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Article

Chinese, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1986.

Born 1955, in Shanghai; died 13 December 2000.

Assemblage artist, installation artist.

Conceptual Art.

Chen Zhen designed his installations to reflect specific locations. He would juxtapose natural elements such as water, sand, wood and stone with assemblages of day-to-day objects, usually their residue or waste, thus imbuing them with a sort of supplementary existence....

Article

Mary M. Tinti

(b Houston, TX, 1951).

American sculptor, installation and conceptual artist. His multimedia works investigate the pathology of contemporary culture. Mel Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents of Chinese birth and received his BA in 1975 from the Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The works in Chin’s oeuvre are diverse in both medium and subject, but a consistent undercurrent of social, political, and environmental responsibility runs throughout. Whether a sculpture, film, video game, installation, public project or earthwork, Chin’s artworks consistently targeted a broad spectrum of pressing cultural and ecological interests and spread their message in subtle, if not viral ways.

In the 1980s, Chin produced a number of sculptures that set the stage for his ever-evocative artistic journey. The Extraction of Plenty from What Remains: 1823 (1988–9) is a frequently referenced piece from this period. It is a symbolic encapsulation of the effects of the Monroe Doctrine, referencing the complicated dealings between the US (represented by truncated replicas of White House columns) and Central America (represented by a cornucopia of mahogany branches, woven banana-tree fiber, and a surface layer of hardened blood, mud, and coffee grinds). From the 1990s, however, Chin moved away from strictly gallery-based installations and began creating works that directly engaged contemporary culture in a variety of physical and theoretical landscapes....

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1944, in Niigata Prefecture.

Painter.

Mono-ha (school of things); Conceptual Art.

Honda Shingo specialises in conceptual art and photographic collage. After interrupting his studies at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music in mid-programme, he had his first solo shows in Tokyo in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France from 1989.

Born 1954, in Xiamen (Fujian).

Installation artist.

Conceptual Art.

Huang Yongping graduated from the fine arts academy of Zhejiang in 1982. He was active in the Xiamen Dada group. He left China for Paris in ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1940, in Kobe.

Painter, sculptor of assemblages. Multimedia.

Conceptual Art.

Kawaguchi studied at the Tama School of Fine Art in Tokyo, graduating in 1962. He teaches at the University of Akashi. Kawaguchi’s interest in conceptual art appeared early in his career. Since then, he has used the new media of light, video, photography and film. He creates assemblages of markers arranged in a space, some of which can be electronically stimulated. Interested in making his art available outside normal gallery and museum spaces, he has produced two works for Japanese high schools: ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active in the USA fromc.1962.

Born 1933, in Kariya (Aichi); died late June 2014, in New York City.

Painter, collage artist. Multimedia.

Conceptual Art, Mail Art.

Kawara is a self-taught artist. After painting his early works in Japan, he emigrated to the USA in the early 1960s. His first works from the 1950s express a desire to exploit the grotesque, as in the swollen female torsoes surrounded by scattered, apparently floating limbs of the ...

Article

Akira Tatehata

(b Kariya, Aichi Prefect., Jan 2, 1933; d New York, June 2014).

Japanese painter, draughtsman, and conceptual artist, active in the USA. After graduating from Kariya High School in 1951, he moved to Tokyo, exhibiting at the Yomiuri Independent Exhibitions. His sensibility for a cold materialism became apparent in his series of drawings Bathroom, of dismembered grotesque nude bodies (1953–4; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.). Kawara went to Mexico in 1959 and travelled through Europe. He settled in New York in 1965. His renowned series of Date Paintings (from 1965), made in various cities on his travels, juxtapose a detail from a local newspaper with a simple record of the date in typographical letters and numbers on monochrome canvases using acrylic. The paintings’ principal meaning was that the artist and viewer shared the numbers that signified a date they both had lived. In the series of telegrams in the 1970s, which sent the message ‘I am still alive’ to his friends, he used the verification of his own existence as a statement in a medium whose abstraction, regardless of the artist’s hand, paradoxically gave his work a tense reality. His other work in book form, ...

Article

Yulin Lee

[Ming Hong]

(b Tokyo, Nov 6, 1964).

Taiwanese conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Lin studied at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles in 1990 and then the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena in 1993. Although Lin was born in Japan, he spent his early childhood in Taiwan and then moved to the USA. These transcultural experiences complicated the task of positioning himself as an artist after his return in 1993 to Taiwan, where contemporary art largely focused on locating a definitive identity.

Lin’s interest in creating art expressive of his fluid experience was already present in his first solo exhibition, Meander (1994). Lin hung monochromatic, acrylic-lacquered steel plates perpendicular to a white wall. While these highly finished works reflected an aesthetic close to that of Donald Judd’s industrially manufactured cubes, they also indicated Lin’s own West Coast background—the fetishism of the enamelled surface being rooted in southern California’s automobile culture....

Article

Wu Mali  

Yulin Lee

(b Taipei, June 14, 1957).

Taiwanese conceptual artist ( see fig. ). After graduating in 1979 from Tamkang University in Taipei with a degree in German language and culture, Wu left for Germany to study sculpture at the National Art Academy, Düsseldorf (1985). After graduating from Düsseldorf, she returned to Taiwan, where the lifting of martial law triggered vital socio-political and economic changes. As society swiftly shifted from the staleness of authoritarianism to effervescent pluralism and decentralization, Wu took a strong interest in the emerging social, political and historical hierarchies. Informed by her literary background, Wu’s early installation works Newspaper I Read (1989) and Gnawing Texts, Reaming Words (1993) involved putting the pages of a newspaper or texts through a shredder, then re-arranging the shreds into an installation.

This deconstructive work culminated in The Library (1995; see 2002 exh. cat., p. 26), a site-specific installation in the 46th Venice Biennale. The work consisted of a library of bookshelves that displayed immaculate acrylic cases in the form of books. In each bookcase Wu replaced world-renowned texts or tomes, such as the Bible, Thames & Hudson’s World Art series and Chinese classics with the paper fragments shredded from that text’s actual pages. By annulling the communicative function of the text, Wu transformed the texts from something with content or meaning into a non-verbal, visual material. Wu therefore made the audience aware of the artificiality of hierarchy inherent in many canonic writings by transforming objects with specific socio-cultural messages into what she describes as ‘art with eternal value’....

Article

Joan Kee

(b Taichung, Feb 16, 1964).

Taiwanese conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Lee spent his childhood in Taichung, where he studied Chan Buddhism from the age of eight. At 12, Lee spent time among Taiwanese expatriates in the Dominican Republic, and two years later moved to the USA, where he later studied biology at the University of Washington, Seattle. He transferred, however, to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA, where he focused on architecture and textiles (1993). During this time, Lee made work that originated from personal memories, such as One Hundred Days with Lily (1995), which he started after his grandmother’s death. This work was a long-term endeavour documenting the life cycle of a lily that Lee took with him as he went about his daily activities in San Francisco.

After graduating from Oakland, Lee went on to receive a master’s degree in sculpture from the Yale School of Art. At Yale, Lee expanded upon his interest in interpersonal communication, which resulted in the production of works such as ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1945, in the Hyogo region.

Video artist. Multimedia.

Mono-ha (school of things), Conceptual Art.

Nomura Hitoshi was a student at the municipal fine arts school in Kyoto. In 1975 the question posed by his artistry was where the border lies between what is art and what is not, and his energies were concentrated solely on the creative act. He made several videos and recorded some discs....

Article

Karen M. Fraser

(b Hyogo Prefecture, 1945).

Japanese photographer, sculptor, and conceptual artist. He studied at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, where he earned a BFA in 1967 and an MFA in 1969. Nomura was initially trained as a sculptor. In his MFA thesis project, Tardiology (1969), Nomura explored the idea of non-permanent sculptural form, creating an eight-metre tall cardboard sculpture and then using photographs to record the changes in form as the boxes gradually collapsed under their own weight. From that point on photography was one of his primary media. Nomura was interested in investigating processes of scientific and natural phenomena with a particular focus on the passage of time. He used photographs to capture movement and changes over time and to make previously unseen things visible. Many of his projects were created over lengthy periods, with photographs being taken daily or monthly and for years. In his 1991 Analemma series (The Analemma ’91-Noon...

Article

Reiko Tomii

(b Tokyo, May 1965).

Japanese conceptual artist who has used photography, video, painting, sculpture, installation and performance. He received degrees in oil painting (1989) and mural painting (1991) from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Ozawa belongs to the so-called subculture generation of Japan; those immersed in manga and anime in their childhood. Like his contemporaries (such as Takashi Murakami (b 1962) and Makoto Aida (b 1965)), he freely borrowed from both traditional and modern cultures to critique the institutions of art, life and society, while humorously exploiting everyday culture, such as Jizō (Sk: Kshitigarbha; a popular Buddhist deity of salvation), soy sauce and milk-bottle receptacles.

For his first major project Jizoing, begun in 1988, he photographed a small handmade figurine, or a rudimentary drawing of Jizō, at some 80 places in Japan, as well as China, Tibet, Korea, Moscow, Tehran and New York over a period of more than 10 years. The photographs, monochromatically printed and tinted in pale blue to invoke a time of twilight, were compiled into a book (...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Shizuoka, March 3, 1965).

Japanese conceptual artist, sculptor and installation artist . Sone earned an MA in architecture at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (1992), but decided to experiment with a wider range of media in order to explore the concepts of futility and the unattainable. His first work, Her 19th Foot (1993), shown at the Art Tower, in Mito, and later in the Rooseum, in Malmö, consisted of 19 unicycles welded together for 19 cyclists to ride. As several attempts by different participants failed, the work implied the ‘impossibility of communal illusions’ (see Inoue). His next work, Artificial Lawn Performance (1994), consisted of four photographs that seemed to prove the fiction that Sone had laid Astroturf on the surface of the moon as part of NASA’s art programme. The nonsense of the grandiose act is heightened by the artificial quality evident in Sone’s pseudo-documentary photographs. For the opening of the Expo ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1958, in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Painter, performance artist. Conceptual art, installations, video.

Wang Jianwei studied at the Chengdu Painting Academy from 1983 and received an M.A. from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in 1987. He lives and works in Beijing. He paints people moving in space and bathed in an atmosphere close to that of dream symbolism. He has been a member of the Beijing Painting Academy since ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1964, in Beijing.

Installation artist, performance artist, photographer. Collage. Conceptual art.

Wang Youshen studied illustration at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, graduating in 1988. He belonged to the New Generation Art group that emerged in the early 1990s. In ...

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Beijing, May 13, 1957; official birthdate Aug 28, 1957).

Chinese conceptual artist, curator and architect. Son of the poet Ai Qing (Jiang Haicheng) (1910–96). For 25 years Ai Weiwei was consistently one of the most innovative figures in China’s art world. He helped direct the course of Chinese art, not only through his own artistic production, but also through his curatorial, editorial and design projects, and his encouragement of younger artists.

In 1978 Ai Weiwei enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy. His public career as an artist began when he participated in the first Stars group show (1979), an unofficial exhibition hung prominently on a fence next to the National Art Gallery in Beijing. Because the exhibition—and the heavy-handed reaction of the police—drew the attention of foreign reporters, the Stars gained fame as China’s first well-known post-Cultural Revolution dissident artists.

In 1981 Ai Weiwei moved to the USA where he lived mostly in New York, returning to Beijing in 1993. While in New York he studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design and the Art Students League and was exposed to original works by artists who proved to be important influences: Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. As a result he began experimenting with the concept of the ready-made, a process that continues throughout his subsequent work. Characteristic of his early works, ...

Article

Xu Bing  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the United States and China.

Born 1955, in China.

Painter, sculptor, installation artist, conceptual artist.

Xu Bing trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, in Beijing, following two years spent in the countryside during China’s Cultural Revolution. He received his M.F.A. in printmaking in 1987. Xu Bing was one of the post-1989 artists who left China for the West; Xu arrived in New York in 1990.

Although he began creating woodcuts within the Socialist Realist tradition, he is best known for his play on English and Chinese words through his use of scrolls printed with nonsense calligraphy ‘square words’ that resemble Chinese characters but are taken from English verse or nursery rhymes and so cannot be read or understood in Chinese. His first major exhibition outside China was at the University of Wisconsin and featured the seminal installation Book from the Sky...

Article

Korean, 20th century, female.

Born in Seoul.

Painter, installation artist.

Conceptual Art.

Yang Ju-Hae studied fine arts in France. In her painting she uses coloured dots whose vibration is echoed in the music of space. At St-Nazaire in 1997 she enclosed the submarine base with highly symbolic installations....