On Wednesday Dr. Simon Groom, the curator of the Scottish Modern Art gallery gave a talk about the show "The Real Thing: Contemporary Art From China" he curated when he was working at Tate Liverpool.
He started the talk mentioning about his interest in China and showing some pictures he took when he was there for a year. More like touristic pictures though, it was the first time I was seeing touristic pictures of China. The most interesting thing was, those touristic pictures were an introduction for a curator to talk about for an exhibition he realised with selected artist from China.
Groom began to work for the exhibition almost fife years in advance, conducted a very deep down research on chinese contemporary art, made hundreds of studio visits.
His interest in China overlapped with the recent interest in Chinese art, and paved the way for "The Real Thing".
Groom worked with two local critics from China, to provide him with a list of artist that they considered worth looking at. At the end, 18 artists were selected, and commissioned to produce new work for the exhibition.
At some point he told that as a policy they dont do "geography based exhibition", as they might be considered as patronising, politically incorrect etc.
I couldnt fully grasp where to place "the real thing", given that he opts it out of the geography based exhibitions. It is an anthology of Chinese contemporary art to me and when I checked the official website of Tate liverpool, what I have read about the exhibition did not disapprove me:
The title, ‘The Real Thing’, can be taken straight, as an indication that the exhibition is a true reflection of contemporary art in China today. These predominantly young contemporary artists, largely based around Beijing and Shanghai, have chosen to remain in China, unlike many of the generation before them, and are moving towards a self-confidence and maturity that stems from an understanding of the contemporary world, China’s place within it, as well as the contemplation of their own individual positions within a society at a time of rapid, and profound cultural change.
The artists are positioned within the discourse of China, and regarded as if their art stems from an understanding of their country's position within world order, thus as if they are representative of it.?
Groom, referring to the mimicry element on most of the works of the artists related this phenoma to the rapid change of the environment in China. where everyday reality is always demolishes itself, becomes a scene of constant revolution, the individual artist unable to compete with the revolutionary everyday life prefer to reproduce that reality.
you cant define every artist based on a particular geography with wide brushstrokes of course, but apparently there are some tendencies, some general responses in the art of each social-political realities.