Xu Zhen & Armory Focus: China

Xu Zhen by MadeIn Company, Under Heaven 3611MQ0137, detail, 2013. Oil on canvas, aluminum; 51 1/5 × 63 × 3 9/10 in (130 × 160 × 10 cm). Courtesy the artists and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA).

Xu Zhen by MadeIn Company, Under Heaven 3611MQ0137, detail, 2013. Oil on canvas, aluminum; 51 1/5 × 63 × 3 9/10 in (130 × 160 × 10 cm). Courtesy the artists and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA).

Earlier this week, Art21 released three new film profiles of artists Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, and Cai Guo-Qiang made for the occasion of Armory Focus: China at The Armory Show. In this follow-up release, curator Philip Tinari reflects on the work of Xu Zhen—the commissioned artist for the 2014 edition of The Armory Show. Tinari, director of The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and curator of Armory Focus: China, identifies Xu as an artist at the forefront of a generation that addresses Chinese identity as part of a larger global conversation. Tinari notes a humor found in the artist’s work, as seen in the artist’s Under Heaven (2013) series of paintings—as well as an element of discomfort, as seen in his video work, Shouting (1998). In his curation of Armory Focus: China, Tinari blended a mix of artists from China’s “On|Off generation”—a term coined by Tinari to describe a newer generation of Chinese artists—with Chinese artists from older generations, in an attempt to “shed light on the diversity of artistic practice in China right now.”

Philip Tinari began a partnership with Art21 in 2009, interviewing artist Cao Fei in Beijing for Season 5 (2009) of the Art in the Twenty-First Century series. Tinari would again partner with Art21 to interview artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing for Season 6 (2012).

Armory Focus is a specially curated section of The Armory Show that highlights the artistic landscape of a chosen geographic region. For The Armory Show 2014, Philip Tinari curated “Armory Focus: China,” shining new light on the country’s contemporary cultural practice.

VIDEO CREDITS | Producer: Eve Moros Ortega. Interview: Eve Moros Ortega. Camera: Rafael Salazar. Sound: Ava Wiland. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Xu Zhen and MadeIn Company; He Xiangyu, White Space Gallery; Chen Yufan & Chen Yujun, Aye Gallery; Li Shurui, Aike-Dellarco; Zhao Zhao, Chambers Fine Art; Zhao Liang, Pékin Fine Arts; Ma Ke, Platform China; Xu Qu, Tang Contemporary Art; Song Yuanyuan, Platform China; Zhang Ding, Galerie Krinzinger/ShanghART; Double Fly Art Center, Space Station; Liang Shuo, Gallery Yang; Lu Pingyuan, Madein; Wang Yuyang, Tang Contemporary Art; Nadim Abbas, Gallery EXIT; and Jin Feng, Tianrenheyi Art Center. Archival Images Courtesy: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Huang Rui, Wang Keping, and Li Xiaobin. Thanks: Philip Tinari, The Armory Show, Christopher Mao, John Tancock, and Chambers Fine Art. Theme Music: Peter Foley. © Art21, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Contributor
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at ART21, overseeing the organization's overall digital, Web, and social media presences. He edits and contributes to the Magazine's "Art 2.1" column.
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