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Culture • Mind • Becoming


1: Palazzo Mora - Strada Nuova 30121, Venezia
(Boat Stop: Line1 Ca' d'Oro)

2: Palazzo Marcello - Rio Terá degli Assassini 3699 San Marco, 30124, Venezia
(Boat Stop: Line1 Rialto Bridge)

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Culture • Mind • Becoming

55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
Collateral Events

LOCATION 1: Palazzo Mora - Strada Nuova 30121, Venezia
(Boat Stop: Line1 Ca' d'Oro)

LOCATION 2: Palazzo Marcello - Rio Terá degli Assassini 3699 San Marco, 30124, Venezia
(Boat Stop: Line1 Rialto Bridge)

GALA OPENING: 29 May - 31 May 2013 18:00-22:00
CURATORS: Karlyn De Jongh, Huang Du, Danilo Eccher, Yang Shinyi
CO-ORGANIZER: Asia Art Center, Beautiful Asset, Art of Two Centries
DURATION: 1 June - 24 November 2013 (Open every day from 10am to 6pm. Closed on Tuesday)

THE EXHIBITION : Culture • Mind • Becoming

"Culture • Mind • Becoming" - an exhibition of outstanding art by a group of Chinese artists - aims to juxtapose the cultural impact, appropriation, reflection, and reinvention existing in the Chinese culture through the lens of globalization.

Eastern artists were extensively influenced by Western aesthetic thought in the early 20th century. They learned to identify and reposition themselves in the global context from a different perspective. In the mid-20th century, postmodernism from the West began to penetrate the East and, as a result of its coalescence and collision with indigenous thoughts, novel and inspiring ideas were born. As various campaigns and art groups emerged, people began experimenting with and applying audiovisual installations and new media, resulting in a boom in diverse artistic presentations. After year 2000, it became more difficult to distinguish an obvious conventional trend from the development of contemporary Eastern art, therefore, artists tended to base their creations on personal experience and sensation. Individuals have since become the interpreters of their very own perception and claim the right and venue to "represent themselves."

In a time when artists generally reflect upon individual empiricism as the main body of their artistic practice, the Eastern artists have returned to the womb of their cultural heritage after acquiring and applying their knowledge of Western art. Through constant experimentation and evolvement, they bring forward a common ground of unique, creative context. In this "transcultural site" we perceive an inclusiveness where the boundary between language and culture is challenged, and profound cultural memories revisited. Such context has led viewers to probe into the issues of contemporary Eastern culture.

The Chinese artists featured in the exhibition come from multifarious backgrounds, who have been more or less influenced by the Western culture at different points in their lives. Furthermore, living in a complicated society has inspired the artists to redefine and reinvent the common component of their earlier years - the Eastern cultural experience, which manifests itself through multifaceted, rich artistic presentations. The exhibited works are the "self-identification" of artists that derives from their being confident about their own culture, roots, and lifestyle.

The exhibition consists of three different but related curatorial concepts: "Re-discover" by independent curator Karlyn De Jongh from the Netherlands, "Ingrandimento" curated by Chinese notable independent curator Huang Du and Yang Shinyi, and "A Cautionary Vision" - Fang Lijun solo exhibition organized by Italian curator Danilo Eccher, current director of Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM) at Turin city in Italy.

Section I: Re-discover

In discussing the Eastern arts today, when we limit our consideration to a gaze at the external expressions, we observe plentiful reliance on rich Eastern visual semiotics and imagery in the works seemingly purposefully selected in the international arts platforms, to evoke substitutes for the "Eastern" through these traditional cultural symbols. As contemporary Chinese artists are confronted with challenges from internationalization, they must imbibe, digest and rebirth as they experience learning and borrowing from the Western arts, then adopt various schools methods and artistic movements before proceeding to a silent hibernation, from which they have emerged in recent years. Many Asian artists have become conscious of the imperative of rediscovery of their own cultural roots as the deep nutritive sources for their expressions to be authentic, allowing their work to take on a more powerful presence, and this consciousness relies on continuous experimentation and free expression, and to eventually elicit its own unique vocabulary in an expressive language - this is what we hope to have captured and rediscovered in the curatorial process of this exhibition.

The emerging creative collocations of the Spirit of the East do not arise from any particular school or group of artists, but rather from independent expressions naturally arising from works, and through the curatorial process evincing their Eastern origins or spirit in the quest for their unique lifestyle expressions. Among the Chinese artists participating there is a tremendous variety of backgrounds, as well as exposure to challenges from Western arts at varying stages of their professional development. They find themselves in a society fraught with contradictions which confront their earlier periods of exposure to their common foundations in Asian culture, compelling a reconfrontation and renaissance, a "Re-discover" designed to reflect a deep or superficial "form" in their works, to re-explore, analyze, deconstruct and restructure, so that these creators visions, seek to express their own place in a world of globalization. Thus this exhibition, above all, put this issue onto an international platform, eliciting viewers to consider how to, during the "labor pain" of transformation, appropriate art form and to find a pertinent methodology between Chinese macro cultural structure and micro local personal narration.

Section II:Ingrandimento

"Ingrandimento" (in English "Enlargement"), as the title suggested, aims to reflect on the value of contemporary Chinese arts, which lies in refracting cultural potential and vitality in the process of China's modernization, and the performance of the individual imagination and creativity of the Chinese artist. Thus, "Ingrandimento" adequately captured the dynamic characteristics of contemporary Chinese fine arts.

"Ingrandimento", refers to the physical sense of a microscope, as well as to enlarge images, voices or functions. It also includes the following several subtle layers of signification: 1. In physics it refers to increasing the volume of some material. It thus refers to the process of enlarging. It also includes the transformation of matter in the natural world. 2. In the sociological sense it includes the expansion of a nation, social progress or an individual's spiritual state. 3. In terms of the visual arts it refers to the artist's subjective imagination, creativity and expressiveness, as the realization of artistic language and concepts.

The 55th annual Venice Biennale in 2013 resounds to the theme of "Encyclopedia Palace", with the range of thought, conceptions, identification, nationhood, variation, and diversity, as cultural values-"Ingrandimento" as a curatorial section under the Collateral Event "Culture?Mind?Becoming" is certainly a conjunct to the Biennale, broadening and deepening the theme. Thus, the Chinese artists participating in the exhibition shared in a common lingua franca of expressive language and conditions to exercise their imagination and creative potential, to create uniquely and characteristically Chinese art works. They depart from their local culture to discover a sense of the human spirit, or alternate cultural existences, or the significance of unfettered conceptions, or the representativeness of traditional aesthetics, and to reconceive their personal organization in relation to the collective sense. "Ingrandimento" does not mean a mere microscopic enlargement of the overall expression of contemporary Chinese arts, nor does it intend to create its own new descriptive jargon, but to use a little to express a lot, as the means of expressing and realizing the contemporary Chinese artistic aesthetic in its grandest variety.

"Ingrandimento" invited some 19 artists to participate, including the famed artist Xu Bing who presented his new multimedia Work On Site, Zhang Huan with his film To Raise the Water Level in a Fishpond, along with Hainan's "Chaile (to demolish) Travel" (collaboration of Weng Fen, Wen Wu, and Huang Xuebin), an interventionist regional sociocultural work, the famous Abstractionist painter Mao Lizi, the young painters Su Ke, Yang Fan, Geng Yini, Hou Xiaowei, Li Hua, Liu Zhengyong, Meng Si'te, and Zhang Kai. Also participating was new works of sculptors Li Xiangqun and Li Chen's latest works. The young artist Fan Yaping also had a sculpture installation and paintings, as well as an installation by Huang Hsin-Chien, and photography by Zhang Wei. Each participant presented a micro-scopic lens to realize and interpret aspects of Chinese society whether through the variety of daily living experiences, psychological reactions, cultural traditions or social vibrancy.

Section III : Complexity theory in the work of Fang Lijun

"Complexity theory" has taken a leading role in contemporary theoretical physics since the 1960s; but in recent decades, the social, economic and philosophical repercussions of this theory have become even more evident. Indeed nowadays, the process of developing a nonlinear way of thinking, even linguistically, seems more conscious and concrete than it did just a few years ago. The very idea of evolving a complex way of thinking, a development capable of accommodating its "chaotic" content, an apparently disordered proliferation of ideas, can inspire interpretative and analytical practices that are completely unexpected and quite astonishing. Complexity theory interconnects with chaos theory, complex algorithms, quantum physics, and the tumult of new logic and mathematics. In short, this chaotic way of thinking has revolutionized our entire notional approach to knowledge. In theology, this would be like revisiting the suggestions of polytheism, and it is no coincidence that the latest developments in theoretical physics have made anthropological leaps in their analyses of shamanic knowledge. Complexity, not simplicity, is proving to be the authentic path to truth. On an emphatically marginal, but coherent, level, those involved in artistic inquiry also seem interested in this discordant way of thinking. An art historical reinterpretation of aesthetic phenomenology using reductive chronological, social or psychological methodologies does not provide an adequate framework for the analysis of contemporary events but, perhaps, it is also reductive in terms of a complex historical reading. This calls for a different critical and interpretative approach, one that can somehow clear the field of the evolutionary linearity that places the origin of contemporaneity within the context of the historical avant-garde. This interpretative logic is clearly rooted in Hegelian philosophy, with its spiraling linearity that proceeds through synthesis, and through advances that are coherent and connected, possibly complicated but never complex: there is a growing need for new tools of critical analysis that are able to call into question our current knowledge through an awareness of nonlinearity, of a complex route to knowledge that can no longer reject the truth of chaos. Art, and particularly painting, has moved decisively in this direction in recent years, in the multiple new artistic languages coming out of Asia. This art boasts a millennial iconographic tradition, sophisticated symbolism, an incredibly rich lexicon, a surprising philosophical weight, and a masterful capacity for expression.

The absence of the very idea of the avant-garde, which has only recently been introduced through contact with the West, makes Asian art, especially that of China and India, an incredible critical and aesthetic laboratory in which artists can experiment with new interpretative methodologies and new lines of analytical complexity. In this context, the work of Fang Lijun testifies to the complex relationship between one-off and multiple, singularity and quantity, just as, in the algorithm of starlings in flight, the chaotic unpredictability of one bird's movement triggers an orderly collective of birds that move together in unison. Within the complex model generally established by a Fang Lijun work, the relationships between singularity and multiplicity are blurred with those of size, creating a dissonance between the large surfaces or dominant figures and the host of minute insects or imperceptible spider webs. Interpreting these works means constantly having to look at them from a distorted, skewed, oblique point of view, in other words, not allowing ourselves to be sucked in by the leading actors, but scanning the surface to find a more subtle, more obscure kind of protagonist, a scenic transparency captured in the minute, or the fragile. These works do not depict radiant epiphanic butterflies, but insects trapped and condemned in invisible spider webs; just as the heroes of other monumental works are not the corpses of revolutions but the ants and other insects that feed on them, which the eye must seek out. But seeking out the Cartesian coordinates in these works, the perfect proportions and the right point of view, is misleading: our vision must become fluid and unstable, glide over the surfaces, caress the images without ever stopping, in other words it must activate a nonlinear gaze, a complex gaze. Solar luminosity and nocturnal tragedy coexist in these works, which liberate bats and mice, cram jubilant crowds of madmen on the edge of the abyss, and enclose newborn babies in claustrophobic bubbles. Fang Lijun does not simply dramatize contradiction; rather than limit himself to the astonishing effect of opposition, his "Cynical Realism" is in reality a narrative about complexity, about the art of chaos that refutes linear interpretation, and that is immersed in an engorgement of languages and meanings. In this way, it is possible to access one of the secrets of an art that is covered by a thousand veils, infinite filters that impede our vision, opaque layers that must not be removed but that instead enrich our vision with surprises and truths. Although our critical gaze is often guided by purity and synthesis, in this case they only confuse and disorientate it, because this type of art cannot give up its ambiguity, or allow the mists that swirl around its narrative to dissipate.

Last year, when I presented Italy's first major solo show on Fang Lijun at the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Turin, I wrote the following words: "The art of Fang Lijun contains all the secrets of the East: a sweet, simple figurative style enveloped in a brilliant use of color; a visionary, childlike fascination with an unattainable world; and a calm, graceful, balanced narrative: but all of this is just the brilliant patina of a style of painting that is able to suggest the contemporary anguish of loss of identity, the obsession of the collective, the presence of disease, pain, sin. It is an art of ambiguity and deceit, of levity and depth, of nightmares and emotions, of cynical fantasies", an art that demands to be interpreted by the most current categories of complexity.

Contact: Ann Lee

The Global Art Affairs Foundation was founded in 2002 in New York, USA. In 2009, the Foundation relocated its headquarters to Leiden, the Netherlands, with a permanent exhibition venue – “Palazzo Bembo” in Venice, Italy. In 2012, we proceeded to establish the second non-profit organization “Global Art Center Foundation (GAC)” and new exhibition site – “Palazzo Mora”. We have also formed an official strategic partnership with Chinese foremost art organization – “Asia Art Center” by contract. Our main objectives are to heighten the awareness about Asian artists and achitects, becoming the leading international and intercultural platform that bridges Western and Eastern art. Since 2002 the GAA-Foundation has organized 24 contemporary art exhibitions and 6 symposia in Japan, USA, Netherlands, Germany and Italy. We extensively publish about all our enterprises in art books and magazines. In addition, we support and encourage as well as enable, the creation of artworks by certain artists and undertake joint projects with them. By all our activities, publications, exhibitions and symposia, all participating artists are in direct contact with us and actively involved.

The GAA-Foundation is registered by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Leiden as a non-profit organization under the number 27353764. The GAA-Foundation is legally advised and supported in the Netherlands, Haarlem, by notary Adriaan Helmig, and in Italy, Venice, by Francesco Adami from Studio Legale Palmer.

The GAC-Foundation is registered by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Leiden as a non-profit organization under the number 56220189. The GAC-Foundation is legally advised and supported in the Netherlands, Haarlem, by notary Adriaan Helmig.

“The Global Art Affairs Foundation” and “Global Art Center Foundation” are non-profit organizations that aim to heighten the awareness about the more philosophical themes in contemporary art, in particular: Time – Space – Existence, to reflect the homogeneity and heterogeneity of experience in today’s world under a wide range of cultural, social and geographical environment. Through the curatorial theme of this exhibition, we hope to not only provide a supporting and exchanging platform between global artists, but also between the viewers and the artists. Therefore, our essential concept is to break free from the idea that arts are merely static ornaments, but they should continue to interact with the society and our everyday life. The Foundation cooperates with world museums and major art institutions. Besides working with important international contemporary artists, GAC is even more committed to seeking cooperative opportunities with potential, but less exposed, artists. Our projects have been selected and approved by the Venice Biennale Committee for two consecutive years as official categories in the Collateral Events. The Foundation’s mission is to make itself the intercultural “meeting point”, where artists, artworks, and viewers across continents can share different thoughts. In addition to organizing exhibitions, the Foundation also holds frequent artist forum and symposium, and further spread the knowledge through extensive publications to promote cross-cultural and interdisciplinary debate.

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