UNDER HEAVEN: CONTEMPORARY ART FROM CHINA IN THE AHMANSON COLLECTION
“Under Heaven” in the Ahmanson Gallery features twenty artworks by eleven contemporary artists from China in the collection of Howard Ahmanson and Roberta Green Ahmanson. The Ahmansons’ collection offers a glimpse into China’s rich cultural narratives and taps into key philosophical themes inspired by Confucianist and Daoist philosophy. This tradition has a profound faith in the ability of nature to elevate the human spirit toward a greater awareness. The Ahmansons’ collection also explores the issues facing contemporary China: capitalistic growth, an enormous industrial complex, widespread displacement of communities, and rapid social change. The exhibition features works from two generations of artists working in China through the media of painting, ink drawing, sculpture, photography and video.
Young artists in particular have benefitted from the rapid economic development of China and have a distant relationship with their communist cultural histories. Globalization has created a new physical and ideological environment that emphasizes homogeneity over personal and spiritual pursuits. The pervasiveness of digital technologies and global consumerism in contemporary China has rendered a vastly different world than the one previous generations of artists encountered. Emerging artists in China are working from a global consciousness and are examining topics relevant to their international peers: the meaning of family, sexual identity, the politics of the contemporary art market and the steady erosion of the natural environment. As the terrain shifts, they ask new questions about their identity and their place in the art world. The work in “Under Heaven” beautifully portrays these themes and invites the viewer to reflect on current topics in China.
Artists on View:
HAI Bo, LI Songsong, LI Zhenwei, WU Xiaowu, WU Timing, XU Zhen, YU Honglei, ZHAN Wang, ZHANG Jian-Jun
(as well as recent work by Barbara Edelstein and Michael Cherney)