May 1, Leiden University: Talk by Art Critic Su Wei: Nothing about Matisse: the postponed modern and its intellectual trace

#SinArts Presents
NOTHING ABOUT MATISSE:
THE POSTPONED MODERN AND ITS INTELLECTUAL TRACE

When: May 1st 2015 15:15-17:00
Where: Leiden University, Lipsius 030.

#SinArts has the pleasure of hosting Art Critic and Curator Su Wei (苏伟, 1982) , recent winner of the inaugural IAAC award (with his essay on an exhibition of Yan Lei’s work.). Please join us to discuss the re-examination of art historical frameworks in China:

“On Feb. 3rd 1942, the Lu Xun Fine Arts Academy in Yan’an sent a delegation consisting of nine artists to the frontline of Anti-Japanese war. After their return to Yan’an, artist Zhuang Yan realized an exhibition along with two other members of the delegation. They presented some paintings they had finished during their visit at the frontline, which were then sharply criticized as ‘too much like Matisse’ and ‘alienated from the people’. Given the fact that the exhibition was held during the ‘Yan’an Forum on Literature and art’, one of the most significant events in China’s modern history of art, the ‘debate of Matisse’ inevitably turned into a political discussion. Mao Zedong’s talk at ‘Yan’an Forum on Literature and art’ stipulates that art should reflect the life of the ‘working class’ and serve politics, therefore, the ‘debate of Matisse’ doesn’t revolve around a certain formalist aesthetics, rather, it is a postponed discussion of modernism: ‘Matisse’ and its modern ideology never arrived.

The talk will elaborate on the influence of the ‘debate of Matisse’, focusing on several historical cases of art practice in the 30s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. By analyzing their context and various forms of struggle with political ideology, the talk will bring up several common issues shared by different art practitioners in different eras and an intellectual trace that leads to current state of Chinese contemporary art. On what basis can we discuss China’s art practice? How is the commercialized formalist wave, which is taking place in Beijing and Shanghai’s art scene, related to Chinese modern ideological development, what is missing and hidden on behalf of internationalization and globalisation? To what extend does or doesn’t Chinese artists’ modernist appeal overlap with the modernist blueprint of the state? All these questions need to be re-examined in a new art-historical framework that differentiates itself from the existing art historical narrative, which – since more than three decades – has been governing our understanding of China’s art practice with its dogma of cultural criticism and appropriation of occidental methodology.”

SU WEI
SU Wei (苏伟, 1982) is an independent art critic and curator, based in Beijing and Hong Kong. Since 2008, his work has focused on theoretical practice and writings on contemporary art. SU Wei received his PhD at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2012, after spending two years researching his dissertation, at the Free University, Berlin. He took part in the ICI curatorial course in 2012 in New York and won the 1st prize of International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC) in 2014.
SU Wei was involved in the curatorial team of Little Movements: Self-Practice in Contemporary Art, in 2011. In 2012 he co-curated the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale at OCAT, Shenzhen. In 2014, he curated, Keep the Modern Going: Immersion, Awaiting and Idealism, also at OCAT, as well as Position of Interference. Zhao Liang’s Solo Exhibition at the Three Shadows Gallery, in Beijing. His publications include Little Movements, Self-Practice in Contemporary Art (with others), 2011; Accidental Message: Art is Not a System, Not a World (with others), 2012; Individual Experience: Commentaries and Narratives of Chinese Contemporary Art from 1989-2013 (also with others) 2013. He has also written commentaries on each chapter of art historian Hans Belting’s monograph Art History after Modernism, in his own translation of the work.

For registration and extra information please contact info@sinarts.nl
This event is made possible with the generous support of the Confucius Institute at Leiden University.

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