Shen's art attack
By Mu Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-06-13 09:08
Shen was frankly disappointed at this reaction. "Most Chinese people's concept of art is still confined to decoration. It has to do with our art education and is beyond my control. But these works at least provide an opportunity for people to touch contemporary art and also motivates them to question art boundaries," he says.
Shen felt hugely gratified when he read the comment by one netizen: "I don't understand this work, but can accept it" on Injured Angels.
This comment gives Shen confidence about Chinese attitude towards contemporary art. "Today's youth have a much wider field of vision, and are far more tolerant than earlier generations. I believe it represents the direction of the future," Shen concludes.
Shen was born in 1966 in Jiangsu province, and was an artist before he began his career as curator. He was appointed executive director of the government-owned Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art in 2003 and left the position in 2006 after being made director of the non-governmental Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art.
The Injured Angels event is over, but others in the "intrude" project are ongoing at the rate of one a day. The entire "intrude" project is a step towards building Shen's ideal museum of modern art, whose focus is "localized construction with a global vision".
"Without global vision our construction cannot be objective, and without localization we will lose our roots," Shen says.
Shen believes that Shanghai should have at least three large-scale museums of modern and contemporary art, as well as museums for specific art forms such as painting, calligraphy, video and sculpture.
But artists' creations, Shen maintains, are most important to contemporary art, both in Shanghai and around the country.
"Enthusiasm for Chinese art works in the international market masks certain problems in Chinese art. Some Chinese artists use China symbols just to cater to Western tastes," says Shen. "Fortunately, there are also Chinese artists whose works display distinctive creativity and methodology. Although they are not the most popular artists in the market, they contribute more to world art."
Last year, Shen co-curated the "Soft Power: Asian Attitude" exhibition, in which the works of some 30 artists with Asian backgrounds toured Poland, Germany and China, before going on to tour other countries to present the works of new artists. Participant Chinese artists included Jin Feng, Qiu Zhijie, Song Dong and Wu Gaozhong.
"The 'Soft Power: Asian Attitude' exhibition proposes that we can, from the angle of techniques and procedure, learn from and reflect Western contemporary art. We shall, however, also reconsider how present-day Asia, with its unique cultural roots, develops and establishes a new Asian value concept," Shen explains.
"I believe that China's greatest contribution to the world in the 21st century will not be economic, but cultural."
(China Daily 06/13/2008 page18)