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Rockbund Art Museum
2013.09.13 Fri - 2013.12.08 Sun
Opening Exhibition
09/12/2013 13:31
20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District Shanghai 200002
+86 21 3310 9985
Opening Hours
Thursday-Saturday 10am - 9pm;
Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday 10am - 6pm
Larys Frogier

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[Press Release]

For detail, please visit: HUGO BOSS ASIA ART: the Concept, the Scope, the Award——by Daniel Szehin Ho


—Award for Emerging Chinese Artists

The inaugural HUGO BOSS ASIA ART initiated by the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) and HUGO BOSS, was announced in Shanghai in June this year. Seven emerging artists from Greater China have made the cut for the finalist: BIRDHEAD (Shanghai), Hsu Chia Wei (Taipei), Hu Xiangqian (Beijing), Kwan Sheung Chi (Hong Kong), Lee Kit (Hong Kong), Li Liao (Shenzhen), Li Wei (Beijing).

As the most anticipated focal point of this newly established, authoritative award, the exhibition of works by these seven shortlisted artists will be held at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai from 13th September to 8th December 2013. The artists are invited to present their best artistic creations for this exhibition. As Larys Frogier, the Director of the Rockbund Art Museum and Chair of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Jury, says: “They do not only deconstruct established codes of art, but fully take the risk of offering unexpected forms, experiences and meanings into the process of making and seeing the picture.”

Allowing each artist to shine
By not setting a specific curatorial theme

The HUGO BOSS ASIA ART is committed to powerful experiments in the practice of art and critical thought by supporting new cultural challenges in Asia as well as encouraging diversity in aesthetics, thought and culture. This exhibition of the finalist artists indeed present emerging artists who, in the early stages of their artistic creation and exhibition practices, question, extend and enrich the possibilities of contemporary art.

As Larys Frogier, the Chair of the Jury, explains, the artists created entirely new works after having made on-site visits to the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai and also selected suitable existing works to take part in the exhibition. The first HUGO BOSS ART ASIA Award exhibition of shortlisted artists has no intention of bringing the works of all these artists within a set theme but rather aims to support and highlight each artist’s creativity and uniqueness.

Seven artists with divergent perspectives
Exploring artistic creation beyond aesthetics by setting out from the everyday

The exhibited works by the seven shortlisted artists not only deconstruct established codes of art, but fully take the risk of offering unexpected forms, experiences and meanings into the process of making and seeing the picture.

The artist duo BIRDHEAD created 100 photographic works of various sizes, arranged “chaotically” and taking in common everyday characters, animal figures and human activities as the theme, which allows viewers to clearly sense a youthful humour, a high-minded disposition, as well as a certain restlessness and uneasiness. Another wall, however, presents natural sceneries, the vast majority of which are “eternal” in character, interspersed with a few inert pieces of urban architecture. The contrast between the two walls spontaneously gives off sensations of the momentary and the eternal; the two extremes in rich tension are united in the “constancy” of the everyday and of the eternal.

Hu Xiangqian’s Acting as Artist extends his critique of art. In the piece, the artist dresses up as a foppish man in a suit who carefully plays out the everyday activities of an artist pretending to be serious—lying on a luxuriously soft bed, for instance, sluggishly flipping through some book in English, or ardently explaining his own art to an interested foreigner. This mocks the performative quality of the art scene and the hypocrisies in the struggle for cultural acceptance; in the ongoing transformation of art groupings and organisations in Asia, such experiential observations serve as the self-examinations of an artist.

Hsu Chia Wei originally applied for permission to shoot on an islet near Matsu, Taiwan, but was informed that the small islet belonged to “Marshal Tie Jia” [lit. Marshal Armor] and that all affairs on the islet must seek His approval. During the shoot, the artist had to appeal to the “Marshal” repeatedly, thus alternating the work between myth and reality. The interweaving narrative structure between fiction and reality entails the transformations in human belief cultures from time immemorial. After shooting the Matsu videos, the artist further investigated the origins of “Marshal Tie Jia” and shot the second part in Jiangxi, China. This Marshal Tie Jia series constructs sensitive visual narratives about geographical, historical and cultural regions in Asia. The artist reveals how the lives of people in the modern age are fundamentally transformed by the dense and complex layers of cultures and histories.

Li Liao’s performance art is deeply rooted in the daily and emotional experiences of his life. Art Is Vacuum originated in the fact that his relationship with his girlfriend (now wife) was not accepted by her family. In one conversation, her father was suspicious about Li Liao being an “artist”, in the end blurting out “You’re living in a vacuum…we’re too common.” In the exhibition space are presented a ragged woolen piece of clothing, a much-trampled-on remote control, and a “dialogue”, all evidence of the incident after the fact. Additionally, there is also a thank-you letter and a receipt: the artist requested the museum to support the second part of his creation in the form of a cash payment, inviting the museum staff to accompany him to his wife’s family in order to present this sum of cash to her father and to sign the receipt. Li Liao’s intention is not merely to nurture an artistic style based on intimate relations but rather to bring about an unexpectedly strong collision between ordinary emotions and public space.

Kwan Sheung Chi’s art objects, installations, and video works unveil topsy-turvy and even absurd situations from specific social contexts, and question the contradictions and power relations in today’s society. In Break Up a Piece of Short Thread, he rips an inch-long thread from a ladies’ shirt and then spends forty-three minutes and forty-three seconds in tearing it off, until it was completely ripped apart. In this meanderingly slow shot, the artist dissipates time, action, and meaning itself with this difficult and yet pointless action. His new work Water Barrier (Maotai–Water, 1:999) consists of a pair of anti-riot barriers filled with water and maotai. This mixture of water and maotai, the most expensive baijiu on the Chinese market, symbolises the disparity of status while at the same time constitutes a protective mechanism against outside forces. The artist’s advice to topple the water barrier over reflects to a certain degree the artist’s critical attitude towards such disparities.

Lee Kit produces paintings not only as canvases but as fully immersive pictorial environments. His art extols time that is unrestrained: boring, relaxed, unengaged in production, and seemingly without anything happening; with no active initiative taken, no lecturing, no grandeur, nor rich abundance, his works provide merely a few threads, chances, or suggestions. Lee Kit fabricates fragmentary bits of narrative for his works, which look like everyday objects; such points, neither interesting nor detailed, do not serve to analyse the works, rationalise them, or render subtler meanings—their creation is a poetics of the incomplete and fragmentary.

Li Wei proposes a deep and forceful question through her sculpture and performative installations: how to constantly stimulate memory today and transform it into contemporary visuality. In Plan: 2’55’’, she makes use of the interaction with the audience and draws traces of the human bodies on the floor and walls of the exhibition space with pigment that can be smudged and smeared, much like how the police marks out the location and position of dead bodies. As the exhibition progresses, the shapes will constantly change, disappear, and overlap. Li Wei also transports some items of furniture into the space, emphasising the accretion and shrouding of memory along with the sense of helplessness thus produced.

Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
Presenting their strengths with new perspectives and a rich diversity

The first HUGO BOSS ASIA ART Award focused on the finalist artists from the region of Greater China. Through this exhibition, contemporary art from both sides of the strait (Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong) can present divergent features in terms of artistic creations, aesthetic perspectives, social challenges in different cities and regions.

As Larys Frogier, the Chair of the Jury, points out: “Taiwanese artists are particularly interested in the way to represent the complex, intricate relations within Asia and under colonialism; they employ new media such as video in order to examine the various layers of memory. Hong Kong artists, on the other hand, are deeply involved in thinking about the social context; with conceptual art, new paintings and everyday objects, they revisit the challenges of the individual and public society. Young Mainland artists, for their part, extend the practices of performance, photography and installation art into the rediscovery of the remembrance of memory and into urban transformations.” The first HUGO BOSS ASIA ART Award will shine a spotlight on artistic creation in Greater China, highlighting the new perspectives and rich diversity of contemporary artistic practice in this region, which will be extremely important for the better analysis and understanding of art in Asia, and even the world.

To further explore the intellectual and social potential of this award, a full accompanying public program has been conceived to reflect upon the current challenges of contemporary art in Asia with a particular focus on the topics identified during this edition. Running from July 2013 through 2014, this program involves curators, researchers, critics in contemporary art from China and other regions in Asia, including the Jury members and the finalist artists of this award, who will all take part in a series of public dialogues, talks and symposia. A publication will be produced in 2014 to summarise the outcomes of this program.

In addition, Night@RAM, the museum’s highly celebrated, multi-disciplinary education platform will launch a special series of events presenting the most recent and exciting projects of arts and culture in Asia, shedding light on the invisible and evolving practices of contemporary Asian arts as well as the issues they attempt to address.

Finally, the first HUGO BOSS ASIA ART Award will reveal the winner of the prize on 31st October. Larys Frogier states: “HUGO BOSS ASIA ART chooses to promote art as a fundamental critical space for debating the future of contemporary art in both local and international scopes. We argue that art is above all a practice for disensus rather than consensus, on the basis of which cultural exchanges and learning process can be forged: creating space for discussion, stimulating thought, and imagining symbols, allegories and all the other intrinsic metaphors of cultural creativity and social dynamism.”

About Rockbund Art Museum

Located on the iconic Bund waterfront in Shanghai and echoing the building’s historical heritage as one of the first modern museums in China, Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) is dedicated to its identity as a stable, influential, innovative, and sustainable organisation devoted to the presentation of top-calibre artistic projects from the perspective of international contemporary art. Since its inauguration in 2010, the museum has held a series of important solo and group exhibitions, cooperating with internationally acclaimed artists and curators such as Cai Guoqiang, Zeng Fanzhi, Hou Hanru, Fumio Nanjo, among others. At the same time, the museum has to date organised more than 300 educational events with “Night@RAM”, which are open to the public for free.

RAM seeks to build a solid cultural network with local and international partners, with the aim of realising innovative cooperative projects that reflect the decisive economic and cultural transformations of the present global era. In the future, the museum will continue to push back the frontiers of art, knowledge and creativity in China and abroad, fostering the exchange of ideas, artworks and people (artists, researchers, curators, administrators) in order to identify, participate in and disseminate emergent and cross-disciplinary artistic practices at an international level, as well as thinking through and sharing the social significance of art. RAM also explores the sustainability of the museum within the contemporary cultural and social context, and hopes to contribute, under the present reality, to the establishment of an institutional structure and environment for contemporary art museums in China.

Supported by Rockbund
For more information on RAM, please visit www.rockbundartmuseum.org.

About the HUGO BOSS Arts Program

The HUGO BOSS arts program was initiated in 1995 and mainly concentrates on contemporary arts. The arts sponsorship activities further enhance the emotional appeal of our brands, enriching them with aesthetic values. This is a holistic understanding of brand communication. Since the start of this project, promoting the exhibition of contemporary artworks is a core cultural mission for HUGO BOSS.

Together with the Guggenheim Foundation, HUGO BOSS established the HUGO BOSS PRIZE: an internationally celebrated award within the field of contemporary art, to which there is an enduring commitment. Alongside numerous exhibitions and festivals, HUGO BOSS also promotes cooperative projects with artists. The winner of the HUGO BOSS PRIZE receives not only the monetary prize of 100,000 USD but also the chance to have a solo exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

HUGO BOSS regularly supports artists and their works at the Venice Biennale. In addition, HUGO BOSS has enjoyed a powerful creative alliance with the Salzburg Festival.The HUGO BOSS ArtPass exclusively grants the holder free admission to a range of distinguished museums around the world. For several years now, selected artists have produced exclusive designs for the passes, making them coveted collector’s items and miniature works of art. For example, the ArtPass 2011 was created by the Chinese artist Cao Fei, who was also nominated for the HUGO BOSS PRIZE 2010.