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"Bentu: Chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation" on view at Fondation Louis Vuitton
Installation view of works by Liu Xiaodong. © Liu Xiaodong pour l’œuvre de l’artiste. Photo Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage.

PARIS.- This exhibition brings together 12 artists of different generations who live in mainland China. Using a wide variety of techniques and media, drawn from both local tradition and culture, as well as newer cutting edge technologies – sometimes associating or confronting them – the artists reveal the complexities of a society that is in permanent mutation. The works highlight the current state of economy and ecology, and most notably, the transformation of the relationship between the city and the countryside. Questions relating to identity are also addressed.

The choice of works does not seek to show a panorama of the artistic scene in China, but aims to draw attention to the multiform character of the cultural production in the country, which undergoes rapid development and which affirms itself through outstanding individuals, rather than specific movements.

This is the first exhibition devoted to contemporary Chinese art in France in the past 10 years. It is co-organised with the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art of Beijing (UCCA Beijing).

A selection of Chinese works
The new hang presents a selection of artworks by 11 Chinese artists from the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Collection.

The visit starts on level 2 in Galleries and, with a group of monumental artworks by Ai Weiwei, Huang Yong Ping and Zhang Huan, combining Eastern and Western references in a meditative spirit.

Gallery: from the Parthénon to Tiananmen Square, panoramic paintings representing timeless historical scenes by Yang Pei-Ming and Zhang Huan use a black, blue and grey monochromes to confer a dramatic dimension. In the centre of the room, Xu Zhen’s sculpture Eternity strikingly compiles two emblems of national legacy, the Louvre’s icon The Winged Victory of Samothrace and an iconic Buddha. Gallery: the artist also transforms Guan Yin, one of the most venerated goddesses in the Chinese Buddhist Pantheon, into a large scale and colorful ‘popist’ figure.

Level 1 offers a completely different atmosphere: Gallery, with two dreamlike and mysterious installations Tonight Moon and New Women II by Yang Fudong. It then clearly becomes artificial and virtual in Gallery, where Cao Fei takes us through Second Life. Gallery is dedicated to My Ideal - a two-sided artwork combining a painting and five sculptures – by Zhang Xiaogang whose familial and social portrait – with cold aesthetics and troubling charm – represents the different people embodying Chinese society.

Two artists intervene in the interstitial spaces: Zhou Tao presents two videos. One bears witness of an ancestral practice, and the other gives evidence of corporative parades with a parodic twist. The second artist, Tao Hui, presents a short film he directed in Iran, whose emotional content has a largely universal resonance.

The course ends on level 0 in Gallery: Isaac Julien pays tribute to Chinese culture, its legends, cinema, calligraphy, music and poetry, with Ten Thousand Waves, an immersive installation of sounds and images.

From June 2016, the whole cycle of 5 black and white films Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest by Yang Fudong will be screened in Galleries and on the ground floor.

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