this issue contains
>> True North at the Deutsche Guggenheim / Hans Hartung
>> Young Chinese Art at the 60 Wall Street Gallery / Miwa Yanagi in Houston

>> archive


Shen Wei, Jenn, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2006,
Courtesy of the Artist

An examination of the situation in China today is only one aspect of the works in the exhibition, however. Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win owes its title to the legendary Little Red Book - it's the title of the seventh chapter of the Mao Bible from 1966. With slogans like "People of the world unite and defeat the US aggressors and all their running dogs!", it dedicates itself to the struggle against US imperialism. Over four decades later, the quotes of the "great Chairman's" words and the ideological wars he fought seem like relics of a bygone era. China has radically transformed since then, and the competition between the two countries has shifted to the economic realm. And the Chinese art scene is profiting from the rapidly rising economy and a new class of wealthy collectors.

Shen Wei, Jenn, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2006,
Courtesy of the Artist

The 60 Wall Street Gallery is uninterested in promoting secure positions. Instead, it presents ambitious new talent in the process of establishing itself on the New York scene. Questions of identity often form the center of their works. In his series of C-prints titled Almost Naked, Shen Wei, for instance, shows a wide spectrum of people ranging from priests to transvestites. The elegiac images impart a feeling of melancholy and despair that all his protagonists seem to share, despite their many differences regarding background, age, or status.

Shen Wei, Jan, Mason, Texas, 2005 , Digital C-Print
Courtesy of the Artist

On the other hand, Eric Jiaju Lee combines traditional Chinese painting techniques with western abstraction. Inspired by both science and science fiction, he creates organic forms resembling the nervous system and cellular structures that move within the indefinable space between micro- and macrocosm.

Eric Jiaju Lee, Beyond 7 and 10, 2007
Courtesy of the Artist

Alexander Lee,Tere-he Overcome by Numbness, 2007, THE DEPARTURE OF THE FISH: REDUX, Courtesy of the Artist and Clementine Gallery

Alexander Lee immerses himself in mythical structures. Three generations ago, his family left China and resettled in Tahiti. Lee, who studied fashion design in Paris and art in New York, worked as Matthew Barney's studio manager. Like Barney, Lee also prefers to use unusual materials: dark volcanic sand, slag, and epoxy resin. In his surreal sculptures, he works through memories of the black beaches of his youth in Tahiti, the creation myth of the South Sea island, or a tragic airplane crash along its coast. Blue crystals blossom on the body of a mermaid; shells collect on severed legs.

Shih Chieh Huang, BSB- K, 2007
Courtesy Virgil de Voldere Gallery

In contrast, Shih Chieh Huang merely needs a simple K-Mart bag and a fan run by a computer for his work BSB-K. The plastic bag inflates and then collapses again, resembling a strange organism. His proliferating installations on show at last year's Biennale in Venice consist of cheap or found materials that celebrate the beauty of the profane in a remarkable way.

Even if the works in Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win give what is often a highly subjective overview, the exhibition presents a challenge to stereotypical notions - not merely of Chinese art. "The artists included in (the show) thus represent the new voice of China," says Eric C. Shiner, "and beyond that, the fully internationalized identity of Asia."

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