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Article

An, Chong-Dai  

Korean, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France.

Born 1957, in Seoul, South Korea.

Painter (mixed media).

Chong-Dai An exhibited at the Seoul Museum of Modern Art from 1980 to 1982. When he later settled in Paris, he exhibited at the Salon de Mai, the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and the Salon Grands et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui ...

Article

Arai, Tomie  

Margo Machida

(b New York, Aug 16, 1949).

American printmaker and installation artist. Born and raised in New York City, Arai, a third-generation Japanese American printmaker, mixed-media artist, public artist and cultural activist, studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and The Printmaking Workshop in New York. Since the 1970s, her diverse projects have ranged from individual works to large-scale public commissions (see Public art in the 21st century). She has designed permanent public works, including an interior mural commemorating the African burial ground in lower Manhattan and an outdoor mural for Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Other works include Wall of Respect for Women (1974), a mural on New York’s Lower East Side, which was a collaboration between Arai and women from the local community. Her art has been exhibited in such venues as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, International Center for Photography, P.S.1 Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, all New York and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Joan Mitchell Foundation....

Article

Xu Bing  

Melissa Chiu

revised by Christine Ho

(b Chongqing, 1955).

Chinese installation artist, active also in the USA. Xu Bing spent much of his childhood in Beijing where his mother worked as a librarian and father as a professor of history at Peking University. He has said that being surrounded by ancient and contemporary books during this formative period of his life gave him an intense interest in their typography, binding, printing techniques, and materiality. “Sent-down” to the countryside between 1974 and 1977 during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Xu participated in rural cultural activities, sketching peasants and editing the Brilliant Mountain Flowers Magazine. As part of the first class of students returning to university after the Cultural Revolution, Xu entered the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1977. Admitted to the printmaking rather than painting department, Xu was a student of printmakers Li Hua and Gu Yuan (1919–1996); he continued to teach at the Central Academy after his graduation in ...

Article

Lee Bul  

Joan Kee

(b Yongwol, Kangwon Province, Jan 25, 1964).

Korean mixed media and performance artist. Lee studied sculpture at Hongik University in Seoul. Upon graduation Lee staged performance-based works in venues throughout Seoul and Tokyo during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these performances concerned the subject of the human body and deployed the strategy of masquerade to parody and hyperbolize masculine representations of women. At this time Lee also began creating sculptural installations that marked the beginning of her long-standing use of such non-traditional materials as resin, sequins, foam, and rubber. Such materials were often used for their symbolic associations as well as their formal properties.

From around 1996, Lee moved towards an exploration of the imagined body. The references that Lee drew upon became increasingly abstract, although she consistently maintained her interest in exploring the role of formal qualities, such as colour, scale, and texture, in producing meaning. Lee moved from works such as I Need You/Hydra...

Article

Cai Guo-Qiang  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Japan and the USA.

Born 8 December 1957, in Quanzhou City (Fujian Province).

Painter, draughtsman, mixed media, video artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang trained in stage design at the Shanghai drama institute from 1981 to 1985. He spent several periods in Tibet, emigrated to Japan in 1986, and since 1995 lived in New York. Guo-Qiang made his name by using gunpowder in his work, which he would detonate as a symbol of his desire to free himself from cultural or political fetters. These works may be ephemera, which he captures on film or video—images that literally explode into being, or simulated landmines that detonate when visitors walk on them.

As a bearer of ancestral Chinese culture, Cai holds Western art up for examination as a form of inverse exoticism, shifting familiar ground by displacing his spectators and the way their eyes move. Sometimes, as in ...

Article

Cai Yuan  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Great Britain.

Born 1965, in China.

Performance artist, installation artist.

Cai Yuan immigrated to Great Britain in the 1980s, obtaining art degrees from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. He is best known for his partnership with his fellow Chinese artist and émigré Xi Jianjun (also known as JJ Xi) in the performance duo known as Mad for Real. Cai and Xi found fame in ...

Article

Chan Kaiyuan  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France since 1970.

Born 1948, in China.

Sculptor, installation artist.

After living in Hong Kong from 1962 to 1970, Chan moved to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. He has taken part in many Salons and group exhibitions in Paris, notably the Salon de Mai, the Salon de Jeune Sculpture, and the MAC ...

Article

Chan, Suki  

British-Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

Born 1977, in Hong Kong.

Installation artist, film-maker. Multimedia, video.

Suki Chan spent her early childhood in Hong Kong’s rural district of the New Territories, before emigrating with her family to Oxford, England, at the age of six. Despite the difficulties of adjusting to a second language and culture and having at times a sense of displacement, she went on to study at London’s Goldsmiths’ College, from which she graduated in ...

Article

Chiezo, Taro  

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in New York.

Born 1962, in Tokyo.

Installation artist.

Taro Chiezo trained at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, New York. He has exhibited in Japan, the USA and Europe since 1992. He is known, among other works, for a monumental sculpture originally commissioned for the reopening of Tate Liverpool (...

Article

Chin, Mel  

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

Cho, Duck-Hyun  

Korean, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1957, in Kangwon-de.

Painter, installation artist.

Cho Duck-Hyun studied painting at Seoul National University and is a professor in the Department of Fine Art at Hansung University, Seoul. He has taken part in various group exhibitions featuring the work of the young generation of Korean artists, including, ...

Article

Chu, Ken  

Margo Machida

Asian American mixed-media and installation artist and cultural activist. Ken Chu came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1971, settling in California where he received a BFA in film studies from San Francisco Art Institute (1986). Relocating to New York City after graduation, his encounters with local Asian American artists, activists and cultural organizations supported his artistic efforts, in which he often drew upon subjects that emerged organically from personal experience in the US as a gay Asian man. Adopting popular cultural idioms from film and comics, while also drawing upon symbols and motifs from Chinese and other Asian cultures, his imagery from this pivotal period featured Asian men cast as prototypically American masculine figures, such as California surfers and cowboys, who populate colorful, imaginary scenarios of cross-cultural contact, mixing and desire. In Western societies, where the dominant norms are non-Asian and few viable role models for Asian men exist, Chu’s art strongly asserted their collective presence and place. His socially inspired work has since also engaged matters of anti-Asian violence, internalized racism, stereotyping, homophobia and the impact of AIDS on Asian diasporic communities....

Article

Song Dong  

Britta Erickson

revised by Peggy Wang

(b Beijing, Dec 6, 1966).

Chinese performance, video, and installation artist. Song studied oil painting at Capital Normal University, Beijing (1985–1989), after which he was a middle school art teacher, until his exhibition schedule grew too demanding. Like his wife Yin Xiuzhen, Song abandoned painting in favor of installation and performance art soon after graduating. In 1994 his first exhibition of works in these media was shut down after half an hour.

A consistent theme in Song’s oeuvre has been material impermanence. As a metaphorical expression of this theme, from 1995 he wrote diary entries on a stone slab using a brush dipped in water as an ongoing performance, Writing Diary with Water. For Printing on Water (1996), he stamped the Lhasa River repeatedly with a stamp carved with the Chinese character for water. Neither action left a permanent mark, despite the energy invested in them. One of his best-known works, ...

Article

Epoxy Art Group  

Alexandra Chang

Artists’ collective founded in 1982 by Bing Lee, Eric Chan (b 1975), Chung Kang Lok, Jerry Kwan (1934–2008), Ming Fay (b 1943) and Kwok, under the guiding principle of collaboration. Lee had also founded the Visual Arts Society in Hong Kong prior to Epoxy. While the original members had come to New York City’s downtown arts scene from Hong Kong, the collective ranged from four to eleven members and included artists from China, Canada and elsewhere, such as Zhang Hongtu (b 1943) and Andrew Culver (b 1953).

The group’s name originates from the epoxy resin gluing agent in which two different substances are blended to generate a third substance, which binds. The members felt that through collaboration, they could create projects that were singular to neither one nor the other member, and also suggest East and West cross-cultures. The group often worked with mixed-media, photocopied images, sound installation and projection, and dealt with topics concerning politics and religion....

Article

Feng Mengbo  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1966, in Beijing.

Multimedia installation artist, painter, designer of interactive games.

After graduating from the printmaking depart­ment of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1991), Feng Mengbo embarked on a career that has combined the visual lexicon and technical functionality of interactive computer gaming with references to popular culture, Chinese history, and Chinese artistic traditions. Feng is regarded as a pioneer of new-media art in China: his corpus includes interactive CD-ROMs, single-player interactive games with traditional controllers or dance pads, and paintings. Feng’s early set of oil paintings ...

Article

Fujita, Kenji  

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the USA.

Born 1955.

Assemblage sculptor.

Kenji Fujita constructs monumental assemblages out of various objects, which, while remaining abstract, still refer to reality.

New York, 2 May 1991: Elephant’s Ear (1988, mural sculpture, acrylic on wood, galvanised tin, moulded plastic and rubber piping...

Article

Gu Dexin  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1962, in Beijing.

Painter, sculptor, mixed-media installation artist, animation artist.

Gu Dexin is a self-taught artist and co-founder of the New Mark Group (later became the Analysis Group) in the late 1980s. This group, working collaboratively, is more interested in questioning the importance of concepts, language, and authorship, such as ...

Article

Gu, Wenda  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the United States and China.

Born 1955, in Shanghai.

Performance artist, installation artist. Mixed media.

Wenda studied at the Shanghai School of Arts and Crafts, from which he graduated in 1976, and subsequently studied for his M.F.A. at the China Academy of Art under the renowned painter Lu Yanshao. After graduating in 1981, he went on to teach at the same academy for six years; then his controversial art, which combined nonsense calligraphy and multimedia installations, came under suspicion by the authorities. Wenda chose self-exile and moved to the United States in 1987, where despite the difficulties of assimilation, language learning, and cultural differences, he managed to gain a reputation abroad as an artist of the China Avant-Garde, a new wave of post-1989 diaspora artists from China. His first solo show was at York University in Toronto in 1985. He was an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in ...

Article

Guan Wei  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Beijing and Sydney, Australia.

Born 1957, in Beijing.

Painter, installation artist.

Guan Wei graduated in 1986 from the Department of Fine Arts at Beijing Capital University. Starting in 1989, Guan began a series of artistic residencies in Australia: at the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and at the Australian National University’s Canberra School of Art. Though Guan’s ancestry links him to Manchurian nobles in China’s late-nineteenth-century Qing dynasty, he spent much of his adult life in Australia, becoming a citizen in ...

Article

Wang Guangyi  

Mia Yinxing Liu

(b Harbin, 1957).

Chinese painter, sculptor, and installation artist. Wang Guangyi’s formal education was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution during his teenage years. Afterwards, he attended the China Academy of Art (Zhejiang) and graduated in 1984 with a degree in oil painting.

In the wake of the avant-garde art movement in China in the 1980s, Wang became part of the Northern Art Group and produced a series of paintings whose subjects reflected skepticism towards the philosophies and themes of classical art in the West. The series used a cold, gray palette to illustrate frozen and barren Nordic settings consciously removed from emotion, revealing Wang’s distrust of passion and his faith in reason and rationality at the time, a distrust that was an antidote to the cultic zeal towards Mao and the ideals of revolution in the preceding years.

Wang’s groundbreaking series of Mao portraits in 1988 were a continuation of the conscious move away from emotional manipulation and viewer identification. In these portraits, Wang superimposed a grid over Mao. The grid served as a barrier between the adorer and the object of adoration, drawing attention to the print material of the image, and highlighting Mao as an object of common household use. If in previous decades Mao’s portraits had been used as an icon for fervent adoration and incentive for socialist construction, here in Wang’s paintings the Mao portraits were candidly presented as ready-made and found objects. However, these appropriated Mao pictures were quite ambivalent in meaning. To Wang, they were not an indictment against socialism or Mao, but rather a reaffirmation of the Dadaist spirit of the Cultural Revolution....