Chinese contemporary art has captured international attention, with surging price tags and expanding collector profiles. Why such popularity in the past 30 years? Hanart TZ Gallery, established just when Chinese contemporary art took off, celebrated their 30th anniversary with a special exhibition of 100 pieces of idiosyncratic artworks. We have invited their Gallery Director Johnson Chang to speak to us on the phenomenon of the Chinese contemporary art.
In Hanart 100: Idiosyncrasies, 100 art objects were specially selected to reflect a particular interpretation of Chinese modern art history, exploring the structure of the “Chinese contemporary”. Chang presents the concept of “3 Art Worlds”, believing that China’s ideological divide of the past century does not mean separate “Chinas”, but rather alternative perspectives to see art today. These “3 Art Worlds” include the globalized capital world of contemporary art (which is often recognized as the only international platform), the world of literati art (often structured as “traditional”) and the world of socialist art (usually characterized by a political undertone). “3 Art Worlds” examines the core of creation – from art familiar to the global capital world to art that pays homage to tradition to art from the socialist world.
Johnson Chang (Tsong-zung Chang 張頌仁) is a curator, guest professor of China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, director of Hanart TZ Gallery (漢雅軒畫廊), and board member of Asia Art Archive. He has been actively curating exhibitions of Chinese art since the 1980s. His current research projects include: the “Yellow Box” series of projects about Chinese space and contemporary art practice (since 2004); and “Jia Li Tang” projects on Confucian rites and aesthetics (since 2012). Recent curatorial works include: Co-curator of Guangzhou Triennial 2008 “Farewell to Post-Colonialism”, Co-curator of the 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012, the “West Heavens” series of India-China art and intellectual exchanges (first presented on the platforms of Shanghai Biennale 2010, Guangzhou Triennial 2011 and Shanghai Biennale 2012), “Inter-Asia” forum of Asian modern thought (since 2012), and recently “Hong Kong Eye” (Saatchi Gallery, London 2012).