Saatchi Gallery in London puts China's artists on show

London - A model of a Western city made from dog chews and a room full of once powerful men moving about in wheelchairs are among the most eye-catching exhibits of contemporary Chinese art at London's new Saatchi Gallery, opening this Thursday.

The inaugural show The Revolution Continues: New Art From China, brings together works by 24 of China's leading artists exhibited by Charles Saatchi, the veteran British collector and multi-millionaire sponsor of contemporary art.

Saatchi, who opened his first gallery in London more than 20 years ago, acquired the former Duke of York's army barracks in the heart of fashionable Chelsea to present the daunting, often satirical and also depressing art works in spacious and light surroundings.

His partnership with leading contemporary auction house Phillips de Pury & Company has meant an injection of extra funds that guarantees free admission to one of the biggest contemporary art galleries in the world, and provides an automatic link to the lucrative market for Chinese art.

'Saatchi has always been a step ahead of his game on the international art market,' said Simon de Pury about the new venture. 'You don't need a crystal ball to know that, in the long term, art is the only asset class not affected by debt.'

Among the most striking works is Love It! Bite It!, a model city of Western culture's 'tastiest bits,' including the Colosseum, The US Capitol and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, built from dog chews, by Liu Wei.

'The piece obliquely hints at the fragility of our civilization in the aftermath of 9/11,' the Daily Telegraph's art critic commented.

Old Persons Home, co-authored by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu presents satirical life-sized sculptures of pensioners - easily recognizable as aeging world leaders - in wheelchairs rolling around aimlessly in a vast room in the gallery basement.

Among the more disturbing works is Chinese Offspring, by Zhang Dali, consisting of 15 life-sized figures suspended upside down from the ceiling, representing modern China's immigrant underclass.

There are daunting allusions to modern China's one-child policy and the 1989 massacre of Tiananmen Square. The figure of Mao Zedong dominates Zeng Fanzhi's painting Tiananmen 2004, a frenzied network of brush marks and blood-red colour.

Yalta No. 2 by Shi Xinning, seen as another dig at the 'western elite', is presented as an attempt to 'repaint history' by seating chairman Mao alongside victorious World War II leaders Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.

The oil painting A Holiday in Venice by Shi Xinning shows a decadent-looking Mao enjoying the views and the sunshine with the late Peggy Guggenheim on the balcony of her villa in Venice.

Another work by the same artist, entitled Royal Coach, sees Mao, feted by onlookers while travelling in an open carriage through London, inserted at the side of a smiling Queen Mother - and appearing to be given his rightful place among royalty.

(Monsters and Critics.com)

No comments: