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2017.10.19 Thu, by
HUGO BOSS ASIA ART 2017 opens at Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, unveiling a rich diversity of artworks by the four finalist artists

[Press Release]

Duration: October 27, 2017 – February 11, 2018
Venue: Rockbund Art Museum, No. 20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

Shanghai, China, October 26, 2017 — HUGO BOSS ASIA ART: Award for Emerging Asian Artists opened early today at Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai, presenting artworks by the four finalist artists: Li Ming (China), Tao Hui (China), Yu Ji (China), Robert Zhao Renhui (Singapore).  Following the success of the first and second editions in 2013 and 2015 respectively, HUGO BOSS ASIA ART AWARD for Emerging Asian Artists is well regarded as a very high-profile award that honors emerging contemporary artists in the early stages of their artistic creation and exhibition practices. The announcement of the winner of the 2017 HUGO BOSS ASIA ART Award will be made on 23 November 2017, with a stipend of RMB 300,000.

The exhibition is open to the public from October 27, 2017 to February 11, 2018. The show will present newly commissioned works as well as existing artworks by the four finalists, through which the audience will partake in the artists’ vision of what contemporary art holds in terms of promising potential and new directions.

Over the last five years, the HUGO BOSS ASIA ART AWARD — which is made up of the award selection process, the exhibition of the finalist artists and the on-going public and educational programs — has served as a platform for young talented artists throughout Asia, and is committed to exploring and presenting different artistic and social contexts in present-day Greater China and Southeast Asia. As Larys Frogier, the Director of Rockbund Art Museum and Chair of the HUGO BOSS ASIA ART jury elaborates, “The diverse art forms, the innovative perspective and new narratives of the four finalist artists, attempt to deconstruct the existing art rules, and further, through the process of visual creation and observation, encounter unexpected forms, experiences and meanings.”


Four artists with divergent perspectives
Exploring the relationships between humans, humans and nature, humans and society

The diversity among emerging Asian artists is amply demonstrated through the rich and flexible forms of creativity in the four nominated artists, with artworks that span sculpture, videos, photographs and installations. The artworks range from the natural sciences to conceptual representations, from observations of urban life and dwellers to artistic declarations emerging from such observations.

Li Qi, the senior curator of the exhibition, remarks, “After visiting the Rockbund Art Museum in person, all of the nominated artists not only selected the most appropriate pieces from existing works but also created newly commissioned works for the exhibition. This time, the spatial features of the Museum are thoroughly utilized so as to exhibit each individual’s works on one of the floors. Rather than encapsulating the practices of all four artists into one specific theme, the exhibition intends to provide adequate latitude for creation and presentation, consistently supporting and emphasizing the works as well as the uniqueness of each artists.”

Finalist artists: Li Ming, Tao Hui, Yu Ji, Robert Zhao Renhui (from left to right)  入围艺术家:李明、陶辉、于吉、赵仁辉(从左至右)

Finalist artists: Li Ming, Tao Hui, Yu Ji, Robert Zhao Renhui (from left to right)

Yu Ji deals chiefly with sculptures and installations along with performances and videos. Her recent works, the live performance accompanied by sculptures, are just like meticulously set up “scenes of labor”. In the exhibition, she presents the newly produced environment installation Etudes — Lento IV. Unlike the volume and structure of the previous pieces in her Etudes — Lento series, this one is hung in the room, making the dropping colophony and resin clearly visible under the support of the iron-chain structure; the solidified gossamer of colophony dangles above the floor. The artist attempts to guide viewers to sense the fragile yet simple relationship between human beings, materials and nature through the tensile contrary between inward complicity and outward purity. Other works in the exhibition include Flesh in Stone — Stone Head, which is the first piece with concrete emotional details among her serial works Flesh in Stone, as well as Passage, a brand new video work lasting 11 minutes. The oeuvre presented, with their divergent creative directions, expand Yu Ji’s art practices to a more stereoscopic dimension, demonstrating her myriad thoughts on tradition, the environment, self-being and art through the deconstruction and reconstruction of the classical contexts of sculpture.

Moving images and video installations make up Tao Hui’s oeuvre. The material he uses is highly connected to his personal experiences, such as the collective viewing experiences as solidified by dramatic moments in domestic Chinese soap operas and TV variety shows, the folktales circulating in the villages of the Chinese hinterland, as well as fateful events of the characters witnessed by the artist. In this exhibition, he presents a new multi-channel video installation Hello, Finale which is in the form of video array and is composed of nine TV-series-like videos showing characters making phone calls to other people. Hello, Finale was shot during Tao Hui’s stay in Kyoto, Japan this year. Nine characters from different jobs of life in Japan discuss the relationships between finitude, end, death and other topics in films and television dramas. In the exhibition, he also presents some previous works. Tao Hui illustrates slyly on social structures, the circumstances in which individuals find themselves, and the interactions between individuals through his unique creation of narrative videos in his calm and collected humor.

Robert Zhao Renhui has unique artistic concepts and  practices – his works lie between the documentary and the fictional, creating invisible substances by melding observation and imagination. The Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ) is a fictional scientific organization and program created by the artist that is devoted to natural history, visual arts and ecology. By entering the field of art though the construction of scientific discourses and images, he expresses his concerns about the relationship between humanity and nature as well as how human’s  attitudes and opinions influence our own cognition of the natural world. This time, he builds up an environment relevant to a Malayan Island of nature, history and society. The exhibition space is transformed into an independent hall of a natural history museum, where there will be the installations covering the objects, materials, antiques, books and etc. that he collected during his visits to various zoos over the past ten years. Echoing the history of the museum building as the former Royal Asiatic Society building, these installations will trigger viewers’ adventurous experiences when observing and exploring the multiple narrative forms. Meanwhile, several other representative works are on show. The composition of photographs, documentary images and documents resulted from his individual interruption reminds people to reconsider the relationships between community, individuals and nature in a tumultuous society where the violent interaction between human and nature transpires.

Videos and video installations play a significant role in Li Ming’s practice. His latest work Rendering the Mind was shot in Shanghai Mansion, a five-star hotel with a storied history of over eighty years. Inspired by the shape of the building and the materials of the external walls, the artist produced a series of stories that came about in the space between the public and the private. Besides presenting a series of relevant performances and videos, Li Ming also used the zigzag space on the fifth floor of the museum to extend his works by linking the space with scenes in his previous video productions, such as a subway tunnel under construction, the construction site of an art museum and a factory that produces clocks and watches. His works usually start with an image, word, movement or atmosphere that arouses his interest and ends up embodying his personal character of sensitivity, subtlety, intuition and humor. His interest shifts from the interaction between the camera and the consciousness of the viewer to the discussion of the social contexts such as spaces, edges and exits, on which the vision of his works is based. His conception of boring and even ridiculous scenes serves as a rebellion against the bored impulse, as uneasy exploration of meaning, and even as the sarcasm historically and humanely. Yet all of them turn out to be diverse approaches to killing time.

A series of public and education activities including talks, seminars, forums and workshops will be held alongside the Award to further explore the intellectual and social contribution of the finalist artists. Parallel to the exhibition, the public and educational programs make up another platform of the Award that is committed to exploring and presenting different artistic and social contexts in present-day Greater China and Southeast Asia. This will extend, complement and enrich the topics generated by the finalist artists while connecting with the general public. In parallel, a catalogue will be published on the 2017 HUGO BOSS ASIA ART exhibition in November 2017 along with the announcement of the winner.

About Rockbund Art Museum

For over seven years Rockbund Art Museum has been at the forefront of the growing contemporary art scene in China, presenting world-class programs in a unique museum setting. As an internationally renowned boutique Museum, RAM holds a unique position within Shanghai’s continually expanding cultural scene. The Museum is located within the Bund district and housed in an exquisite heritage Art Deco building, which was renovated by the architect David Chipperfield before opening in 2010.

The museum’s exemplary curatorial, education and research programs showcase acclaimed and emerging Chinese and international artists, responding to and reflecting on present and urgent challenges of society, locally and internationally. RAM presents a bold and pioneering program of three exhibitions and a special project “RAM HIGHLIGHT” per year, exploring and realizing artists’ most ambitious projects and working with them to tailor exhibitions to the Museum and to the Shanghai context, often with a large proportion of works that are newly commissioned. RAM devises, produces and curates its program in-house, in conjunction with carefully selected international collaborations of the highest quality. For more information, please visit: www.rockbundartmuseum.org

HUGO BOSS Global Arts Program

Art and fashion are intertwined disciplines, in their nature guided by innovation and creativity. Both seek to forge something new, driven by the will to capture the spirit of their time. With the aim of encouraging an exchange between the two fields, HUGO BOSS initiated its Arts Sponsorship program in 1995 as an integral part of the Company’s corporate culture. Focusing on contemporary art, HUGO BOSS has supported numerous high-profile exhibitions with the intention to inspire people and to give leading artists a platform for their work. Examples of these were Georg Baselitz (1995 and 1996), Dennis Hopper (2001), Olafur Eliasson (2005), Josephine Meckseper (2007), Jeff Koons (2012), the Bauhaus#itsalldesign (2016) and “An Eames Celebration” (2017). Moreover, HUGO BOSS has initiated two independent awards to support extraordinary talents and to emphasize their contributions to the arts. Founded in 1996 and in cooperation with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum in New York, the HUGO BOSS PRIZE has become one of the world‘s most renowned accolades for visionary contributions to contemporary art. The HUGO BOSS ASIA ART Award, introduced in 2013 and curated by the RockbundArt Museum, focuses on promoting young emerging contemporary artists in Asia.


The HUGO BOSS Group is one of the leading companies in the upper premium segment of the apparel market that focuses on the development and marketing of premium fashion and accessories for men and women. The product portfolio offers menswear, womenswear, as well as licensed fragrances, eyewear, watches, children‘s fashion, home textiles and writing instruments.

Further information on HUGO BOSS can be found at www.group.hugoboss.com.