| Press Room

Chinese contemporary art surges in Australia

Following the Australian premiere to Adelaide and Hobart respectively, the Chinese contemporary art exhibitions Stories of the Life and Zao Hua are included as major programs presented in Chinese Contemporary Art Month, co-hosted by China Cultural Centre in Sydney (CCCSYD) and Beijing Strategic Cultural Development.

Containing two main exhibitions and three forums, Chinese Contemporary Art Month is the first of its kind in Australia, aiming to deliver an updated picture of Chinese contemporary art, and facilitating dialogues between China and Australia. The event opened on the 12th of April, and is a major highlight on the China Cultural Centre’s calendar for 2016.

Bearing a long and profound history, Chinese calligraphy and painting are unique in the stage of world art. Not only are both parts of the essence of the Chinese traditional culture, but also splendid treasures of human civilization, world culture and art.

“Chinese calligraphy and painting value national cultural traditions, spirit of the times, exploration and innovation; the contemporary art not only reflects the modern but also the contemporary side of the artists based on their feelings on today’s social life”, said Mr. Li Huaxin, Chinese Consul General in Sydney. 

Featuring fascinating works from 28 leading Chinese contemporary artists, the two themed exhibitions both intend to present traditional Chinese art elements through contemporary thought, reflecting a fusion of antiquity and modernity under current Chinese social contexts.

“The exhibition has a wide range of contents and diverse forms and styles, thus fully demonstrating the distinct artistic charm of Chinese contemporary art, providing us a wonderful visual feast and opening the window for the people in Sydney to have a taste of Chinese contemporary art. I believe the Chinese contemporary art month will further Australian people’s understanding of Chinese culture”, Li added.

The exhibited items in Stories of the Life explore what daily life is like in fast-changing Chinese society from the artists’ personal and spiritual perceptions. It aims to demonstrate current Chinese living conditions through works of art, and seeks for the clue that links contemporary Chinese with the past and the future.

“Indeed China has a fantastic history of art and culture extending 5000 years back a great tradition, so the contemporary art will certainly be rooted within centuries – millennia of expression… …and it’s great to see that contemporary art – the reflection of people’s daily lives exhibited to us”, said Geoff Lee, Liberal MP for Parramatta in the NSW Parliament, and Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism. 

The idea of the exhibition title “Zao Hua” is derived from a traditional creative theory in Chinese painting, which was interpreted by Zhang Zao, Chinese painter from Tang dynasty, in the following way: “The inspiration for art comes from zao hua (which means nature), but nature’s beauty can only be revealed when an artist depicts it as guided by his emotions and thoughts”.

The attributes of nature, which are not permanent in shape but subject to perpetual rules, pure in its form but able to be made abstract, have afforded artists a high degree of freedom in their depictions of it. Through the display of these artistic pieces, the exhibition aims to show viewers the changes in interpretation of “zao hua” as it occurs in Chinese art, and present an image of culture and thought reflecting today’s Chinese society.

“We have the wonderful opportunity to have Zao Hua come to Tasmania in February this year. What came from that exhibition was that many people in Tasmania saw for the first time what extraordinary vibrant contemporary work is being made in China, then brought to Australia for us to see. That is a great privilege for us”, said Mrs. Rosemary Miller, CEO and Artistic Director of Salamanca Arts Centre.  

Curated by Zhao Li, Professor from Central Academy of Fine Arts and founder of Beijing Strategic Cultural Development, the exhibitions also received academic support from Chinese Modern & Contemporary Art Document and Art Nova 100.

“As we are getting to know more Australian friends and artists, it is the time for us to contribute something to cultural and artistic exchanges between China and Australia. We will be working on a new program next year that aims to enhance the bilateral exchange between the two countries”, Professor Zhao noted. 

As part of the Chinese Contemporary Art Month, three forums will also be organised and hosted by China Cultural Centre on 13th and 14th of April. The topics of the forums are as follows: The Role of Chinese Contemporary Art, Its Trend & Implications; Artist Talk & Panel Discussion by Chinese and Australian Art Collectors; and Urban Arts in Dynamic Cities respectively.

The Forums will engage professionals who specialise in art, culture, urban design, cultural and creative fields, architectural industries, etc., with the aim of promoting cultural exchange and facilitate dialogues between Chinese and Australian contemporary artists, collectors, curators, mangers, administrators and creative industry professionals. 

“The very object of this initiative is to push forward the existing sound ties and stimulate more dialogues between contemporary art museums, institutions, academies, organisations, and individuals between China and Australia. To reach this goal, the first thing that comes to my mind is putting together a most updated picture of how does Chinese contemporary art look (like), what’s the role of contemporary art in the lives of Chinese society and Chinese people, how is contemporary art shaping and influencing mentalities”, said Mrs. Zhao Li, Director of the China Cultural Centre in Sydney. 

Stories of the Life, premiered at Adelaide Festival Centre, and Zao Hua, formerly displayed at Salamanca Arts Centre in Tasmania, as well as 204 Art Space in Melbourne, will be shown at CCCSYD and Nan Hai Culture & Media (Australia) Pty Ltd from the 13th of April to the 12th of May.
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