May 1 - June 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009 | 6 - 9pm
Panel Discussion & Reception
Friday, May 15, 2009 | 5:30 - 7:30pm
Gallery 456/Chinese American Arts Council is pleased to present HOW CHINESE:
Expanding the Discourse on Chinese Contemporary Art, a group exhibition which is
also participating in Asian Contemporary Art Week with a panel discussion and reception.
Conceived jointly by art historian Aileen June Wang and artist Eric Jiaju Lee,
the exhibition seeks to revise the mainstream definition of contemporary Chinese art.
This category is often associated with artists who are based in mainland China,
work in a figurative style, and address the Cultural Revolution and its legacy,
or life in Communist China today. These artists, however, represent but a portion of
the global Chinese population. Approximately thirty-five million Chinese reside elsewhere,
and there are over fifty-five ethnic minorities in the country. The experiences of
these groups differ from those in the mainland and the mainstream,
with other cultures often having a significant influence on them as well.
HOW CHINESE draws on artists representing a spectrum of the Chinese diaspora,
as well as non-ethnic Chinese. Their works offer a complex and nuanced perspective about
the way China and its culture has, or has not, influenced their consciousness and creativity.
Some question the relevance of ethnic ancestry and cultural memory in the formation of
an identity and artistic style. In contrast to the representational style of
popular contemporary Chinese art, the works in this show are predominantly non-representational.
They challenge the conventional notion of what "Chinese" art should be and
what being Chinese means. The title of the exhibition operates simultaneously as a statement and
a question. It was inspired by a query posed innocently to artist Eric Jiaju Lee by
his grandfather-in-law: "How Chinese are you?"
Press Release (PDF)