In Beijing and Shanghai with White Rabbit
If there were any doubt that the art scene in China is as relentlessly creative, taboo-breaking, entrepreneurial and just plain exciting as ever, you need look no further than the April research trip to China undertaken by White Rabbit Manager of Research Luise Guest and White Rabbit Gallery’s Hannah Toohey, with the support of White Rabbit Collection founder and patron JUDITH NEILSON. In an action-packed 13 days they visited the homes and studios of 17 artists, saw innumerable exhibitions, met with curators, museum directors, and independent art space innovators, traversed the megalopolises of Beijing and Shanghai by car, taxi, subway, high-speed train – and on foot – and found the experience utterly exhilarating (albeit somewhat exhausting).
The sky in Beijing was most miraculously blue, the streets lined with blossoming trees and willows, the studios were not quite as cold as they can be in early Spring, and the conversation flowed over innumerable cups of fragrant tea. Luise records interviews with artists on her trips to China each year for the growing Judith Neilson/White Rabbit Collection Archive; the audio and transcripts of these interviews in both Chinese and English are available to researchers by application to the archive HERE.
Ma Qiusha in her Beijing studio explains new developments in her work
From discussions of magical realism and the weird and wonderful nature of Chinese parks and gardens with YANG SHEN, to back-to-back discussions with husband and wife conceptual art pioneers SONG DONG and YIN XIUZHEN; from ZHAO GANG’s revelations about the continuing influence of his New York years to MA QIUSHA’s thoughtful explanations of the imagery in her video works, every single interview was filled with rich information that provides new insights into each artist’s work in the collection. Other fascinating interviews with ZHU JINSHI, MAO TONGQIANG, OUYANG CHUN, HE SEN, CHEN WEI and DONG YUAN will appear in future blog posts and in other forms on this website.
Zhao Gang in his Beijing studio with a work in progress
The tranquil Beijing studio of painter He Sen
From Beijing we journeyed to the futuristic spaghetti freeway tangle of Shanghai, and then a swoop down into the tree-lined streets of the former French Concession at its beautiful Spring best, a haven from the traffic snarls of a city of more than 26 million people (according to worldpopulationreview.com). With the exception of a visit to painter ZHAO XUEBING, the focus here was on video and new media: Luise recorded interviews with LU YANG, LI XIAOFEI, QIU ANXIONG and – with a day trip on the high-speed train to Hangzhou and its sublimely beautiful West Lake – a 2-hour conversation with ZHANG PEILI, who is often described as the ‘father’ of Chinese video art.
Qiu Anxiong discussed the inspiration he finds in Buddhist philosophy for his remarkable animations, such as the 'New Book of Mountains and Seas' trilogy
Look out for more stories about each of these interviews, an overview of some remarkable exhibitions featuring White Rabbit Collection artists, and a new series of short videos about their works – coming soon!
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This blog post is excerpted from an article published in 'The Art Life' on 25 June 2019, and is