Roughly a dozen people gathered in the Yale-China Association on Temple Street Tuesday for a talk on contemporary Chinese art.
Led by a team of artists and curators from Beijing, including Tang Xin — the founding director of Taikang Space, Beijing’s first nonprofit art gallery — the event marked this academic year’s inaugural Yale-China “fireside chat.” The discussion highlighted developments in China’s emerging arts scene, which form the basis of “Pull Left: Not Always Right,” an exhibition that debuted at Ohio State University last year and will be on display at Dickinson College this fall. “Pull Left” is designed to bring Chinese contemporary art abroad, Tang explained, as well as draw global attention to the innovation happening within China’s avant-garde arts scene. It features pieces from 15 emerging contemporary Chinese artists, who work in a variety of media including videography, calligraphy, painting and performance art. Tang explained that the show’s title is both a nod to cultural progressiveness in China and a reminder to the Chinese people of the importance of reflecting on their own history and not always looking to the west.
“Yale-China’s job is really to educate both American and Chinese people about each other,” said David Youtz, Yale-China’s executive director. “‘Pull Left’ is truly an exciting addition to the American arts scene, and it’s really meant as a tool to help educate Americans and American artists about contemporary art [in China].”
During her talk, Tang introduced the curatorial design of the “Pull Left” exhibition, as well as Taikang Space’s broader objectives, such as supporting emerging artists and encouraging them to work freely, make mistakes and continue to take stylistic risks, she said.
She added that her gallery gives younger Chinese artists a chance to do experimental work different from the kinds of pieces they might produce for a “commercial gallery.” Tang noted that she often sees a change in such artists’ styles once they sign with such galleries, and become more concerned, she believes, with selling their work than with continuing to innovate.
When she started Taikang Space, Tang added, contemporary art was considered shocking, because it didn’t align with traditional Chinese ideas about art. It was also often misunderstood, she said.
Juliet Ryan ’16 and Alina Sidorova ’16, who attended Tang’s talk, said they have participated in Yale-China Association programs in the past. Sidorova mentioned that, in addition to sharing an interest in Chinese art, she and Ryan are both currently enrolled in a course called “Chinese Media and Society.”
“We figured it would be fun to go to China-related events together,” Ryan said.