The scope and scale of Transformation: A View on Chinese Contemporary Art, the newest exhibition at the Istanbul Modern, is not only impressive but also quite humbling when one considers how little we usually know or hear about China’s art in the present day. The range of work present at this exhibition runs from installations to videos to paintings, all of which aim to present a strong sampling of Chinese contemporary artists.
Most impressive of all are two large-scale works.The first is a set of elongated yellow robes which hang suspended from the ceiling, draping, sleeves and all, onto the floor, reminiscent of spirit. The second is an enormous landscape “painting,” which appears to be hand-painted, crackled with the warp of heat on paint. A closer inspection, however, and with the equal help of an accompanying screen displaying the “painting’s” process, we discover that it is generated by the aid of computer software and printing.
Equally of note are hand-colored photograph series of changing families in front of the same doorway; the video art, Chinese girls, which is set to music; and the recreated urban doorway. All of these works contribute to a view of China as another place that grapples with its traditions but one which ultimately lives with them in a contemporary identity.
If this vision as curated by former Sino-British Fellow Sun Feng is an accurate picture of China’s artistic creme de la creme, we can expect a great deal more from her in the future. Personally, we’re looking forward to it. Catch the exhibition from September 21 to November 25.