The great Chinese art heist

Source: GQ (8/15/18)
The Great Chinese Art Heist

Security guards stand beside an item at a Sotheby's auction

Security guards stand beside a vase after being sold for $14.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong Bobby Yip/Reuters

Strange how it keeps happening, how the greatest works of Chinese art keep getting brazenly stolen from museums around the world. Is it a conspiracy? Vengeance for treasures plundered years ago? We sent Alex W. Palmer to investigate the trail of theft and the stunning rumor: Is the Chinese government behind one of the boldest art-crime waves in history?

The patterns of the heists were evident only later, but their audacity was clear from the start. The spree began in Stockholm in 2010, with cars burning in the streets on a foggy summer evening. The fires had been lit as a distraction, a ploy to lure the attention of the police. As the vehicles blazed, a band of thieves raced toward the Swedish royal residence and smashed their way into the Chinese Pavilion on the grounds of Drottningholm Palace. There they grabbed what they wanted from the permanent state collection of art and antiquities. Police told the press the thieves had fled by moped to a nearby lake, ditched their bikes into the water, and escaped by speedboat. The heist took less than six minutes. Continue reading

Ai Weiwei’s studio demolished

Source: Artnet News (8/6/18)
‘Farewell’: Ai Weiwei’s Beijing Studio Is Demolished by Chinese Authorities Without Warning
The rental contract on the studio expired last fall.
By Naomi Rea

A jackhammer is seen beside rubble at artist Ai Weiwei’s “Left and Right Art Studio” in Beijing on August 3, 2018. Photo by Pak Yiu/AFP/Getty Images.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Beijing studio was razed to the ground by authorities on Friday afternoon.

The 61-year-old artist revealed the news on Instagram, writing, “Today, they started to demolish my studio ‘zuo you’ in Beijing with no precaution.” The expansive space in the ZuoYou (Left Right) Art District, a former car part factory that the artist describes as an “East German style socialist factory building,” has served as the artist’s main studio since 2006. “Farewell,” Ai wrote on Instagram. Continue reading

Brother Nut gets results

Source: NYT (7/13/18)
With 9,000 Bottles of Dirty ‘Spring Water,’ a Chinese Artist Gets Results
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By Olivia Mitchell Ryan and Zoe Mou

“The things I’m concerned about are all related to people’s survival experience,” said Brother Nut, an artist and activist in Beijing. He filled thousands of Nongfu Spring water bottles with filthy groundwater from a village in central China to draw attention to its pollution problem. CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times

BEIJING — The 9,000 bottles of water on display at an art gallery in Beijing last month appeared identical to those of Nongfu Spring, one of China’s most popular spring water brands, with one jarring difference. Inside each bottle was brown, murky groundwater collected from a Chinese village.

The water from the village, Xiaohaotu, in the central province of Shaanxi, is polluted with heavy metals, the likely result of nearby coal mining and gas exploration operations, residents and officials say. Continue reading

Rebel Pepper finds artistic freedom

Source: PRI (7/2/18)
Chinese political cartoonist Rebel Pepper finds more artistic freedom in the US
By Isaac Stone Fish
Listen to the story.

In this cartoon, Xi Jinping of China, sits on the side of a bed, ready to lay down next to a sleeping Mao Zedong.

Rebel Pepper drew this cartoon in response to the news that Xi Jinping would abolish term limits for his chairmanship, potentially paving the way for him to stay on as dictator-for-life. Credit: Courtesy Rebel Pepper

What does it mean to live in the United States instead of China?

For China’s most prominent political cartoonist, Rebel Pepper, a dissident with a gentle smile and a wicked brush, it’s the difference between life as a wild pig and a domesticated one.

Kept pigs “think they live a carefree life because people feed them. But one day, they will be slaughtered,” Rebel, whose real name is Wang Liming, said in a May interview in Washington, DC, where he now lives. Continue reading

Underground artists giving comic relief

Source: Sixth Tone (6/5/18)
The Underground Artists Giving China Comic Relief
From instant noodle monsters to sad seals, China’s indie artists are using their imagination to represent real life.
By Yin Yijun

Frames from ‘Instant Noodle’ by comic artist Hu Xiaojiang, 2008. Courtesy of Hu Xiaojiang

In a crowded train car, angry monsters are devouring passengers. Their wriggling tentacles smash through the glass windows, sending one hapless thermos flying before tearing travelers limb from limb. But these bloodthirsty creatures have humble origins: an average carton of instant noodles.

The nightmarish black-and-white scene is just a figment of independent comic artist Hu Xiaojiang’s wild imagination, but there’s realism at its core. Hu drew “Instant Noodle” in 2008, when a catastrophic snowstorm left millions stranded as they traveled home during the Spring Festival holiday. The chaos saw instant noodles — which typically go for less than 10 yuan ($1.60) per package — skyrocket to 100 yuan each. Continue reading

Cambria book launch at iPreciation

A double book launch for Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context and Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics will be held on July 14, 2018 (Saturday) at 2–5 p.m. at iPreciation (Singapore), a premier gallery that showcases the best of modern and contemporary Asian Art, including the works of Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian. Attendees will have the rare, exclusive opportunity to meet authors Mr. Shen Jiawei and Dr. Mabel Lee, who will be giving talks about their books. Continue reading

Art professor sacked over plagiarism

Source: SCMP (4/29/18)
Chinese art professor sacked after award-winning poster series found to be plagiarised
Fan Yu has lost his job and his Red Dot design award after it emerged he had borrowed many elements of a work by British illustrator Russell Cobb
By Sidney Leng

Fan Yu’s poster (left) and a work by British artist Russell Cobb (right). Photo: Chaoxiart

A Chinese art professor has been sacked after he was found to have plagiarised the work of a British illustrator for a poster series that won him an international award, a mainland newspaper reports.

The Xian Academy of Fine Arts said Fan Yu was dismissed from his job on Friday after the school confirmed the plagiarism, Chengdu Business Daily reported on Saturday.

Fan’s artwork won the Red Dot: Best of the Best award for communication design in October, but has been stripped of the prize following the revelation, according to the report. Continue reading

October Dedicationss

Announcing October Dedications, the selected poems of Mang Ke 芒克, edited and translated by Lucas Klein, with further translations by Huang Yibing and Jonathan Stalling—part of the Jintian series jointly published by Zephyr and The Chinese University Press.

Mang Ke (b. 1950, penname of Jiang Shiwei 姜世伟) began writing poetry as a sent-down youth in Baiyangdian, rural Hebei province, during the Cultural Revolution. As co-founder of the PRC’s first unofficial literary journal Jintian (Today) in 1978, he is one of the progenitors of what would later be called Obscure or “Misty” Poetry, with spare, impressionistic poems that were among the first to break free of the imposed discourse of Maoism towards an image-based literary style that left space for both expression and interpretation. He currently makes his living as an abstract painter and lives in Songzhuang, an artists’ colony on the outskirts of Beijing. Continue reading

Visualising Asia–cfp

Visualising Asia: Deciphering ‘Otherness’ in Visual and Material Cultures
SOAS, University of London
21stSeptember 2018

Confirmed Keynote: Dr Anne Witchard

Historically, Asia has been a contended space of exploration and domination, where both Asian and non-Asian agents sought to define themselves against others. Within this broad historical and geographical context,this international and interdisciplinary conference brings together various forms of visuals, such as films, cartoons, and objects, in their interaction with discourses of ‘other’.  The platforms of visualising Asia were assimilated into daily life and practices, feeding into narratives that transcend any single medium. Due to their visual impact, they became lasting repositories of imagined identities and thus have critical implications for those representing and those being represented. This conference invites discussions on the differing ways ‘otherness’ has been used in both Asian and non-Asian societies through visuals. We encourage the participation from postgraduates, career researchers, scholars, curators, practitioners, and archivists.  The aim is to bring together an array of visualities from across various disciplines in order to reflect on the importance of visuals in knowledge production and circulation within and across cultures and societies. Continue reading

Personal data on a museum wall

Source: NYT (4/13/18)
The Personal Data of 346,000 People, Hung on a Museum Wall

Last week, the authorities in Wuhan, China, ordered Deng Yufeng’s exhibition of personal data shut down after two days and began investigating him on suspicion of amassing the information illegally.CreditDeng Yufeng

BEIJING — Deng Yufeng wanted to create art that prods people to question their lack of data privacy. What better way, he reasoned, than to buy the personal information of more than 300,000 Chinese people off the internet and display it in a public exhibition?

The police did not appreciate the irony.

Last week, the authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan shut down Mr. Deng’s exhibition in a local museum after two days and told him that he was being investigated on suspicion of amassing the information through illegal means. Continue reading

Mabel Lee lecture

Professor Mabel Lee, Distinguished Professor in the “Chinese Culture in a World Context” research project at the Open University of Hong Kong, will be giving a lecture “Transcending Cultural Traditions: Lu Xun and Gao Xingjian” on March 19 (Monday) at 2:30 p.m. at the OUHK Main Campus in the B0614, 6/F. Professor Lee is best known for her translations of Nobel Laureate of Literature Gao Xingjian’s writings and as coeditor of The University of Sydney East Asian Series (1986–2000). There will also be a double launch of Professor Lee’s latest books, Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context by Shen Jiawei and Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics (coedited with Liu Jianmei, HKUST). The two books have just been published and will also be launched at the Cambria booth at the AAS 2018 conference in Washington, DC.

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Turning rubble of evictions into art

Source: NYT (3/10/18)
Turning the Rubble of China’s Mass Evictions Into Protest Art
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Yang Qian with his installations at an art gallery in Beijing. He has used objects from demolished migrant neighborhoods to portray what he calls a “discarded class” of people. CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Times

BEIJING — When the authorities demolished tens of thousands of homes occupied by migrant workers in Beijing last year, turning entire city blocks into flattened wasteland, the artist Yang Qian went to work.

Mr. Yang scavenged through piles of rubble, recovering hundreds of objects, including stuffed animals, broken glasses and scarlet-red children’s shoes. He sealed the objects in crystal columns to display at a Beijing art gallery, hoping to convey the idea that wealthier people treat the migrants, who come from poor rural areas in search of work, like garbage. Continue reading

Lo Ch’ing exhibition

The Poet’s Brush: Chinese Ink Paintings by Lo Ch’ing  
February 1 – March 17
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC

The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) presents an exhibition of paintings by Lo Ch’ing (羅青), a Taiwanese poet-painter working in contemporary ink art. The exhibition, curated by University of Maryland professor Jason Kuo, comprises 30 artworks and represents the artist’s first show in the United States in ten years. Critically acclaimed both in Taiwan and China for his painting and his poetry, Lo Ch’ing’s works have been shown internationally at venues such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Saatchi Gallery in London. Continue reading

update on Gui Minhai

Update on the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, imprisoned in China since October 2015:

The good news is that his daughter Angela accepted the International Publishing Assn. Voltaire prize, for freedom of publishing, for her father currently imprisoned in China. The prize was issued in Delhi. See:   (English)  (Swedish/English w. video) Continue reading

Zhang Hongtu: Van Gogh/Bodhidarma

张宏图: 梵高/达摩
February 16 – April 15, 2018
Opening & Artist Talk: 2 – 3:15 PM, Friday, February 16
Reception & Gallery Walk: 3:15 – 4:30 PM, Friday, February 16
Charles Chu Room, Shain Library
Chu-Griffis Asian Art Collection
Connecticut College

“Zhang Hongtu: Van Gogh/Bodhidharma” will open at Connecticut College on Friday, February 16, 2-4:30pm, featuring the Van Gogh-Bodhidharma 梵高达摩 series (2007-2014) of internationally renowned, New York based Chinese artist Zhang Hongtu 张宏图. It consists of 39 ink paintings in total, “remaking” all of Vincent van Gogh’s extant self-portraits in the style of classical Zen portraits of Bodhidharma, the founding patriarch of Zen Buddhism. This will be the first time that this series has been exhibited together. The artist has also created a new video installation specifically for this show. Continue reading