The San Jose Museum of Art will present an exhibition of photography that illustrates China’s astounding social and economic transformation in the 21st century. Rising Dragon: Contemporary Chinese Photography, on view February 2-June 30, 2013, showcases images by photographers working in mainland China between the years 2000 and 2012—both Years of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac. The exhibition includes more than one hundred photographs by 36 Chinese artists. Many of these photographers revive social-documentary photography and experiment with new, digital photographic processes to explore common concerns such as the alteration of the natural environment or the erosion of cultural heritage in an increasingly globalized society. Several of the artists have long careers and established names, but have only recently been discovered by museums and galleries in the United States.
The exhibition includes works by Adou, Cao Fei, Chen Qiulin, Chen Wei, Huang Yan, Jiang Pengyi, Li Lang, Li Wei, Liu Ren, Liu Zheng, Liyu & Liubo, Lu Guang, Lu Hao, Maleonn (Ma Liang), Muge, O Zhang, Peng Rong, Qiu Zhijie, Rong Rong, Sun Ji, Tamen, Tian Taiquan, Wang Jin, Wang Qingsong, Wang Wusheng, Weng Fen, Xu Zhen, Yang Yi, Yao Lu, Yu Haibo, Zhang Huan, Zhang Lijie, Zhang Xiao, and Zhou Hai.
“Undercurrents of China’s rich artistic legacy are present in many of the portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, and scenes of daily modern life,” said Rory Padeken, curatorial assistant at SJMA. “Yet these images also often seem to fast-forward into the future with a very “now” visual style filled with humor, artifice, and pop excess.”
The exhibition is organized by the Katonah Museum of Art, New York. It is sponsored by Applied Materials, McManis Faulkner and Trina Solar.
Encompassing a wide range of subject matter and styles, Rising Dragon provides a broad look at what is happening in Chinese photography today. Artists such as Weng Fen and Zhou Hai represent a documentary approach. In his series “Sitting on the Wall” (2000–2010), Weng documents a decade of gradual yet radical transformation of a city skyline with an annual photograph. Zhou captures the environmental impact of untrammeled economic growth in the series “The Unbearable Heaviness of Industry” (2005). Others, like Wang Wusheng, reach back into China’s artistic past: Wang depicts the Yellow Mountains in photographs that recall traditional landscape paintings of the of the Song dynasty (960–1279). Other artists use artifice or even humor. For example, the duo Liyu + Liubo imagine surreal scenes based on real tabloid headlines, as in Chutian Golden Paper 2006-04-30, Hair Salon Wonder—Hairdressing while Smashing (2006).
The Museum has planned an array of public programs related to the exhibition. They include:
Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 12–1 PM
Lunchtime Lecture: “Contemporary Art in China”
Critic and independent curator Jeff Kelley will share his perspectives on the contemporary art scene in China. Kelley is a former consulting curator for contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, and editor of a forthcoming book on the writings of the controversial artist Ai Weiwei. Free with Museum admission.
Saturday, February 9, 2013, 11 AM – 5 PM
Community Day: Lunar New Year
SJMA’s annual Lunar New Year celebration includes live music, a traditional lion dance, hands-on art-making activities, performances by youth groups, and more. Admission is free.
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 5 – 8 PM
Opening Reception and Performance
The evening will celebrate Rising Dragon and the opening of the exhibition New Stories from the Edge of Asia: This/That with a special performance piece by artist Mike Lai. Admission is free.
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 7–10 PM
Contemporary Chinese culture will be the theme of an evening of music, cocktails, and creative fun. Admission is $5.
Friday, May 10, 2013, 12 PM
Gallery Talk with Curatorial Assistant Rory Padeken. Free with Museum admission.
SAN JOSE MUSEUM OF ART
The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time.
The San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM and until 8 PM on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free to members and children under 6. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit www.SanJoseMuseumofArt.org.