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Everyday Legend

Shaoji Liang

8 November - 7 December, 2016

Minsheng Art Musuem, Shanghai 

Curators: Jiang Jiehong, Nan Nan

Artists: Hao Liang, Hu Xiaoyuan, He Xiangyu, Liang Shaoji, Liang Yuanwei, Liu Jianhua, Lu Pingyuan, Ni Youyu, Sui Jianguo, Sun Xun, Shi Jinsong, Shao Yinong, Wu Yiming, Yu Ji, Yang Mushi, Yang Xinguang, Zheng Guogu, Zhan Wang, Zhao Zhao

China has experienced unprecedented social, political and cultural transformations since the beginning of the twentieth century. Dynastic architectural structures such as city walls, archways and various historical types of residence, inevitably, have been demolished to make a way for a revolution of economic and urban development, and replaced by high-rise buildings; traditional interior arrangements and furniture settings are largely superseded by Western styles to change the way of living; classic daily costumes appear to be only festive for particular occasions; traditional design and hand-making skills for textile, ceramic, paper crafts, wood and stone carvings are either fading out with no inheritor of the craftsmanship, or substituted by batch productions; and even brushes and calligraphic writing practice are being strangled by computer keyboard in collusion with the phonetic system of pinyin. The ‘traditional’ becomes the ‘historical’, or indeed, the ‘legendary’. With such a cultural anxiety, contemporary art, once again, acts as a pioneer in responding to this phenomenon through visual practices.

The unique situation of contemporary China with fragmented traditions provides challenges, as well as opportunities, certainly for art, where traditions can be reassessed and reinvented through creative practice. The ‘legend’ is not merely imaginary, but origins from the cultural traditions, tangible or intangible. It is formed to re-examine, draw from and be inspired by Chinese traditional arts and related cultural heritages, and more importantly, as a generative process of knowledge re-production.Within the context of contemporary art, ‘contemporaneity’ is never a linear dimension of time. Instead, it provides an open platform where the past meets the present. Only through ‘everyday legend’, we are committed to better pass the past to the future, and to translate China for the world. 

*Image Credit: Liang Shaoji - Chains, at Everyday Legend exhibition, 2016

See photographs from the exhibition