From the Mundane World: Launch Exhibition of He Art Museum

2020.10.01 -2021.02.28

Organizer: HEM
Chairman of Exhibition: He Jianfeng
Chief Curator: Feng Boyi
Curators: Hu Bin, Wang Xiaosong, Liu Gang, Shao Shu
Assistant Curators: Yang Qing, Gou Xianxu, Yuan Zhao, Lai Zhiqiang, Wang Qi

Curatorial Statement

From the Mundane World: Inaugural Exhibition of He Art Museum consists with two parts: the collection exhibition including Milieu in Change: He Art Museum Chinese Modern Collection Exhibition and On the Rise: He Art Museum Contemporary Art Collection Exhibition; and the thematic exhibition which has three sessions: Experience All Things, Doctrine for "Sole" Material Development and Mundane Canteen.

Milieu in Change aims to illustrate the conceptual transformation of 20th-century Chinese art in the context of Sino-Western interaction, with its position in the global cultural landscape during the dynamic transition from tradition to modernity. On the Rise mainly focuses on the collection of contemporary easel art. Samples of works focus on the certain direction/type of Chinese contemporary art creation since the 1980s is selected to from a narrative of tradition-to-modernity, and then to the world. They try to elaborate on the relatively obscure sources of creative motives, resources, and methods, and responds/continues to the notion of "The Dissemination of Western Learning" in modern China.
From the Mundane World is about all-encompassing, random, uncertain, but interdependent variables. The three thematic sessions are artistic scales for measuring people and nature, material, ecology, and even food. Through the artist's focus on the material media and the concreteness of real life, the exhibition tries to examine and explore the situation of human civilization in the laws of nature in the process of modernization. When the content of From the Mundane World extends to the awareness of issues such as society, production, consumption, desire, and environmental protection, material energy is artistically transformed into an existence that transcends material, which becomes the contemporary expression of the spirit of the time. At the same time, the artist's creation carried by the material medium reflects a special modernity characteristic in the contexts of social development, which suggests the crisis and vigilance of natural ecological identity. Thus, this inaugural exhibition empowers contemporary artists, both local and abroad, to express the necessary value of natural material and daily life experience, and present a realm of material and visual culture worth thinking about.

For the curators, this opening exhibition is different from the previous curatorial exhibitions which the museums are located in the city. It must not only satisfy the internationality, but also have the localities. This is also our effort to find the experiences of curating contemporary art exhibitions outside the first-tier cities in China. Therefore, the overview of the exhibition is the functionality and role of the non-profit private art museum established by family in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, in its activating and promoting the local economic and cultural development, and incorporating the under-recognized Shunde geo-culture into the perspective of international art scene. This has also become our basic aspiration and vision for curating.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this exhibition has been affected to varying degrees and has been continuously postponed and adjusted. At present, most of the works can only be exhibited in the form of launch exhibition, and some works have to be presented in videos, pictures, proposals and planning. We sincerely apologize to the artists and audiences for the compromised exhibition.

Feng Boyi, Chief Curator
December, 2020 

Introduction to the Collection Exhibition

Milieu in Change: He Art Museum Chinese Modern Collection Exhibition

Chinese art and culture have formed a unique model in the relationship between humans and nature, as well as humans and society. Since modern times, this kind of model has undergone new changes through the process of cultural inheritance. As the intellectual Liang Qichao stated, "The criticism of painting in today's context, it is a state of milieu in change." Hence, taking "Milieu in Change" as the theme of the modern art exhibition of the museum's collection aims to highlight internal extension and timely adjustments in thinking towards all things concerning Chinese art in the 20th century, particularly in the context of exchanging discourses between China and the West. Moreover, the rise of the notion of "the heavenly way" in the context of the "new world," brings forth the changes on the social structure, culture and visual system in a much broader spectrum. This exhibition attempts to present the concepts of Chinese painting that have been violently involved in the global culture in a state of transition from tradition to modernity. This exhibition can be considered as a way of tracing the path China has taken, as well as a reference for critical reflections on the present.

Hu Bin, Curator
December, 2020

On the Rise: He Art Museum Contemporary Art Collection Exhibition

The contemporary art works collected by He Art Museum are mainly easel paintings, which consist primarily of contemporary Chinese art since the 1980s. This second part of the three-stage structure of the inaugural exhibition should not only respond to modern Chinese art based on ink, but also be related to the thematic exhibition. Based on the status of the collection and exhibition space, we've tried to expand the practice of viewing linearly from tradition to modernity, and then finally to the world as a whole. We intend to shift our focus toward the meaning of works to the analysis of influential factors of contemporary Chinese art. When we step out of the logic of self-narration and view the work in a global context, we can more clearly see the previously hidden creative motives, resources, and methods. This allows us to once again develop and respond to the important notion in modern China "The Dissemination of Western Learning". Most importantly amongst these ideas is the practice of contemporary art shows that disrupt their time and space, that absorb external influences, and discover the intricacies about how self and society are somehow intertwined.

Wang Xiaosong, Curator
December, 2020

Introduction to Thematic Exhibition

The exhibition attempts to develop on two aspects: “Mundane World” and the things from said world. “Mundane World” or the human world, includes the space inhabited by human beings, and time, material, energy, speed, etc. The rest of it, the tangible items like landscapes make up the things From the Mundane World. It is a study of how tangible “things” develop through the nebulous nature of the “Mundane World” and the resulting issues of production, consumption, ecology, etc. In the context of the on-going public health threat, this topic has become more specific and realistic.

Experience All Things

"All things" is the broad concept of all objects and beings, including the unpredictable enigma of nature and its inexhaustible energy. Experience is both the starting and end point for humans, gaining greater perception through a process of coming in contact with these various objects and beings. In the field of contemporary art, material mediums are of paramount importance. Our interaction with nature is constructed and reconstructed by exploring, utilizing the quality and energy of materials, as well as by accumulated creative experiences. Artistic experiments extend beyond mere experience, they record the direction of our understanding of natural materials, reveal the limitations of the visual experience, and deconstruct, while transforming the original form of materials. As artists "experience all things," this gradually shapes their perceptions, thoughts, and transformations of art in material and visual culture, and brings out a transcendental visual tension.

Doctrine for "Sole" Material Development

Modern development directly impacts all fields of human life. Humanity’s infinite worship of energy on an epistemological level and the overexploitation of natural resources have led to resource depletion. This depletion lays the foundation, on which the doctrine of "sole" material development is built. It represents the rampant destruction of the Earth's natural ecology and lack of control as a result of social production, consumer culture, and personal desires. Hence, through an artist's anxious expressions of the ecological changes, they are alerting the world and protecting the environment. Perhaps this exhibition will give insight to the profound social problems that affect the world through the artists' expressive displays. Although this explanation and criticism involve social systems and realistic demands of them, the exhibit tries to arouse the audience's awareness of the crisis of human survival and the sense of reverence for nature.

Mundane Canteen

In traditional Chinese history, Shunde is one of the most culinarily rich cities. Eating is a human instinct and is closely related to our body and survival. The food chain can also be one of the indicators for measuring the diversity of natural ecology. The change and integration of food culture has not only become a major source of national and religious taboos, but also reflects the conflicts in social history, events, power, and class. The participating artists transform this indispensable sustenance into a creative resource, build a metaphorical canteen in the exhibition space for communicating the deeper themes of cooking, and trace the food-related memories about life based on the traditional diet and cultural experience from different countries and ethnic groups. Food art re-interprets the basis of our existence and extends it to the realm of material culture. This art is formed through experiences of cooking, consuming, desire, and the diverse eating cultures of the artists and audiences, thereby presenting the symbiotic relationship between our living environment and our food systems.


Experience All Things
Francis Alÿs, Atelier NL, Lucia Bru, Chen Wenji, Mona Hatoum, Huang Yongping, Li Jinghu, Liu Wei, Liu Xin, Yuko Mohri, Sun Yue, Tong Kunniao, Bernar Venet, Xu Bing, Yin Xiuzhen

Doctrine for "Sole" Material Development
Ann Böttcher, Edward Burtynsky, Subodh Gupta, Camille Henrot, Damien Hirst, Charlotte Jarvis, Anish Kapoor, Kohei Nawa, Anu Ramdas & Christian Danielewitz, Tong Wenmin, Wang Ningde, Yang Xinguang, Robert Zhao Renhui, Zheng Bo

Mundane Canteen
Asunción Molinos Gordo, Hanne Nielsen & Birgit Johnsen, Craig Au Yeung Ying Chai, Song Dong, The Center for Genomic Gastronomy, Rirkrit Tiravanija

Milieu in Change: He Art Museum Chinese Modern Collection Exhibition

Unit 1

Wu Changshuo, Huang Binhong, Chen Shuren, Gao Qifeng, Wu Hufan, Chang Dai-Chien, Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang, Fu Baoshi, Zhao Shao'ang, Li Keran, Li Xiongcai, Guan Shanyue, Lai Shaoqi, Wu Guanzhong, Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Liu Haisu

Unit 2

Ju Lian, Ren Bonian, Wu Changshuo, Qi Baishi, Gao Jianfu, Gao Qifeng, Yu Fei'an, Xu Beihong, Chang Dai-Chien, Lin Fengmian, Zhao Shao'ang, Li Keran, Guan Shanyue

Unit 3

Qi Baishi, Chang Dai-chien, Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang, Fang Rending, Fu Baoshi, Yang Shanshen, Wu Guanzhong, Huang Zhou, Yang Zhiguang

On the Rise: He Art Museum Contemporary Art Collection Exhibition

Ding Yi, Fan Bo, Leng Jun, Pang Maokun, Shang Yang, Kishio Suga, Xu Zhen, Xue Song, Zhou Chunya

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