9:00 am – 10:45 am
- Chaired by Sandy Ng
- Pascale Elbaz, “Liu Haisu’s Journal in Europe: A Unique View on European Modern Painting”
- Remy Jarry, “The Chairman’s Old Clothes: Study of the Annex of Shaoshan Mao Zedong Memorial Museum”
- Giorgio Strafella, Daria Berg, “Borders, Marginality, and the Contemporary: Yang Zhichao’s Art at the Turn of the 21st Century”
Pascale Elbaz, “Liu Haisu’s Journal in Europe: A Unique View on European Modern Painting”
Liu Haisu played a very important role in Chinese Modern Art and Chinese Modern Art Education. During his two long visits in Europe in the early 30es, he visited museums and art galleries; copied classical paintings that would serve as models for the art students of the Shanghai Art School he created with other artists and leading political and cultural leaders; and painted a series of landscape and portraits that were exhibited both in Europe and back in China. All of this artistic and creative life was accomplished in parallel with a more literary one, as he wrote continuously his thoughts and feelings about art pieces and art circles, urban and cultural landscapes, important European history and religious facts, in Shanghainese newspapers. Some of the essays written during his first eleven-month stay in Europe (1929–1931) were put together and published under the name Ouyou suibi [Europe under my writing pen] in Shanghai in 1933. We will introduce this fresh and intense book, focusing both on Liu Haisu’s comments on paintings from Delacroix and Courbet he copied in Le Louvre Museum, on impressionists and post-impressionists paintings from Monnet, Matisse, Vlaminck, and on the key concepts of aesthetics that emerge from his writings and that would be read by a large part of the artistic and literary circles in China as a direct and unique view on European Modern Painting through the eyes of a Chinese painter.
Remy Jarry, “The Chairman’s Old Clothes: Study of the Annex of Shaoshan Mao Zedong Memorial Museum”
Mao Zedong Memorial Museum was inaugurated in October 1964, 2 years before the death of the founder of the People’s Republic of China. Located at a walking distance from his childhood home in the city of Shaoshan (Hunan Province), the primary goal of the museum was to perpetrate Mao’s cult of personality with a hagiographic display of his greatest deeds and ideas. Whereas the country had gone through historical reforms and major changes from the late 1970s, the museum hadn’t really changed until the late 2000s. But in December 2008, it has been significantly reshaped with the opening of an annexe in a distinct building. This large and modern annexe is not exactly an extension of the original building. Known as Mao Zedong Relic Museum 毛澤東遺物館, it actually displays Mao’s personal belongings such as his clothes (dressing gown, bathing suit, socks, etc.), pieces of furniture (bookshelves and library, chair, bed, cushions, etc.) and miscellaneous accessories (glasses, cigarettes, watches, hat, etc.). The second floor of the annexe is mostly dedicated to Mao’s calligraphy, asserting his talent as a calligrapher and poet. As a result, the new complex is presenting a different narrative from the initial complex: it operates a shift from official history and ideology to material culture, art and emotions. The design of the museum also ground-breaking: its state-of-the-art curating upgraded by the use of new technologies tends surprisingly to mimic contemporary art installations. Thus, its ultimate attempt seems to be the creation of an intimate and empathic relationship with the viewers, while creating Mao’s new persona for future generations.
Giorgio Strafella, Daria Berg, “Borders, Marginality, and the Contemporary: Yang Zhichao’s Art at the Turn of the 21st Century”
This paper analyses the theme of marginality and liminality in the artistic oeuvre of Yang Zhichao (b. 1963), who has been one of China’s most prominent experimental artists since the 1990s. Mainly through the media of Performance Art and art installations, Yang Zhichao’s works explore the issue of social and cultural marginality in modern society—from the condition of migrant workers, beggars, and psychiatric patients, to the geographical frontiers of Chinese civilisation and the status of the avant-garde artist in reform era China (1978–present). Artworks discussed in this paper include Yang Zhichao’s performance Tanning (2000) and the installation Chinese Bible (2009), as well as his Kong Bu and Dingzi drawings (2002–2007)—the latter representing an example of how Yang has merged the language of Performance Art with the idea of drawing and calligraphy as time-based art. While existing literature on Yang Zhichao’s art has focussed on his most “shocking” performances such as Planting Grass (2000) and Iron (2000), this paper analyses two contemporaneous works of Performance Art entitled Within the Fourth Ring (1999) and Jiayu Pass (1999–2000). The first centred around the experience of homelessness and the second around life in a psychiatric hospital, both works stem from Yang Zhichao’s belief that without placing one’s own body in the circumstances of marginalised groups the artist can never move beyond observing them ‘as a bystander or a voyeur’ (authors’ interview with the artist, 2014). By analysing these particular artworks, this study highlights the uniquely “Contemporary” (in Agamben’s sense) character of Yang Zhichao’s approach to time-based art.
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