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EDUCATION RESOURCE EDUCATION RESOURCE

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION ‘The China Project’ is a three-part display that considers contemporary Chinese ABOUT THE EXHIBITION ‘The China Project’ is a three-part display that considers contemporary Chinese art practice. ‘Three Decades: The Contemporary Chinese Collection’ presents around 140 extraordinary works by 40 contemporary Chinese artists from the 1980 s to the present, drawing primarily from the Queensland Art Gallery Collection. ‘Zhang Xiaogang: Shadows in the Soul’ is an exhibition by one of China’s most eminent painters. ‘William Yang: Life Lines’ highlights Australia’s long and complex migrant history with its northern neighbour, China. Together these displays present three unique points of view on contemporary Chinese art in its richest and most engaging forms.

WILLIAM YANG ‘I have the advantage that people identify me as being Chinese, so WILLIAM YANG ‘I have the advantage that people identify me as being Chinese, so I can tell a more convincing story because of the way I look. I’ve managed to turn that around to my advantage if I’m telling a Chinese story. I’m Australian, I identify as being Australian; it’s like a disguise that I’m being Chinese and people believe me. I can certainly tell that story about my Australian– Chinese family, and I think I’ve told most aspects of it. I realised quite early in the piece that I only have one story, and I have to keep reinventing it from a different angle. ’ William Yang, quoted in Russell Storer, ‘A conversation with William Yang’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 263. William Yang Working design for Life lines 2009

WILLIAM YANG CONTINUED ‘Usually I find there is one best way of saying something. WILLIAM YANG CONTINUED ‘Usually I find there is one best way of saying something. It has to do with the order of the information presented and it’s always the shortest statement. It takes time and spoken repetition to arrive at this. Because photographs are a mechanical thing, when I write on a photograph, that gives it my personal imprint, that identifies it as one of my photographs. ’ William Yang, quoted in Russell Storer, ‘A conversation with William Yang’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 267. William Yang Self-portrait #2, 1947 (from ‘Go. MA self-portrait’ series) 2008 William Yang William in scholar’s costume, 1984 (from ‘Go. MA self-portrait’ series) 2008

ACTIVITIES • William Yang’s photographs document the artist’s personal journey as he deals with ACTIVITIES • William Yang’s photographs document the artist’s personal journey as he deals with questions of place, history and belonging. If you were to chart your individual history from early childhood to the present, what personal items and photographs would you include? • Think about some stories you remember from your childhood. Record one of these on an audiotape. Attempt to retell the story through computer art, video or installation. In the classroom, display your creation with the audio playing.

HU YANG ‘Hu Yang’s ‘Shanghai living’ is both a record of the lives and HU YANG ‘Hu Yang’s ‘Shanghai living’ is both a record of the lives and personalities of the people who inhabit Shanghai and a reflection of the emerging city itself. ’ ‘Hu Yang’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 155. ‘Shanghai is rather an “interior” city. Only by plunging deep into the interiority — Shanghai people’s homes — can we truly know this city’s spiritual life. ’ Zhang Hong, ‘Image utopia’, in Shanghai Living [exhibition catalogue], Shangh. ART Gallery, Shanghai, China, 2005, p. 5. Hu Yang ‘Shanghai living’ series (details) 2004– 05

ACTIVITY • Consider the look and feel of your home environment (i. e. the ACTIVITY • Consider the look and feel of your home environment (i. e. the objects, furniture, colour scheme). How is your home a reflection of your personality and cultural heritage? Which material objects would you choose to represent your home?

XU BING Academic and author Souchou Yao writes: Turning [back] to the fidelity of XU BING Academic and author Souchou Yao writes: Turning [back] to the fidelity of form gives Chinese calligraphy new life. All too aware of the repressive horrors which Chinese classical culture often represented, Xu Bing’s move has been to enact the dialectic promise of text. And this enactment takes Chinese viewers back to the first moment of (self discovery: the tedium and delight of writing, the discipline and reward of mastering the ‘art of text’ (shu fa) and, imperceptibly, the emergence of a sensibility in which words and texts assume a primary importance. Yu Youhan, interview with Francis Maravillas in Shanghai Star [exhibition catalogue], Casula Powerhouse, Sydney, 2007, p. 69. Xu Bing A book from the sky (detail) 1987– 91

XU BING CONTINUED Xu Bing A book from the sky (installation view) 1987– 91 XU BING CONTINUED Xu Bing A book from the sky (installation view) 1987– 91

ACTIVITY • Calligraphy is the act of writing as a form of contemplation or ACTIVITY • Calligraphy is the act of writing as a form of contemplation or meditation. Look at some examples of traditional calligraphy. It is usually read from the top to bottom rather than the usual Western idea of left to right. Experiment with vertical and horizontal reading in your own art making. Document your experimentations in your art journal.

GUAN WEI Guan Wei Echo 2005 Guan Wei Echo (detail) 2005 Guan Wei states GUAN WEI Guan Wei Echo 2005 Guan Wei Echo (detail) 2005 Guan Wei states that: [T]he aesthetic value of such a famous Chinese intellectual painting is the harmony between nature and humankind, as well as the abstract expression of the individual’s spiritual pursuits. However, when Captain Cook and his soldiers emerge from the wild seascape into such harmony, their courage and ambitious heroism is immediately swallowed and diminished. In fact, in such a scene, these historical European heroes become more like a group of brutal bandits. Guan Wei, Echo [exhibition catalogue], Sherman Galleries, Sydney, 2006, unpaginated.

ACTIVITIES • In Echo 2005 we see the way Guan Wei presents the perspective ACTIVITIES • In Echo 2005 we see the way Guan Wei presents the perspective of those who were affected by Captain Cook’s discovery of Australia. Think about an issue in Australian life where a minority group has limited power to present their side of history to the broader community. Choose to research the stories of one of the following: refugees, Indigenous groups, prisoners, or the homeless. Refer to books, magazines, newspapers or internet resources for your research. • Once you have an understanding of the issue, think about the sorts of visual imagery that you could use to present their story. Record these ideas in your art journal. Use this information as the basis for developing an art work that has social activism as one of its goals.

CAI GUO-QIANG ‘Cai often pursues his experiments through the medium of fire and the CAI GUO-QIANG ‘Cai often pursues his experiments through the medium of fire and the phenomenon of explosion. He believes that fire was the original element that formed the universe, a nodal point in the development of human civilisation, and is hence the original and universal medium that links mankind and the cosmos. ’ Miyatake Hiroshi, ‘The earth has its black hole too’, in Asian Art Now: Creativity in Asian Art Now: Part 3: Asian Installation Work [exhibition catalogue], Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Asahi Shimbun, Hiroshima, 1994, p. 9. ‘… fire grasps the duality of creation and destruction, in all its universal aspects. ’ ‘Li Zhensheng’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 109. Cai Guo-Qiang Dragon or Rainbow Serpent: A myth glorified or feared (drawings). Project for extraterrestrials no. 26 1996

CAI GUO-QIANG CONTINUED Gunpowder in Cai’s hands. . . ‘becomes a method of describing, CAI GUO-QIANG CONTINUED Gunpowder in Cai’s hands. . . ‘becomes a method of describing, displaying and experiencing the world. It can refer to the mushroom cloud of the nuclear test site and at the same time present the gaiety of celebratory rituals, symbolizing reanimation and rebirth. When Cai detonates different explosion events specifically conceived for different sites and subjects around the world, gunpowder no longer serves as a symbol of Chinese civilization and even less as a decorative feature of an exotic land’. Wang Hui, ‘The dialectics of art and the event’, in Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, p. 47. Cai Guo-Qiang Dragon or Rainbow Serpent: A myth glorified or feared (drawings). Project for extraterrestrials no. 26 1996

ACTIVITIES • What images does the word ‘fire’ conjure up in your mind? • ACTIVITIES • What images does the word ‘fire’ conjure up in your mind? • Research the element of fire and what it means to different cultures. How does a detailed understanding of the symbolic messages within Cai Guo. Qiang’s work help you to gain a more complete understanding of the work?

THE ECONOMICS OF PORCELAIN ‘That Tse’s porcelain pieces possess a sense of their former THE ECONOMICS OF PORCELAIN ‘That Tse’s porcelain pieces possess a sense of their former use is important to her: the socks are worn thin at the toes with a hole apparent in one foot, and the embroidered sweaters appear shapeless and almost in tatters. Tse’s choice of garments is crucial. ’ ‘Sara Tse’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 175. ‘A dress, like a house or a film, is both lived and loved. Clothes exhibit the consumption of the living: like the furniture we use, they “wear” the marks of life. ’ Sara Tse, artist statement, , viewed 18 February 2005. Sara Tse Dress no. 68 2003

THE ECONOMICS OF PORCELAIN CONTINUED ‘While the choice of commonplace and often mass-produced objects THE ECONOMICS OF PORCELAIN CONTINUED ‘While the choice of commonplace and often mass-produced objects as subject matter is crucial — because they are derived from, and represent, a culture of consumption — Ni Haifeng’s porcelain objects are also beautiful. Exquisitely cast and decorated with blue floral patterns, they are transformed from everyday utensils into objects of desire. ’ ‘Ni Haifeng’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 169. Ni Haifeng Of the departure and the arrival 2005

ACTIVITY • How do Tse and Beynon’s work challenge the reverence for objects made ACTIVITY • How do Tse and Beynon’s work challenge the reverence for objects made from porcelain? What do their objects resemble, and what do these reveal about our throwaway culture?

KATE BEYNON ‘In recounting ancient folk tales and parables, Beynon uses media that accentuate KATE BEYNON ‘In recounting ancient folk tales and parables, Beynon uses media that accentuate their translation and re-telling in a contemporary, urban context. ’ ‘Kate Beynon’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 107. Kate Beynon Baby 1999 Kate Beynon Expecting 1999

ACTIVITIES • What aspects of identity for Asian–Australian females are explored through the warrior ACTIVITIES • What aspects of identity for Asian–Australian females are explored through the warrior girl ‘Li Ji’? • How does the artist use this character to confront issues of racism?

LUO BROTHERS ‘Untitled (Children with lemonade bottle) 2000 depicts five children riding a commercially LUO BROTHERS ‘Untitled (Children with lemonade bottle) 2000 depicts five children riding a commercially produced lemonade bottle against a background of a rising sun and Tiananmen Square — itself a signifier of the tumultuous events surrounding the 1989 protests. ’ ‘Luo Brothers’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 165. Luo Brothers Untitled (Children with lemonade bottle) 2000

ACTIVITIES • Locate an image of the traditional iconography — the New Year Print ACTIVITIES • Locate an image of the traditional iconography — the New Year Print or nianhua which the Luo Brothers have manipulated digitally to create their ‘Untitled’ works. • Discuss the role that visual art plays in redefining cultural domination and power relationships. How has this been achieved by the Luo Brothers’ work? How does their chosen media further communicate these ideas? • Research the Tiananmen Square massacre. Can you identify some of the events in China’s history which contributed to this?

FANG LIJUN ‘For Fang, the individual is ultimately a lone figure, morally disempowered and FANG LIJUN ‘For Fang, the individual is ultimately a lone figure, morally disempowered and forced to act out false gestures. ’ ‘Fang Lijun’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 117. Fang Lijun 980810 1998

ACTIVITIES • Why has Fang pictured the man yawning in the painting 980810 1998? ACTIVITIES • Why has Fang pictured the man yawning in the painting 980810 1998? How does this work provide insight into significant political issues associated with communist China? • Consider the symbolism behind the rootless blossoms that sail through the sky in light of the quote, ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom. Let a hundred schools of thought contend’ (Mao Zedong). In his painting, what contradictions about Chinese politics does Fang address?

SONG DONG ‘One of the strengths of Song Dong’s art is its ability to SONG DONG ‘One of the strengths of Song Dong’s art is its ability to give ordinary acts and themes a wider resonance. Taking traditional and domestic rituals such as cooking, the stamping of wax seals and calligraphic writing, Song Dong converts them into meditative personal gestures that highlight the importance of time and memory in contemporary living. ’ ‘Song Dong‘, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 127. Song Dong Stamping the water 1996 Song Dong Walking through the mirror (still) 2002

ACTIVITIES • What seemingly ordinary events or daily activities construct and regulate who you ACTIVITIES • What seemingly ordinary events or daily activities construct and regulate who you are and your place in the world? Share these with your classmates. Do you notice any similarities? • When you visit the exhibition, discuss the effect films without dialogue such as Walking through the mirror 2002 have on an audience.

AH XIAN ‘In this sculpture, Ah Xian uses the lotus flower as his decorative AH XIAN ‘In this sculpture, Ah Xian uses the lotus flower as his decorative motif. Closely associated with Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, the lotus is rich with symbolism, representing spiritual unfolding, purity and awakening leading to the state of nirvana or eternal bliss. In addition, the lotus is associated with aspects of the divine within humanity. This serene, nude figure is adorned with blossoms on her cheek, shoulder, breast, abdomen and thigh, suggesting an overall sense of adoration, with the blooms and stems reaching around and embracing the figure. Bliss, harmony and stillness are personified in this sculpture, invoking the finer aspects of human nature. ’ ‘Ah Xian’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 143. Ah Xian Human human – lotus, cloisonné figure 1 2000– 01

ACTIVITIES • Ah Xian was born and raised in China but now lives in ACTIVITIES • Ah Xian was born and raised in China but now lives in Australia. What is it about his work that differentiates Ah Xian from the other Chinese artists in the exhibition? What elements of his practice clearly identify the artist with China? • Can you trace the trends of Chinese migration to Australia? What were the reasons for their migration?

ZHANG XIAOGANG ‘While the title suggests a rebirth, the fragmentary nature of this imagery ZHANG XIAOGANG ‘While the title suggests a rebirth, the fragmentary nature of this imagery indicates a darker, more sober environment, poignantly illustrating the denial of culture and knowledge as a result of the 1989 military crackdown, and recalling the cultural desecration authorised by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution. ’ ‘Zhang Xiaogang’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 99. Zhang Xiaogang Reincarnation 1989

ZHANG XIAOGANG CONTINUED ‘Through his portrayal of families, and the landscapes surrounding them, the ZHANG XIAOGANG CONTINUED ‘Through his portrayal of families, and the landscapes surrounding them, the artist presents a unique modern culture, linking the individual intimately to history, memory and the ideology of the past. Zhang Xiaogang’s art allows us the opportunity to establish a new level of understanding of what underlies contemporary Chinese life and how the past influences the present. ’ Leng Lin, ‘Zhang Xiaogang: Shadows in the soul’, in The China Project [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009, p. 201. Zhang Xiaogang Big family no. 4 (from ‘Bloodline: The big family’ series) 2007

ACTIVITIES • What Western art influences can you see in Reincarnation 1989? • The ACTIVITIES • What Western art influences can you see in Reincarnation 1989? • The paintings in Zhang’s ‘Bloodline: The big family’ series contain lines and splotches on the subject’s faces. What do these imply? • A lot of Zhang’s work aims to recover the lost memory of China’s political history. What moments or objects trigger particular memories about events in your life?

REFLECTIONS • Now that you’ve investigated some of the artists in ‘The China Project’, REFLECTIONS • Now that you’ve investigated some of the artists in ‘The China Project’, engage in a class debate about how important it is for Australian students to study Chinese art. • Start a blog or twitter describing your visit to ‘The China Project’. How would you encourage or promote the exhibition to your friends, or other students your age? What new things about China did you gain from visiting the exhibition?

LIST OF WORKS William Yang Australia b. 1943 Working design for Life lines 2009 LIST OF WORKS William Yang Australia b. 1943 Working design for Life lines 2009 Site-specific work for ‘The China Project’ Courtesy: The artist William Yang Self-portrait #2, 1947 (from ‘Go. MA self-portrait’ series) 2008 Digital print, ed. 2/30 / 84 x 50 cm / Collection: The artist William in scholar’s costume, 1984 (from ‘Go. MA self-portrait’ series) 2008 Digital print, ed. 1/20 / 94. 5 x 62. 7 cm / Collection: The artist Hu Yang China b. 1959 ‘Shanghai living’ series (details) 2004– 05 Type C photographs, ed. 5/8 Purchased 2006. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Xu Bing China/United States b. 1955 A book from the sky (detail) 1987– 91 Woodblock print, wood, leather, ivory / 4 banners: 103 x 6 x 8. 5 cm (each, folded); 19 boxes: 49. 2 x 33. 5 x 9. 8 cm (each, containing 4 books) The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Purchased 1994 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program and with the assistance of The Myer Foundation and Michael Simcha Baevski through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Xu Bing A book from the sky (installation view) 1987– 91 Woodblock print, wood, leather, ivory / 4 banners: 103 x 6 x 8. 5 cm (each, folded); 19 boxes: 49. 2 x 33. 5 x 9. 8 cm (each, containing 4 books) The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Purchased 1994 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program and with the assistance of The Myer Foundation and Michael Simcha Baevski through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Guan Wei China/Australia b. 1957 Echo 2005 Synthetic polymer paint on canvas 42 panels: 273 x 722 cm (overall) Purchased 2006. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Guan Wei Echo (detail) 2005 Synthetic polymer paint on canvas 42 panels: 273 x 722 cm (overall) Purchased 2006. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Cai Guo-Qiang China/Japan/United States b. 1957 Dragon or Rainbow Serpent: A myth glorified or Cai Guo-Qiang China/Japan/United States b. 1957 Dragon or Rainbow Serpent: A myth glorified or feared (drawings). Project for extraterrestrials no. 26 1996 Spent gunpowder and Indian ink on Japanese paper / 9 drawings: 300 x 200 cm (each); 300 x 1800 cm (overall) / Purchased 1996 Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Cai Guo-Qiang created the work Dragon or Rainbow Serpent: A myth glorified or feared (drawings). Project for extraterrestrials no. 26 for APT 2 in Brisbane in 1996. Sara Tse Hong Kong b. 1974 Dress no. 68 2003 Porcelain, fabric dipped in slip and fired Purchased 2004. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Ni Haifeng China/Netherlands b. 1964 Of the departure and the arrival 2005 Porcelain, handpainted / 66 objects: dimensions variable / Purchased 2007. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Kate Beynon Australia/Hong Kong b. 1970 Baby 1999 Gouache and ink / 76 x 56. 3 cm Purchased 1999 under the Contemporary Art Acquisition Program with funds from John Dimitriou Architects Pty Ltd through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Kate Beynon Expecting 1999 Gouache and ink / 76 x 56. 3 cm Purchased 1999 under the Contemporary Art Acquisition Program with funds from John Dimitriou Architects Pty Ltd through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Luo Brothers China b. 1963/1964/1972 Untitled (Children with lemonade bottle) 2000 Collage and lacquer on board / 65 x 55 x 2. 3 cm Purchased 2001. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Fang Lijun China b. 1963 980810 1998 Oil on canvas / 250 x 360 cm The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Purchased 2000 with funds from The Myer Foundation, a project of the Sidney Myer Centenary Celebration 1899– 1999, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Song Dong China b. 1966 Stamping the water 1996 Type C photographs, ed. 1/4 Song Dong China b. 1966 Stamping the water 1996 Type C photographs, ed. 1/4 Purchased 2002. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Ah Xian China/Australia b. 1960 Human human – lotus, cloisonné figure 1 2000– 01 Hand-beaten copper, finely enamelled in the cloisonné technique / 158 x 55. 5 x 32 cm / Purchased 2002. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund Zhang Xiaogang China b. 1958 Reincarnation 1989 Pencil, ink and oil on paper mounted on cloth / 76. 6 x 53. 3 cm / Purchased 2007. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant Collection: Queensland Art Gallery Zhang Xiaogang Big family no. 4 (from ‘Bloodline: The big family’ series) 2007 Oil on canvas / 229 x 300 cm Collection: Droga 8 Collection (The Collection of Daniel and Lyndell Droga)

This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced without prior written permission from the publisher. Copyright for texts in this publication is held by the Queensland Art Gallery and the authors. Copyright for all art works and images is held either by their creators or their representatives, unless otherwise stated. © Queensland Art Gallery 2009