Art 40 Basel
Art Premiere (booth H6)
Place: Messeplatz, Basel, Switzerland
Dates: 10 – 14 June
Liu Wei,Zhang Peili
Boers-Li Gallery is pleased to announce that we will be participating in Art 40 Basel, the world’s foremost art fair held in Basel, from 10-14 June 2009. We will be participating in the Art Premiere section of the fair for the second time in succession.
This year, we will be showing an art-historical dialogue between Zhang Peili (1957), widely respected as the founding father of conceptual/video art in China and a leading art educator, and Liu Wei (1972), “post-sense sensibility” visual interventionist and recent recipient of the Chinese Contemporary Art Award.
In Basel, these two artists will offer explorations on the violence of media cultures and iconoclastic strategies. Zhang Peili shows an historic and radical work: Procedure of “Ask First, Shoot Later”: About “X?”, which is recognized as the first purely textual conceptual piece in China. In hand-written language, it shows step-by-step the iconoclastic act of retreating from painting as a media of visual perception. Additionally, Zhang Peili presents a newly executed interactive video installation.
Liu Wei will also show a new work. The piece constructs a wall, an assemblage, a collision of the architectural fragments of representative systems of belief: Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, of course, but also more contemporary signifiers of faith, including the U.S. Federal Bank and the burne- out CCTV tower, the mass-media control center of China’s ruling party. The whole builds a Piranesque structure out of the remarkably unfashionable material of oxhide, widely known for its use as chew toys for dogs.
Zhang Peili is of the same generation as the well-known Chinese painters Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Guangyi, and Fang Liyun. In the 1980s Zhang Peili embarked on an unprecedented maneuver by resolvedly turning away from painting, instead writing a text in which he deliberately withdrew himself from the visual allusion of the “painterly” and into the conceptual approach of cognitive imagination. This work, entitled Procedure of “Ask First, Shoot Later”: About “X?”, demarcates a new period of art production in China: that dominated by so-called new media and conceptual art, which was very influential through the generation of Chinese artists that emerged in the late-1990s, culminating in the Post-Sense Sensibility movement in which Liu Wei was heavily involved. In that sense, this is a historic work.
The work consists of 12 pages of written Chinese text in which the artist describes the extensive process of the work, from its conceptual origins and production to installation and visiting. This type of a-visual, textual performance recalls the high tide of minimalist conceptual production in North America, linking the 1980s Chinese progressive art movement with its historical underpinnings in the West. This important but overlooked link is a key element of Zhang's practice. It is the iconoclastic attitude represented by this work that opened up a new way of artistic production in China—of which Zhang Peili’s newest work, Hard Evidence, is an interesting example.
In this new piece, spectators are confronted with a destroyed icon of our media culture: a burned out television set with a camera hidden inside. Live images of the audience and recorded footage of the destruction of the television alternate on a monitor behind the television. This work, emerging from Zhang Peili’s experimentation with interactive video installation over the past 10 years, treats media violence, commodity idolatry, and liveness.
Both of these pieces reflect the prosaic and everyday nature of control, employing an aesthetics of boredom to reject any false sense of glamour to the life of an artist in transition-era China.
Liu Wei, on the other hand, is an artist extremely preoccupied with the visual, rejecting this kind of extensive conceptual planning to a degree almost bordering on the visceral. He does not, however, participate in the shock and kitschy “Chineseness” of many artists of his generation in Beijing. Instead, he forces all of his conceptual energy into the picture plane itself. In his recent painting series Purple Air, for example, the artists paints surreal, cyberpunk versions of the Beijing skyline, many of which devolve into anti-picturesque and abstract graphs of fluorescent static. Like the practice of Zhang Peili, these works emphasize the mundaneness of control, reducing its spectacular quality by transforming it into noise and embedding it in the city itself.
His new work shown at Art Basel, Barrier and Belief, is a sculpture that recreates a series of colliding architectural fragments representing religious, media and financial buildings that have played a dominant role in recent history: the American-Mexican border, the destruction of Buddhist statues by the Taliban, the U.S. Treasury, Guantanamo, the CCTV tower, etc. Executed in oxhide, a half transparent, textural material, this work is simultaneously appealing to the eye and revolting to the senses.
These multiple strains present in our presentation in Basel engender a discussion about the uses and abuses of various media, a critique of media cultures, and the functioning of power in a (post-control society; all of these elements are conveyed by the subtle political qualities shared by both of these artists but so rarely found in mid-career and established artists in China.
If you require more information about the exhibition or have any general queries please contact us