Chinese artists will be well represented at the 55th Venice Biennale, an important showcase of the best contemporary artworks from around the world. Lin Qi reports.
Excitement is mounting ahead of the world's oldest visual-art fair launching its 55th session on Saturday. This year, a virtual Chinese army — at least 300 artists, curators and sponsors — will be represented at the main and several peripheral exhibitions. Wang Chunchen, an associate professor with the Central Academy of Fine Arts, curates China's fifth national exhibition at the biennale. He won the hearts of a five-member expert committee with the curatorial idea of "transfiguration".
A 3-D animation work by Miao Xiaochun, one of about 300 Chinese participants, will be shown at the Venice Biennale.
"The theme not only refers to the creativity of art. We hope to present the transformation and multiple facets of contemporary Chinese art over the past three decades," Wang says.
The peripheral shows have stolen some of the thunder from the main event, with more participating artists, high-profile promotions and minor spats between participants creating controversy.
In addition to the large-scale exhibition Voice of the Unseen, the exhibition Mind Beating has Chinese art lovers excited. Mind Beating will exhibit the work of 16 artists, who have created pieces outside their regular mediums, defying aesthetic stereotypes.
Zhong Biao, a teacher from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, will present a solo show, a multimedia work called The Universe of Unreality, which blends painting, installation, video, music and interaction design, at the independent Venice Projects during the biennale.
"The art itself isn't categorized into national and peripheral sub-groups," curator Wang says. "Together, we show Chinese art as a whole, in a free and vigorous manner."
Long before China's official debut in 2005, a dozen mainland artists including Wang Guangyi, Geng Jianyi and Fang Lijun participated at the 45th biennale's themed exhibition in 1993. For many, the appearance paved the way for international recognition.
"Back then, we had no curator or sponsor. We didn't create or present works according to the exhibition space. We had no idea about insurance, and lost our works after the show," says Yu Hong, who also attended the 45th biennale. She and her husband Liu Xiaodong will exhibit works at Mind Beating.
The situation has greatly improved with more Chinese artists able to present their works at the biennale. China's exhibiting plans, both official and unofficial, always create a lot of buzz around the selection of curators and participating artists.
"The biennale has established a mythical status in China since the 1990s, mainly because several Chinese artists rose to stardom after debuting at the fair. Their market potential was explored and their works fetched remarkable prices at auction," Wang Chunchen says.