Exhibition highlights Chinese contemporary art

March 5, 2009 3 p.m.
Two scenes of bicyclists

"Outside In: Chinese x American x Contemporary Art," a new exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum, will open Saturday, March 7, and run through Sunday, June 7.

"Outside In" features a selection of more than 50 works by six artists -- including paintings, drawings, photography, book arts, sculpture and installations -- intended to expand on the current popularity of contemporary Chinese art and challenge the curatorial practices on which this popularity has been based. Guest curator Jerome Silbergeld, director of Princeton's Tang Center for East Asian Art, has organized the exhibition with Cary Liu, curator of Asian art at the Princeton University Art Museum, and Dora Ching, associate director of the Tang Center.

"The art world is currently enthralled with contemporary Chinese art. This exhibition argues, however, that American audiences have been exposed to only a narrow range of what is available -- with the majority of attention having been given to 'avant-garde' or 'experimental' art, frequently selected for its dissident political content or 'shock value' rather than for its artistic quality," said Silbergeld, the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor in Chinese Art and professor of art and archaeology. "'Outside In' presents contemporary Chinese art in a far wider range of styles and subject matter and substantially expands on our understanding of this work."


A second work by Zhang Hongtu, this oil painting titled "Shitao (Ten Thousand Ugly Inkblots) -- Van Gogh," was done on three panels. (Photo: Courtesy of the Lin and Keng Gallery)

The six artists featured in the exhibition -- Arnold Chang, Michael Cherney, Zhi Lin, Liu Dan, Vannessa Tran and Zhang Hongtu -- are widely diverse in terms of their style and subject matter, age and experience, and geographic and ethnic origin. Some are well known internationally, while others are being introduced in the exhibition. Collectively, they represent a far wider range in Chinese artistic practice than the work shown in most exhibitions, art fairs and galleries today, according to the organizers.

Many of the finest "Chinese" artists now work, or recently have worked, in the United States, raising the question of what is meant by "Chinese" and "American" art in this age of globalization. The six artists in the exhibition all are U.S. citizens. Some are immigrants, some were born in America, some are ethnically Chinese and others have simply adopted Chinese art and culture as their own. All six have integrated their historical roots into their art, and their awareness of Chinese traditions challenges the meaning of "contemporary" in today's Chinese art.

Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Orange art

"Ink Handscroll" is a work of ink and color on paper by Liu Dan. (Photo: Courtesy of the San Diego Museum of Art)