Artscapes: Chinese Art Gets West Coast Debut at OCMA

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4ocmaBy Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

The Orange County Museum of Art has presented a successful series of exhibitions over the past several years that have focused primarily on contemporary, modern and avant-garde American artists (the 2013 California-Pacific Triennial with Pacific Rim artists was an exception).

That focus has shifted with OCMA’s current exhibition, “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,” that runs through October 11, 2015.

OCMA calls the exhibition “an extended look at the new generation of artists emerging in mainland China since 2000, the year that China opened wide its doors to international artists and that Chinese artists began to command attention in the global arena.”

The artists represented in the exhibition were all born after 1976, which is when the Cultural Revolution ended. Mostocma 2 are products of China’s One Child Policy. They share several traits: they’re ambitious, determined, and technically sophisticated.

“’My Generation’ allows us to explore the role these emerging Chinese contemporary artists have in a globalized art world,” said OCMA Director and CEO Todd D. Smith. “With its breadth and scope of artists, media, and approaches to art making, the exhibition provides a look inside one of the most fascinating developments in the art world today: Chinese art of our time. This exhibition continues OCMA’s efforts to share with our audiences the art of the Pacific Rim.”

1ocmaBarbara Pollack is the exhibition’s curator, and an arts journalist who has covered the Chinese art scene for more than two decades.

“Young Chinese artists are breaking out in ways that challenge and defy the styles of an older generation of Chinese artists already known in the west,” said Pollack, who interviewed more than 100 young artists from throughout China to prepare for the exhibition.

According to material from OCMA, the younger generation of artists represented in “My Generation” has grown up in relative freedom, and thanks to the internet and a liberalized arts education have been exposed to global art movements.

The OCMA exhibition includes painters, video artists, installation artists, photographers, and artist collectives. The15ocma topics and issues they address include alienation, self-definition, cynicism, and rebellion.

The exhibition is accompanied by a free iPad app that includes in-depth interviews with many of the artists in the exhibition.

We toured the exhibition and, as always with OCMA, found it a fascinating foray into a new group of artists with unique artistic viewpoints.

“Each room had a different feel and theme while still being cohesive by articulating a specific generation of Chinese artists,” noted Catherine. “One of my favorite pieces was ‘Fearless’ by Xu Zhen. This large canvas takes up a good part of a wall, and is filled with mixed media that represents political cartoons, large serpents and feathered beasts, which challenges the viewer’s perception of what it commonly, and traditionally, seen as “Chinese art.”

9ocma“The Animal Regulation collection by Liu Di really piqued my interest,” she continued. “The artist uses large images of animals which he places within a cityscape, exposing the viewer to the explosion of urbanism surrounding what was once a natural environment, and the destructive relationship between the two.”

“I was intrigued by the amount of videos and installation pieces in the exhibition,” said Christopher. “For example, I loved the concept of the untitled five minute video by Liu Chuang, who has been called an ‘interventionist’ for his disruption of social rules and conventions. In the film, two white autos travel side by side on busy city streets at a minimum speed limit, which upsets the traffic flow and envelops the cars in their own cocoon world.”

“I agree, the media is diverse. This is an exhibition you can experience multiple times and always find something you might have missed before, or look at anew,” stated Catherine.

“My Generation: Young Chinese Artists” has been organized by the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

OCMA is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Fridays). Adult admission is $10, seniors and students $7.50, children 12 and under are free. Fridays are free to the public.

Orange County Museum of Art is located at 850 San Clemente Dr. in Newport Beach. Call (949) 759-1122 or visit

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