Ullens Center for Contemporary Art Opens in Beijing

The interior of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in 798 District, Dashanzi here in northeast Beijing and the exterior of the UCCA featuring a large brick chimney soaring through the building to 164 feet above the ground which is a highly visible landmark and beacon for the arts district. / Courtesy of UCCA

By Chung Ah-young
BEIJING ― The saying “Except for money and big studios, Chinese artists have everything they need,” is indicative of Chinese artists who suffered turbulent times in the 1980s with the birth of contemporary arts.

But now Chinese artists seem to have everything “including money and big studios” at least in 798 District, Dashanzi here in northeast Beijing.

With the growing international presence here, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) opened Monday in a transformed Bauhaus-style electronics factory in the flourishing 798 art zone. Factory 798, a former military electronics complex designed by East German architects, was decommissioned in the 1990s.

The art center is the first of its kind as the only non-profit institution and the most comprehensive contemporary art institution in China founded by the Ullens family from Belgium.

The institution is currently holding an inaugural exhibition exploring the 1980s artists under the theme of “85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art,” as the first comprehensive display of Chinese contemporary artworks from 1985 to 1990.

The exhibit presents a total of 137 seminal works including painting, photography, video and installation by 30 renowned Chinese artists from that period such as Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, Geng Jianyi, Huang Yongping and Zhang Peili.

UCCA Artistic Director Fei Dawei told reporters at the press conference on Nov. 1 at the center that this is the first major exhibition exploring the revolutionary movement of artistic and social transformation.

“Some of the most important works of contemporary Chinese art at the time were unknown to the world until late 1990s when they felt the influence of rapid economic development and the widespread fame of the political pop artists,” said Fei, who is a specialist on the 1985 Movement.

“Our exhibitions are Chinese and international. We want to hold different cultural exhibitions and believe that contemporary arts are not just about Chinese contemporary arts and Western contemporary arts but they are different perspectives,” he said.

He explained that the opening exhibition focuses on the revolutionary period in art history when Chinese artists broke free from decades of socialist realism and began a process of intense experimentation.

The center reconstructed by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, in collaboration with Ma Qingyun who leads a well-known Chinese architectural office MADA s.p.a.m, covers a floor space of 8,000 square meters.

Comprised of two main halls situated side by side, the 86,112-square-foot building features 31-foot-high ceilings to accommodate monumental works.

Wilmotte said that he tried to install effective lights, which was one of the most important elements in architecture by regulating the quality of interior light, ensuring maximum natural light in the building without harming works with direct exposure to sunlight.

“Natural light using daylight is controlled and diffused through the center of the roof to protect artworks,” said Wilmotte.

“Also, I tried to revive its architectural identity by symbolizing a large brick chimney soaring through the building to 164 feet above the ground which is a highly visible landmark and beacon for the arts district,” he said.

The center will also offer educational programs such as art tours, screenings and lectures for schools and communities, which is also part of the efforts of the Ullens institutions.

Guy Ullens began collecting Chinese classical paintings of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties in the 1980s. He has also developed an interest and understanding of Chinese art in the mid-1980s Chinese Avant-Garde movement.

He said the focus of his collection has shifted to Chinese contemporary art. He has had strong links with China since childhood, as the son of a Belgian diplomat who was stationed in China for many years, where his uncle also served as the Belgian Ambassador. Guy Ullens retired from business in 2000 to focus on humanitarian and cultural activities with his wife, Myriam.

“To spread art knowledge to the general public as the only non-profit institution in the country,” Guy Ullens explained his purpose for the opening of the art center in Beijing.

His collection features more than 1,500 works by several generations of Chinese artists.

The Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation, established in Switzerland in 2002, promotes Chinese contemporary art by sponsoring events worldwide, lending works from its collection to museums and art centers, and organizing major exhibitions in China and Europe.

Source: The Korean Times

Wang Guang Yi: “Porsche”

当代艺术的Ullens 中心打开在 北京

Ullens 中心的内部当代艺术(UCCA) 在798 区, Dashanzi 这里在东北北京和UCCA 的外部的以一个大砖烟囱为特色腾飞通过是一个高度可看见的地标和烽火台为UCCA 艺术区/礼貌的大厦对164 英尺在地面之上

北京- 说法“Except 为金钱和大演播室, 中国艺术家有一切他们需要, ” 是遭受动荡时期在80 年代以当代艺术诞生的表示的中国艺术家。

但中国艺术家现在似乎有一切“including 金钱和大studios” 至少在798 区, Dashanzi 这里在东北北京。

以增长的国际存在这里, 当代艺术的Ullens 中心(UCCA) 打开了星期一在一家被变换的Bauhaus 样式电子工厂在茂盛的798 艺术区域。工厂798, 前军事电子复合体由东德建筑师设计, 退役了在90 年代。

艺术中心是第一作为唯一的非盈利机关和最全面的当代艺术机关在中国由Ullens 家庭建立从比利时。

机关当前举行就职陈列探索80 年代艺术家在“85 新波浪之下题材: 中国当代艺术诞生, ” 作为中国当代艺术品第一全面显示从1985 年到1990 年。

展览提出一共计137 精液工作包括绘画, 摄影, 录影并且设施由30 使中国艺术家有名望从那个期间譬如Wang 广义, 徐堆, Geng Jianyi, 黄・永平和张・Peili 。

UCCA 艺术性的主任Fei Dawei 告诉了记者在关于新闻招待会11月的1 日在中心, 这是第一主要陈列探索艺术性和社会变革的革命运动。

当代中国艺术最重要的工作的“Some 当时是未知的对世界直到90 年代末期当他们感觉迅速经济发展的影响和政治流行音乐艺术家的普遍名望, ” 前述Fei, 是一名专家在1985 年运动。

“Our 陈列是汉语和国际的。我们想要举行不同的文化陈列和相信, 当代艺术不是仅关于中国当代艺术和西部当代艺术但是他们是不同的透视, ” 他说。

他解释, 开头陈列集中于革命期间在艺术史上当中国艺术家任意打破了从数十年社会主义现实主义和开始了强烈的实验的过程。

中心由French 建筑师吉恩・Michel Wilmotte 重建, 与带领一个知名的中国建筑办公室MADA s.p.a.m 的Ma 庆运合作, 包括8,000 平方米地板面积。

由二个主要大厅组成肩并肩位于, 86,112 正方形英尺大厦以31 脚高的天花板为特色容纳巨大的工作。

Wilmotte 认为, 他设法安装有效的光, 是最重要的元素的当中一个在建筑学由调控内部光的质量, 保证最大自然光在大厦没有危害工作以对阳光的直接暴露。

“Natural 光使用白天是受控和散开通过屋顶的中心保护艺术品, ” 前述Wilmotte 。

“Also, 我设法复兴它的建筑身分由象征一个大砖烟囱腾飞通过是一个高度可看见的地标和烽火台为艺术区的大厦对164 英尺在地面之上, ” 他说。

中心并且将提供教育节目譬如艺术游览、掩护和演讲为学校和社区, 并且作为Ullens 机关的努力的部分。

人Ullens 开始收集歌曲、元、Ming 和清朝的中国古典绘画在80 年代。他并且开发了兴趣和了解中国艺术在80 年代中期中国Avant-Garde 运动。

他说他的汇集焦点转移了到中国当代艺术。他有强的链接与中国从童年, 作为驻防在中国许多年, 他的伯父并且担当比利时大使一位比利时外交官的儿子。2000 年人Ullens 从事务退休集中于人道主义和文化活动与他的妻子, Myriam 。

“To 传播了艺术知识对公众作为唯一的非盈利机关在国家, ” 人Ullens 解释了他的目的为艺术中心的开头在北京。

他的汇集以超过1,500 工作为特色由几个中国艺术家的世代。

人和Myriam Ullens 基础, 2002 年建立在瑞士, 促进中国当代艺术由主办事件全世界, 借运作从它的汇集对博物馆和艺术中心, 和组织的主要陈列在中国和欧洲。

来源: 韩国时代

Wang 广伊: “Porsche”

2007 年11月5 日
类别: 当代艺术的Ullens 中心打开在北京 。标记: , , , , , , , , 。作者


Hitler’s Art

Before amassing his fortune with the enormous royalties from the publication of his hugely popular Mein Kampf, Hitler earned a living by using his artistic skills to produce paintings that were sold to the public or used for postcards. Hitler was a great student of the fine arts and studied music, opera, painting, sculpture, and architecture. While living in Vienna under conditions of poverty, he read voraciously and still managed to spend whatever meager income he had to attend lectures, concerts, opera, and the theater. Even when he barely had enough money to survive he refused to compromise and always purchased the best paints, brushes, paper, and canvas. As a remarkably prolific artist, he is estimated to have created between 2000 and 3000 drawings, watercolors, and oil paintings. His artistic talent revealed itself at an early age and continued painting and drawing throughout his life. Even while behind the front lines in World War 1, he continued to paint in his spare time and contributed instructional drawings and cartoons to the military newspaper. His art continued throughout his leadership of Germany and included detailed building plans, furniture design, city planning, and monuments.

Perhaps the notion of an artist becoming a political seems strange in the current era where politics are dominated by professional politicians, it was Hitler’s profound artistic vision that translated from his dreams into reality the Autobahn, Volkswagen, Rocket Science, and in the general the groundwork for a prosperous people and flourishing culture before this was lost in World War 2.

Just as the ancient Greeks wrote about the unique qualifications of a philosopher to be a leader, an artist’s unique perspective and instinctual drive to create something out of nothing makes the artist uniquely qualified to lead and inspire a nation.

Nathan Coley

I did some research on Nathan Coley, shortlisted for this years Turner Prize, but couldn’t find very much about him except long lists of where he has had exhibitions. So here is a short and sweet biography of the artist. You can see more of him and his works if you click: Doggerfisher

Camouflage Church

Nathan Coley’s work explores the interaction between architecture and society. He is interested in the way that urban architecture and public space reflect our needs and aspirations. His work often uses architecture to raise social and political questions. Coley’s practice is driven by research, involving site visits, photographs, interviews and archival research. Coley became known for his public sculpture but he produces works in a variety of media, including sculpture, photography, drawing, video and installations. Born in Glasgow, Coley studied at Glasgow School of Art.

There Will Be No Miracles Here

Zarina Bhimji

Born in 1963 in Mbarara, Uganda, Zarina Bhimji now lives and works in London and Berlin.

Immediately after receiving a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of London in 1987, she began exhibiting her work in group exhibitions. Following post-graduate work she became an Artist in Residence at Darwin College in Cambridge. In 1996, her work was part of the “In/Sight” exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

One of her latest works, “Out of Blue,” was commissioned and produced by Documenta 11, held in Cologne, Germany in 2002.Bhimji returned to Uganda to film the architecture, airports, and graveyards as well as the military barracks, police cells, and prisons of Amin’s reign of terror. In her work Zarina Bhimji explores the politics and poetics of power and history through images rich in colour, texture and content.

Here we will review her new movie

Entebbe Airport (still from Out of Blue) 2001

Zarina Bhimji’s new film on show at Tate Britain draws on her childhood memories. The writer and broadcaster Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who shares the artist’s Ugandan Asian origins, offers her own vivid reaction to their common experience

Zarina Bhimji was once invited to show her startlingly challenging art at a deeply conservative Islamic centre, and then threatened to withdraw unless she was allowed to include commentaries on the naked human body, male and female. This educative confrontation took place at the beautiful building opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum where the Ismaili mosque is used by worshippers each evening and dawn.

The Earth was coming off its hinges, 1999-2001

Bhimji won and the centre gained something immensely important, letting innovation and rebellion into the hallowed halls, with their ancestral geometric patterns and fountains paying eternal homage to the past. The walls did not crumble; faith was not polluted, and profoundly held values were nourished by being engaged with in the most audacious way.

Some Muslim communities are waking up to the fact that art, writing, science, new ideas and intellectual debate once used to define Islam in the world. When Europe was locked in superstition and a rejection of threatening ideas, Muslim scholars were devouring the work of Greek philosophers and creating vital, inquisitive cultures. In the past 50 years a dark age seems to have descended on the Islamic world, making too many Muslims disenchanted, suspicious and hopelessly nostalgic. Optimists detect a new renaissance slowly unfolding and Bhimji (who may or may not be a practising Muslim) is, in my view, partly located in this re-awakening.

She is bold, daring, demanding. If she turns to Islamic history, it is with the vengeance of an activist. In the 1990s her Cleaning the Garden project featured the gardens and courtyards of the Alhambra, but this was to repudiate present-day European cultural storytellers who are hell-bent on excising the role and long presence of Islam from their land, and to remind post-Rushdie Muslims of what they once were.

Work in Progress, 2001

Yet this dissident and sharp observer has given us, in Out of Blue, a film which is deteminedly conservative and questionably partial. This is one of Bhimji’s most personal expressions to date. As one of those forcibly dispossessed by Idi Amin exactly 30 years ago, she explores the unresolved pain and unanswered questions which still haunt many Ugandan Asians. Their lives before the expulsions hover restlessly, as they try to make sense of explanations which are only half true. This latest offering is a moving display of these half truths; effective yes, but not convincing in the end for those of us who know what happened and why.

Forced exile is a terrible thing. It is also one of the most powerful liberators of creativity. The dislocation sets free a range of dramas and stories without predictable ends – only questions, questions, and more questions. It lightens the burden of obligation to nationality and homeland while instilling a futile longing for both. It bestows on the lucky victims a profundity which you cannot learn anywhere. This intensity pulls you into Out of Blue, as the sounds circulate and tangle and as images emerge from the high, confident, affluent walls of Tate Britain. (Many of the shots are of walls of pain – of old decayed houses, of prisons with dried blood stuck in rivulets under the high bars, of the near-derelict airport at Entebbe.) Viewers are compelled to enter the inner rooms, the artist’s unquiet sensibility and the impossibility of closure.

Out of Blue is a short tale of an imploded paradise (the conventional view taken by Asians of Uganda), and begins with the landscape which is still fresh for those of us who were driven from it. As the camera strokes its way softly across the beauty, three decades of distance vanish. In my autobiography No Place Like Home (incidentally also the title of a 1997 exhibition of Bhimji’s in Minneapolis), I wrote: ‘Uganda, with its moist and raging green everywhere, prodigious, boisterous flowers, trees and grasses and beautiful red earth. Utterly untamed.’ Bhimji’s initial, loving images capture this absolutely but inject a fragility which wasn’t there before, before the bloody history which saw a million black Ugandans slaughtered by its first two presidents between them.


Then comes a small fire in the grass. It gets larger; a cacophony of sounds invades the birdsong; ruthless Amin and his cronies threatening and ordering, sighs of bewilderment and sung recitals of pleading prayers from Asian victims and the greater, more gruesome pain of others going through a greater horror, those who were left behind to die or be tortured. The soundtrack kicks you in the stomach, raising panic without a name. And although it is a clich, it works – the sun gets blighted by the thick black smoke which rises from the burnt terrain and charred hopes.

Bhimji is drawn to decayed buildings which speak eloquently. There are shots of rotting mansions once occupied by rich Asians (many of whom didn’t care enough that black Ugandans were left at the bottom of the economic pile, and did not address their own racisms). More moving are the lingering shots of modest little homes with tin roofs where ordinary Asians lived, spaces now freely occupied by spoilt chickens. There are mysterious dormitories with straw mats, precious plastic bags and cups and rows of guns. Are these barracks? Do we feel threatened or reassured that, without their guns, soldiers are pathetic and poor too?

Out of Blue 2002 (still) Writer/Director Zarina Bhimji

Still from Out of Blue 2002. Writer/Director Zarina Bhimji

The cells are also ambiguous. Black Africans occupy too slight a place in this work, yet they were the ones imprisoned and killed. Is this homage to them or is there some fiction to give a more tragic and cruel edge to our story? Hardly a dozen Asians ever died at the hands of the army in Uganda. But as a symbol of repression the shots scraping around the cell recreate the terror we all felt before we left. Perhaps this is the point. I went to Robben Island in Cape Town this year and visited the cells where Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada and other ANC prisoners were held. In South Africa, blacks and Asians fought together against injustice. In Uganda we did not. But Robben Island is a tourist trap now, and the testimonies soaked into the walls and hard floors have been silenced by too much talk from guides and politicians. In Out of Blue the silent screams of the imprisoned are left intact, and the integrity is staggering.

still from Out of Blue   still from Out of Blue

still from Out of Blue

Stills from Out of Blue, Writer/Director Zarina Bhimji

The sense of loss is evocative and everywhere – you can’t help but weep to see the dying graves of Asians left behind; you can’t carry your gravestones with you. Nobody to visit, to tend to these ancestors, our past. Here in Britain, our adopted country, the graves are cold, and our elders wor ry about this as they reach the end of their lives. Out of Blue animates memory, pain and loss beautifully, but there is much wallowing. We need the critical scalpel which Bhimji uses in her other work, more challenges to assumptions and some indication that we Asians were not perfect or indispensable, the country that we have left behind is not doomed forever. We may never forget Uganda but our lives are now rooted in the United Kingdom and indomitable black Ugandans are making their paradise bloom again. We no longer have claims on each other, and that is a new freedom.