Winners Announced at the 2012 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards
By Kathy Zhang
Winners of the 2012 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards were announced last week at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Hong Kong artist Pak Sheung Chuen won the Best Artist Award, Geng Jianyi won the Lifetime Contribution Award and Yan Xing won the Young Artist Award.
A jury of seven, including founder of CCAA, Uli Sigg, selected the three winners, out of a pool of 45 nominees. Joining Sigg on the jury were independent curator Li Zhenhua (based in Beijing, Shanghai and Zurich), three institutional heads from south China—Feng Boyi (director of He Xiangning Art Musuem, Shenzhen), Huang Zhuan (director of OCT, Shenzhen) and Lars Nittve (director of M+ Museum for Visual Culture, Hong Kong)—along with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (curator of Documenta 13, Kassel) and Chris Dercon (director of Tate Modern, London) hailing from Europe.
The jury’s selection took into account what it sees as a shift in Chinese contemporary art away from commodification and cynical detatchment towards more humanist, conscientious examinations of relevant social issues.
Pak Sheung Chuen’s playful interventions, such as his interactive projects at M+ Museum’s nomadic exhibition in May, “Mobile M+: Yau Ma Tei,” embodies this new spirit. In a press release, M+ director Lars Nittve comments, “[Pak’s] art is almost invisible, almost impossible to document, but manages to explore the human condition in all its complexities and with loving precision.”
Hangzhou-based Geng Jianyi’s recent photograms and darkroom manipulations of the photographic image also qualify Geng as a relevant artist in China today. A principal member of the New Wave movement in the latter 1980s, Geng is best known for his early painting The Second Condition (1989) of oversized laughing faces, but since the 2000s he has experimented in more subtle works. An example is his “Excessive Transition” (2008) series, bleary photographs of bottlenecks set in front of windows, appearing very much like headless ghouls. This announcement follows the artist’s first survey in a Chinese institution, at the Minsheng Art Museum (9/7–10/12).
The Young Artist awardee, 26-year-old Yan Xing, based in Beijing, is a performance and installation artist. He recently exhibited The History of Reception (2012) at the Seventh Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, in which the artist sits behind a desk, reading a 30,000 word script chronicling his own version of art history.
The selection of these three artists may signal a new interest in Chinese media, performance and conceptual art over the typically sought after paintings by established cynical realists. Look out Zeng Fanzhi.