At the turn of the last millennium, American philosopher Arthur C. Danto’s book “The Transfiguration of the Ordinary”, published in 1981 triggered fierce debates among Chinese artists and critics. “New York Danto” became the epitome of postmodern questioning of art. Ironically, it was precisely the time when Marcel Duchamp’s art was welcomed in China with impartiality, enthusiasm and humor, free of any tendency towards iconoclasm.
Xuguang Liu completed his PhD at Beijing’s Tsinghua University with a “Theory of Essence Consciousness”, subsequently he elaborated this concept during art study visits to Japan. His research was based on a single character from the oldest Chinese character tradition, marks of “bu” (卜) found on Chinese bone writing. On the basis of this character he created works, often using large sheets of rice paper, on which he drew a dense web of “bu” (卜) marks, drawn with oily earthy work ink and iron dust made himself. The lively vibration of all the “bu” (卜) marks follows a single direction, but none of them is absolutely the same as the other. Thus they become the epitome of a many-voiced foundational act of civilization that translates direct verbal exchange into the permanence of objectifying signs, a new, social form of memory. His search for the “Essence of Consciousness” is therefore not a regressive longing for the origins, but a link of contemporary culture with its foundations, still handed down in China.
By Ursula Panhans-Bühler,
Curator of Liu Xuguang: Dialogue with Arthur C. Danto
Join China Institute in a thought-provoking discussion between artist Xuguang Liu, art critic Anthony Haden-Guest, and art historian and curator Zhijian Qian on Liu’s upcoming exhibition Dialogue with Arthur C. Danto at the WhiteBox Art Center.
This event is in collaboration with the WhiteBox Art Center.
This program is made possible through the support of the Chinese International Education Foundation, and generous supporters of China Institute.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Xuguang Liu is an influential artist who specializes in the context of the development of world art and new media art. He started his artist's career in the mid-1980s, studied at Universities of the Arts in China and in Japan. With a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Tsinghua University, Liu is currently the director of the New Media Art Lab at Beijing Film Academy. His artistic creation creates his own unique visual language expression in the concept of form and medium. Under the guidance of the concept of Essence Consciousness, he is a pioneer in artistic creation in this field, with extremely rich works.
In his early years, he stayed in Japan and put forward the theoretical concept of Essence Consciousness, and explored the possibility of form and medium language in vision in the contemporary art system; from the physical medium of vision to the expression of digital media, there is a deep and lasting exploration. Liu has participated in important thematic biennales at home and abroad, and held solo exhibitions on the theme of Essence Consciousness concepts in China, Japan, the United States, Finland, Comoros and other countries.
Anthony Haden-Guest is a British writer, reporter, cartoonist, art critic, poet, and socialite who lives in New York City and London. He is a frequent contributor to major magazines and has had several books published including TRUE COLORS: The Real Life of the Art World and The Last Party, Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night. Haden-Guest was educated at Gordonstoun and Cambridge University. After graduation he became a journalist, and by 1964 was drawing the pocket cartoon "This Way Out" for the Sunday Telegraph. In 1979 he won an Emmy Award for writing and narrating the documentary The Affluent Immigrants for PBS television about affluent Europeans in New York. Now he is largely, but not exclusively, focused on the art world. Haden-Guest has shown his work in galleries, including Deitch Projects (New York) and Whitebox Art Center (New York) and Anderson Contemporary, and he contributes regularly to The Daily Beast, Artnet, The New Yorker, Observer, the Spear’s magazine, Avenue and Charles Saatchi’s online magazine.
Zhijian Qian is an art historian, curator, and associate professor at City Tech of CUNY and SVA. He received his doctoral degree in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. His research interests include sinicized modernism in twentieth-century Chinese art, issues related to nationalism and globalism in contemporary Chinese art, and the changing role of politics in art and culture of modern and contemporary China. His research and curatorial work extends to issues of cultural identity, ethnicity and transnationalism in the practice of artists in the Chinese diaspora. He is the author of Here + Now: Chinese Artists in New York City.