.

Image: Zong Qixiang, Elephant Trunk Hill, Ink and Color on Paper, 31.7×41.6cm, 1988 Autumn

Image: Zong Haiping, Elephant Trunk Hill, Photograph, 2013.8.12

In a word, from the perspective of the form of an exhibition, this dialogical display is a successful contemporary attempt in terms of promoting the senior generation of artists. Meanwhile, it also intends to invite spectators to make reflections – in this new era featuring highly technological art and digital media. When retrospecting predecessors’ life experience and artistic spirit, what we can learn from and inherit are not only techniques but also perseverance and strength of character.

Text by Emily Weimeng Zhou
Edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photos courtesy of the organizer
Additional edits by ArtChina UK

The Life & Energy of Tang Chenghua’s Art

Words by By Fan DiAn (Dean of the Central Academy of Fine Art)

Recently, artist Tang Chenghua has embarked on a journey of rediscovering the traditions of his Chinese cultural roots.

For many years his main practice has been in printmaking. He has a lot of experience in printmaking, therefore, he has always focused on how to interact with the roots of Chinese tradition through printing language. He completed further study and research of Chinese paper and Chinese printing, especially the process of making Chinese paper to define his artistic concept and culture.

He went to deep in the mountains of Sichuan to learn about the technology and join in on the folk workshops of papermaking in order to create a type of paper made of silk. He has not only broken through the original paper-making technology but also, and more importantly, he discovered “Tang silk”, the artistic roots of Chinese silk paper.

His approach and concept is very interesting. He goes back to the purest starting point, and then reconnects with the silk paper in terms of texture, medium, size and performance in an emotional, conceptual and cultural way.

This time, though he dedicated himself to this traditional proposition, he is actually a contemporary artist who injects new life into the traditional culture roots. Therefore, since he completed the transformation, there are traces of printmaking in his new artworks — not prints anymore, but painting marks. His work is not simply a painting on paper; rather it brings together his own self and comprehensive environment with the whole process of creating silk paper, plus the visual work formed by working with the silk paper. His artworks have become spaces in which a lot of information is condensed.

These works will bring a new experience to his audience, and we can see that the art of Tang Chenghua is moving towards an even broader scope yet to come.

It was 40 degrees celsius while he was creating his newest works this summer, shown here. These works will exhibit next week through the end of December 2019 in London’s Belgravia at our Henley & Partners exhibition. Viewings are by appointment only. Please contact us to arrange.

The Story Behind Chen Qi’s Print Series “The 24 Solar Terms” – Part 2

Today, we are going to have a closer look some of the 24 water-bated woodcuts from Chen Qi’s print series that we introduced last week, “The 24 Solar Terms”.

“Beginning of Spring” symbolises the start of life, the beginning of the rebirth of all things, where birds taking off from the ground into the sky indicate the arrival of Spring, along with which grows hope.

Image: “Beginning of Spring”, woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1994

Image: 《雨水》Rain Water”, woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1993

Image: 《惊蛰》Waking of Insects”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1993

The scene of “Spring Equinox” was taken from the window of Nanyi printmaking studio, where there was a tall plane tree with thick leaves and fruits every summer. When I saw the dead branches in the snowy scene, I naturally thought of its lush summer. The bird on the ground has a certain symbolism; I put myself in the picture, in the lonely cold, and had a dialogue with nature.

Image: “《春分》Spring Equinox”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1993

Image: “《清明》Pure Brightness”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm×87cm, 2008

Image: 《谷雨》Grain Rain”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1993

Chen Qi’s landscape is modern Chinese scenery, is the feeling of the injured and sleepwalkers suddenly pulled out of the world’s audio line, the earth suddenly frozen in the moment of absence, red dust is not far away, unable to escape, but these silent moments enough to explain the fate of the background colour.
-by Qiu Zhijie

Image: 《立夏》Beginning of Summer”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 2014

Image: 《小满》Grain Full”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1993

Image:《芒种》Grain in Ear”, 水印版画 woodblock print, 63cm × 87cm, 1994


Please contact us for available prints. 

If you missed Part 1, you can read here

The Story Behind Chen Qi’s Print Series “The 24 Solar Terms” – Part 1

Words by Chen Qi

“The 24 solar terms” is one of my representative series of works created in the 1990s. The series covers a long period of time, from 1991 to 2015. At the beginning of this series, I had no plan to create 24 pieces, but I couldn’t stop myself while I was in an inspired state. I have created 19 works in two years time. At that time, I thought this part of the series was finished too fast, so I wanted to work on “Qingming Festival”, “Great Cold”, “Slight Heat”, “The Beginning of Summer”–those four solar terms–slowly. But after unexpected productive period, I had gradually forgotten the “homework”, which I had set up for myself.

Image: Great Heat”, water-based woodcut, 63x87cm, 1993

In 2007, I began to realise that my artistic concept and creation context had changed a lot from more than a decade ago. The rapid development of urbanisation in China has blurred the boundary between urban and rural areas. If I don’t finish the last few works, I’m afraid it will be difficult to completely present my original ideas in this series. So I made up my mind that I must spare some time and allocate my energy to finish the last few works, which would bring the series to a successful end.

“The Beginning of Summer,” created in 2015, is the last piece in the series. It has been 34 years since the first work in 1991. It shows the scenery of a river which is located outside the fifth ring road in northeast Beijing. Every time I go to the studio, I pass this river. From the bridge, you can see “Wang Jin District” in the far distance, the newly built BoLi building and planes taking off and landing.

Image: “The Beginning of Summer”, water-based woodcut, 63cmx 87cm,2015

There are always two threads through my works, one rational and critical, the other emotional and lyrical. “The 24 Solar Terms” belongs the second type of work.

In 1991, my mother-in-law removed her house. At that time, we borrowed a transitional house in the suburb of Nanjing. We would go to visit her every weekend. Normally we would have dinner together, then I would go to the surrounding area for sketching. At the time, the place had a distinct urban and rural fringe, with a few high-rise residential buildings standing out from the edge of a large paddy field.

When I did my sketching, there was no deliberate recording of these things, but when these scenes are combined and composed into a complete picture, it provokes a ritualistic commemoration. Looking back at these works today, you can really feel the change of times and the passage of time.

These scenes are very ordinary, plain, without beauty in the general sense. But it is these seemingly ordinary, plain images which people might normally turn a blind eye to, that can open our feelings which have sealed up, and wake up the collective resonance of our hearts. I have a friend who saw these works and said that the scene in the picture is his hometown. In fact, I have not been to his hometown; I think maybe these landscapes are so ordinary that they have a kind of universality.

Image: Summer Solstice”, Water-based woodcut, 63cm x 87cm, 1993

Next week, we will show you more images of this series and some stories behind each print. Stay tuned.

The Realm of Flowers: The Art of Fu Chunmei

Words by ArtChina founder Aimin Liu

My friendship with Fu Chunmei has bloomed, as beautifully as the flowers in her paintings, and her career as an artist. I’m delighted to see her solo exhibition has successfully finished last month in New York, and thrilled to announce that soon ArtChina will exhibiting her paintings here in the UK. Today, I am so excited to give you a glimpse of her new works and introduce my friend to you. 

“Whenever I see the plants endure growth, I believe that the seasons will not take them away. They live tenaciously both in the fields and in my pictures. Wherever I am, I am always as infatuated with plants as I am with this world generally,” she said.

Photo: The Realm of Flowers – series, mixed media on canvas, 50x40cm, 2019

We can all see the reasons why we are so obsessed with plants; they continue to demonstrate the life cycle through blooming to falling back into the soil, season after season, year after year, in front us, reflecting a shorter cycle of human’s life itself.

Photo: The Realm of Flowers – series, mixed media on canvas, 50x40cm, 2019

In her paintings, Fu Chunmei divides the surface into several sections or pieces with different colours. This is not purely for the purposes of composition, but is actually suggesting the two sides of the journey of our lives. When we see these different ways of applying colours within the same painting, the psychological reflection caused by that visual transformation is the sigh of a short life. Those blooming flowers will lose their shine in an instant, and how can we not be saddened? Her strong affection for plants has appeared in most of her painting in varying degrees.

Photo: The Realm of Flowers – series, mixed media on canvas, 50x 70cm, 2019

From the depths of her brushstrokes, she works to communicate her passion ,and has devoted herself to painting every details of her subject. She painted the meridians of the mosaics as capillaries until she conveyed to a sense of life. And her fascination with life is reflected in the delicate details of the flowers and leaves, which reflect in turn on her own experience of translating the cycle of life into an artistic process.

Photo: The Realm of Flowers – series, mixed media on canvas, 50x 70cm, 2019

Contact us for prints and stay tuned as we update our website with Fu Chunmei’s work.

OCAT Institute Announces Annual Lecture Series by Craig Clunas

Originally posted on OCAT Institute

Three Transnational Moments in the History of Chinese Art

This series of three lectures concentrates on the first three decades of the twentieth century, when the two binary oppositions of modern/traditional, and East/Westfirst came to be applied to the art of China. It attempts to place the developments of this period in a wider framework, by paying close attention to the specific acts of translation and transposition which moved ideas and objects around the globe at this point, making for an unprecedented degree of transnational input into the way Chinese art was understood globally at this time. Each lecture takes as its starting point a pair of encounters between individuals, texts and places, to examine how an understanding of ‘the cosmopolitan’ – here defined simply as ‘how people have thought and acted beyond the local’ – can deepen our understanding and appreciation of the culture of this key period. Arguing that ‘cosmopolitanism is not a circle created by a culture diffused from a centre, but instead that centres are everywhere and circumferences nowhere’, the series will try to find new ways of studying the modern art of China which finally move us beyond concepts like ‘influence’, to understand flows and connections in a more complex manner.

Lecture 1:
1902-1903: Xie He in Calcutta, and Nakamura Fusetsu in Paris

The first lecture of the series takes as one of its starting points the first engagements outside Asia with the ‘Six Laws’ of the 5th-century writer on painting Xie He, particularly the first English translation made by Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913) in his 1903 book Ideals of the East. Particular attention will be drawn to the Indian environment in which Okakura wrote this work, and to the way in which that environment conditioned the understanding of the influential British curator and art historian Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). The second starting point of this lecture is the training received in Paris by the Japanese artist Nakamura Fusetsu (1866-1943), author of one of the earliest and most influential histories of Chinese painting. Together these episodes will start to unpack a network of ideas which moved rapidly around the globe as ‘Chinese art’ came into focus as a new type of object for study.

Lecture 2:
1922-23: Dong Qichang in London, and Hans Driesch in Beijing

By the early 1920s, a rich body of literature in a range of languages sought to interpret the history of Chinese art. This lecture will look at those developments, and at the ways in which a canon of key figures and key ideas came to be formed and circulated between major centres such as Beijing, London and Tokyo. At the same time, it will examine the global reach of certain currents of thought which bore upon the understanding of art, and most particularly on the thought of Henri Bergson (1859-1941) and Hans Driesch (1867-1941), whose ideas of ‘vitalism’ were debated and deployed on a truly international scale. Appropriated by major scholars such as Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940) and Liang Shuming (1893-1988) these ideas formed part of a newly transnational framework of thinking about art.

Lecture 3:
1927-28: Pan Yuliang in Rome, and Paul Cézanne in Shanghai
1927-1928 年:潘玉良在罗马,保罗·塞尚在上海

This final lecture of the series will look at the flourishing of a truly global environment for Chinese art in the later 1920s, at the movement of artists between a number of points of activity, and will revisit one of the most famous controversies of an era which was particularly marked by polemic and debate. This was the famous controversy instigated by the painter Xu Beihong (1895-1963), whose essay ‘Doubts’ will here be resituated in the context of global reactions to modernism in the aftermath of the First World War, to show how an artist based in Nanjing could be a full participant in the flow of ideas which connected a range of sites in what was truly in the process of becoming an ‘art world.’ The lecture will conclude with some reflections on how we might create a less mechanistic art history, one which takes fuller account of the full range of art practices in the historical past.

About Craig Clunas

Craig Clunas (b.1954) holds a Ph.D in Mongol and Chinese Studies from SOAS, University of London. He worked at Victoria and Albert Museum for fifteen years as a curator and researcher, before taking up faculty positions consecutively at University of Sussex and SOAS. From 2007 to 2018, he held the chair of art history at Oxford. In honor of his distinguished research work, Clunas was elected in 2004 as Fellow of British Academy.

Clunas’s research and publication mainly focus on Ming China, as well as 20th century and contemporary China. Since the early 1990s, he has published a series of monographs on Ming material and visual culture, including Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China (1991), Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (1997), and Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming, 1470-1559 (2004). These represent his continuous exploration and contribution to the field. Clunas has strategically integrated various theoretical discourses into his inquiry, mainly Bourdieu’s sociology, and anthropological theories, the latter echoed with the anthropological turn in art history as practiced in Europe and North America at the end of the last century. These two theoretical discourses are interwoven and complementary, and together feed into Clunas’s analysis that is intentionally distanced from the usual aesthetic approach in art history.

At the same time, his ability in creatively mining the historical materials and close reading of texts has provided his work with rich evidence, dissecting the social stakes in the production, circulation and reception of art. Clunas’s work is thus visionary, unique and powerful in the field of art history. On the other hand, by tracing art commodities and their meanings in motion, and treating the above as symptoms of social transformations, Clunas has also made important contributions to ‘Early Modern China’ as a historiographical topic from the perspective of Ming art and luxury goods consumption.

Speaker: Craig Clunas
Lecture 1: 14:00 – 17:00,  2nd  September
1902-1903: Xie He in Calcutta, and Nakamura Fusetsu in Paris
Lecture 2: 14:00 – 17:00,  3th  September
1922-23: Dong Qichang in London, and Hans Driesch in Beijing
Lecture 3: 14:00 – 17:00,  4th  September
1927-28: Pan Yuliang in Rome, and Paul Cézanne in Shanghai
Venue: The University of Chicago Center in Beijing, 20th floor, Culture Plaza, No. 59A Zhong Guan Cun Street, Haidian District, Beijing

Courtesy of OCAT Institute, for further information please visit www.ocatinstitute.org.cn.

“Breathless Animals” by Chinese Filmmaker Lei Lei: First UK Screening

We’re thrilled to see a UK premiere of Chinese Filmmaker Lei Lei’s Breathless Animals in the line-up for the Open City Documentary Festival in London next month. A Q&A with Lei Lei will follow, led by Lecturer in Animation and Visual Culture at Middlesex University Lily Husbands.

Lei Lei was born in Nanchang, China, in 1985 and became an experimental animation artist after studying in Beijing. His career path led him to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he has worked in the Experimental Animation Faculty.

More than 10 years ago, he began to delve into film, an effort that quickly gained international attention with the award-winning This is Love at the Ottawa International Film Festival in 2010, followed by Recycled which was shown at the Holland International Animation Film Festival.

This is Lei Lei’s first non-fiction feature. He’s combined clips from a 4-hour audio interview he conducted with his mother with a collage of found footage, photos, and magazines from one of China’s most transformative periods from the 1950s to 1980s. These are pieces that Lei Lie has gathered over the years from flea markets in China, this “enigmatic and eye-catching anonymous visual detritus of a bygone era”. In the interview, Lei Lei’s mother recalls her memories of growing up in Maoist China, talks about her own parents, the challenges of her youth, and violent dreams of animals that were inspired by late nights sat up in front of the TV. The viewer is encouraged to reflect on themes that include bicycles, street views and buildings, furniture, and landscapes. The official history of China is hinted at, but this is history through a personal lens. Lei Lei insists that this is not a realistic documentary, but rather: “it’s emotions that count”.

The film was created using analogue animation techniques, rapid and vacillating editing, collage animation, superimposition, and an abstract 3D sequence of architectural exteriors. The pictures and sound are woven jaggedly together (including the natural mechanical sounds of an analogue tape player), which brings with its skipping, shuttering images and hollow sound an evocation of the past.

Lily Husbands likens Breathless Animals to what film scholar Bill Nichols has described as a poetic mode of documentary. “Lei Lei meticulously composes visual documents and oral family history less into a symphony than a kind of electro-acousmatic rap exploring a generational gap in Chinese cultural identity,” she writes in her recent article exploring the film. “Its formal challenges offer us an opportunity to experience Lei Lei’s own searching struggle to put pieces of an older generation’s memory and history together in a way that makes a kind of sense, reminding us that this sense is always partial, personal and idiosyncratically organised.”

Breathless Animals has been a big hit at festivals, and we’re happy to see Open City Documentary Festival bringing it to London.

Breathless Animals UK Premiere – Open City Documentary Festival
8 September 2019
Time: 14:15
Duration: 68 minutes
Previous festival awards: Berlinale Forum 2019, Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival 2019, Art of the Real 2019, Jeonju IFF 2019
Screens with: Ashes | Apichatpong Weerasethakul | 2012 | Thailand | 20′
Includes: Q&A with director Lei Lei, hosted by Lilly Husbands, a Lecturer in Animation and Visual Culture at Middlesex University
Website: https://opencitylondon.com/events/breathless-animals/

Introducing Wang Lin: A Reflection on Process and Media

Words by Wang Lin

I am not a person who is good at expressing thoughts in words, so naturally I focus more on the journey of my creation.

Creation is a process of storytelling, through which my thoughts on society and myself are released. Most of my work is created in mixed media, often mixed with video. In the process of using video, the narrative of the video itself is implied, and the story to be expressed is interwoven in the technique and in the overall presentation of the work. Such implicit expression is more suited to my work.



My work is roughly composed of two parts. The first part is my Intaglio prints, which are created by applying the early photosensitive techniques and some installation works; and the second part is my prints that are created by combining traditional water-based woodcuts with poetic and surreal elements that have been extracted from video art.

The Intaglio prints and lighting installation works integrate early photosensitive technology into my creativity. I’ve been able to establish my own art practice through the process of learning the technique and building up a personal aesthetic. Overall, I try to convey emotions to the audience in a calm, narrative way.


Image: “A Journey on a Bright Night I”

Image: “A Journey on a Bright Night III”


The work “A Journey on a Bright Night” was inspired by my thoughts of surrounding environment. A change of environment leads to uncertainty surrounding one’s own identity. To view the change of an environment in a detached way is both the source of such feeling and also the way to deal with it. This work is presented in a combination of Intaglio painting and a lighting installation. It is an Intaglio print in the normal sense when viewed by the normal light source, and when the characters appear and disappear through gradually fading light and shadow, the fierce emotional conflict is expressed in a calm way. The work attempts to calm the viewer to a slower than normal breathing rate and the viewer is then brought into the artist’s narrative.

The water-based prints in the second par are inspired by my focus on the artistic language in “Chinization”, not only because water-based prints have unique ontological language, but also because of the cultural attributes behind them.

More emotional elements are added in the creation process. I pay more attention to the visual effects such as transparency and light, so as to convey the poetic and surreal theme of each work. This is evident in works such as “Qingping Mountain Scenery” and “Shining and Trickling”.


Image: “Qingping Mountain Scenery”

Image: “Shining and Trickling”


The quantity of my works may not be considerable in recent years, but each work I’ve produced has gone through a very complex emotional journey, and the subsequent results are actually the continuous fermentation process of these thoughts.The difference from with my early creativities and now is that when one’s social role began to change, one’s role in society begins to to add more layers too. In a more complex environment today, you need to switch roles frequently, and this means you often need a deeper self reflection too. This has shone through in my most recent work.

Wang Lin is the newest artist represented by ArtChina in the UK. He is pursuing his PHD under the guidance of another ArtChina artist, Chen Qi, since beginning of 2019. Wang Lin completed his BA at 2011 and MA at 201, both at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. We’ll be sharing prints for sale on the website soon, but contact us for details on any of the artwork pictured here, which is available for sale.

The Evolution of Beijing’s Art Districts & Studios

Originally posted by CAFA ART INFO with additional edits by ArtChina UK.

IMAGE: “Beijing Flash Biennale—The Evolution of Beijing’s Art Districts & Studios” 

What does a site mean to artists? Is it a place of life, of art creation, or the art itself?

With the development of modern society, the sites where artist groups gather are conceptualised; they become unique cultural symbols. Such a site enables artists independence and freedom, while the reality of survival makes them gather and scatter. In this case, “site” becomes a significant layer in terms of touching artists and their artworks, as well as a crucial fundamental point in terms of researching the phenomenon of the gathering of artist groups.

IMAGE: The Preparation of the Exhibition

IMAGE: Exhibition View

“Beijing Flash Biennale—The Evolution of Beijing’s Art Districts & Studios” was exhibited in 9 Art Museum, and narrates the migration route of Beijing art districts that were developed by sites and artists from the end of the 1980s until the present day.

The exhibition delves into some of the realities of Chinese contemporary art history, sifts through some of these “sites” and the role they play in the survival of artists, and therefore creates a unique research topic. The birthplaces, the exhibiting venues and the final destinations of artworks are separated by an invisible distance, which is easily ignored by us. The significance of these sites to contemporary artists and the creation of their artworks makes their impermanence an unavoidable problem. It turns out that the environment in which art is created is hugely important.

IMAGE: Exhibition View

The exhibition showcases the evolution of art districts in Beijing. On the exhibition walls, ample space is used to record both existing and vanished art districts in Beijing, which allows viewers to understand the origin of Beijing art districts and their evolution, in which a new space is always in the process of building interest. Digging into the migration route of the Beijing art districts is intriguing. The records of art districts from 1990 to 2019 give a sizeable amount of valuable material that needs to to be researched.

At the end of the 1980s, the Old Summer Place (aka. Yuanmingyuan Park) in the western suburb of Beijing accepted a group of young people who were engaged in art. They were eager to get rid of the restrictions of the system and to practice independent art creation. They have cultivated the flower of the new era of art on the historical ruins of the Old Summer Place. With the formation of concepts such as Political Pop Art and Cynical Realism, artists Fang Lijun, Yue Minjun among others were becoming famous. It turned the Old Summer Place into a national artists’ dream destination and attracted an increasing number of artists to move in.

IMAGE: Exhibition View

IMAGE: Tan Ping, “Untitled”, 200 x 300 cm

Infancy Period

The early 1990s was the burgeoning period of the Beijing art districts, which was mainly demonstrated by the rise of Painter Village in Yuanmingyuan (圆明园画家村). Artists Fang Lijun, Hua Qing, Zhang Dali, Mou Sen, Gao Bo, Zhang Nian and Kang Mu, among others, gathered there. In 1995, Painter Village in Yuanmingyuan was forced to be cleaned due to a government notice, which turned the ruins of the Qing Dynasty once again into the ruins of art. In this circumstance, artists scattered to all corners of Beijing. Using this as an opportunity, the evolution of Beijing art districts officially commenced.

Development Period

During the entire 1990s, Beijing art districts gradually developed in the Binhe Unit in Tong Zhou District (通州滨河小区[原文宾河小区]) and East Village Art District (东村艺术区). Later on, Song Zhuang Art District (宋庄艺术区), Bei Gangzi Art District (北岗子艺术区) and Shang Yuan Art District (上苑艺术区) appeared in the late 1990s.

Blowout Period

After 2000, art districts such as 798 Art District, Hua Jiadi Community (花家地群落), Feijiacun Art District (费家村艺术区), Caochangdi Art District (草场地艺术区), 9-Art District (酒厂-ART国际艺术区), No.1 in Five Rings Art District (五环一号艺术区) and Suojiafen Art District (索家坟艺术区) appeared as well.

Prosperous Period

From 2006 to 2010 was the period of prosperity in the development of the Beijing Art Districts. Art districts such as the Left and Right Art District, No.1 International Art District, Huan Tie International Art District, Bei Gao Art District, among others, appeared in succession.

Dispersion and Migration Period

It was between 2010 to 2017 that the development of Beijing art districts entered the period of dispersion and migration. Sun He Art District (孙河艺术区), Bei Tang Art District (北塘艺术区) and Yong He Art District (雍和艺术区) etc. appeared during this period.

Star-Shaped Distribution

From 2017 till now, the distribution of art districts in Beijing transformed into a star shape. Art districts such as Bai Ma Art District (白马艺术区), Shun Yi T3 Art District (顺义T3艺术区) etc., appeared in succession.

IMAGE: Zhan Wang, “1 square meter of Land”

IMAGE: Wang Qingsong, “Goddess”

The evolution history of Beijing art districts from the 1990s to the present day has spanned various periods and experienced multi-dimensional spatial differences. However, the transformation of time and space is only representative. The rise and fall of art districts created a game between different powers outside of the art world.

With the requirements of the process of urbanization in Beijing, the demolition of several art districts has forced artists to migrate. The migration, although with complex pain, proves the resilience of artists. The value of early art districts lies in providing motivations of art creation to artists. However, art districts in this era, such as 798 Art District, have developed their art values utilizing systematic art management. The success of 798 Art District has gradually developed a commercial method or mode to fit into art districts. By doing so, art districts are becoming increasingly formal and commercial, and the value of the artist cluster is gradually expanded.

IMAGE: Ji Zi, “Paint Spirit by Form”, 184 x 145 cm

IMAGE: He Yunchang, “A Bowl of Noodles”

There is another exhibition space beyond the migration route of the Beijing art districts that echoes the theme of this exhibition. By displaying artworks from artists living in various art districts, the relationship between an artwork’s origin and termination is unconsciously considered by viewers. The works in this space compensate for the missing content in the first section, and inspire audiences to reflect on the influences of different artworks.

This is an exhibition based on long-term research. The evolution of the Beijing art districts has become a vital footprint for the development of Chinese contemporary art and gradually showcases the significance of the current situation. The exhibition turns the direction of the research regarding Chinese contemporary art to a new field, namely, the relationship between the sites that artists are living in and the production and development of art. Although not being presented directly in the exhibition, it is implied in the content of the exhibition that it should be a result based on great efforts in research.

The exhibition narrates history and today’s reality, proving that the present is constantly moving forward based on the memories of the past.

Text by Lin Lu
Translated by Emily Weimeng Zhou
Edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo courtesy of the organizer

If you missed it, read our blog post about the recent demolition of Beijing’s Huantie Art District

Yang Pengcheng: Exploring Water-Based Woodcut Prints

Words by Yang Pengcheng


In 2013, I became the postgraduate student of professor Chen Qi. During the three years of my study, I have researched the physical properties of woodblock prints and printmaking, such as colour, water, paper and woodblock. By a rigorous experiment with altitude and a scientific analysis, I systematically researched the media of woodblock print, so that the empirical technology of water-based woodcut that has its roots in the past can be developed into a knowledge system that can then be quantified and analysed. I turned all of the experimental results into a handmade book which I’ve named The Physical Property Research of Water-Based Woodcut. My work, which details the material properties and possibilities of various elements involved in the printmaking process, will provide significant assistance as well as guidance to other artists.


杨鹏程,Yang Pengcheng

The Physical Property Research of Water-Based Woodcut, Handmade Book, Variable Size, 2016

The Physical Property Research of Water-Based Woodcut–Pigment Water Quality Experiment (Local Details)



In the work’s Brand’s Riddles series, I was trying to construct a composite compound which consists of the ‘lizard property’ of chameleons’ color transformation ability and the ‘mirror property’ of mirrors’ object image reflection property. I used lines to show the structure and biological nature of the chameleon’s body. While printing, the unique language of woodblock print has highlighted the virtual, density, humidity and shallow changes between the lines, which make the chameleon look vivid and natural. The chameleon’s reflection in the mirror is created by overprint techniques. And the concave-convex square carved on the plate, which looks like the coding sequence of 0 and 1, forms the image of a pixel chameleon which is a deconstruction of the main body. This dual feature of abstract linearity and digital magic, on the one hand, stems from my understanding and love of traditional line engraving; on the other hand, it is also deeply influenced by today’s digital image technology, which I’ve experimented with as a method of personal expression while creating these images.


Brand’s Riddles No.2, Woodblock Print, 86cm×86cm, 2016 (1)

Brand’s Riddles No.3, Woodblock Print, 180cm×85cm, 2016 AND Brand’s Riddles No.4, Woodblock Print, 180cm×85cm, 2016

Brand’s Riddles No.5, Woodblock Print, 95cm×82cm, 2019

Brand’s Riddles No.6, Woodblock Print, 95cm×82cm, 2019 (1)



Since my Ph.D. enrolment in 2017, I have concentrated more on the ontological language of woodblock print. Its unique physical characteristics and ontological texture are composed of Xuan Paper, wood board, and water-based pigments. Among them, the interwoven and overlapping imprints are mixed with paper curtain texture, water stain, and pigment granules that fuse and produce a unique ontological texture, which can hardly be achieved by any other general painting techniques. The new experimental works show my thinking about the choice of media, the relationship between the media characteristics of watermarking prints and the ontological language, and the relationship between media itself. At the same time, in the process of plate making and printing, I focused on the full expression of the media properties and expansion of the performance of different media. Through my work, I wish to create a brand new printmaking language for artistic expression.


Conservation No.4, Woodblock Print, Variable Size, 2019

15X, Woodblock Print, 45cm×150cm, 2019


Contact us to purchase prints by Yang Pengcheng

Beijing’s Huantie Art District Becomes History

One day in July 2019, hundreds of artists with studios in the HuanTie Art District outside Beijing’s East Fifth Ring Road (along with those in the Roma Lake Art District) were told to move, and that the entire district had to be cleared due to “security problems” and “unstable factors.”

This art district, which has escaped countless threats of demolition in the past, has finally met its end.

Images (clockwise): Zhou Jirong moving printing equipment from his studio; Chen Qi moving all of the artwork from his studio; a notice; artworks left behind

Two of my beloved mentors, Chen Qi and Zhou Jirong, have been here for more than a decade. Many of their most important works were created here, during the period that can be called their “golden age.” At the same time, I have spent hours during my study in their studios with our teachers, witnessing their creations coming to life.

After a few days of difficult moving, when we faced the empty studio, felt sad, and silence sank among us, an unspeakable reluctance with a certain amount of nostalgia. Is there nothing we can do to stop this from happening?

Photos: The art district now

Photo: The gate outside Beijing’s Huanie Art District

When we closed the studio door and turned away, in this moment, we were soberly aware that artists face the challenges of a new environment, whether it is life or art creation;  Chinese art faces the challenge of this “new era”. The themes of our artworks should be able to inspire and to guide the times.

In short, the future of art has come.

Images: The work of Chinese artist whose studio was in the Huantie art district, Chen Qi

This blog was written by Wang Lin, who completed both an MA and PhD at the Central Academy Of Fine Arts, Beijing, supervised by Zhou Jirong (MA) and Chen Qi (PhD). He helped with the studio relocation last week.


For prints by Chen Qi, see our website and contact us for details.

Hou Weiguo: The Event of Horse Identification

On my trip to China in June, I met the very talented young artist Hou Weiguo at Chen Qi’s studio in Beijing. (Chen Qi is one of the artists we represent in the UK and has been working with us for 16 years, his works are exhibiting at La Biennale di Venezia 2019 this moment). Weiguo is in his second year of pursuing his doctoral degree with Chen Qi. I would like to introduce him to you and show you some of his latest work in our blog post this week. 

Photo: Chen Qi and Huo Weiguo at La Biennale di Venezia 2019

He was born in the 1980s in Shahe City, Hebei, China and is in the third generation of printmakers of contemporary Chinese art. He graduated from the department of printmaking at Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2013, then gained his MA in 2017 at the same institution. Weiguo has published a book: The Event of Horse Identification: 33 Methods of Engraving of Weiguo Hou. He also had a solo exhibition on the same theme at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in 2018.

Photo: Huo Weiguo

In his words: “Printmaking is a media which has a lot of secrets in it. I found a kind of material which I named as Offcuts of Print. During my creative process, I need to test the surface of various materials (papers, metals or boards) and print a lot of versions of one image in order to find the best result. Normally these are waste materials (Offcuts of Printmaking) that are thrown away. So, I try to use these waste materials (Offcuts of Print) to create a new artwork. The method I use is to hollow them out, then collage them and combine them together in the end, to form a new artwork. The Event of Horse Identification is the same concept as ‘The Human Identification’, which exists simultaneously. I hope viewers have introspection when they identify the horse.”

Below are a few examples of the ways in which he has created new artwork with Offcuts of Print:

Image: ‘Thin Horse I’ – 175x165cm, Offcuts of Prints, 2016

Image:Thin Horse II’ 165 x 175cm, Offcuts of Prints, 2016

Image: Thin Horse III’, 170 x 100cm, Offcuts of Prints, 2016

Image: Thin Horse IV’, 105×90cm, Offcuts of Prints, 2017

Image: ‘Don Quixote’, 200 x 270cm, Offcuts of Prints, 2016

Image: ‘Don Quixote’ (Detail), 200 x 270cm, Offcuts of Prints, 2016

Weiguo’s fascination with horses began in 2015 when he observed thin local horses in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. You can read more about the series and his work with recycled materials in his interview with CAFA Art Info and watch video below for a look at his work behind the scenes.


Hou Weiguo’s prints and installation will be added to our website soon, so stay tuned, but they are available for purchase already. Contact us for details!

Zhu Kecheng: Experimenting with Woodblock Prints

Words and images by Zhu Kecheng, an ArtChina artist

In 2018, I graduated as a MA Printmaking student from Camberwell College of Art. My graduation work won the Printmakers Council Award. This whole lithography collection is about conscious and unconscious body language, and the language of human behavior beyond voice communication. I use the skin to represent the boundaries of the body. The spiritual expression is under the boundaries; the communication and substitution of body language is beyond the boundaries. At the same time my Stop-motion animation was selected to exhibit at the Camberwell Selection show. After the exhibition, I received invitations from galleries such as GX Gallery to exhibit my work there. This award is the affirmation to my artwork, and also gives me the motivation to continue my art career.


Image: The shape of us (collection), lithography


Images: My lithography work for the 5th China Youth Prints Exhibition, 2019


When I came back home to China, I started working on some new projects. I began to explore the Chinese traditional woodblock print. From the traditional perspective, I gradually added my personal perspective to make traditional woodblock prints my own way. On the basis of studying the traditional painting spectrum of Shizhuzhai, I explored the materials and techniques. It has formed a process of transformation, and the whole process can also be regarded as the transformation and re-creation of my thinking (still an ongoing project). At the same time, I got the chance to join the National Art Funding: The Woodblock Print Talents Training Program at China Central Academy of Fine Arts.


Image: The Four seasons (collection), Chinese Woodblock. This collection will exhibit in a future ArtChina exhibition.


Images: My cats are an important part of my life. I like to put my cats in my works, to photograph them, draw them and print them. I enjoy capturing them in all shapes. They have their own personality, very quirky, very individual; to me this is the most fun part of them.


To see more of Zhu Kecheng’s work, read more about her background, visit her page on our website, or contact us to buy her prints

Tang Chenghua: The Passion of Colour

One of the most productive and passionate artist in China today is painter Tang Chenghua, whose work we have in our collection and have exhibition at various events in the UK. He has a new solo exhibition open now, running through 28 July, 2019, at TianJin Haibin Art Museum in China.

Photo: Exhibition poster outside Tianjin Binhai museum

Photo: Tang Chenghua’s opening talk

Tang Chenghua Painting at opening Photo: Tang Chenghua painting at the opening event

We know that the most enticing art tends to be full of passion. From Tang’s work, you can see and feel his infinite passion for artistic creation. In his eyes, a world without colour is bleak. Colour needs passion. Our life needs passion. We need to find ways to light up life with colours, to dress up life with art. These are the messages that Tang want to communicate to his audience through his work.

Photo: Tang Chenghua’s interactive opening event

Photo: Tang Chenghua’s installation

“Colour has always been a symbol of our consciousness and our life throughout human history,” Tang said at his opening event. “We must not only know how to use colour, but also how to blend the power of our actions into the colour, observing nature carefully, expressing the unrestrained power of life through the ocean of colour. The extravagance of colours in art is the way to demonstrate our passions and embrace life.”

Photo: Tang Chenghua’s installation

Photo: Tang Chenghua’s installation

During an interactive experience on the opening day, the artist, the guests and the audience were painted with various colours in front of Tang’s installation, depicting the colourful summer with intertwined brushstrokes.

Photo: Tang Chenghua’s painting – detail

Photo: Tang Chenghua one-of-a-kind ceramic piece

Tang is exhibiting his latest works, such as the ceramic “Wind in May”, and the large scale mixed medium on canvas paintings titled “Southern charm” and “Clouds in the Sky”. There are also installations of re-created models on site in the museum, as well as an installation created according to the structural elements and spaces there.

Photo: Tang Chenghua – “Clouds in the Sky No.18 -1” – mixed media on canvas

Photo: Tang Chenghua – “Southern Charm 2019 -11” – mixed media on canvas

If you’re interested in purchasing one of Tang’s prints or have any questions regarding his artwork, please contact us. 

The Daily Printmaking of Father and Daughter

This post was written by Chinese artist Zhu Kecheng, about painting with her father Zhu Jianhui, about his influence on her as an artist, and a recent experimental painting project they completed together, with the works below titled simply “Watercolour”. 

When I was a child, I liked to paint the sky, the ground, the sheets, and cut my trousers like Yayoi Kusama’s wave point. My dad said I couldn’t help it; I had inherited his artistic DNA.

When I first saw the prints in my father’s studio, I was intrigued. I wondered what fun it could be, curious about the weird tools–mushroom-like tools of all sizes, road roller-like tools, a piece of white paper on a board, rolled out of the ground like a road roller machine with pictures on it. This experience and curiosity established my first Enlightenment about printmaking. When I developed a great interest in art, my father thought it should develop with my nature. So, I started my daily graffiti practice.

Then I uncontrollably fell in love with prints and printmaking, an interest of which my parents were very supportive. We would often have fierce debates about different artistic concepts, but could also quietly share the same space for creation. My mother often jokes that my father and I are not actually father and daughter, but friends.

We recently cooperated on a painting experiment. We created art together on the same blank page. I would draw the first stroke and he would draw the second stroke. So we took turns to see what would happen.

After an afternoon’s play, our brushes sometimes fighting and sometimes merging, these are the results. What do you think? 

We have prints for sale from both Zhu Kecheng and Zhu Jianhui. Click their names to see examples and contact us for more information!

Visiting People’s Park in Chengdu, China

ArtChina founder Aimin Liu grew up in Chengdu and People’s Park is one of her favourite places to go. She was happy to be able to visit on her current China trip and has shared some thoughts and photos with us.

Photos: Beautiful lotus blossom

Built in 1911, People’s Park was the first public park in Chengdu and the largest green space downtown.

Master Painter Zhang Daqian has his roots here, so there’s a notable art connection!

Image: A painting by master painter Zhang Daqian

People’s Park is appropriately named, because part of its charm is the wide variety of people you can spot while you’re there. If you enjoy people watching, People’s Park is quite a feast for your eyes. Some may shy away from crowded areas, but there are always plenty of activities happening.

If you are outgoing and adventurous enough to join in on some of the activities you see happening around you, then you’ll find Chinese people are very welcoming and inviting.

Photo: Chinese chess

One of the main activities you’ll find in the park is dancing. At first glance, you may think everyone is dancing together, but you’ll likely find that there are as many as four or five different groups of people dancing to different music in and around the same area. Some groups are free for anyone to join, but others are more like performances.

Just a few steps away from the loud music and dancing, you’ll find people drawing caricatures, fortune-tellers, snack shops, toy shops, candy art, people playing games like cards and badminton, karaoke singers, and an area set aside for relationship match-making, etc.

Photos: Card playing and match-making

Wander along to the south side, and you’ll find a big lake where boats are available to rent.

The Railway Protection Movement Monument, designated as one of China’s Major Historical and Cultural Sites, can be found in the park.

Photos: Bonsai

There is a large rock sculpture at the main entrance and here you’ll find more dancing, water calligraphy, and kite flying. A fun fact: Many older, experienced kite flyers find special joy in flying their kites so far away that no one can actually see the kite!

Of course, the famous Heming Teahouse is also in People’s Park. If you sit in the teahouse, then you will definitely be offered a traditional-style ear cleaning. Sometimes near here, you’ll find people playing traditional Chinese instruments such as the pipa or erhu.

Video: A visitor and sounds of the park
You’ll also have an opportunity to try gai wan tea. Watch the video below to hear some interesting facts about how to drink it, and the several ways you can use the lid.


So if you ever make it to Chengdu, China, don’t miss a visit to the lively yet beautiful and peaceful People’s Park.

Visiting Zi Zhu Studio: Teaching & Promoting Dou Ban

ArtChina founder Aimin is travelling through China this week, visiting art universities and studios, checking in with our artists and meeting some new talents. One of her first stops was China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou where she spent some time at  Zi Zhu Studio in the printmaking department.

Photo: China Academy of Arts

Zi Zhu Studio is dedicated to teaching and promoting the traditional woodcut technique called dou ban – the best studio for learning this technique in China. MA art students learn this technique on their three year course at the university, and one of the artists who ArtChina represents in the UK, Wang Chao, is their tutor.

Photos above: Inside of Zi Zhu Studio

For two hours, students in the class must practice calligraphy, which is the root to understanding Chinese painting and learning how to control the contour of a line while applying ink to xuan paper. It’s very different from Japan’s water-based woodcut printing table. The printing table here is designed for the purpose of producing multiple prints and, 300 years ago, these used to air dry. In the past, studying woodcut required strong physical ability and was therefore generally taken up by male students, but now the majority of students in the class are female. Zi Zhu Studio encourages students to use this traditional method of creating art to express new, contemporary ideas.

Photo: Wang Chao with a student, in front of her work

One of Wang Chao’s students is Cao Ou, who is also represented by ArtChina in the UK, so Aimin was pleased to be able to catch up with both of them on this studio visit.

Photos: Cao Ou’s older work, photographed in the studio

Image: An example of Cau Ou’s current work

Photos: Cao Ou’s studio space

Photos: Cao Ou’s studio storage and his work on the front of a book cover in the US

Photo: Cao Ou in his studio

China Academy of Arts is located on the famous West Lake, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Aimin was able to spend some time enjoying the serenity of the water and the temples and pagodas that are found in the area. West Lake has long been a source of inspiration for designers, poets and painters throughout Chinese history.

Photos above: West Lake


We have woodblock prints for sale from both Wang Chao and Cao Ou.
Please contact us for details. 

Confucius’ Hometown × Ryue Nishizawa × Spirit of Ink Art

In May 2019, the Jining Art Museum launched its first exhibition, “Spirit of Ink Art: New Creation from Traditional Thoughts and Wisdom”, which is part of series of exhibitions to promote Chinese culture. The curator, Dr. Wei Xiangqi (who also serves as Associate Research Librarian for the National Art Museum of China), selected 42 masterpieces of calligraphy, sculpture, installation and video created by 23 renowned artists whose work has reinterpreted traditional Chinese thoughts and wisdom in a comprehensive and multi-dimensional way.

The museum is the first in China to be designed by world-renowned Japanese architect, Pritzker Prize winner Ryue Nishizawa. It’s located in Taibai Lake New District, Jining, Shandong Province, an area that is an important foothold of traditional Chinese culture. The building took three years to complete and is now operated by Jining Chengjian Investment Culture Tourism Co., Ltd. It was built with the goal of visually exploring the convergence of Jining’s nature, history, culture and modern architectural aesthetics and has taken on the responsibility of promoting the interaction of various cultures, upholding educational values and ideas that can travel between ancient and modern times, and re-igniting an appreciation for traditional Chinese culture.

Photo: Architect Ryue Nishizawa

At the opening ceremony, Nishizawa gave a speech. He expressed his gratitude for the support of this project and spoke about the design behind the museum, which he hopes exemplifies openness and freedom and offers a space where visitors can experience its architectural beauty from different perspectives while also admiring the artwork on display. He aimed to maintain traditional Chinese architectural elements in the design. Under the lotus-shaped, free-floating roof, for example, 800,000 blue bricks were used as decorative materials to symbolise the relationship between profound Chinese cultural traditions and modern, innovative civilisation.

Artist Yuan Wu spoke next, congratulating the team on the event’s success and the creation of Jining Art Museum as a high-standard, professional and academic exhibition space. The combination of the space itself and the exhibition within benefits from the new demands coming into play with China’s current economic and cultural development.

Photo: Artist Representative Professor Yuan Wu from Beijing Fine Art Academy

A few words from participating artist and researcher Li Yi, who is a native of Jining, followed. He is proud to see this contemporary space, naturally integrated into his hometown, opening with a highly academic exhibition – very appropriate for what is also the hometown of both Confucius and Mencius.

Photo: The participating artist and researcher Li Yi

“Jining Art Museum is an art museum with international foundation and an international ability. We hope that the ‘”Spirit of Ink Art” can convey the new charm of Chinese culture today,” said Curator Dr. Xiangqi. “Ink art is important and spirit is more important. Spirit is built by the integration of the individual and the country: artists’ wills and intuitions reflect the Chinese cultural development in the new epoch!”

Photo: Dr. Wei Xiangqi, Curator of the opening exhibition and Deputy Research Librarian of the National Art Museum of China

Liu Chunguang, Secretary of the party committee, Chairman and General Manager of Jining Chengjian Investment Culture and Tourism Industry Co., Ltd plans to introduce more high-level cultural and artistic activities to the museum in the future. He noted that the increasing integration of culture and business will meet the diverse needs of local citizens, help organise complementary cultural and commercial activities and promote the sustainable and healthy development of the museum.

Photo: Liu Chunguang, Secretary of the party committee, Chairman and General Manager of Jining Chengjian Investment Culture and Tourism Industry Co., Ltd

Visitors of the exhibition can immerse themselves in the profound and extensive history of China’s cultural spirit through the exhibition’s five sections where its vitality and immensity are communicated: Between the Landscape, Light of Memory, Script of Glowing Demeanor, Peace of Mind, and Qi of the Ethereal.

The visual form of ink and wash painting is defined by fluidity. Landscape painting through the Five Dynasties to the Song Dynasty (the Northern Song Era and Southern Song Era) captures the magnificence and elegance of the landscape. Into the Yuan Dynasty, it is both fabulous and simple at the same time. The calligraphy of Wang Xizhi tells of utter fascination and expressive force while Yan Zhenqing’s script emphasizes strength and grandeur.

These artists explore earthly visuals, but also use their art form to gaze further into the spirit of man beyond these tangible scenes. They don’t uphold rigid patterns of traditional Chinese landscape painting; rather, dedicate themselves to innovative exploration of their visual languages, fostering the charm of contemporary Chinese fine art in a new era. The power of the Chinese spirit empowers this creativity. It comes from an instinctively introspective nature deeply rooted in the temperament of our nation. These artists can think and feel beyond the boundaries of countries and nations. They set out to contemplate the shared ideological dilemma of man with a pure heart.

Every great artist is informed by his or her original cultural background. Their distinctions come from their innovative spirits and aspirations alongside their academic vision and cultural sentiments. Our Chinese traditions, modern art and international experiences are closely interwoven. The “Spirit of Ink” shows not only the art form, but also the spirit of the Chinese aesthetic that continues to shine through the work of these artists.

Adapted from an article originally published by CAFA ART INFO
Original text by Lin Lu;
Translated and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO; Photo Courtesy of the Organizer
Additional edits by ArtChina UK

Who are the “Implied Spectators” of Your Work?

Who is observing your work?

Who is observing your work might be both a matter of expectation and concern for all the graduates in CAFA. The degree show is like a confession, which requires graduates to show their study outcomes with honesty and endeavour to appeal to exhibition goers with different perspectives.

The degree show in CAFA could be compared to a free “art feast”, where the “art menu” guides the foraging tour for a diverse group of art lovers. When one stops and observes artwork in the degree show, one will often be interrupted by the crowd flowing backwards and forwards.

A spectator has a powerful existence and creates a profound meaning in terms of the birth and development of an artwork. When the recipient becomes a force that cannot be ignored, the creation, interpretation and dissemination of an artwork might be influenced by it. In this case, artistic creation turns out to be a game between artists themselves and the spectator’s artistic expectation.

Wolfgang Iser holds the view that writers have the ability to design content to meet the expected requirement of readers in the creative process. He summarises them as “Implied Readers”. In the same way, artists are also creating for an audience that could be called “Implied Spectators”. Whom do artists choose as their “implied spectators” then? Whether the artists have a clear answer to this question, the visitors have always been with them. The visitors have various identities with different artistic values. By presenting artworks to presupposing “implied spectators”, artists can successfully attract their target audiences.

In the CAFA degree show this year, which kind of “implied spectators” will you be?



Exhibition view

Artwork is the release of an artist’s expression. Nowadays, materialism is the inescapable medium of expression, where the material objects become the container of artists’ thoughts and concepts. When an artistic creation starts from an artist’s ego and without any other factors, this form of art creation turns out to have two results – either an unintentional attempt without any introspection or steadfast creation transformed from one’s inner power. The latter consequence depends on whether the artist is full of insightful thoughts or has a transcendental creation beyond the secular or not.

Exhibition view

Hence, we could view artworks to clarify whether the artist chooses his or her self as the implied spectator. Two types of work would appear then – one has a great limitation like the frog at the bottom of the well, and the other presents enormous artistic talents. Within artworks in the degree show, it is a challenge for viewers to judge the quality of works, but there are always some works that bring an unique and unfamiliar love at first sight. When an artist regards his or her ego as the “implied spectator”, the work is either a task that forces the artist to accomplish it, or the work is like caviar for the general. This could become a bitter attempt at art; however, artists should aim for an artistic creation experience that transcends the current situation.


The most non-negligible underlying spectators for artists are their supervisors. The supervisor is not only an artist’s expected viewer, but also an unavoidable verifier in the process of the artist’s study. Being a pedagogue means that they propagate the doctrine, impart professional knowledge, and resolve doubts. If students are tutored by their supervisors, the identities of their works (i.e. spirits, styles, techniques) can be traced through their supervisors’ art creation. Thus, works influenced by supervisors in the degree show could be divided into two types: one is to imitate, while the other is between likeness and the dissimilar.

Although the supervisor’s perspective is potentially judgmental, it is always a double-edged sword. There is no authoritative standard in art itself; it may be open to diversified standards. For artists, the advice from their supervisor is always swallowed up by self-motivation. In this case, it is easy to identify which works belong to the category of supervisors as implied spectators in the degree show. When viewing these works, it brings to mind the question of when these artists can surpass their supervisors.

Exhibition view


Hauser Arnold holds the view that there are numerous art intermediaries between art production and art consumption. The art intermediaries construct the system of art intermediary and are the only way for art dissemination. Exhibition halls, the media, art publishers, art museums, art markets and art academies all have a different perspective and significant components of art intermediaries.

An artist’s creation might be perfectly suited to the taste of a particular group. In any exhibition, it is common to find such works. The artists’ works are attracted by the system of art intermediaries and then become the favorite spokespersons of them. The phenomenon of considering the artistic trend of art intermediary by artists seems to be no ground for blame. However, the problem is that the autonomy of art should be the most significant section of the art world. If artworks were without creative thoughts, all art intermediaries would be exaggerated hypocrisy.

Exhibition view

Regarding the art intermediary as implied spectators could come with great social meaning. Artists could turn decorative patterns, provocative colors, mysterious themes and commercial forms into ingratiation. However, it should not limit the artworks to embrace the valued generation in a broader sense.


Artists can create works which are full of public welfare and socialism by considering society and the public as the implied spectator. Those works expect an awareness of discovery, understanding and reflection on certain issues.

When art moves toward society and the public, artworks then carry with them a strong visual expectation, an extreme open-interactive experience and profound introspection. In such circumstances, art is turned into a way of understanding the world, which does not restrict the perspectives of spectators; instead, it expects to encourage spectators to perceive the world through their eyes.

Exhibition view

Macroscopic propositions such as life, science and technology, ethics and the universe, among others, have filled the context of modern society. These propositions can be perceived in artworks in the degree show. Regarding society and the public as the implied spectators in a broader sense, the starting point is the perspective of human concern. In this case, artists are not expecting to construct a sense of physical beauty based on their personal artistic preferences. Instead, they hope to awaken the spirit of society through art. Artworks reflect society and expose the invisible issues of human beings to evoke individuals to be concerned about current situations.


Artists in every era are confronted with the same dilemma – in front of art, if they cannot circumvent history, it’s difficult for them to move toward the future. Taking time as the measure to examine art is a vision and devotion that is full of confidence. “Future Archaeology”, as the theme of CAFA Graduation Season 2019, explores the development of art both in history and the future.

History constitutes the memory of human existence and possesses the undiscovered wisdom of humankind. Art is the most precious treasure left by history, which still touches people today.

Regarding history and the future as the implied spectator allows the artists to find the coordinates from their artistic experience. For artists, could learning from history mean they expand their horizon and develop their wisdom? The future world expects imagination and creativity, and artworks in the future are required to be rooted in history and tradition, recording current society and culture while overlooking the brilliance of the future. Perhaps every artist needs such an implied spectator to enable his or her works to be memorized by history and to be accepted by the future.

Exhibition view


For emerging artists, the CAFA graduation season is not just a summary of their study, but also presents the interpretation of contemporary art and the art world. For spectators, viewing the exhibition is not only a selected temptation of visual enjoyment but also an inquiry into art tendency in the future.

Who is the “implied spectator” behind your work? This is the question proposed to locate a work’s identity between an artist and viewers of the artwork, so that both artists and viewers can share empathy at a certain moment.

Originally published by CAFA ART INFO
Text by Lin Lu
Translated by Emily Weimeng Zhou
Edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO
Additional edits by ArtChina UK

Tang Chenghua: Blossoming in the Spring Breeze

Tang Chenghua:
Immersive Art Exhibiting in Printing Studio, Beijing
5th May – 18th June 2019

Instead of exhibiting in a tidy and fancy art museum, this time Tang Chenghua will show his working environment, staff and creation process at a screenprinting studio in Beijing.

Tang’s art is abstract, mainly the process of improvisation, which expresses the concept of unconsciousness, spontaneity and random creation, emphasised by surrealism. Interestingly, the inspiration for Tang’s screenprints originated from pop art in 1960s America, even though pop art is against abstract expressionism.

Tang screenprints contain no obvious figures; only improvisation, freedom and passion can be found in his work.

The creation and production of art is a complex spiritual activity.

First, there is the observation, experience and aesthetic understanding of the social life; second, there is the use of mediums and techniques to express this aesthetic understanding.

Tang has been exploring the relationships between abstraction and nature and colour for years. The single printmaking form can no longer satisfy his creative passion. With more than forty years of experience, he has been able to master a specific artistic language and has an understanding all kinds of mediums.

Can you see that the above works were created with three identical sketch drafts?

The two works above are also created based on the same sketch draft.

The prints are diverse and complex. Based on an original line structure, the artist paints with a new artistic language that not only enhances the artistic value of the work, but also more makes the process more productive.


See more of Tang’s artwork on our website and this blog post (which has a great video!) and contact us for prints.

边界 | The Boundaries by Tang Chenghua

Tang Chenghua’s newest collection, a series called “The Boundaries”, is made of all large-scale, hand-painted work sketched directly from nature. Although it is catalogued as hand-painted, it’s actually more like “sweeping with besom”.

Those vast, luxurious colour blocks evoke an aesthetic shock to the viewer. In terms of visual form, we might compare these works to Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun and to older generation artists who have crated unique modern oriental abstract style.

In fact, Tang Chenghua intended to put himself in the wilderness, directly facing and interacting with the natural objects he was inspired to paint, in order to follow the traditional Chinese artistic spirit and the theory of creativity which states, “the artistic spirit of an artwork comes from the state of the mind of the creator.” This is a practical boundary that can’t be easily achieved by those who can only scratch the surface of new oriental abstract art.

To fight against formalism, Tang Chenghua returned to the essence of painting, expanding his artistic boundaries. It was necessary to readjust his artistic practices and acquire new spiritual energy in order to portray a sense of the majestic and the striking effects of nature in his painting.

If we compare his artistic achievements in prints, installations, mixture media, etc., with these new works, they undoubtedly demonstrate the artist’s spiritual journey and the joyous adventure he has taken us on through his experiences and artistic practices.

In this way, Tang Chenghua’s new works not only continue the modern oriental aesthetic tradition of China, but also present new challenges to the self, thus reflecting a firm contemporary artist who does what it takes to pursue his strong ideals.

Reflections on Printmaking by Liu Jing – Part 2

One of the artists whose work we will showcase at the London Original Print Fair is Liu Jing. In our last blog post, he began to reflect on his ideas about art and printmaking after exhibiting in a solo show titled “Texture and Daily Life”, held earlier of this year in China. This is part two.

“My work doesn’t focus on trying to be traditional or contemporary. Tradition is good, contemporary is good too. If the work is neither traditional or contemporary, even better. Whats important is that I can live on what I like for many years; how lucky am I!

With my work, my only concern is that I want to do this and I like the way I’m doing things. I think it’s more interesting if I do something this way, that’s all. We know that traditional art today used to be contemporary art yesterday. All the cutting-edge and contemporary things today will become obsolete traditions sooner or later.

Does this have anything to do with me? Instead of worrying over these boring questions and trying to be a pioneer in the art world, I am more willing to get a block, take a knife, and easily sift a pile of sawdust. Or grind the stone, adjust some of the ink, and casually create some texture.

15,000 years ago, one afternoon in the southwest of France, the sun was warm with a gentle breeze. A content hunter who just had lunch woke up from snoozing. The prey in the cave behind him were enough for a few days and he was in a very good mood. Picking up a piece of brown soil from the ground, he painted a few wild horses on the stone wall in the cave to pass this long and boring afternoon. This is my imagination, but also a kind of art that I really love, and a leisurely style of art, although it is difficult to reach the state of real leisure and content!

My recent exhibition more or less revealed my dream, a kind of dream that printmaking gives me, and a refined ‘Daily Life’. In short, it is good to be a printer.”

Head back a post to read part 1 of Liu Jing’s comments on printmaking and be sure to visit us at stand 22 at the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts April 25-28, 2019 to see his work for yourself. If you’re interested in free or discounted tickets to the event, please contact us (available while supplies last). 

Reflections on Printmaking by Liu Jing – Part 1

One of the artists whose work we will showcase at the London Original Print Fair is Liu Jing. Below, he reflects on his ideas about art and printmaking after exhibiting in a solo show titled “Texture and Daily Life”, held earlier of this year in China.

“This is my 18th year of printmaking. This is what I have repeatedly told people recently. From the age of 18 to 36, I have devoted possibly the best of years in my life to printmaking. Please note that I am talking about printmaking, not art. In my case, printmaking is much more interesting and pure than art. I never have the idea of devotion to art, but I really believe that I can spend my whole life making prints. It’s not so important to do it better or the best in this field. Is there anything more interesting in the world than prints? In my opinion, no!

Many people asked me why I chose this unpopular art form back in my college days. In fact, it was because of the third year students who told me that ‘to study oil painting is very expensive; to learn Chinese painting you need high level of calligraphy skills’. So printmaking was the only option left.

One afternoon in my second year of university, I saw a book of ‘Chinese contemporary lithography’ in an antique bookstore in Er Fuzhuang, behind the college. I accidentally found one of my works was published in the book. Since then, I convinced myself that I was born for printmaking and no matter how difficult life has been, the situation has never changed.

Today, artists are generally afraid to limit themselves to a certain field. They are afraid that their identity is too specific and they are afraid of being conservative. Printmakers are also often afraid of being called printers, and always emphasise that they are artists. My ambition is not the same. I am eager to be able to embrace technical limitation and to make my work more authentic.

European and American artists were doing Dada off-canvas, ‘concept art’, breakthrough performances on the earth decades before us. As far as I can see, those artists have already settled down, calmed down, and let all art forms return to health, equality and order, with no more criticism and favouritism.

Every artist works on their own work, to have peace of mind. In English, the worker is called Artist; the printer is called Printmaker; and the very skilful technician is called Master Printer, which is extremely respectful of technology.

If you don’t have technique, you don’t have prints. If you don’t want to talk about technique, then don’t do prints.”

Come back next week for part 2 of Liu Jing’s comments on printmaking and be sure to visit us at stand 22 at the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts April 25-28, 2019 to see his work for yourself. If you’re interested in free or discounted tickets to the event, please contact us (available while supplies last). 

A Glimpse of the ArtChina Stand at London Original Print Fair

For our coming exhibition at the London Original Print Fair, we have a great collection of original prints from a group of four Chinese artists. Prints depict styles from Northern China’s multi-blocks woodcut as seen in the work of Liu Decai to Southern China’s reduction woodcut, as used by Zhang Xiaochun. Our young artist Liu Jing’s eye-catching portraits series is created with his own new woodcut technique, and we will also have young female artist Hammer Chen’s etchings on display.

Here are a few highlights from our exhibition. Visit us at the Royal Academy of Arts to see more wonderful contemporary prints from us. We are located at stand 22 this year.

Image: ‘Northern, Autumn Charm II’, Edition 24/50, woodcut by Liu Decai

Image: ‘Illusion Dream’, Edition:12/25, 100cm x70cm, woodcut by Zhang XiaoChun

‘Master’, a series by Liu Jing, is an experimental collection of work which combines woodcut, lithography and other contemporary techniques to create a new language that is far different from traditional woodcut. He has created a series of portraits of modern Chinese literary masters, using this technique to express their magnanimity and spirit. Those prints are in-depth and rich in the pursuit of details in the moulding; at the same time, there are weakened contours and edges, used to create the flow and rhyme of the lines.

Why chose portraits as a theme? Because they are suitable for language experiments and technical attempts. The portrait is also the most direct and purest method of expression.

Image: ‘Master’, 60x90cm, woodcut by Liu Jin

One of the talented emerging female Chinese artists we will be exhibiting the London Original Print Fair is Hammer Chen, whose creative life bounces between Shanghai and London. Hammer is a printmaker, an artist and illustrator whose work, as she puts it, stems from an interest in using marks and textures to express sensations and emotions. Her subject is Maladaptive Daydreaming. “Maladaptive daydreaming is a psychological concept to describe an extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.” So the series of works is exploring fantasy, struggle, disconnect between mind, body and self.

Image: ‘The Self’, an etching by Hammer Chen

We hope to see you at the fair, April 25-28. Please email info@artchinauk.com to book free tickets, while they last!

More information on the fair itself can be found on the London Original Print Fair website.

Tradition & Transformation: Contemporary Printmaking in Asia

As a cultural concept, “Asia” refers to a geographic space and as well as a historical and cultural identity. Asia was proposed as a community, actually a cultural oppression from Western centralism. In the past 100 years, “Western learning ” has eroded many regional primitive cultures, as well as forced another factor of culture into being: “Orientality”. The separation of Asia’s traditional values and the traditional cognitive structure from modern life, rapid migration of populations, and contemporary social consciousness, attracted people to the cultural ideals and identity, meanwhile neglecting the various cultural differences within Asia.

Literature and art have always been a mirror of thoughts, as has printmaking. Prints entered into China in the early 20th century with a strong impression of enlightenment, and then experienced the evolution of localisation and nationalisation. A contemporary printmaking scene was formed, which is different from the traditional or the Western printmaking scenes, accompanying the new round of Western contemporary art trends from the 1980s. Although the background and developments of printmaking in other Asian countries or regions varies, the traditional transformation based on the influence of Western learning and the inconsistent oriental efforts are self-evident and present sameness in time and appearance.

Anti-colonial discourse and cultural studies are not the only fresh topics to enter the art field in the early 1980s. Launched in 1987, the magazine “Third Text” has been devoted to discussing the colonial history of contemporary art and Eurocentrism; meanwhile, Singapore’s “New Asia Channel” has explored the cultural belonging and identity of Asia under the framework of a global social and political economy through the confirmation of “Asian values”…

Printmaking has a meaningful existence in the art world. Like a mixed-race child of the East and the West with strong cultural adaptability, printmaking should become a ground for nurturing Eastern and Western cultural communication. However, perhaps concerning “technical problems”, for many years the cultural attributes in the essence of printmaking have been obscured, which has led to the indifference of critics to the cultural appeals beyond technology in the practice of printmaking.

Through the research and display of representative contemporary printmaking in the Asian region, our exhibition aims to explore the reconstruction of Asian traditional cultural genes as well as the Asian subjectivity in the world cultural pattern dominated by Europe and the United States and encourage viewers to re-think how cultural identity is formed. In this exhibition, we also hope to use art to aggregate Asian countries’ thinking about the status quo of culture, to bridge the gaps caused by geographical restrictions by the artistic interaction, and to contribute to the development of Asian regional printmaking.

The development of modernisation in Asian countries is sequential; however, the root is always the traditional farming culture. The farming culture is based on the heavens and the earth, and  advocates for the unity of nature. There are always a large number of Asian prints with the theme of natural objects where the artists puts forth his ideas and values. The objects speak and express emotion and, in the process of blending “things” and “I”, artists complete the spiritual journey of the natural interaction between the natural object and the self-subject. However, in the 20th century, industrialisation broke the traditional order of the cultivation of farming culture, separated the connection between man and nature, alienated people’s lives. This kind of alienation is reflected in printmaking, on the one hand, the vigilance and anxiety about the unknowable industrial future, and on the other hand, the attachment and obsession with the natural and spiritual space. Such creating method of “things” and “I” are also important manifestations of “Orientality” in Asian prints.

Article originally published by the Printmaking department of Sichuan Fine Art University, China

Looking Back: Affordable Art Fair Battersea 2019

Thank you to everyone who came along to the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea to see us last weekend, and especially to those of you who went home with a print from one of our talented Chinese artists.

Thanks as well to the Affordable Art Fair team who made it such a great experience for us. We appreciated the lively and fun atmosphere, the scattered lights glowing across the black ceiling, the coffee and the shuttle from Sloane Square every 15 minutes.

It was our first time as an exhibitor there and we were thrilled to see queues outside the door every morning, the friendly faces who kept everything running smoothly and the creativity that went into making it an exciting event for everyone. We enjoyed connecting with families who spent the day there sharing the experience of contemporary art with toddlers, babies in prams and even their dogs, young couples who just bought their first home, art enthusiasts from all generations, journalists and gallery owners.

We were happy to connect with Western-educated, second-generation, Chinese-British artist and news editor Wuon-Gean Ho who will be sharing some of ArtChina founder Aimin’s comments on Chinese art across borders at her talk in Chongqing, China this Friday.

We also met with students from the University of Kent who will feature some of Zhu Kecheng’s work at Studio 3 Gallery in May, exploring the subject of “female nude” with a collection of art that shows how women’s bodies have been depicted in art from the 17th century through the present day.

Favourites from our collection on display were the prints of young Mu Beini and Cao Ou as well as seasoned artist Yu Chengyou. We found visitors were especially interested in and intrigued by the traditional Chinese woodcut technique used by several of our artists, in particular Cau Ou who adds a modern twist. Our artists are very much Chinese, but several of them bring international influences into their work.

This was also our first show where we added a QR code to our booth so visitors who were interested could go directly to our website.

For anyone who stopped by and wished they would have bought a piece that caught their eye, reach out; prints of the artwork on display at the Affordable Art Fair are still available.

Find us next, with a selection of prints from a different set of Chinese artists, at the London Original Print Fair at The Royal Academy of Arts in April and at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead in May. Stay tuned for more information on both upcoming exhibitions.

Mu Beini: Exhibiting Works at The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea – London

One of the talented emerging Chinese artists whose work we’ll be exhibiting at The Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London next week is Mu Bieni. We caught up with her to hear her own interpretation of a few of her works.



Interpretation of the works of “MOMO” series:

Image: “MOMO 2”, 55 x 50cm, Offset Lithography 

It is generally believed that an artist’s ability to express lies in being attracted by visual things and using their instincts to grasp and communicate their essence. My own desire, however, has gradually shifted to adapt the medium of painting; by using this visual format, I work to express the endless accumulation of human emotions that are invisible to our eyes. I don’t know when, but at some point, my creations all began to relate to the theme of “emotion”. The “MOMO” series of works are all experimental drawings based on this “emotional diary”.

With the shift of generations, no matter who you are, it is easy to record the current lifestyle at any time. However, no matter how superior the performance of technology is, it is difficult to record the immediate emotional activities of people. Therefore, I am more interested in extracting factors that can be visualised from the records of daily life, and then express them in an imaginary and illusory way.

In daily life, there are many emotions that are entangled in things and ties. In all sorts of accidents and locks, we live each day and write different stories. I chose those inexplicable fragments that impressed me, digested and reinterpreted them, and then released them. I took the inconsistencies and ghosts felt in this process and reflected them in my work. Although the original form of things and emotions may not exist anymore, I tried to give them new names in a psychedelic way. Let them be the source of my creative ideas and become the mirror of emotional reflection. It may be that I am very interested in people’s deep psychological emotions. I hope that through the visual expression of painting, through the way of appealing to the viewer’s perceptual cognition, we can express our common emotions such as sorrow and sadness, and even beyond. Personal experiences such as infatuation, surprise, jealousy and other complex feelings can be experienced in this way.



Interpretation of the series of works in “The Tibet Book of  Living and Dying”:


Image: “The Tibetan Book of Living and dying”, 45x 35cm, Offset Lithography

The series of prints, “The Tibet Book of  Living and Dying”, is an illustration of a book created for the religious story of the same name. This book explores how to recognise the true meaning of life and how to accept death correctly. After reading this book on serious life issues, I have incorporated myself into the creation of an independent life in nature and an understanding of one’s life and death. The works are complicated and simple in expression. Starting from the point of the picture – like the spring silkworms are silky – little by little, gradually spreading the imagination of life and death into a whole picture.

We look forward to presenting Mu Beini’s works at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea from March 7-10. Please use code “ARTCHINAHP” to purchase half-price tickets and come and see us at stand J3!

Cao Ou: Exhibiting Works at The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea – London

We’re thrilled to be exhibiting the work of Chinese artist Cao Ou at The Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London next month. We caught up with him to find out more about his work. Read on to find out what he had to say (translated).

On the “Reconstructed Landscape” series: 

“Due to the transformation of modern time and space, the modernisation of technology has caused people to lose their natural diversity. However, technology has unified the forms of buildings and roads. When we live in it, we cannot avoid being affected by it. In this case, the concept of landscape should not be placed in a fixed, stylised traditional context. I have been thinking about how to break the traditional aesthetic of people’s habitually.” 

Image: “Reconstructed Landscape-2”, 50×88cm, water-based woodblock, 2014

“This set of experimental prints is based on the Song Dynasty painter Wang Ximeng’s ‘A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains’, all reinterpreted with a few shapes, which constitutes a visual representation of the landscape, rationally using simple shapes to become a complex composition. The shapes are pilled up into a triangular stacking game. The colours overlap repeatedly, and the use of primary colours creates a dizzy effect.”

Image: “Reconstructed Landscape-4”, 50×88cm, water-based woodblock, 2014

“I have always been attracted by the beauty of repetition. I am sensitive to the unified form of mechanised production in life, such as the tall windowsills, the parallel patterns on the walls, and the uniform patterns in clothes. I have always been attracted by these complex and unified forms of beauty, so I chose to use geometry as my linguistic symbol to express the content of the picture in pure form. Sometimes simplification can make the theme of the picture clearer and clearer, more intriguing and more interesting.”

Image: Reconstructed Landscape-3″, 50×88cm, water-based woodblock, 2014

On the “Advanced Animals” series: 

“I found my inspiration from the song ‘Advanced Animals’ by Dou Wei (a famous Chinese rock singer). All of my titles are part of the lyrics. The lyrics of “Advanced Animals” show various gestures that reflect people’s lives. One’s life experience decides its character. Due to different psychological characteristics different social circles and working circles are formed. I hope through this series to make the viewers to reflect on their own current environment and find the true colours of themselves.”

Image: “Advanced Animal”, 20x35cm, water-based woodcut, 2015

On the “Theatre Landscape” series: 

“This series of works continues and expands on the expression of “Reconstructed Landscapes” with a flat style, using the images to express the multiple relationships between landscape, culture and people or with themselves – tourism, protection, possession, destruction, etc. I hope that the audience will see that this group of works can trigger deeper thoughts on the relationship between humans and our environment.”

Image: Theatre Landscape – Floating Mountains & Sea”,  40x60cm, water-based woodcut, 2018

“All my works are printed on Chinese rice paper or Bark paper. The inks are mainly Chinese ink and watercolours, gouache. I use the traditional Chinese water-based printing method called ‘Do Ban’ as the main technique.”

Here’s a short video of Cao Ou at work:

Cao Ou’s cut from ArtChina on Vimeo.

We look forward to presenting his works at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea from March 7-10. Please use code “ARTCHINAHP” to purchase half-price tickets and come and see us at stand J3!

ArtChina at the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea – London (March 7-10, 2019)

We’re pleased to announce our participation in the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Spring show from 7th-10th March, 2019.

Visit our stand to discover stories of China through our artists and their artwork.

We’ll have the work of six contemporary Chinese printmakers and other artists on display.

Established artists: 

Yu Chengyou: Dreamlike Chinese Landscapes

Dreamlike Chinese landscapes and natural scenes are the subject-matter of Yu Chengyou’s work. The purity of classical eastern philosophy is a dominant feature. The result is a combination of abstract constructs and natural still objects that capture perfectly the beauty of Northern China. Yu Chengyou was born in 1953 in China’s Shandong province. He is currently Dean of Heilongjiang Printmaking Institute and Vice-Director of Harbin Art Museum. Throughout his career, he has won many awards for his work. These include the Golden Prize from the Japanese Association for the Promotion of Chinese Prints in 1993, and silver awards at successive annual China National Print Exhibitions. 

‘Winter in the Lianghe Village’, Yu Chengyou, woodcut, 100x150cm, 2011

Yang Qi – Post Expressionism Painting

Yang Qi was born in Wuhu China in 1952. He lives and works in Dusseldorf, Germany. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Anhui, China and a Ph.D at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He holds a number of professorships at a wide range of institutions including The Institute for German Expressionism, The Academy of Fine Arts Xian and Eastern China University in Shanghai. Qi has also held many curatorships and lecturing positions and was, in 2014, the Chinese representative artist to UNICEF in Germany. Yang Qi has exhibited around the world at a number of galleries, museums and institutions including the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and the Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany. Examples of his work are held in many collections, including China Art Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, China, Art Foundation La Roche, Basel, Switzerland, and the British Museum in London, England.

‘The Way to Fantasy’, Yang Qi, acrylic on canvas, 200cmx180cm, 2017

ArtChina are also proud to announce that the works of young, emerging Chinese artists, will also be on show at the exhibition.

Emerging artists: 

Cao Ou

Cao Ou was shortlisted for the First Muban Educational Trust (London) Woodblock Printmaking Award in 2014. His ‘Reconstructed Landscape Series’ is currently held in the British Museum’s permanent collection. This artwork below is reflecting on our declining environment today, warning us that, if we don’t act immediately to protect our environment, soon it will disappear and we will only be able to enjoy it as a display in a museum.

‘Theatre’ from ‘Landscape Display’ series, Can Ou, 50x50cm, 2019

Mu Beini

Mu Beini was born at 1983 in Wuhan, China. She graduated from the high school of Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, received her BA from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, Department of Fresco and Comprehensive Materials Painting and, in 2011 completed an MA from Niigata University in Japan, Department of Environmental Art, Modern Art. She is currently a lecturer at the Printmaking department of Hubei Academy of Fine Arts. This series below is titled ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’, inspired by a spiritual classic from one of the foremost interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West by Sogyal Rinpoche.

‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’, Mu Beini, 4 prints, 50cm x 40cm / per print

Zhu Kecheng

Zhu Kecheng studied at the Xian Academy of Fine Arts, Shanxi and at the Camberwell College of Arts in London. Her work, a series of stone lithograph prints, explores how body language reveals hidden truths and how unconscious body behaviours greatly affect our daily lives. Freud said: “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.” Zhu Kecheng also explores the different nuances of Eastern and Western body language.

‘Thinking in Hat’, Zhu Kecheng, lithograph, 38cm x 56cm

Kelly Mi

Kelly Mi has been painting since childhood. She is an actor and producer. Her recent work uses anime style to explore the effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on our lives. She imagines that in the future, the babysitter will be replaced by AI entities. In this piece below, the smaller machine frog takes up the position of nanny and cares for the bunny who is much bigger than itself. This seems to be convenient. But whereas Mum and Dad are freed from the heavy work of caring for their children, when they try to let go of their own responsibilities they forget that their family can never be replaced.

‘Super-Power Babysitter’, Kelly Mi, screenprint, 50cmx50cm

There are more prints to see from these talented Chinese artists, so mark your calendars and visit us at stand J3. See you there?

More information:

Affordable Art Fair Website
Affordable Art Fair on Facebook

Use ARTCHINAHP for half price tickets. Each code admits two guests!

30 Years Ago: A “Leather Jacket” Youth’s Past in Chongqing – Part 3

From “Rhodan” to “Rulai Buddha”: A Sculptor’s story by Jiao Xingtao, Part 3

“In the spring of 1992, an old man wrote a poem in the South Sea…”

Following this poem, the whole class was suspended in order to build the “Pilgrimage to the West Palace”, the most popular theme park with sound, lighting & electricity in the 1990s. A selected area used a variety of means to build a package-themed scenic spot where lights are swaying, the entrance is flickering, the characters seem to be moving, tourists are coming to watch, buying tickets, and then shopping, having happily paid an expensive price to enter.

Photo: Jiao Xingtao’s graduation photo & his self portrait, glass fibre, 90x45x36cm, 1993

Because the landscapes of such scenic parks are all artificially recreated, sculptures are often important. This brought us, as sculptors, a lot of opportunities and money. In those few years, the most ambitious sculptors, carrying their sculpture knives, went south and north, climbed up and down, and took advantage of the good opportunities to work. The Head of Department teacher paid tribute to us, and everyone was happy. The older generations used to say: “Women are afraid to marry the wrong man; the man is afraid of getting into the wrong career.” The career part of that statement was true for me. Sculpture had become very popular, and we had finally hit the jackpot in terms of career opportunities. When the course of urban sculpture changed from “city sculpture” to “food sculpture”, the clothing of the sculpture department also changed from junk suits to leather jackets.

Photo: The first “urban sculpture” of the third grade of Jiao Xingtao University, 1990

In my second year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, Sun Zhenhua and Zeng Chenggang made the first invitation exhibition for young sculptors in China. In those few years, the sculptures of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts were very strong, and they won many awards in various exhibitions across the country. This was the first unofficial academic exhibition and group of seminars in the sculpture industry.

Four teachers from Sichuan Academy of Fine Art participated. Upon returning, they were very excited. I remember that evening; we were asked to sit on the outdoor platform on the first floor of the teacher’s building. Those teachers were dashing through their speeches, their body language showing their excitement; their faces were like gold powder, half-bright and half-dark against the sunset. For a while, it didn’t feel like a sculpture conference, more like a scene from a martial arts competition. Finally, everyone was in agreement that we would endeavour to start a revolution for Chinese sculpture over the next 10 years.

The most impressive outcome of this exhibition was the emergence of a group of super realistic style sculptures, such as “Guan Yuan Spring Snow” and “Standing People”. There were really cool! The sweeping of the classical and the so-called “themes” and “meanings” accumulated in the sculptures. Although the problems with Chinese contemporary art and the state of sculpture were still misplaced, changes had begun.



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30 Years Ago: A “Leather Jacket” Youth’s Past in Chongqing – Part 2

From “Rhodan” to “Rulai Buddha”: A Sculptor’s story by Jiao Xingtao, Part 2

“This was the season of love; there was love in the air…”

I rented a house, which was located up in the mountains. I didn’t have a girlfriend then, so I spent lots of time studying various pieces of art anatomy and reading master sculptors’ catalogues to pass this energetic but boring period of my life. I still remember one afternoon when I didn’t have class. I woke up from a nap and stared at the sunny wall outside the window. There were a few books scattered on the floor, including New Concept English and Herbert Reed’s Modern Sculpture History. Because I didn’t know what to do after I woke up, I’d been lying there until dark. At that moment, I felt that the days were long and distracting. Graduation was like a station that was thousands of kilometres away, and I had to get there barefoot.

Photo: In Tiananmen Square in 1992 (left Jiao Xingtao)

That year, Rodin’s exhibition was shown for the first time at the National Art Museum of China. Several classmates bought a few standing tickets and squeezed on the train. After two days and two nights, we arrived in Beijing. We didn’t eat, just went straight to the museum and spent a whole day looking at those sculptures like pilgrims. Now, in addition to the bronze statues with the black skulls whose pupils are deep and bottomless, the biggest surprise was to meet the movie star Lu Liping. He was looking up and down the front of the sculpture with a thoughtful expression, eyes slightly open. But still beautiful. 

Photo: Jiao Xingtao in the graduate classroom, 1994

Another strong memory, apart from seeing Lu Liping, was being hungry. We had not eaten for a day, and we had to resist strongly not to have any of the street snacks. Instead, we were determined to go to Wangfujing Street to eat a burger and chips from the first McDonald’s to open in China. On that night, our dream fulfilled, we lay in bed contented in a basement and took out the seasoning bags with English writing all over them that we had snuck back from KFC. While reflecting, it came to mind that Rodin’s sculptures seemed to be different from ours. There were no block faces, but many details. However, a master’s works must be good sculptures. Were we doing it wrong? We tore open the seasoning bags and a substance flowed out like blood and, tasted with a tongue, it was sweet! It turned out to be ketchup! We were as happy as if we had won some money. In the early spring of March, we took off all our clothes because we could not stand the heat in the North. If I would come to Beijing again in this life, I vowed I must live in a room with windows. One of the classmates muttered thoughtfully, “Why do our sculptures have to be square?” Now, twenty years later, the person who questioned this is the vice president of an art school in Chengdu.



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30 Years Ago: A “Leather Jacket” Youth’s Past in Chongqing – Part 1

From “Rhodan” to “Rulai Buddha”: A Sculptor’s story by Jiao Xingtao, Part 1

Photo: “Yellow Jacket” youthful past

In 1988, I was admitted to the Sculpture Department of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts. When I entered the school, I went to visit the Baigongguan Dregs Cave as part of a compulsory course at the university. The spotlights shining on torture tools and their explanations made the place feel like a studio. Later, when friends who were hoping to go to Baigongguan came to visit, I always took them to eat Geleshan Spicy Chicken instead. I remember that when the sketch class in the first semester was not yet finished, the two chimneys of the Chongqing Power Plant began to smoke. Later, they were called the two “old cannons of the Huangfuping Twin Towers”. They covered the earth with a thick layer of ash. The sculpture hasn’t touched many, but it’s catching up with the “spring and summer turn” of the next year. The inexplicable youth were like the lawns that caught fire. They jumped up and down, traveled up to the north and down to the south of the country. Then suddenly everything stopped and the first year passed.

Photo: 1989 Sculpture Department students group photo (Right 2: Jiao Xingtao)

At that time, I thought that good sculpture should be like the heroes and martyrs in the dregs hole: the plaster paint, the whole body tight, the muscles tense, and the anger full. Later, I saw that the school sculpture factory was full of men and women with wide waists and long-awaited bodies. These clay bodies are huge; the calves thicker than buckets and, when they look up, the senior Z classmate with long floating hair, standing on top of scaffolding, smoking a cigarette, slowly making his chest bigger than a bathtub, regards himself as god.

Photo: Fiery summer with Huangpuping and the big chimney “Twin Tower”, 1989 (right one Jiao Xingtao)

I made up my mind that one day I would do better than him. Of course, this does not mean that the one standing on the top to earn big money must be me, but “hungry and undead craftsman”. This is an important reason why the sculpture department was popular at that time. Sculpture has always been a “campus upstart” image of physical fitness plus craftsmanship. SCAFA, famous for its scars and native art, seems to always be a step away from the sculpture. In those years, sculptures always followed the rhythm of national art exhibitions, and they were doing Tibetan, Miao, and Yi… China has 56 nationalities, which can all be done!

©ArtChina UK

Meet the Artist: Yang Qi’s Biography of Art Life



我出生在一个艺术氛围浓郁的家庭,我父亲于二十世纪三十年代末毕业于当今中国最高艺术学府“中国美术学院”的前身之一“苏州艺术专科学校”, “苏州艺术专科学校“是由中国现代著名画家,美术教育家颜文梁先生和当时留学法国的部分中国艺术家于二十世纪三十年代在苏州创办和主持的;随后我父亲继续在国画大师徐悲鸿主教的”中央大学“艺术系继续深造,通过不断地磨练和积累很快即成为当时中国南方颇有影响的画家和艺术理论教授。我母亲出生于德国的法兰克福,外祖父和外祖母皆是早年在德国求学的学子,取得博士学位后留在了当地行医,因此我从小也接收了部分西洋文化的教育。

I was born in an artist’s family. My father graduated, around the end of 1930s, from Suzhou Art Institute, one of the predecessor institutes that constituted the unsurpassed China Academy of Art today. Suzhou Art Institute was established in the 1930s by Mr. Yan Wenliang, a great modern painting master and educator, together with a group of Chinese artists who studied in French. Later, my father continued his study in the art department of Central University under Chinese painting master Xu Beihong’s education. After a long period of training and studying, my father soon became an influential artist and art professor in southern China. My mother was born in Frankfurt, Germany; my grandparents went to Germany at a young age to study. They lived there as doctors after getting their PhDs. So I also attained a bit of Western education as a child.

我儿时的记忆中每当父亲作画时我和我哥哥、弟弟经常都会在一旁饶有兴趣的看着,或者我们兄弟三人也会学着父亲的样子拿出纸和笔信手涂鸦,我父亲也就时常给我们一些简单的指导,同时还给我们讲一些中国传统诗文和外国的艺术故事,在这种看似无心的潜移默化过程中,我最早的绘画情趣得以培养,印象中从我的孩提时代一直到青少年时代都是跟父亲在一起画,而且学习素描、雕塑、绘画都是自然而然的同时发展起来的,很显然我父亲就是我的艺术启蒙 老师。

In my early memories, in great interest, my brothers and I often watched my father painting. Sometimes we also made casual drawings mimicking our father’s work. He often gave us some lessons, telling us stories of traditional Chinese  poetry and foreign arts. Unconsciously influenced by this creative atmosphere, my original interest in painting developed. I spent my childhood and teenage years painting with my father, discovering initially how to sketch, sculpt and paint spontaneously around the same period. Apparently, my father was my first teacher of the arts.


I was influenced by different artists during different times, most of whom were Western artists. The one and only Chinese artist who influenced me greatly was Feng Zikai, a famous modern painter, prose writer and art educator. Influenced by my father during childhood, I have also seen many paintings in Feng Zikai’s books created during the War of Resistance Against Japan. Those empathetic images of life scenes, and the poems written with the paintings, rooted themselves deeply in my mind for a long time. Foreign artists such as Picasso and Chagall influenced me significantly; living in Europe, German expressionism and later neo-expressionism both transformed me from a Chinese artist into a representative figure of German neo-expressionism, which has been an important process for my art.

我的装置很大程度上都是来自于哲学,中国和德国的哲学。比方说中国的道家的哲学和德国的哲学家海德格对我的影响很大,还有艺术上面就是德国的Joseph Beuys。在我刚到德国来的时候,我对他的作品非常感兴趣。

My work, to a large extent, is based on Chinese and German philosophies, such as Taoism, as well as Heidegger’s theories. In terms of arts, German artist Joseph Beuys raised my interest greatly when I first came to Germany.


I don’t favour pop art much as I am more into academic art. I have spent a long time developing and creating art with an academic focus.


There are a few things in life that have influenced my art. The first thing was coming to Germany to see great masterpieces in person that I had previously seen in magazines. From classicism to renaissance, from medieval arts to modern and contemporary ages, I ventured among as many masterpieces as I could. With a great dedication of time and interest, I studied and compared their works, contemplating how my own art could reach and exceed their accomplishments. I also have seen many original artworks by European artists in galleries, including some artists I didn’t know.


The above experience was an important transformational point in the way I think about the arts: there have been so many people in the world creating different artworks that I should continue my path creating something different from existing forms; I should create something of my own. Moving from China to Germany, from an Eastern world to the West meant my entire artistic insight has transformed within a complete change of environment. In the West, especially in Germany during the late 80s and 90s which was its rapid flourishing period of contemporary art, I attained great knowledge of the arts.


The second major point was my shift from abstract art to figurative art. I have always longed to fuse Zen, Taoism and German dialecticism into my artwork. I had been thinking about the way I paint, the feelings I have when I paint and the changing of my style, so I did abstract paintings. At the end of 90s, after being exhibited in many major art museums in China and Germany, I felt that it was time for a change. Thus, my art-making became very free and wild when I changed from abstract to figurative work.


Neo-expressionism has influenced me, freeing me from abstraction and leading me back to figurative painting. It has become a significant part of my art. I gradually changed from pure abstract style to figurative painting, incorporating academic techniques from the late 90s. Later, I noticed that my works appeared differently, meaning my own style was established confidently with more feelings and emotions added in. It was in the late 1990s in Germany when some European critics called me a “rising neo-expressionist in abstract art with unique style”.


The third important thing was my long working period during which I made art installations. This started from the late 90s alongside my paintings and continues today. I participated in many art exhibition with both my paintings and installations, from group shows to solo shows. Those installations stand for my own style to a major extent. An artist should not only do paintings, but also should use various artistic elements to express his styles, showing a comprehensive artistic consideration with diversified art languages. Many famous artists today use diverse artistic media, varying from paintings to sculptures and to a wider range of styles. Art develops into an intensively diversified portfolio of forms. This has encouraged me to devote my time to creating paintings, installations, photography and multi-media arts, which all formed my contemporary artistic expression in the 21st century as a whole. I think, as an artist, the process of changing and transforming artistic styles is also a process of self-revolution and self-introspection.


The forth important thing has been to raise the quality of my art to new heights after being declared a German neo-expressionist. For fifteen years since 2002, I have participated in many major art exhibitions throughout the world, which has been a great encouragement for me to continue creating art. Being a recognized artist in the West, I am able to promote and express my own art style. This experience has been exceptional to me, giving me great confidence in my artistic life. An artist is meant to be confident and proud, otherwise his art will show timidity. I was able to advocate for myself and push my art to a higher level, to be compared with international artists and to join important exhibitions, which would be hugely encouraging for any artist.


I left China thirty years ago, thus I always look at issues happening in China with a foreigner’s perspective. Looking at the media’s presentations, I don’t really care about politics; those major political issues seem irrelevant to me.


Issues in Europe or other parts of the world, or even social development topics, are to an artist objective matters which he should be looking at with his own angle and position. He should not be swayed by the issues, unless there are wars or similar chaos. I think in a peaceful environment in Europe, people’s life and society, as well as the broader culture and cultivation opportunities are not vastly influential in an artist’s development.


Any interview question asking about my choice of style and technique appears a bit absurd. A successful artist does not choose his style or technique, but forms the style after a life-long exploration of his artistic development. He forms this style, instead of choosing it, to create art. I express my art with heart and flesh, with my spirit and whole soul. It’s a matter of independence for an artist; he needs not to listen to others’ opinions. An artist is in a world of his own, thus he could influence the outside world as a whole. I have not chosen a style.


This interview should not be a show, thus I want to express what is true to me, saying what I want to say to the media. Other things are not related to me. I am responsible to my own art, and to myself. How people praise or criticise my art should be a very natural thing.

Yu Chengyou: A Solo Exhibition in Shenzhen

One of our talented Chinese artists, Yu Chengyou’s images draw upon natural surroundings, from wildlife to human life, places that, through the simplicity of his style, seem tranquil and uncluttered. His prints offer quite a contrast to the metropolises’ of China; they depict places that bring solace from the maddening crowds and industrialisation of China today. His work promises something better for us, a calmer world to strive for.

We’re pleased to share a few images from his solo printmaking exhibition titled “Clean Journey” that was shown at the end of 2018in Shenzhen, China. Below are the images from the exhibition catalogue and a few words from the artist himself, talking about his artistic journey.

My Artistic Journey: 

I was born in the rural area of ​​Shandong, China. My father had participated in the local army during the Second World War against Japan. Later, I learned that such a unit was called an “armed force.” My father has always been a cadre in the village. During the Great Leap Forward in 1958, the village was already starved to death. He was afraid of taking responsibility and left his hometown to come to Heilongjiang Coal Mine. For this reason, he was identified  as a “Out Party Member” during the Culture Revolution. My mother gave birth to me when she was 40. When I was seven years old, I went to the mine with my mother to reunite with my father.

Photo: Yu Chengyou was in Guanlan Printmaking Centre at ShenZhen

Although my father didn’t have higher education, he had beautiful handwriting. My mother painted and did various embroideries. She also specialised in the traditional moulding by using Shandong flavours. I later learned that this kind of craft is called “flavouring moulding.” If I have a little talent for painting, maybe it was inherited from my parents.

When I graduated from high school in 1969, I got caught up in the movement which called on graduates to go to China’s countryside to work. I went to the Great Northern Wilderness (in Northeast China), which was thousands of miles away from home. Since I was a child, I liked drawing. After I went to the countryside, I started drawing with some older educated youth who came from some of the big cities. At that time, we were very hardworking. After work, we sketched and draw portraits. In 1973, because of my interest in drawing, I became an art teacher in the army. In this way, there was no need to work early in the field in the morning, and there was plenty of time to draw. In 1977, I was transferred from the regiment to the division and had the opportunity to draw together with some of the educated young artists, such as Hou Guoliang and Lu Jingren. I learned a lot from them, and practiced everything from sketches to oil paintings to comics.I rapidly improved my artistic skills. Later, Hou Guoliang and Lu Jingren left the district, and I transferred to the division club and became a full-time art worker.

Later, I participated in the Jiamusi Agricultural Reclamation Bureau and took a printmaking class tutored by Mr. Hao Boyi; that was the beginning of my focus on printmaking.

I stayed in the Great Northern Wilderness for 18 years. At that time, I was very naive. I didn’t want anything besides the time to focus on my art. Now that I think about it, I really appreciated that period whenI worked hard to learn how to make art.
More than 30 years have passed, and I have always loved printmaking; the experience of this is only known to myself.

I have always believed that art is inseparable from life. I have traveled all over Heilongjiang in these years and I go to countryside two or three times a year to experience  quieter life and collect materials. Every time, I gain a lot; in addition to accumulating a lot of creative materials, I also let my body and mind wander into nature, to help me to maintain a peaceful, simple state.

My requirements for my own creativity and works are not high, but I approach it as seriously and sincerely as possible. I don’t like bluffing, and so it is the same in my work.

In recent years, I have seen some works that have awed me and some that have confused me. I always feel that I am out of date, but I have an open-minded attitude. Printmaking is my speciality and I am continuing to work in this field. I will keep going, step by step…



Read more about Yu Chengyou and see the prints we have for sale from this artist on the ArtChina UK website.

In Conversation: Jack Bullen, Director of Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

Meet Jack Bullen, Director of the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair where we will be exhibiting in a few weeks.

Jack studied for his BA in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School where he went on to work for many years. He now exhibits widely while running Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair and Brocket London, a contemporary art gallery Jack and his wife Lizzie Glendinning established together in 2014 for the promotion of early to mid-career artists with a particular focus on process led techniques and reinterpreting traditional methods for the 21st century. Lizzie is a curator and art dealer with a background in Art History and Fashion Curation, and a specialism in Chinese art history after managing a gallery of Asian Art in Mayfair for a number of years. Lizzie and Jack met in 2011, married in 2015 and live in London with their dog, Thora.

Below, we chat with Jack about the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair for some deeper insight into the curation process, the artists involved and what to expect from the event itself.

ARTCHINA UK: What do you enjoy most about your role at the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair (WCPF)? How long has it been running and what are some of your biggest challenges as the director?
JACK BULLEN: As Director of WCPF, I enjoy discovering new artists and potential platforms to further promote some of the exquisite talent exhibited. I also love the democratic nature of the open call and selection panel which creates such a diverse portfolio of works from artists with so many different histories.

I established the fair in 2016 with Lizzie, as an extension of a ‘New Collector’s Evening’ we would host for budding collectors at our Kennington gallery.

Challenges, for any young company can also be its successes. We have grown rapidly which is very exciting and hugely positive, but I think a challenge is maintaining and managing the growth through a dedicated team, what we can build into our offering and future partnerships.

ARTCHINA: Tell us more about the fair itself. How, when and why did it come into being?
Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair was set up in November 2016. The fair has been running now for three years within the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich and has now moved into the former Firepower Museum doubling the exhibition space available in previous years.

As mentioned, it is an extension of our ‘New Collector’s Evening’ that we used to host at Brocket London where we would use original prints to educate on, and encourage art collecting through this medium. With the nature of prints and multiples, the price for original art work can be more accessible, thereby creating an arena to discover new artists, learn about processes, develop tastes and a vocabulary surrounding your choices, and confidently build or enhance a collection.

We now host the same evening – on a much larger scale – as part of the fair. This year it’s kindly supported by Phillips Auction House.

ARTCHINA: What is the curation process like? What important considerations do you take into account when selecting exhibitors?
JB: Initially, artists submit up to four works for consideration to the Print Fair. These works are then judged on a piece by piece basis by a selection panel consisting of seven industry leaders. All of us meet up and spend a day working our way through the full presentation of entries where the judges individually select the works they want to include. It’s very democratic – if a piece gets four out of seven, then it’s through.

With the number of works on display (over 500) and the short time frame we have to curate and hang, the curation is overseen by Lizzie Glendinning. Works are hung in the academy style in order to fit all the works in. Normally a particular piece will stand out as the centrepiece of each booth or area and the other works are then picked depending on how they sit alongside that image.

ARTCHINA: What can we expect from a visit to the fair?
JB: The fair is set in the former Firepower Museum on the Royal Arsenal. The building was originally one of many factories set up on the Arsenal to produce gun cartridges for the war effort. At the time of the First World War, the Arsenal covered 1,285 acres (520 ha) and employed close to 80,000 people. After the war, its operations were scaled down; it finally closed as a factory in 1967 after which the Ministry of Defence moved out in 1994.

ARTCHINA: Besides ArtChina’s contributions, of course, if you had to pick out a few highlights from this year’s show, which handful of exhibitors would you tell visitors not to miss?
JB: With over 350 individual artists taking part, there is certainly works to suit anyone’s taste. However, a few of my personal highlights include:

Ade Adesina
An exceptional draughtsman, using mostly woodcarving, linocut, etching, and oil, Adesina combines his African roots with British culture, producing work that makes people reflect on the past, present and the future. Adesina is based in Aberdeen, Scotland and is a distinguished Royal Scottish Academician and member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of The Fine Art. Past Residencies include Eton College & Glasgow Print Studio. His complex imagined landscapes, for me, combine so many layers of art history, mythology, classics – I could study them for hours.

Sherrie-Leigh Jones
Sherrie-Leigh Jones explores imaginary landscapes through a process of layering and collaging her own drawings and photographs, found imagery and printmaking techniques. We love the decorative Japanese inspired nature of these prints – beautiful, calming with a sense of mythology and romanticism.

Laura Clarke
Laura Clarke graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2010 with an MA in Fine Art Printmaking, receiving the Alf Dunn Prize and the Augustus Martin Prize for excellence. Since becoming a mother, her work has moved to explore the animalistic abject nature of pregnancy and birth. She is an incredible draughtsperson using Intaglio printmaking as a vehicle for the subject matter, with its infinite capacity for detail. We exhibited large printed sculptural works in our inaugural fair and found fascination with her surreal, humorous, often dark pieces and their art historical context.

Josephine Hicks
Hicks’ playful work is an exploration in documenting space, colour and textures. From large-scale murals, to experimental screen print. The bases for these prints came from a collection of hand-tinted postcards. Botanical scenes from exotic places featuring palm trees and waterfalls, carefully hand coloured in the mid – late 19th century create an interesting balance between factual and the imagined.

ARTCHINA: Talk a bit about the variety of printing techniques, styles, and general diversity of the work that will be on display at the fair.
JB: There are four general types of printmaking:

Relief printmaking: where the surface is cut away leaving a raised level that is inked up and used to print with, this includes linocut, woodblock and letterpress amongst others.

Intaglio printmaking: where the surface is cut into or corroded, allowing the ink to sit in the concaves; the pressure of the press then allows the paper to draw out the ink. This includes primarily etching, aquatint, dry points, mezzotint and engraving.

Silkscreen: a major type of stencil printmaking where areas are blocked out and then ink is pulled through a silk screen onto the areas not covered by the stencil.

Finally, Lithography: when the artist draws directly on a flat stone or specially prepared metal plate with a greasy substance such as a crayon. The stone is dampened using the principle that water and grease repel each other, then inked. The ink clings to greasy marks when the paper is pressed against it.

The fair showcases all these types of works in abundance as well as digital works and monoprinting, where the ink is painted directly onto a smooth unaltered plate and then transferred to paper in a press. The nature of monoprinting means that every one is unique.

ARTCHINA: What gap in the London art market does the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair fill and what makes it stand out from other London art fairs?
Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair is the only art fair to focus exclusively on contemporary printmaking. The nature of prints and editions makes it far more accessible than a range of other fairs in London whilst maintaining the highest quality of work on display.

Printmaking is an incredibly process-led medium and it is important to us that visitors are engaged and aware of how these works are produced. Thus, we offer more free workshops, demonstrations and activities for visitors to enjoy and get involved with than other fairs.

ARTCHINA: What else would you like people to know before or during their visit to the fair?
First and foremost we hope that visitors will have an enjoyable time wandering about the space, seeing the broad spectrum of brilliant work on display, having go at making prints themselves and having a relax with a glass of wine at the end. We have a fantastic programme of talks in our dedicated lecture space, a wonderful art and interiors area to get inspiration for art in the home, and huge amounts of artist and studio demonstration and workshops. We are hoping to provide new ways to engage visitors in a beautiful and technical original art-form and provide innovative approaches to enjoying and understanding contemporary fine art.

ARTCHINA: If we’ve travelled to Woolwich to see the fair and want to spend some more time in the area before or after our visit, can you recommend somewhere local you love to visit, somewhere local you love to eat, somewhere local you love to go for a walk?
 The Royal Arsenal is a beautiful complex that was hidden to the public until the mid-90s and houses some fantastic buildings ranging from the 17th century right until present day with many new apartment blocks being developed by Berkeley Homes. Some of the historic buildings have been turned into fantastic restaurants and pubs, notably the Guard House which is situated in the former prison before becoming an officers mess. The pub does wonderful food with open fires and only a few minutes walk from the fair. Other local recommendations include: The Dial Arch Pub, Taproom, Con Gusto and Woolwich Equitable.


Meet the Artist: Hammer Chen (Printmaking)

One of the talented emerging Chinese artists we’ll be exhibiting at November’s Asian Art in London show is Hammer Chen, whose creative life bounces between Shanghai and London. Hammer is a printmaker, an artist and illustrator whose work, as she puts it, stems from an interest in using marks and textures to express sensations and emotions. Since 2013, she has had several exhibitions in London and, in 2016, graduated with an MA in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts. She won the Gwen May Award from the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) in 2016 as well and was selected to be a member artist of the RE in the same year.

From 2016, Hammer began to run a printmaking art studio called Wait and Roll in Shanghai in an effort to increase access to printmaking in China. Services of her studio include printmaking workshops, printmaking publication, print service, open space and an artist residency. The photos throughout this post were all taken at Wait and Roll.

Hammer’s series of prints that we’ll have on display in the ArtChina booth at Asian Art in London is from her degree project.They’re much darker than the work in the images here, and run deep into the psychology of being. They revolve around the topic of Maladaptive Daydreaming, which she defines in our interview below. Read on to find out more.

ARTCHINA UK: Tell us about the work you made for your MA project.
HAMMER CHEN: My subject is Maladaptive Daydreaming. “Maladaptive daydreaming is a psychological concept to describe an extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.” So the series of works is exploring fantasy, struggle, disconnect between mind, body and self.

ARTCHINA UK: What inspired you to make your final piece?
HAMMER CHEN: The main reason that I chose the subject is that I realised I’ve developed Maladaptive Daydreaming in the last two years and therefore felt the need to explore this in my work. Also, I realised lots of people are suffering from this but they don’t want to share the bad experience of daydreaming because they are afraid of incomprehension. I do feel it’s necessary to let people know that this problem exists and we should pay attention to it.

ARTCHINA UK: How did you start this project? If you’d like you can make it as a step by step explanation.

HAMMER CHEN: I recalled a lot my previous experience to begin the sketches. It was hard in the beginning, but after I started to open myself up and express my real feelings, it became a process of self-curing. I made many sketches before I began etching. Even while I was in the etching stage, I still kept doing sketches. I picked the ideas which are most expressive then made them into etching pieces.

ARTCHINA UK: What technique did you choose to make your final piece and why?
HAMMER CHEN: I chose to do etching for the final project. Before I started printmaking, my works went through several different stages. They pretty much all stemmed from my interest in making marks and textures.The reason I am so keen on working with textures is that they can give an image a strong atmosphere, provide a different quality and build space for sensations and for the imagination to run wild. When I got into the printmaking studio, I realised that this is an ideal way to produce works with great quality which, at same time, can still be narrative.

ARTCHINA UK: Tell us about any difficulties or challenges you found while making your final piece.
HAMMER CHEN: The challenge might be the uncertainty of the final results and the long process. Sometimes you won’t know what is going to happen on your plate until the last minutes before you see the prints. But actually, I really enjoyed the waiting and appreciated all the failures and surprises that happened in my works throughout the process.

To see Hammer’s work in person, visit the ArtChina booth at the upcoming Asian Art in London exhibition or the Woolwich Contemporary Art Fair, both in November 2018, where we will have her prints on display and for sale. 

Meet the Artist: Wang Chao (Woodblock Prints)

One of the more established Chinese artists we’ll be exhibiting at Asian Art in London at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour next month is Wang Chao, professor at the China Academy of Arts and director of its noted Purple Bamboo Studio. His work has been collected by leading museums in China, Europe and the USA.

Wang Chao makes multiple allusions to the past in both technique and in subject matter. The fine lines, refined colouring and subtle tonalities are reminiscent of illustrative printing from the Ming and Qing periods and Japanese Surimono. Of particular note in our collection are six prints based on art from around the time of Wanli, but the detail is simplified. The appearance is of aged silk paintings, achieved with the use of a newly manufactured paper called Tangzhi where we see the douban, multiple woodblock, method of printing.

But his work is best described by Dr. Anne Ferrer, Programme Director for the MA in East Asian Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. The remainder of this post is written in her words, an excerpt from an article titled “Continuity and Revival in Modern Chinese Culture: the Woodblock Prints of Wang Chao.” 

“As a young artist establishing his career in the 1990s, Wang Chao has developed a type of individual antiquarianism in printmaking through which he uses formats, imagery, and techniques drawn from pre-modern China to offer a personal statement about the present. The character of this antiquarianism has evolved through his woodcuts which offers a significant and unusual achievement in the field of traditional art in contemporary China.

Wang Chao’s group of six prints (pictured above), produced in 2014 in the studios of the Xu Yuan 虚苑 printing workshops in Beijing, explore a new aspect of visual interpretation of Ming painting and book culture. The prints use subjects based on erotic imprints of the Wanli period, and illustrated editions of the Romance of the Western Chamber (Xixiang ji 西厢记). In Wang Chao’s reinterpretation of this subject matter, he simplifies the pictorial detail of landscape, architecture and textile patterning of late Ming book illustration, producing sparse compositions in the manner of sixteenth-century Wu School paintings. The prints define the architectural structures and garden ornaments with fine outline filled in with tones of monochrome, and the slight forms of the figures are printed in an overall tone of light ink, topped with darkly printed detail of hats and hair arrangements. Notable in these prints in Wang Chao’s representation of the materiality of aged silk paintings. The paper Wang Chao has uses for this set of prints is a newly manufactured paper called Tangzhi 唐纸 which is very thin and is so-named because its colour imitates Tang dynasty paper. In Wang Chao’s prints, the light olive tone of the paper gives the impression the colour of aged silk. Over the surface of the paper, Wang Chao prints a bamboo lattice in light monochrome to imitate the texture of woven silk. With the addition of dots and darker streaks of ink to show surface blemishes, representing the wear and tear in old silk paintings, each print presents a completely individual image. The printing process for each of these prints uses the douban method of printing, using between twenty-five and forty blocks made from both pearwood and plywood.

Wang Chao’s use of monochrome and subdued colours in his prints carries powerful artistic associations relating to the use of ink for expressive purposes in scholar-amateur painting. Many contemporary print-artists, following the revivalism of traditional painting, have produced largely monochrome prints with landscape and subjects such prunus, lotus, grasses and insects, in compositions which resonate with painting traditions of pre-modern China. These print-artists have been experimental in their use of materials and techniques, borrowing and adapting elements from both traditional and western-derived traditions to achieve a variety of different effects. Although Wang Chao is part of this group of print-artists, he occupies a separate category of his own in his use of techniques of colour printing associated with the Purple Bamboo Studio, and pictorial formats and subject-matter which are derived from late Ming printing.

Wang Chao is unique as a print-artist in contemporary China in his use of the douban printing technique in an unmodified form. His prints involve the use of multiple small woodblocks made from pearwood, each representing linear elements and intricate areas of colour, and blocks, often made from plywood faced with Manchurian ash giving a woodgrain texture, to build up larger areas of tone in the print. These blocks are printed in sequence, on a traditional Chinese printing table which achieves completely accurate registration. The embossing process used in the printed book Foreign Images is part of the colour-printing process and is carried out after the printing of ink and colour. It is achieved by placing the paper over an intaglio block which is rubbed with a wooden burnisher. Using this complex process involved Wang Chao in cutting more than forty individual blocks for the print Reminiscence, and twenty-three blocks for The Desk in the Jiuli Studio. Although Wang Chao is the only academy artist using the douban technique in a largely unchanged form in China, other artists frequently use the less technically demanding approach of colour printing using a set of blocks sharing the same register (taoban), in combination with other aspects of traditional or western realist printmaking.

Wang Chao’s woodblock prints investigate and rework different aspects of technique and subject matter in the printmaking history of pre-modern China. His prints are an important example of how the reworking of past models continues to be a powerful force in the generation of the highest quality traditional art in the twenty-first century.”

(The text above is from the article: Dr. Anne Farrer, “Continuity and Revival in Modern Chinese Culture: the Woodblock Prints of Wang Chao,” in Megan Aldrich and Robert J. Wallis eds., Antiquaries & Archaists: the Past in the Past, the Past in the Present (Reading, UK: Spire Books Ltd 2009), pp. 122-140, 162-167.)


Meet the Artist: Kecheng Zhu (Stone Lithograph Prints)

The style of emerging Chinese artist Kecheng Zhu’s portfolio of stone lithograph prints is unmistakeable. Not long ago completing an MA in Visual Art Printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts in London following her undergraduate studies at the Xian Academy of Fine Arts, Shanxi, in China, she has already carved out a strong artistic voice.

Overall, her work explores how body language reveals hidden truths and how unconscious body behaviours greatly affect our daily lives. Having lived and worked between cultures, Kecheng is also able to explore the different nuances of Eastern and Western body language through her art.

Among other exhibitions, Kecheng’s work has recently been on display with ArtChina at the Royal Academy of Arts during the 2018 London Original Printmaking Fair and will be included in our booth at Asian Art in London at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour in November 2018.

Below, in her own words, Kecheng talks more about what she hopes to communicate through her work:

“Intertwined, touched, detached hands and feet speak about the relationships that I encounter in daily life, how conscious and unconscious bodily behaviours greatly affect our daily lives and affect how we really get to know a person, including ourselves. These specific human actions very much bring me into the sense of particular areas of bodies. It’s not a body as a whole, it’s a fragmentation.

Freud said: “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”

It seems only body language can tell the truth about people’s thoughts. The stability and level of tone do not make us distinguish between true and false. We are not polygraph instruments. Is he/she is shy? Is he/she pretending to be calm? Has he/she escaped something? Does the environment make him/her insecure? Whether we are close or not, a fingertip’s action, gives you insight.

We all have our own answers, and the importance of physical contact can not be ignored. Bones, organs, and Central Nervous System, our so-called command centre; these are all under our skin, but what is beyond the skin?

When we plan our actions, the brain gives clear instructions, but the subconscious may make the body react in advance. To me, the surface is a blurred boundary; I can’t clearly separated inside and outside. The figures that I create are based on my own reactions and the reactions of the people that I observe. The conscious and unconscious bodily reactions are the most important part in my works.

The different communication style between East and West also gives me inspiration. In my eyes, the way the East communicates with the West gives me different experiences and plays an important role in my observation.

All the prints are printed by stone lithographs. Feet and hands are the symbol I use all the time to represent the whole body. They became my own language. My own hands and feet will become the main actors to tell the story. I found my own symbols to explain the inside and outside.”

Visit the ArtChina booth at Asian Art in London at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, November 5-9 2018 to see Kecheng’s work. Art is available for sale. Please contact us for details.