The exhibition Mahjong: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Sigg Collection took place in the Kunstmuseum Bern
in 2005. Media response was overwhelming both at home and abroad. The show was an ideal introduction to Chinese contemporary art, which received little attention at the time. The Mahjong catalogue is still regarded as standard literature on the topic today. Initiated in 2006, the Chinese Windows exhibition series allows the museum to further collaborate with Uli and Rita Sigg, so the museum can give their audience the opportunity of viewing their extensive collection regularly. Chinese Windows 2010 focuses on Contemporary Art from Shanghai, a metropolis of superlatives.
The Kunstmuseum Bern is exhibiting works selected from the Sigg Collection by thirteen artists who live and work in Shanghai as well as showing works by two Beijing artists who explicitly engage with this megacity and dynamic seaport in their art.
A diverse art scene
With more than 18 million inhabitants, Shanghai or the city over the sea, if we translate the Chinese characters is among the ten largest metropolises in the world. The incredible pressure due to the demand for innovation, triggered by Chinas growing international economic significance, finds expression in the breathtaking momentum in which Shanghai with its millions of inhabitants is constantly changing. The city perpetually reinvents itself anew, generating tension-filled contrasts of traditional and modern China, of Western and Chinese thought.
Shanghais progressive development, permeated with contradictions and tension, impacts its very diverse art scene. Besides other venues, numerous galleries provide a platform for recent Chinese art as well as events such as the Shanghai Biennale, the Shanghai Art Fair, and this year also the Expo 2010.
Immense creative potential
It is difficult to single out typical artistic issues, content, or pictorial language in regard to art in Shanghai. Rather, approaches in art stand out on account of their great diversity in content and in formal aspects. We therefore find not only painting represented in the exhibition but also photography and video art, sculpture and installations. While Shi Guorui engages with outward appearances and presents us with a futuristic view of Shanghai with his urban silhouettes, Jin Jiangbo, in an interactive installation, zooms in on the life of a day laborer. Zhang Qing has taxis dance in his video, and Shi Yong evokes the anonymity of city life with small plaster-of-Paris figures. In contrast, Ni Youyu designs geometrical experimental spaces on canvas in which he inscribes bizarre landscapes.
The exhibition gives insight into the citys diverse and vibrant art world, which appears to constantly be in a planning stage continually incomplete, always changing, never final, and thereby endlessly promising. The selection, comprising fifteen male and female artists, brings home to us Shanghais present tremendous creative potential.
The exhibition includes works by: Chen Yuyu, Chi Peng, Ji Wenyu & Zhu Weibing, Jin Feng, Jin Jiangbo, Liu Jianhua, Lu Chunsheng, Ni Youyu, Pan Xiaorong, Shi Guorui, Shi Yong, Xu Zhen, Zhang Jian-Jun, Zhang Qing