Today I saw a Facebook post by my dear friend Zheng Xuewu. His post is reflective on a 2006 exhibition and an introduction to a 2009 exhibition. Below is the text from his post.
I was invited to participate in the 2006 ‘Qingzhou International Art Exhibition’, my first real international art exchange exhibition. In a Museum, how exciting. Although many international artist were represented only three attended the event, Kim Nam-Oh, Nathaniel McMahon and myself. I felt like I was representing female artists across the globe and was extremely proud to be an ambassador for my country on this momentous occasion.
We traveled by train for eleven hours. There is much to be said for the fast train today as it now takes four hours from Beijing to Qingzhou. Many of the Chinese artist went by car. Nathaniel and I were offered to go by car, however Wang Lifeng was so nervous about taking us, due to his little experience of foreigners, that he backed out of the offer.
I learnt much about luggage; all the things that I do not need to travel with. I felt burdened by my load of too many changes of clothes, laptop computer, backpack etc. My room mate, the other female Wang Jing, carried so little that I look like I was going for a month, not a week.
The exhibition was a buzz of activity, my rice and bean installation well received and made on site with local produce. I remember Shen Jingdong watching me working in the exhibition hall, whilst a row of artists sat opposite also watching me. They had carried their artworks with them which already were on the walls, while I spent several hours installing my design. Shen Jingdong announced to all and sundry, “Here, you are watching a real artist at work.” Another artist who was also busy creating in the gallery hall nearby was Liu Bolin. Today Liu Bolin is an internationally celebrated artist, who in 2019, was honoured with a solo show at Ballarat Art Gallery.
Qing Zhou International Art Exhibition
Qing Zhou Museum of Art, Shan Dong, China
Curator: Xuewu Zheng, Baijun Sun
In the summer of 2006, Beijing’s art atmosphere is as hot as the weather.
Three big jeeps carried over ten Chinese-foreign artists, starting from Beijing, running six hours to the ancient city Qingzhou that is located in the middle part of Shandong province. On the way passing Dezhou, we were attracted by famous food braised chicken; we stopped for a while and bought a fat one and felt quite good.
Ancient city Qingzhou has a long history and strong culture atmosphere. Colour stone carvings collected in museums are particularly exquisite. Artist Sun Baijun and I together with Qingzhou museum jointly planed “2006 Qingzhou International Modelling Art Exhibition”. Plus, Qingzhou local artists, more than 40 artists attended the exhibition.
The exhibition mode is completely different from exhibitions at art districts in Beijing. It uses the method of local governments organizing large-scale cultural activity. The huge banners and ad billboards, colourful banners, Qingzhou leaders and cultural bureau leaders attend the opening ceremony. Zheng Zuoliang, director of Collection Dep. National Art Museum of China, famous engraving artist cut the ribbon for the exhibition.
In fact, in just short days, people who came to see the exhibition were so many. Besides the local poets and scholars, more were ordinary visitors. This is probably due to the report by Qingzhou radio on the exhibition. People cheerfully communicated with artists. We were also very happy, although the terrible Dezhou braised chicken made me and Shen Jingdong go to hospital for intravenous infusion before the exhibition ended.
This year is just good time of Chinese contemporary art. Beijing is China’s most important art battlefield, with various exhibition activities concentrated here, seeming to fight for land. Many artists are busy with little time to go away from Beijing. In such a background, we planned this modern art exhibition in little Qiangzhou which is far away from the noisy city, really out of serious artists’ art historical responsibility. Modern art in Beijing is already very active, which gets world’s attention. But small and medium cities completely do not know what modern things look like! Like Qingzhou this ancient cultural city, people’s cognition on tradition has reached a high degree. Compared to other places where traditional culture is not deep, choosing such places as pilot locations of publicity and popularity of modern art will have better effect.
We’re really a bunch of idealists.
In the summer of 2009, the weather of Beijing is still hot, but art scene is “cool” a lot.
Artist Bi Hongliang and I together with Zibo Museum jointly planed “2009 Zibo International Modelling Art Exhibition”. To conduct this activity, we drank for many times and had meals for times! Hongliang did a lot of detailed concrete and trivial things for the exhibition, such as implementation of exhibition hall, leaders and insider’s invitation, artists’ accommodations in Zibo, manual mill visit, and pictorial design and printing etc.
Compared with 2006, today’s art environment has changed significantly. Global economic crisis cooled China’s popular art market. Many artists are like hundred hearts scratching, with no interest to conduct any exhibition activities without any benefit. In fact, the exhibition activity is far better than last time. The organizers print brochures for us, arrange accommodation, visit coloured glaze factory and ceramics factory, also arrange special travelling place. This is really quite good cultural and artistic activities.
This exhibition is full of famous Chinese artist elites: oil painting master, professor o
Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts Sun Jianping; engraving master, famous art educator, professor of China Central Academy of Fine Arts Wang Huaxiang; Pioneer modern artist Shen Jingdong; true power heavyweight artists, professor of Luxun Academy of Fine Arts Wang Jiazeng; Representative of the new realism Bi Hongliang and Jin Guangri; active international modern artist, the Chinese character biennale planner Pan Xinglei; Academic painting master Zhang Chun; dean of Nanjing engraving yard, famous engravings artist, “practice power” contemporary engraving literature exhibition curators Liu Chunjie; The Chinese modern experimental ink important artists Sun Baijun; Installation artist, curator Zheng Xuewu; Wang Chuanhe Qingdao drawing artist, well-known for sea drawing. International artists attending this exhibition are Tokyo Kabata Yuuri and Kabata Chihiro sister’s combination; American Chicago site artist Alsion Rhoades, North Carolina young artist Lauren Goding, New York’s installation artist Heejung Cho; Slovakia copperplate painter, Professor Peter Kocak; Australian famous painter Jayne Dyer; South Korea installation artist Kim Namo and Yoon Ilkweon; Dutch photography installation artist Rienke de Vries; American material artist Kathryn Gohmert.
Every artist is like flying flags in the wind. Wherever these colours dance to, there will be bright beautiful scenery. We take on our art sincere, eternal love to art, we will go to more places and enjoy pleasant sensations that come from a collision of different cultures, different space-time, many differences with more people!
We believe, in the future, the climate will remain cold in winter, hot in summer. What will art be like? It is unknown.
But we always expect, if China has more places such as Qingzhou and Zibo to accept and host modern art activities, and through various media with various means, let our ordinary people have access to modern art and foreign culture with various forms and fresh vitality. We ordinary Chinese people’s drab aesthetic orientation formed in hundreds of thousand years will become multivariate.
Thanks to the Chinese and foreign artists; Thanks to all the people that participated in activities.
Songzhuang studio, night of June 7, 2009