On a recent weekend, the newness of spring permeated the air. Hoards of people emerged from their hibernating worlds to enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays and celebrate the season opening for Beijing’s art world. Both 798 and CaoChangDi crawled with individuals who visited openings at the Ullens Center of Contemporary Art (UCCA), Tang Contemporary, Galleria Continua, and Pékin Fine Arts, amongst others. There was certainly a buzz of excitement, as finally the white walls were filled works of art and exhibitions that were unlike their somewhat dull counterparts of winter’s filler exhibitions.
Phil Tinari’s second exhibition at the helm of UCCA, a retrospective for the great Gu Dexin entitled The Important Thing is Not the Meat, proved a curatorial feat. Born in Beijing in 1962, Gu entered the art world without any formal training, yet was able to communicate his vast understanding of artistic discourse through his usage of varying mediums. From his first works on paper and canvas reminiscent of Chagall’s colorful and dreamlike works, to the unembellished animations that ridicule the automation of modernized society, the show includes over 100 works that span the artist’s 30 producing years, prior to his retirement and retreat into “normal” life in 2009.
Galleria Continua equally prevailed with their solo exhibition, The Tunnel, for the Egyptian multi-media artist, Moataz Nasr. Clearly influenced by his childhood in a culturally rich region of the African continent, yet frustrated by the hindrance of the sociopolitical milieu, Nasr allows the varying sounds, colors, ideologies and traditions of his culture to influence his video, sculptural, photographic and installational works.
Further out, in CaoChangDi, Meg Maggio’s Pékin Fine Arts opened RAZE, a collaboration between SEEK-art and Thinking Hands. Although a group show including artists Huang Rui, S/N Coalition, Zhang Dali and Zhang Ding, the exhibition’s core, quite literally, as it not only occurred in the gallery’s spatial center, but also was conceptually based on centripetal certainties of the world. In its practical essence, this performance installation, Rumor Mill, by Huang Rui is used to grind five native grains that are then bottled and sold on site. Pulled by a live donkey, this stone mill is set atop another circular, stone counter that is inscribed with the world’s ultimate truths, as told by the I-Ching.
The evening concluded with the second installment of the Black Eyeliner parties hosted by Parson’s design professor, Benjamin Bacon and Vogue China’s artistic director, Alex Chow. Spinning a variety of music from tripped-out hip-hop, to electronic beats that defy top-40 remixed tracks, the duo is set to throw monthly parties that will tickle one’s senses with their self-created visual stimuli, infectiously danceable beats and an unbeatable crowd that gives Beijing the pulse its known to have.
Zandie Brockett is a Beijing-based curator, consultant and photographer from Los Angeles. Having studied sociology and photography at Duke University, her documentary photographic work focuses on social issues and conflict that lay outside the realm of popular news. Brockett is now working on several projects in Beijing in addition to her photography, such as the development and production of HONG轰, a self-sustaining platform that provides Beijing-based emerging artists a way to support the production, exhibition and sale of their artwork.