UCCA Beijing

Portraits by Shu Qun: Culture for The Future More Attainable Than Utopia?

2010.4.18 - 2010.5.20


Location:  Nave

UCCA is pleased to present the fascinating visual linguistics of Shu Qun in a solo exhibition of his Proletariat Series. Shu Qun introduces to the UCCA’s Nave his historically influential art theory as it applies to the current state of contemporary art. A rethinking of the historical pitfalls of Chinese modernization and the rational countermeasures required in facing them, he presents an extensive collection of familiar portraits that present a future trajectory for a new utopian society.

Shu Qun: From “Absolute Doctrine” to “After the Attainable”

Within the Proletariat Series of The Portraits of Shu Qun: Culture for the Future More Attainable than Utopia?, Shu Qun introduces his critical theories on utopia and its cultural heritage. He believes that the concept of utopia is fundamentally rooted within the Greek and Hebrew cultural logics; the two cultures that since their very inception have consistently infiltrated the entire world and are known now as the globalized culture. Despite the two cultures’ long standing global hegemony, they are beginning to expose their utopian flaws and the determinant logic of Western discourse is ultimately revealing itself as a “deadening form” (Baudrillard). This form is already taking effect in the world, slowly homogenizing global culture into a set form petrified like rock and hardened like lead. Such a blindly clear-cut form is suitable only for inanimate objects; society is a nest of life and a place for the living, for people, such a determinant form will never become part of their basic instincts.

The Proletariat Series raises a discourse outside the classical utopian structure; developed during the Mao era, it provided the world with an alternative that did not rely on the Western classical utopian model. During the Mao era, physical labor became a form of art, a beauty of movement, with a matching cultural attitude that made it a central pillar for society, making “physical labor” a great assignment. The painted images still possess a familiar energy of a “once true reality”, but the artist is not focusing on that aspect, rather he is using the subject matter as an introspective tool to re-construct the image of the proletariat. A practice that on one hand tries to confront the fate of that era’s rational approach and constructed threshold of thought, and on the other hand seeks to integrate and restore the physical ability to think;prompting the consideration of how to transcend sensibility and rationality, reality and fantasy, the linguistic trammels of subject and object, and to initiate and develop a greater sensibility towards actual perception and cognition. From this there can be produced a new approach towards metaphysical form and its higher significance.

UCCA thanks CHINA MINSHENG BANKING CORP.LTD, and Minsheng Art Museum for their generous support in realizing Portraits By Shu Qun:Culture For The Future More Attainable Than Utopia?

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