Talking About “My Generation”:

Thoughts On China’s Young Artists

About a year ago, I was chatting with my friend and colleague, Todd Smith, who mentioned he was organizing an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art. He told me the artists selected for this exhibition were young—all having come of age in the post-cultural revolution era, are products of the “one-child” policy, and during the economic, open door policy of China.

Todd was working with an outstanding guest curator—Barbara Pollack—and the resulting exhibition would be vast, much like China itself. Ultimately, the exhibition would need to be housed in two Florida museums—the Tampa Museum of Art and the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. Those conversations with Todd ultimately led to our presentation of My Generation: Young Chinese Artists.

Given the flexibility of our galleries, we can combine these two exhibitions into one coherent presentation. Beginning on the first floor and continuing on the third floor, five themes unfold: gender roles and intimate relationships, family ties, the urban landscape, religion, and politics. There is a great diversity of media on display: painting, sculpture, photography, video, and new media.

The video and new media works are among the most compelling—from the sensory overload of Lu Yang’s Wrathful King Kong Core to an absorbing untitled piece by Lui Chuang of two cars on the crowded Beijing freeways.

Wrathful King Kong Core

“Wrathful King Kong Core”

Untitled (The Dancing Partner)

“Untitled (The Dancing Partner)”

During planning for My Generation, I learned a lot about China. I learned that more than 1,000 new museums have been built in China in the last decade. Serendipitously, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art received an invitation to participate in “Meeting the West: Exhibitions from American Museums,” a conference organized by the American Federation of Art and the Nanjing Museum.

This month’s conference is designed to explore the exchange of exhibitions between museums in the U.S. and China. In Nanjing—and later on my own in Beijing—I’ll be meeting with Chinese artists and museum colleagues to begin to build a foundation for collaboration.

I hope you’ll find My Generation as intriguing and surprising as I have. I invite you to follow my next couple of posts as I share my thoughts on the Chinese art scene and Chinese museums.

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