press release

Louisiana has been given a unique opportunity to present just under a hundred works from one of the world’s biggest collections of contemporary Chinese art, the Estella Collection, which has not been known to the public until now. The exhibition Made in China is being shown in the period 16 March – 5 August 2007. The collection comprises more than 250 works from more or less all genres of visual art: painting, sculpture, photography, installation, video, ink drawings and prints. From these Louisiana has selected about a hundred works which on the one hand offer a fine insight into the many currents that are moving through contemporary Chinese art at present and on the other hand provide an introduction to art which is on its way at lightning speed to an important position on the international art scene.

The artists in modern China have struggled for a position in Chinese society – despite restrictions on freedom of speech and resistance from the regime. Since the nineties, small enclaves of artists, especially in Beijing, have defied the difficulties involved in expressing themselves, and have continued to show their art in humble places until interest from both China and abroad turned the spotlight on an exuberant growth layer which is today making an important contribution to the profile of the country. The artistic idioms and statements are many: we cannot speak of Chinese art as such, rather about the exuberance and experimentation at which the exhibition takes a closer look.

The breakthrough for contemporary Chinese art at one and the same time reflects the global perspective of art and a great country which, amidst a radical transformation of society, is on its way to playing a striking role as one of the world’s leading nations in the 21st century. The enormous changes that are gripping the whole of society are leaving visible traces in the works of the artists, where subjects are treated individually in an area in flux between past and present.

Classic subjects – landscape painting, for example – give rise to contemporary images of nature different from those with which we are familiar in the west; at the same time a technique rich in tradition like ink-wash painting is introduced into experimental and challenging frameworks where the Chinese written character, to take another example, is manifested with the human body as ‘canvas’, and the calligraphic symbol is developed into pure abstraction. Works with their point of departure in bodily action play a considerable role in the exhibition and reflect even more nuances of a formal idiom whose codes are different from ours. The tradition from a thousand-year-old culture is thus present as one legacy, even when it is a China in radical movement that is reflected: huge social and town- planning restructurings, the administration of the legacy from the Mao period and the immediate political horizon around the country’s new position.

Made in China
Estella Collection, New York

mit Zhang Huan, Qiu Zhijie, Wei Dong, Huang Yan, Feng Mengbo, Yu Hung She ...