No year seemed more fitting for review and reflection than did 2012. In light of the many “turning points” that the doomsday promised, LEAP’s first issue of 2013 seeks out the changes that happened in and around the art world (as well as those that did not) through essays from artists, curators, critics, and scholars from around the globe—including David Joselit, Nancy Adajania, Theaster Gates, and others. Meanwhile in our middle section, Pu Hong delineates the paratextual nature of the practice of painter Duan Jianyu, and Fang Tze-Hsu looks at the film of Chen Chieh-jen. Preceding all this in the top section, Liaoliao seeks to understand independent animation in China, and Stephanie Bailey ruminates on the art fair as panopticon. We also discuss the sculpture of Berlinde De Bruyckere, the miniaturized painting of Kang Wanhua, and the photography of Chen Zhe. Finally, the bottom of LEAP 19 cooks up its regular mixture of reviews of exhibitions and biennials both in China and abroad.
Sound art seems to forever occupy a misunderstood and marginalized position in society and culture. In China and Taiwan, the ostracism is no different. LEAP’s August issue creeps into the periphery to briefly untangle the mess of people, artworks, and happenings that constitute this surplus of culture. FM3, Yan Jun, Qiu Zhijie, Li Zhenhua, Dajuin Yao, and others figure into a sweeping survey of the stop-and-go history of sound art in the Mainland, and cultural activist Ya-Zhu Xu organizes a textual quartet on noise in Taiwan: Huang Sun-Quan considers noise and neo-liberal social order; Wang Mo-Lin and Dawang Huang discuss the resistance of noise against capitalism’s structural exclusion of the body; Liao Ming-He traces the history of materials in his noise work; and Yannick Dauby narrates two journeys into the materiality of peripheral sounds. The package culminates with Shanghai sound artist Lou Nanli, commissioned by LEAP to transform an ancient Chinese scroll into a work of contemporary electroacoustic music.
Despite art’s potential to create a conceptual space for freedom, community, and dialogue, the convergence of contemporary art narratives and transnational politicking remains in an increasingly utilitarian space. After posing a historical survey of Chinese cultural policy and the fluctuating relationship between contemporary art practice and the Party-state, this issue’s cover package goes on to offer first-hand accounts of seminal moments from those histories: Meredith Palmer reflects on the first major introduction of modern American art in China in 1981, Geremie Barmé tosses a “literary hand-grenade” at the elitist cultural phenomenon that were the “foreign salons” in Beijing of the mid to late 1980s, and Xing Danwen gazes back upon the flowering Chinese art and culture scene of the 1990s through a photo essay of her own work. Also featured in the middle are explorations of the work of Lee Kit, Qin Qi, Ran Huang, and Shen Wei, plus a fashion spread by Cheng Ran. The top section includes special reports on recent happenings and developments in Hong Kong, Sharjah, and Dubai, a consideration of the artist collective GUEST, and an interview with Hilla Becher. On the bottom shelf are reviews of the 7th Berlin Biennale and of recent solo showings from Atsuko Tanaka, Cheng Ran, Li Shurui, Karen Cytter and He An, among a number of group exhibitions from across China and Taiwan.
Amidst the post-millenial marketization of the Chinese art world, theory here had seemed lonely and left behind. Within the past couple years, however, certain happenings both online and off have alluded to its resurgence. This issue attempts to measure the severity of this newfound “theory fever,” starting with a survey of theory’s place and position in Chinese contemporary art, then on to a look at two heavy-minded art projects in the suburbs of Shanghai and their ideological underpinnings, and finally, a mapping of the imported theorists whose names are most often dropped at gallery openings and on BBS forums, as well as an investigation into the oft-overlooked epistemological vehicle that is translation, and its key drivers. Fittingly, the whole package is visually complemented by a commissioned design from Zhao Yao, an artist who has been central to these debates. Elsewhere in the middle are inquiries into the work of Tehching Hsieh, Gu Dexin, and Ma Qiusha, as well as photography from Liang Yuanwei and Agnès Varda. The top section includes write-ups of the artists Xu Qu and He Xiangyu, an overview of Tokyo’s gallery system, and an interview with Boris Groys. And in the bottom, critiques of solo shows from Heman Chong, Fu Baoshi, Leung Chi Wo, Tony Cragg, Yang Mian, He Sen, and Hong Lei, as well as of group outings in Shanghai, Los Angeles, Beijing, and New York, among others.
Having resisted the temptation in our first two volumes, LEAP finally succumbs to the lulling call of China’s second-tier cities for our thirteenth issue, visiting the two outlying megalopolises of Wuhan and Chongqing. Through firsthand observation of the local art ecology in both, our editors uncover shared stories, destinies, and elements of a mindset that may explain just why we ourselves choose to remain in Beijing. Elswhere in the middle section is an intimate tête-à-tête with Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, an intricate profile of up-and-coming Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai, a meteorological summary of the art market in 2011, a heartfelt memoir of the late Mu Xin by two New York-based filmmakers, and a recap of the conceptual “capsules” of artist Liu Ding. In the front end of the issue are interviews with curator Hou Hanru and installation artist Nari Ward, a foray into the painterly Weltanschauung of ink painter Hao Liang, a manifesto for the brush from Wang Yuping, and an account of six Chinese artists’ time spent on residency in Nantes. And in our bottom section, a slew of critical takes on exhibitions in New York, London, Qatar, Karlsruhe, and of course, the good old Mainland.
Ever since the debate on abstraction broke out in the pages of Meishu in the early 1980s, abstraction has been one of the key questions for contemporary art in China, namely the place of expression that is not directly tied to representation. In our final issue of 2011, the cover package stares into the long-forgotten “Bamboo Curtain,” wonders at the arrival of the “third abstract,” calls for a cognitive revamp of the concept of abstraction in the face of the market, does justice to the early abstractionists of Shanghai, and, in an array of dialogues, gives textual voice to a younger generation for whom abstract appearances are actually the product of incredibly concrete processes of formal and social inquiry. Elsewhere in the middle section is a contemplation of the cross-border migration of cultural heritage, investigations into the impetus behind the latest creations of Lin Tianmiao and Wu Shanzhuan and Inga Svala Thorsdottir, and an outspoken critique of the ubiquitous “Little Movements” project. In the top section, readers will find an interview with Arte Povera pioneer Jannis Kounellis, a dizzying linguistic sculptural foray from Mao Tongqiang, an amusing synopsis of the life of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, and a mutual gauging of two short films by their young, respective auteurs.
We mark the centennial of the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing Dynasty and launched China’s Republican era in 1911, with four stories of people and places distinct to this hundred-year history. Two of these stories look at people, namely the founder of Chinese cartoon, Huang Yao, active in the 1930s, and Hong Kong’s father of modern art, Luis Chan, active throughout most of the twentieth century. The other two examine place, as we wander through Republican Shanghai’s home of revelry for the Everyman, the Great World amusement park, and investigate how we illuminate a century-old revolution today, with the Xinhai Revolution monument, still under construction in Wuhan. Elsewhere we take a look at the affect and allure of video pioneer Zhang Peili, visit a contemporary tangent of rural reconstruction at the Bishan Harvestival, mull over the worth of China’s proliferating art equity exchanges, seek to unravel the threads woven by the up-and-coming Yan Xing, rub elbows with Sterling Ruby, listen in on Hans Ulrich Obrist and Raymond Fung on the question of landscape, and again travel back in time with a delegation of curators led by Okwui Enwezor on a visit to China in 2000.
Our August issue tackles a field that is especially worthy of consideration here in China: design. The cover package for this issue—titled “Designing China”—offers up a visual feast of design at the boundaries of art, with nibbles of everything from fashion to architecture. Among these are introductions of Steven Holl’s Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing, Qiu Zhijie’s ongoing pedagogical project on “Design for the Poor,” Ying Yun-wei’s digital resurrection of ancient Chinese fonts, the working world of fashion design duo ffiXXed, 19 of the most notably well designed art books in China in recent years, and the disused spaces of Dashilar that are being revitalized for Beijing Design Week. Elsewhere we take a look at the Singaporean artist Ming Wong’s outsized sense of self, the new possibilities for buying art online offered by sites like Art.sy and Paddle8, and the formal concerns of abstractionist Wang Guangle and his young generation. To top it off, we consider the Shanghai-based “cybernetic” artist Lu Yang for our debut run of the column “New Directions,” and Singapore-based critic David Teh unveils the curtains of a brand-new age for global art in a visit to Art HK 2011.
Our June issue takes a look at what we call the Middle Generation, those artists who found their voices in the 1990s, in the wake of the ’85 New Wave but before the rest of the world caught on to Chinese contemporary. Our spotlight falls on Wang Jianwei, Chen Shaoxiong, Song Dong and Wang Xingwei, four artists who have evolved subtly over the last two decades and for whom different ideas, once taken hold, have become the basis of a distinctly enduring kind of innovation. We also discover certain congruences of sensibility in the works and worlds of contemporary ink masters Liu Dan and Li Huayi, the bicontinental history painting of Hung Liu, and the pioneering social electronic practice of Dajuin Yao’s Open Media Lab. Other highlights include a fashion shoot from Shanghai-based photo collective Birdhead (who feature prominently in the newly opened Venice Biennale), a walk through the new National Museum of China on Tiananmen Square, and a history of The CourtYard, Beijing’s first great gallery. And as usual, our top and bottom sections abut all this with a fitting assortment of interviews, news and reviews.
Our April issue looks at the art education system in China, in all its ever-changing complexity. Beginning with a comprehensive “family tree” of art academy evolution, our largest cover featurerto date then moves into a reminiscence on the academy of the 1980s by critic Fei Dawei, before dropping suddenly into the reality of today’s entrance exam cram schools. Interviews with eight leading artist-educators, a dossier of new campus buildings, a look at Li Xianting’s experimental film school in Songzhuang, and a manifesto by Qiu Zhijie round out the package. Other features look at forgotten legend Li Yuan-chia, the obsolete nineteenth-century technique Luo Dan uses to photograph remote regions, the animation ambitions of Sun Xun, and the fate of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “The Land.” Two visual packages–a fashion shoot conceived by artist Huang Ran and a photographic portfolio of American military bases throughout Asia by Greg Girard, round out the mix. Our usual assortment of interviews and short essays occupies the top section, while 15 recent exhibition reviews fill out the bottom.
Published on the brink of the Chinese New Year, LEAP 7 looks back on 2010 with nine essays by core contributors touching on fields from the market to the academy. The issue also includes an extensive profile on Taiwanese artists Chen Chieh-Jen, a photographic project by Shenzhen-based Bai Xiaoci looking at the aesthetics of government construction, and a never-before-published conversation between painter Yu Youhan and ubercurator Hans Ulrich Obrist on Yu’s extended journey from abstraction into pop and beyond. A special remembrance of the art writer Wawa by artist Cao Fei and a collaboration with Chanel on the brand’s recent “Culture Chanel” exhibition round out the middle section. Reviews look at shows including the recent edition of Lianzhou Foto and the Boston MFA’s long-awaited “Fresh Ink.” Up top you’ll find pieces on artists Liang Yuanwei, Zhu Fadong, Ling Jian, and Wang Peng, as well as a meditation on contemporary Shanghai by former Artforum editor-in-chief Tim Griffin.
This issue centers around the idea of “alternative spaces”–an ambiguous zone somewhere between museum and gallery–in the art landscape of recent years. Looking at five examples of historically important spaces and five more of currently active ones throughout greater China, we hope to offer a mapping of the more creative end of institutional practice. Elsewhere in the feature well, a major investigative piece by Guo Juan looks at the state of yancai (literally: “mineral color”) painting in China, and critics offer extended commentary on filmmaker Huang Weikai, video artist Chen Xiaoyun, and the artist-activist collective behind Wuhan’s “East Lake Project.” A portfolio drawn from Lucy Raven’s 2009 photographic animation China Town as well as a fashion shoot set in an installation of Italian design by Tim Yip fill out the middle section. Down bottom, you’ll find takes on the biennials in Taipei and Shanghai among 19 exhibition reviews, and up top a look at Zhong Ming’s iconic painting Sartre–He is Himself as well as Paul Gladston’s meditation on Ai Weiwei’s Turbine Hall commission at the Tate Modern.
This fall issue of LEAP looks at the role of hometown and place in contemporary art production in China, focusing on the four key regions of Dongbei, Sichuan, Fujian, and Guangdong. The four stories in our cover package approach this theme from different perspectives–Guo Juan’s fly-on-the-wall meditation on artist Liu Xiaodong’s return to his tiny hometown of Jincheng in China’s far northeast; Sun Dongdong’s look at kinship ties among Sichuanese painters; Kae Araki’s analysis of why Fujianese aritsts and art-world players seem to excel so effortlessly; and Terry Kern’s glimpse back at the conversation surrounding art from the southern province of Guangdong, arguably the first regional discourse to make itself heard in an otherwise national context. The issue also includes profiles of young artists including Adrian Wong, Zhang Ding, and Zhou Bin, shorter pieces on Liu Dahong, Matt Hope, Cui Xiuwen, Huang Ran, Yu Hong, and Tobias Wong, along with reviews of fifteen summer and fall shows.
LEAP 4The fourth issue of LEAP takes on the timely question of what it means to be a Chinese “art youth,” as our cover package includes everything from a sociological study of the newest artistic generation to incisive journalistic reports on the scene’s young movers and shakers. Elsewhere in the feature well we explore the near forgotten Bulgarian-cum-Beijinger soft-sculptor Maryn Varbanov, examine Shanghai artist Xu Zhen’s reincarnation as MadeIn one year on, and hear from Leng Lin on five years of the Polit-Sheer-Form Office collective. A frame-by-frame presentation of Sun Xun’s latest animation 21G and a fashion photography project by Liu Yiqing round out our middle section. Up top we present the set of illustrations Zhang Xiaogang made for a Sichuan publishing house’s release of the The Little Prince back in 1988, look at a particularly colorful Kindergarten in the Shanghai suburbs, and visit with CAFA Dean of Humanities Yu Ding. The bottom section contains reviews of fourteen recent exhibitions including Lü Peng’s controversial play to “reshape history” and Cai Guo-Qiang’s attempt to pinpoint the Peasant da Vincis.
This issue centers on a collection of texts and images that look to pinpoint China’s emerging cultural relationship with a continent. This includes a look at the Chinese presence in Dakar through the eyes of one of Senegal’s leading artists Amadou Kane Sy, an extended consideration of the work of Kehinde Wiley, whose paintings, made in Beijing, incorporate African bodies and motifs, and a portfolio of recent works by Chinese artists examining African questions. Elsewhere, the issue includes an extended report on the architecture of museums in converted spaces, a conversation between Yang Fudong and Isaac Julien on the latter’s Ten Thousand Waves, features on Donna Ong and Yang Xinguang, a round-up of the spring auction highlights in Chinese landscape painting, and a portfolio of “unrealized projects” (with apologies to LEAP contributing editor Hans Ulrich Obrist) by Hong Kong artists curated by Nadim Abbas. The top section includes short takes on New York returnee Zhang Wei and a studio chat with Li Songsong; the bottom reviews section highlights shows by Yin Xiuzhen, Olafur Eliasson and Ma Yansong, and Zhou Tiehai, as well as Minsheng Art Museum’s inaugural exhibition “30 Years of Painting.”
The second issue of LEAP looked at the question of artistic production in a nation known as the world’s factory floor. A group of features examined different scenarios of production, including the porcelain kilns of Jingdezhen, a high-tech sculpture factory situated in a village on the outskirts of Beijing, and the studio of artist Zhan Wang, which has given way to a parallel business fabricating public art for clients around the world. The issue also included a guide to the art projects included in the Shanghai World Expo, an interview with leading 1980s critic Peng De published in collaboration with the Asia Art Archive, and a portfolio of project proposals submitted by leading artists to the Beijing Youth Daily on the theme of “construction” in 1994. The top section includes a look at Wang Jinsong and Song Yonghong’s groundbreaking two-man exhibition of 1990 and another at <em>Tommy and Dee Dee</em>, a 1953 children’s book about the differences between an American and a Chinese boy. In the bottom section, find reviews of 14 shows including CAFA’s “Sixty Years of Drawing” and Xie Zhiliu at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The inaugural issue of LEAP set about to survey the trends of the entire previous decade, calling on key figures to voice their opinions one year at a time, recounting the decade’s key events in a month-by-month chronology, looking in-depth at the genesis of Factory 798–the gallery district that largely defines the decade–and commissioning art company MadeIn to render a number of key scenes from the decade in their signature cartoon format. Elsewhere the issue looks at the scene in Chengdu, the video art of Li Ming, the collegiate memorabilia of Jiang Zhi, and Chu Yun’s maquettes of Dongguan public sculptures. The front section includes an interview with then ShContemporary director Colin Chinnery and a recap of the Ullens Center’s “Breaking Figures” symposium. The 19 shows reviewed include Ai Weiwei’s retrospective at Munich’s Haus der Kunst and Fang Lijun’s Guangdong Museum of Art survey.