BEIJING.- The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
is presenting two major Chinese artists; MadeIn Companys Xu Zhen, a key figure of the Shanghai arts scene, and Ji Dachun.
Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production, 19 January - 20 April, 2014
A daring artist with a voracious appetite for global information and a unique ability to produce work across multiple platforms and media, Xu Zhen (b. 1977) is the key figure of the Shanghai art scene and a foundational figure for the generations of Chinese artists born since 1980. Including over 50 installation pieces, 10 videos, 40 painting and collage works, and several performances, together filling UCCAs signature Great Hall, this exhibition spans Xu Zhens early works made in his own name beginning in the late 1990s, works produced under the contemporary art creation company MadeIn Company, which he founded in 2009, as well as major new pieces produced specially for this exhibition under MadeIn Companys newly launched brand Xu Zhen. Presented together, Xu Zhens oeuvre reflects the lingering concerns of an artist participating in the international art world while remaining deeply skeptical of it and its conventions, most imm ediately the label Chinese contemporary art. Xu Zhens artworks probe the various mediations that corrupt the viewers experience of an artwork, particularly in observing a culture that is not ones own. The exhibition is curated by UCCA Director Philip Tinari and UCCA Chief Curator Paula Tsai.
In a major new commission for the UCCA lobby, Xu Zhen literally and playfully juxtaposes East and Westthat operative cliché of so much art in Chinaby mounting headless replicas of key Hellenistic and Buddhist sculptures neck to neck. His 2007 installation ShanghART Supermarket, takes the shape of a Shanghai convenience store fully stocked with packaging that has been emptied of content, and sold for the price of the putative objects. Xu Zhen is the also the Commissioned Artist for Armory Focus: China.
Ji Dachun: Without a Home, 19 January - 11 May, 2014
Ji Dachun is best-known for his surrealist, satirical critiques of contemporary China. His works range from his trademark characters that seem to hover, and perhaps revel, alone on a vast white background to more recent explorations of biological and cybernetic forms. Ji Dachun: Without a Home spans several key moments in the artists prodigious career and includes a new suite of works made specifically for this exhibition. With some 40 works realized in the past decade, the show also marks the artists first institutional exhibition in Beijing and the most comprehensive look at Ji Dachuns mature practice to date.
Since he started showing in the mid-1990s, Jis painting has alternated between a wry figurative mode and an aesthetic characterized by abstract quasi-landscapes and still lifes. In his earlier works, Ji depicts historical figures, cartoonish animals, childrens toys, and everyday objects against stark white backgrounds. These familiar objects and figures are marked by bizarre visual non-sequiturs and juxtapositions, resulting in humorous, otherworldly scenes: cryptic caricatures, cartoonish perversity, and variously macabre, trenchant, and grotesque overtones. The animation cell-like images seem ineffably familiar yet inexorably estranged, resisting conventional interpretation.