SAN FRANCISCO — This June, visitors to the Asian Art Museum will get a snapshot of some of China’s most exciting artists from the country’s booming contemporary art scene. The museum’s special summer exhibition “28 Chinese” offers glimpses of contemporary Chinese art through a group of 28 artists, ranging from those in the spotlight like Liu Wei, He Xiangyu, Huang Yong Ping and Xu Zhen to the internationally acclaimed Zhang Huan and Ai Weiwei. These artists have made a significant impact on the art world and expanded definitions of contemporary art in China. On view June 5 through Aug. 16 at the Asian Art Museum, the exhibition features 48 artworks, revealing powerful responses to China today, as well as perspectives and attitudes towards tradition.
“28 Chinese” is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of exploration and research by art collectors Don and Mera Rubell. Between 2001 and 2012, the Rubells conducted six research trips to China, where they visited 100 artists’ studios in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xi’an. The Rubells acquired artworks from 28 artists in a multiplicity of mediums, from painting and installation to photography and new media. Organized by guest curator Allison Harding, the Asian Art Museum’s presentation will be the first exhibition on the West Coast for many of these artists.
While artworks in “28 Chinese” are only a sample of all that Chinese contemporary art has to offer, they represent a few of the most notable Chinese artists working today, as identified by two preeminent art collectors. A highlight of the exhibition is Zhu Jinshi’s monumental installation, “Boat,” which is 12 meters long, made from 8,000 sheets of paper commonly used in Chinese calligraphy and painting. Visitors will notice row upon row of carefully stacked paper overlapping bamboo rods suspended from the ceiling with cotton thread. Another highlight is a large scale painting by Li Shurui from her Light series — works that reproduce the look and feel of light in different environments, from arctic landscapes to nightclubs. The exhibition also features Ai Weiwei’s “Table with Two Legs (2008),” Xu Zhen’s embroidered canvases, He Xiangyu’s installation Cola Project (2009–2010), Qiu Zhijie’s “Tattoo-2, (2000)” and a screening room featuring a wide range of new video works, including Huang Ran’s “Blithe Tragedy (2011)” and Fang Lu’s “Lovers Are Artists (Part One) (2012).”
Over the past 15 years, the Asian Art Museum has made a concentrated effort to include contemporary art in its exhibition programs and acquisition pursuits. On Sept. 4 the museum will present First Look: Collecting Contemporary at the Asian, an original exhibition showcasing contemporary art in the museum’s collection.
“28 Chinese” is organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami. Presentation at the Asian Art Museum is made possible with the generous support of China Art Foundation, Gorretti and Lawrence Lui, Silicon Valley Bank, The Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Fund for Excellence in Exhibitions and Presentations, Lucy Sun and Warren Felson, and Nordstrom.
About the Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum – Chong Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco's premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking. For more information, visit www.asianart.org.