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Art & Ideas: Contemporary Chinese Art

7 – 9 pm
Wednesday September 4  REGISTER
Wednesday September 11 REGISTER
Thursday September 19 REGISTER
Weston Family Learning Centre Room 3*
Public $15 | Members $12 | Students $10
REGISTER for all 3 sessions Public $48 | Members $40 | Students $32


Contemporary Chinese Art Discussion Series
In these informal talks held in our Weston Family Learning Centre field specialists explore topics in contemporary art in culture.
In association with the exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What, we focus on contemporary art in China.

Wednesday September 4: Brushwork (工笔)
Given the prominence of ink painting in traditional Chinese art and recent museum/gallery exhibits dealing with this topic (e.g. Fresh Ink at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Ink Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, INK at the Saatchi Gallery) Elizabeth Parke will discuss the continued role of ink, ink painting, and traditional Chinese concepts of painting in Chinese contemporary art making. 

Wednesday September 11: Cultural Heritage, Looting, and Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals(文物遗产, 艾未未的生肖)
Elizabeth Parke will focus in on the historical background of the bronze zodiac heads, the inspiration for Ai’s Circle of Animals, that were originally installed at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing (圆明园).  The original, and considerably smaller zodiac heads have come to represent China’s recent drive to repatriate cultural objects, therefore Ai’s iconoclastic and forceful critique of such cultural practices makes Circle of Animals a rich and complex work worthy of a sustained and close analysis.

Thursday September 19: Now I’ve seen Ai Weiwei’s exhibit I want to see more! (艾未未的展览看过了!我还要看更多啊啊!)
Focusing on upcoming exhibits of Chinese contemporary art (both local and international) and what they can tell us about the growth of the field, Elizabeth Parke will discuss the role of galleries, museums, and auction houses as they participate in the dynamic and continually changing field of contemporary Chinese art. Parke will also provide an overview of resources to extend your learning about this exciting field.

Previous topics

Wednesday August 21: Art as Activism in Contemporary China
James Poborsa will examine how artists have responded to the tremendous changes which have taken place within contemporary Chinese society, and will focus on the role of politicised art in destabilising cultural and political norms. We will examine how artists have utilised various mediums to critically reflect upon the role of the artist within society, whether as a cultural agitator or iconoclast, social advocate or documentarian.

Wednesday August 28: Art and Urban Change in Contemporary China
James Poborsa will explore the problem of urban change in contemporary China, as rapid economic development has radically altered the urban environment. We will discuss artists whose work documents the rapidly disappearing historical neighbourhoods of cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the work of artists who probe the interrelated issues of progress, development, culture, and change.

Elizabeth Parke is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto. She examines the relationships between contemporary Chinese art, urban planning, and visual culture using methodologies from art history, cinema studies, urban geography, and visual anthropology.  Trained at Carleton and Middlebury colleges, Beijing Normal, and Tsing Hua universities, she has worked at galleries and museums including: Platform China (站台中国), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Her writing has appeared in Education about AsiaThe BeijingerYishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, and Art Practical.

James Poborsa is a doctoral candidate in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on contemporary Chinese art, aesthetic theory, and the intellectual history of modern and contemporary China. James’ doctoral dissertation examines contemporary Chinese photography from the late 1970s until the present, and questions how photographers, art critics, and institutions (art schools, museums, galleries, etc.) have contextualised the role of photography in society, with a focus on the relationship between photographic theory and practice, and the intellectual and cultural politics of the period. He has previously taught modern and contemporary East Asian art in the Department of Art, and modern Chinese history in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. He holds an M.A. in East Asian Studies (2009), and a B.A. (Hons.) in Economics and Philosophy (2005), both from the University of Toronto.

*The Weston Family Learning Centre is located on the Concourse Level of the Art Gallery of Ontario, on the west side of the building. 

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