From Realism to Radicalism
Iona Whittaker speaks with Focus: China curator Philip Tinari about contemporary Chinese art at The Armory Show.
The first Armory Show in 1913 introduced European avant-garde painting and sculpture to the American public. Roughly a century later the New York fair has chosen contemporary works from China to be its focus. Sixteen galleries will travel to New York from Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong next week and about half of them will be bringing the work of a young generation.
This year’s curator for the Focus section is Philip Tinari. Formerly the Chief Editor of LEAP magazine, Tinari is currently Director of the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA), a non-profit organisation in Beijing. For Tinari, the shared commercial nature of exhibitions in China and his curatorial effort at the Armory is not irrelevant. On navigating the combined terrain of culture and commerce, Tinari explains, “in a fair you are putting the artists on show, but also the galleries, and by extension the whole system for contemporary art in China. You feel you have some kind of honesty in reflecting the vibrant scene on the ground in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong now. That was what really drew me to the project.”
Tinari sees the opportunity to feature Chinese galleries at the Armory in terms of time and context. For him, the most interesting aspect of this exhibition format “is that people go and are there in real time… and are able to see the work in a way that doesn’t happen as quickly in other channels.”...