History and myth meet minimalistic modern art

Updated: 2014-06-22 07:01

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai (China Daily)

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The Yuz Museum, a private establishment by Malaysian-Chinese collector Budi Tek, recently celebrated its grand opening.

The museum's first exhibition explores the twin themes of myth and history and is curated by Wu Hung, who is also chairman of the Yuz Foundation, and an internationally acclaimed scholar on East Asian art.

"Our exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to showcase a lot of mega installations ... And we want to draw the world's attention to Shanghai," says Tek.

The opening show presents 67 works of influential contemporary artists. Among the highlights is a huge installation made of obsolete airplanes by Adel Abdessemed, a 10-meter-high snake tower by Huang Yongping and a carpet made of 660,000 cigarettes by Xu Bing.

History and myth meet minimalistic modern art

The exhibition aims to explore trends in contemporary art, Wu says. "Myth addresses a universe beyond historical continuity and chronology, while history is always a narrator's representation and refraction of reality."

Wu sums up the outline of Yuz Museum collection with three words: myth, history and minimalism.

"Such is the characteristic of the Yuz foundation's art collection, and also the direction and tendency of its future collection," he says.

Zhang Huan, who has just been awarded "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur" by the French government, has a purple copper sculpture displayed at the entrance of the main exhibition hall.

The piece in the shape of a Buddha's hand extends as long as 6.7 meters. It has been built from recycled copper, and Zhang intentionally kept traces of the welding and rough edges.

"Zhang Huan has paid continual attention to the spiritual world and future of all humanity," says Emmanuel Lenain, consul general of France in Shanghai. "Zhang Huan is dedicated to expanding the boundaries - between the East and the West, past and the future, subjects and expression."

Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara came to Shanghai and was an artist in residence at the museum before the opening.

He built a small house, named Yogya Bintang House Mini, with wooden boards for walls and asbestos shingles for the roof, on the second floor exhibition space.

Looking from the window, visitors find the simulation of the Nara's studio in the 1970s and '80s. Piles of draft drawings scatter on the floor; a vintage stereo player sits by the wall; and the artist's desk leans by the window, filled with unfinished drawings, figurines of his creation, and other small items.

A huge billboard of Bintangon, an Indonesian beer brand with its unique alcohol-free line of products, is installed on the roof. It evokes memories of innocent childhoods and long, lost summer days, says Mona Qian, a journalist attending the preview.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 06/22/2014 page9)