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Louise Blouin Institute Presents Wang Guangyi: Cold War Aesthetics
Wang Guangyi: The Cold War Aesthetics, People Under the Horror, 180 x 50 x 30 cm. Painted on FRP 2008. 17 October - 1 March 09. Louise Blouin Institute.

LONDON.- The Louise Blouin Institute features the first major solo exhibition in the United Kingdom of the renowned contemporary Chinese artist Wang Guangyi. The exhibition will take place from 17 October to 1 March 2009 and is a part of the Louise Blouin Institute’s ‘Culture Beyond Borders’ series, aimed at encouraging cultural dialogue.

This ambitious show by one of China’s most celebrated living artists, is both a reflection on the imagery of Cold War era China, and a warning to contemporary audiences about the horrors of war. The exhibition, referencing illustrated manuals created by the Chinese government depicting how to react to a nuclear or biological attack, represents the potential catastrophic past of the Cold War that has been avoided while simultaneously pointing to future threats lurking on the horizon. For Wang and for the viewer, the metaphor is clear; avoid a return to a Cold War mentality at all costs.

The exhibition will include an installation of some fifty life-size sculptures that depict Cold War preparedness, a large-scale twelve-panel mural and a series of watercolours that serve as the sketches for the sculptural works on display. The exhibition will be complemented by a bi-weekly lecture series, three Saturday afternoon panel discussions on aspects of contemporary Chinese art and culture, as well as a set of educational workshops and music recitals.

Louise Blouin MacBain on Cold War Aesthetics: “The art work of Wang Guangyi was chosen as part of the cultural diplomacy efforts of the Louise Blouin Foundation. Our foundation believes that in an area of globalization where no one nation is a super-power, trust, sharing and the respect of cultural difference is essential to confronting global challenges and to avoid global conflict. Wang’s work not only reminds us of the past danger of the cold war, but also warns us of future threats, on of which is the return to a cold war mentality. This message is all the more pressing given the antagonistic relationship between the West and China, and now the West and Russia. We must encourage patience and recognize incremental change with each region, or else we risk retrenchment and a new conflict to be passed on to the next generation.” – Louise Blouin Macbain.

Wang Guangyi is one of the foremost Chinese artists of the New Art Movement generation that came of age as the Cultural Revolution was dissipating and the universities of China reopened. This cathartic era in China’s history resonates strongly in the work of Wang Guangyi, who studied at the prestigious Zhejiang Academy in Hangzhou. Wang Guangyi rose to prominence by making art that appropriated the imagery and iconography of the Cultural Revolution with Western icons. The kitsch, post-Pop imagery of Wang’s Great Criticism series that began in the 1990s gave way to a new aesthetic in recent years: an aesthetic that is less about juxtapositions of capitalist and socialist visual icons, but rather is a bold and straightforward confrontation of socialist and Cold War imagery.

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