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Show explores Rauschenberg's spiritual journey

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-29 08:11

Show explores Rauschenberg's spiritual journey

The show at KWM Art Center in Beijing is a tribute to late US artist Robert Rauschenberg. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In June, Beijing-based artist Qiu Zhijie and his students of experimental art from the Central Academy of Fine Arts staged a live performance at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts.

The show at the gallery, located in the city's 798 art district, was a tribute to the late American artist Robert Rauschenberg whose works were then on display there. The performers used many props made of traditional rice paper from Jing county in East China's Anhui province that he had visited in the 1980s.

That show, Somewhere Only We Know, is the inspiration for an ongoing exhibition of contemporary art at a Beijing mall. The exhibition has artists showing their paintings, sculptures, installations and other mixed-media works to further explore the idea of Taohua Yuan Ji.

Taohua Yuan Ji (The Records of Peach Blossom), is a 5th-century fable from which the title of the earlier performance and the current exhibition emerged. The story describes a fisherman's chance discovery of Taohua Yuan, a village where people live in harmony with nature and are secluded from the outside world.

The June performance recalled Rauschenberg's visit to the county-an inspiring trip leading to his later creations just like the fable's central character.

Qiu, who is a curator of the present exhibition and whose works are also on display here, says the exhibition celebrates the short history of Black Mountain College in the United States that Rauschenberg attended in the late 1940s.

The college opened in 1933 at a relatively quiet countryside site in North California and operated for 24 years. Its experimental nature helped to launch the careers of many of its students like Rauschenberg who had a lasting influence on the US contemporary art since the end of World War II.

The college was closed at its prime, because of financial constraints but it is also said to have been a victim of McCarthyism, Qiu says.

"At the end of Taohua Yuan Ji, the fisherman revealed the existence of the village to other people but they couldn't find it anymore," he adds.

The display of 32 artworks on another level reviews the trends of thoughts since the avant-garde 1985 art movement of China, among whose driving forces was Rauschenberg's exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in 1985. It was the origin from which a diverse art landscape evolved in the country.

At the start of the present exhibition on Oct 20, a new art center, sponsored by the international law firm King & Wood Mallesons and the KWM art fund, was inaugurated at the World Financial Center in Beijing's commercial CBD area, in a bid to promote contemporary art among office workers.

The exhibition is being held here.

Handel Lee, the law firm's international partner, says people today live and work under huge pressures and an art space in the heart of the city will help ease things up.

The exhibition will inspire viewers, many of whom work for more than eight hours a day, to reconsider their circumstances. It may also lead them to purchase art, he says.

If you go

Through Dec 8. 2F, World Financial Center, 1 East Third Ring Middle Road, Beijing.

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