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YangJiang Group:Fuck Off The Rules

Press Release

Fuck off the Rules: Yangjiang Group, a highlight of 2013 MSMS annual exhibition programme, will be unveiled on November 8, 2013 at Minsheng Art Museum. Nine art projects will be put on display, covering a time span of over 10 years and a variety of media including calligraphy, painting, installation, performance and mixed media. The 9 art projects can be further divided into 14 sub-projects, which not only bring the characteristics of the museum’s LOFT space, gallery space and event space into full play but also put “people” at the core. Works such as Splitting Cane, The Morning After: Masterpieces Written While Drunk, Tea Zen in Darkness, and Chinese Chess all put an emphasis on the active involvement of “people”. Moreover, a sense of mix and match is also featured in their practice. wave of spring, for instance, imbues something very Chinese and very traditional into the practice of contemporary art.

New Trends of ’58, A Mass Steel Campaign

Established by artists Zheng Guogu, Chen Zaiyan and Sun Qinglin in 2002, Yangjiang Group’s practice covers a wide range of media, including calligraphy, painting, photography, video, mixed media, large installation, architecture and performance, etc. The profound everydayness and the harmonious contrast between delicacy and wildness embodied in their art have earned them wide attention both at home and abroad. It seems boundary is never in the way in their practice: calligraphy works were on sale at street stalls; installation juxtaposed banana and traditional Cantonese music; an activity as hilarious as sugarcane hacking was conducted together with activities as elegant and highbrow as wine tasting and tea tasting; studio was under constant construction and demolition… Life itself becomes an integral part of their art. The unconventional and distinct features of their practice have earned the three artists world-wide acclamation. But they never think of leaving Yangjiang, a small city in southwest Guangdong Province, and pursuing their career elsewhere. The somewhat chaotic urban management system and the fact that it is far from political center and more literal on the ideological level, in a sense, set free their creativity, imbuing them with new verve and perspectives when dealing with artistic and social issues. During the process, the boundaries between rigidity of traditional art and flexibility of contemporary art, between highbrow and the public are significantly blurred. Not only that, even the distinction between localization and globalization, between art and life is no longer as strict as before. Yangjiang Group manages to practice a kind of approachable contemporary art in a remote small Chinese city.

The art of Yangjiang Group is often hailed as “art with vivacity and a humane touch”. Works focusing on people at the bottom of the society often give out a sense of improvisation and spontaneity. Helplessness and sense of humor, frustration and elation co-exist. It seems they tear off the veils worn by conventionalists and go on a rampage in the realm that was previously culturally monopolized. In the meantime, such boldness and fearlessness are artistically neutralized by a sense of mischievousness and playfulness. In a time when the prices of art constantly hit record high, creative industry flourishes all over the country and art as a media spotlight is often hand in hand with fashion and luxury, such “mischievousness” appears all the more precious.

As a highlight of MSMS’s “Thirty Years of Contemporary Art Programme”, Fuck off the Rules: Yangjiang Group attempts not only to make a change in the current art landscape that is dominated by big cities like Beijing and Shanghai and call for more attention to the contemporary art scene in Lingnan region (mainly refers to Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan provinces), a highly noticeable rising cultural force in south China, but also to further the self-awareness and self-introspection of contemporary art practice in the local context. Under the backdrop that European/U.S.-led art systems and values play a prominent role worldwide, Yangjiang Group’s practice to “Fuck off the Rules” is of importance not only in China but also to the international art scene which is becoming increasingly power-, market- and system-oriented.

During the exhibition, the museum will invite artists, curators and experts from art institutes from both China and abroad to give public lectures and talks. The exhibition will run through February 22, 2014.

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