August 3rd, 2016

Shanghai’s Long Museum takes aim at female artists

The institution hosts its first exhibition dedicated to international and Chinese women, with works spanning ten centuries

By: Lisa Movius        Source: The Art Newspaper      Date: 2/8/2016

Shanghai’s Long Museum takes aim at female artists

The show includes Xiao Lu’s ‘Dialogue’, which caused the closure in February 1989 of the exhibition China Avant/Garde after the artist fired a gun at the mirrored phone booth

She: International Women Artists Exhibition (until October 30), showing 108 works by 100 female artists from 13 countries, opened at Long Museum Shanghai’s West Bund location last Friday. Curated by Wang Wei, the museum’s director (and who along with husband Liu Yiqian is one of China’s top collectors), the exhibition was four years in the making and its four sections span ten centuries. The earliest work is calligraphy by the Southern Song-era artist Yang Meizi, while pre-modern China is represented through a painting by the Dowager Empress Cixi, followed by a section of mostly early Chinese Modernism and Maoist work.

Lin Tianmiao’s 2014 whimsical carpet ‘Protruding Patterns’, adorned with epithets about women in Chinese and English, unfurls over the basement level

Drawn mostly from Wang and Liu’s extensive collection, the show is comprised largely of contemporary work, with international artists like Yoko Ono, Tracy Emin and Louise Bourgeois sharing space with Chinese trailblazers such as Xiao Lu, Lin Tianmiao and Duan Jianyu. Bourgeois’ 2003 massive metal Crouching Spider occupies Long’s atrium, with Ono’s 2015 wobbly staircase To See the Sky placed nearby. Lin’s 2014 whimsical carpet Protruding Patterns, adorned with epithets about women in Chinese and English, unfurls over the basement level. Xiao’s Dialogue, which caused the closure in February 1989 of the exhibition China Avant/Garde after the artist fired a gun at a mirrored phone booth, is awkwardly positioned towards the back, between cartoonish renditions of cockatoos and children. Many a stereotypical feminine piece is juxtaposed with powerful conceptual work by undisputable stars.
“I have great respect for women artists because they face a lot of difficulties. They create art to influence society,” Wang Wei said at a press conference before the opening ceremony, which included a fashion show of designer cheongsams, the tight-fitting Chinese dresses that became popular in the 1920s and 30s. “I hope the exhibition can make both men and women rethink women’s position in society. A lot of young women artists are shown here,” including rising Chinese talents Guan Xiao and Cui Xiuwen. “They create this new era.”

Of Long’s 20 solo shows since its 2012 opening, none have focussed on women artists, though showcases of the Chinese sculptor Xiang Jing and the painter Yu Hong are respectively scheduled for 2017 and 2020. Asked about the disparity, Wang said: “It hasn’t been many—but we have had a few women artists in group exhibitions before, and are hoping to see more in the future.”