Liu Congyun

LIU Congyun is a researcher, art critic and curator in Shanghai where she was born and raised. She started her continuing research on contemporary Chinese art and culture tradition since her time in VCS Master Program. In 2008 she presented “From Landscape Painting to Landscape Images : On Works of Hong Lei, Maleonn and Yang Yongliang”, at the New Development of Photographic Practice International Forum for the Studies of Long Chin-San’s Photography in Shanghai. In March 2009, a portion of her thesis had been turned into a show at Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art Gallery in San Francisco, “A (re)Turn to (re)Form: Chinese Classicism in New Media – Works by Wang Tiande, Hong Lei and Gao Yuan”. In December of the same year, in view of her previous writings and the book proposal on contemporary Chinese art, Liu was selected as one of the three finalists for the Chinese Contemporary Art Critic Award founded by collector Uli Sigg in Beijing. In early 2010, she initiated an Artist-in-residency program in Zendai Zhujiajiao, a branch space of the Himalayas Art Museum (Shanghai). The initial idea of the program is to examine the current Chinese culture and art from foreign artists’ point of view especially those of the Asian artists. Currently she has spent her time on researching into ancient Chinese writings, and practicing calligraphy. Seemingly, she is going to find evidences through the long history of the nation that, time is a fiction we use it to back to the fore-known future.


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About Liu Congyun’s Thesis Project

Liu Congyun

Challenge the Changes: Works of Four Young Contemporary Chinese Artist

The Chinese artists Ma Liang, Yang Yongliang, Chi Peng, and Zhu Feng all began their careers after the year 2000. Having grown up in the unstable and transient realities of China in the 1980s and 1990s, they have experienced the ongoing challenges of a changing society. But rather than focusing on a nostalgic view of the past, their work questions the present and looks to the future. Drawing on the power of the new millennium and standing on the shoulders of giants—not just from their own country, but also from an international, intergenerational, and interactive global network—they look ahead and step forward.This new generation of artists builds on the work of its predecessors, in particular Xu Bing and Ai Weiwei, who brought international recognition to contemporary Chinese art. It also looks to Hong Lei, who at the end of the last millennium initiated an experiment in the reinterpretation of Chinese painting via new media such as photography, and to Miao Xiaochun, who began a trend of producing large-scale imagery via digital technology and computer graphics.

Inspired by all of these practices, the younger generation continues the investigation of Chinese classics through new media. Ma Liang and Yang Yongliang reinterpret Chinese classical painting, displaying a changed attitude toward the past. Having benefited from the enlarged global context for contemporary Chinese art enabled by the older generation, the young artists also focus on testing the characteristics of the medium itself. For instance, Zhu Feng mimics Thomas Ruff’s Stars (1989–92) and pushes the ambiguity of photography to an extreme, while Chi Peng explores the narrative capability of digital media while telling stories of his generation. These artists take a global perspective in questioning and challenging where and how to locate the current situation of Chinese culture. Ma Liang’s installation work and Zhu Feng’s photographs focus on their personal experiences in the United States. The self, beyond anything else, is the essential core of their work.

One hundred years ago the great Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan asked another great poet-philosopher, Tagore of India, if the difference between Eastern and Western culture was one of “type” or one of “grade.” Today, the young generation of artists is more pragmatic. The answer is always there; it is simply waiting for them to grab it.

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