Opening a season of celebration of UCCA’s fifteenth anniversary, this exhibition, drawn from the collections of UCCA patrons, includes nearly 100 works by 50 Chinese and international artists/groups. Grouped into sections on the fluidity of landscape, individual subjectivity, the instability of tradition, the power of the image, and the legacy of conceptualism, it surveys trends and offers perspectives on Chinese and global contemporary art.
This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of UCCA’s opening to the public, as well as the tenth anniversary of its individual giving program. A series of special programs has been planned in celebration of this milestone, beginning with the large-scale group show “Common Ground: UCCA 15th Anniversary Patrons Collection Exhibition,” on view at UCCA Beijing from April 16, 2022 to August 8, 2022. Curated by members of the UCCA curatorial team from the extensive collections of members of the UCCA Foundation Council, the exhibition showcases nearly 100 works by 51 Chinese and international artists/groups that reflect recent trends in contemporary art. Divided into five sections—“The Fluid Landscape,” “Epiphany of the Individual,” “Whose Tradition,” “Images and Forgetting,” and “Rethinking the Conceptual”—“Common Ground” seeks to situate these works within the historical contexts of their making and the current narratives of contemporary art, while opening up new lines of inquiry.
In keeping with its founding mission, UCCA has actively shaped and witnessed the development of contemporary art in China since its opening in 2007, growing to become the institution we know today. In 2012, the UCCA Patrons Council was founded, the first program of its kind among art museums in China. This program has matured into a community of like-minded supporters who together enable UCCA to present a diverse and substantive exhibition program to ever larger audiences across three venues. In turn, UCCA has furnished its patrons, many of whom are art collectors themselves, with a platform for dialogue and study.
“We are delighted to begin a season of anniversary celebrations by looking to the connections between UCCA’s most devoted group of supporters and the contemporary art scene we are all together committed to creating. In addition to showing great art, UCCA has always been committed to forging new models of institutional practice. Now as ever, the special interplay between artists and UCCA’s patrons, teams, and visitors creates a ‘Common Ground’ on which we can all come together,” notes UCCA Director and CEO Philip Tinari.
Situating works collected by members of the UCCA Foundation Council (the highest tier of UCCA’s individual giving program) within current narratives of contemporary art, the curatorial team, led by Guo Xi, has structured the exhibition in five sections. The opening section, “The Fluid Landscape,” curated by Ara Qiu, looks at landscape as a dynamic medium. The landscape has long been portrayed in art as an object endowed with aesthetic significance, and continues to evolve in meaning to this day. From the reconstruction of natural landscapes on a universal or atmospheric scale—as in the works by artist such as Cui Jie, Jake Longstreth, Liu Xiaodong, Liu Wei, Zhang Enli, and Zhao Yao—to bird’s-eye views of man-made megastructures and the depiction of inner landscapes shaped by the symbolic projection of emotions, the works in this section explore how the significance of landscapes is constantly shifting as they become enmeshed with our cultural and social constructs. In viewing these works, viewers might come to ask, might curiosity and self-reflection grant us access to a beautiful and secluded clearing of our own?Turning towards the interior, “Epiphany of the Individual,” curated by Yan Fang, focuses on affect and spirituality within artworks, featuring works by artists representing different countries and eras including Qiu Xiaofei, Jia Aili, William Kentridge, Ma Qiusha, and Yu Hong. These pieces take off from the artists’ respective historical backgrounds, cultural contexts, and individual experiences, conveying their concerns and aspirations for the fate of humankind. Collectively, the works in this section pose the question: Can art once again taken up a seemingly ancient responsibility of helping people to, through concrete experiences and emotions, trace out, reread, and spiritually transcend the progression of history folded within complex temporalities?
The next section, “Whose Tradition” curated by Neil Zhang, features works by artists caught in the gap between globalization and cultural specificity. As the development of contemporary art paralleled the rise of globalization and postcolonialism, artists in this section such as Liang Yuanwei, Ji Dachun, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Akira Yamaguchi, Shi Xinji, and Sun Xun reflect on the ostensibly binary opposition between the classical and the contemporary through the form and content of their works, while interrogating whose tradition is ultimately at stake in the struggle and pursuit of cultural identity.
Likewise in a critical look at the present, “Images and Forgetting,” curated by Bian Ka, assembles works by artists including Beeple, Li Songsong, Shi Chong, Yang Fudong, Zhang Ding, and Zhang Xiaogang. Under markedly divergent circumstances from the past, today, images are shaped by the trends of globalization and financialization and authenticated by encryption. This section centers on the primacy of images to examine the concepts of “new” and “old” in images, as well as the meaning of images as they become complicated by human memories and knowledge. What new meanings have been imputed upon artists and images along with the development of our times and changes in our knowledge of the world?
Finally, “Rethinking the Conceptual,” curated by Luan Shixuan, returns to a discussion of the art of the concept itself. Since the first wave of conceptual art in America in the late 1960s, contemporary art has undergone a shift in its forms, styles, and media. Through the works of artists such as Dahn Vo, Barbara Kruger, Song Dong, Shu Qun, Qu Shanzhuan, and Wang Guangyi, this section studies the rich lineage of conceptual art across eras, regions, and cultures to explore the subtle tensions within this field, surveying the various creative strategies and development of conceptual art.
Doug Aitken, Danielle Orchard, Tony Oursler, Stephan Balkenhol, Beeple, Chen Wenji, Cui Jie, Hao Jingfang & Wang Lingjie, Danh Vo, Hoo Mojong, Hu Xiaoyuan, Ji Dachun, Jia Aili, Anne Collier, Barbara Kruger, William Kentridge, Jake Longstreth, Liang Yuanwei, Liu Xiaodong, Liu Wei, Liu Wei, Liu Ye, Ma Qiusha, Victor Man, Giuseppe Penone, Hilary Pecis, Qiu Xiaofei, Wilhelm Sasnal, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Akira Yamaguchi, Shi Chong, Shi Xinji, Shu Qun, Song Dong, Sun Xun, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Cy Twombly, Wang Guangyi, Wang Jianwei, Wang Qiang, Wu Shanzhuan, Wu Shanzhuan & Inga Svala Thórsdóttir, Yang Fudong, Yang Xinguang, Yu Hong, Yu Ji, Zhang Enli, Zhang Ding, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhao Yao
UCCA 15th Anniversary Programs and Related Events
An archival exhibition of UCCA’s history is planned for the second half of this year, coinciding with the anniversary of our opening to the public in November 2007. Looking back at the role UCCA has played in the development of Chinese contemporary art in the past fifteen years, the exhibition will contextualize and showcase UCCA’s work from multiple perspectives in different areas, as well as its structural evolution at various stages. The exhibition will explore the ways UCCA has participated in the development of the diverse communities and urban locales where it operates, as well as the cultural impact that UCCA’s curatorial team, audiences, scholars in different disciplines, and supporters have enacted together as an institution.
For its fifteenth anniversary, UCCA will produce a commemorative publication documenting the museum’s history. The book will draw upon a vast collection of archival materials and images, presenting key exhibitions and events from the Center’s founding in 2007 to today. It will also include a selection of texts by artists, curators, scholars, and other supporters, who will share their experiences and reflect on UCCA’s contribution to the development of Chinese contemporary art.
Children’s Book Where There Are Problems, There Is Art
For UCCA’s fifteenth anniversary, UCCA Kids will release its first children’s book Where There Are Problems, There Is Art. Based on the work of the artist Xu Bing, widely recognized as a leading conceptual artist of language and semiotics, the book takes young readers on a journey through the artist’s way of confronting and solving different problems in life through his artistic practice, while introducing concepts of Chinese characters and culture in a way that transcends boundaries by examining the nature of linguistic exchange through the universal language of contemporary art. Co-published by Scholastic, the publication includes a children’s book and an interactive family activity kit, and is planned for release in June 2022.
Public ProgramsOn the occasion of UCCA’s fifteenth anniversary, UCCA has planned a series of public programs under the banner theme of “Adaptability” that will take place from June to November of this year. A series of conversations, screenings, performance art programs, and multidisciplinary curatorial workshops are designed to inspire conversations on how we might continue to reflect as passive agents under unpredictable circumstances and how we might construct a present together during volatile times.
During the exhibition period of “Common Ground: UCCA 15th Anniversary Patrons Collection Exhibition,” the “In/Out of Sight” series of public programs in formats such as hybrid conversations and screenings, will present discussions on the trends and phenomena that have emerged in our contemporary art ecology in recent years, and to share with audiences the kaleidoscopic aspects of Chinese contemporary art.
Sponsorship and Support
Gratitude to members of the UCCA Foundation Council for their generous contributions to this exhibition. Genelec provides exclusive audio equipment and technical support and Dulux provides exclusive wall solutions support. UCCA also thanks the members of UCCA International Circle and Young Associates, as well as Lead Partner Aranya, Lead Art Book Partner DIOR, Presenting Partners Bloomberg, Voyage Group, and Yinyi Biotech, and Supporting Partners Active House, Barco, BenQ, Clivet, Dulux, and Genelec for their generous support.
Acrylic on canvas
250 × 210 cm
Cement, nylon stockings, plywood, resin, steel
210 × 210 cm
Oil on canvas
160 × 140 cm
Photo: Yang Wei
8.6 × 4.2 m
of Heaven and Earth)
Tree trunk, steel, paint, putty, display screen
94.5 × 90 × 280 cm, 3'00"
2'00", 15'00", 13'00", 0'30", 1'00"
Oil on canvas
200 × 150 cm
of yesterday ... and so becomes
what is called an evangelist
Oil on canvas mounted on board; marker on acetate
with sticky tape
29 × 22 cm, 35 × 28 cm, 30 × 21 cm