What about the art? Well, What about it?
Talks by Cai Guo Qiang the Curator, and Xu Bing and Wan Jienwei, two prominent artists featured in the exhibition What about the art? took place on 13 March at MIA.
Cai explained that art is a free form of interpretation, and contemporary art is usually linked to a political viewpoint. Contemporary art should be a statement in itself. Artists express their views and challenges through their art, of how they see the world and how they want to project it.
For art as a form of self-expression through creativity, Cai used the example of Freedom an instillation by Peng Yu & Sun Yuan - a still tank holding a water hose that is pumping 10 gallons of water under pressure. It is “an eruption of freedom contained in a steel box” referring to the paradigm of contemporary art.
XU Bing created an instillation called Back Story, using shadows and light in which one side is a mirror image of an old traditional Chinese scroll depicting green and blue scene Chinese painting, when the viewer moves to the back of the installation we see that the iconic Chinese image was created by dried leaves, dead branches, plastic and cotton balls.
His work frames traditions, society and culture within contemporary art using traditional Chinese aspects such as respecting nature, however it is takes it a step further as the contemporary reflect how he used nature in his work, His work is not a dichotomy between traditional and contemporary but rather how the two complete each other.
"Where is the art?" asked Wan Jianwei when he was questioned about his work. He created Impasse - 5 installations and one painting, representing his pursuit of pure forms and distinct aesthetic methods stripping away, nationality, religion and culture, contradicting the idea of Xu Bing that traditions and contemporary art are one. Jianwei brings creativity from all aspects and strips the logic away and brings the art on the surface. As he explains art is a paradox of freedom, art can be found in all aspects, that art is universal and can be found anything in everything.
The discussion really makes you question ‘what makes art, what it is and who gives it value’. Why do we appreciate classical pieces of art work and question contemporary art whether it is art or a political statement. Why is there a link between country and the art it produces.
The talks given in Chinese, embraced complex ideas which were difficult to follow and perhaps some of the subtleties were lost in the translation to English or Arabic. Contemporary art from China highlights all these questions. It really does ask the viewer, What About The art?
What about the Art? Can be seen in QM Gallery ALRIWAQ from 14 March 2016 - 16 July 2016