Artlyst Photo Special: Ai Weiwei Among Contemporary Chinese Artists At OVADA


Artlyst attended OVADA in Oxford, as the Gallery and Development Agency presents its latest exhibition WASTELANDS, including the works of eight artists who each have links to China or are of Chinese descent. This group exhibition of contemporary Chinese Art includes installation, painting, sculpture and film, presented against the backdrop of OVADA’s industrial warehouse space in central Oxford.

Image: Anthony Key, Installation View Wastelands OVADA © photo P A Black Artlyst 2015

The artists works on display each explore the idea of ‘waste’ as a result of consumption through different landscapes and materials. Anthony Key’s work juxtaposes and fuses materials resulting in witty observations on the dynamics of power; ‘Dolly’ is made from a supermarket trolley in an absurd take on consumption and reproduction.

Image: Anthony Key, Dolly, Mixed Media, Shopping Trolly With Cable Ties, 2002 © photo P A Black Artlyst 2015

A participative installation by HMFF Collective, replicates an out-of-town shabby hotel in Nanjing, critiquing China’s ‘economic miracle’ and drawing on possible everyday realities of ‘shady dealings’ and low-level surveillance. HMFF’s ‘Dream Hotel’ at OVADA invokes the idea of the dream at different levels by inviting participants to sleep in the hotel room for one night.

Image: Hua Mao First Floor Collective, Dream Hotel, Mixed Media 2015 © photo P A Black Artlyst 2015

Materiality and ideology are also concerns for Cai! Yuan, whose cardboard painting installation appears as raw and aesthetic, immaterial and material, sitting at the intersection between sculpture and painting.

Image: Cai Yuan, Untitled Acrylic On Cardboard, Dimensions Variable 2015 © photo P A Black Artlyst 2015

The exhibition engages in themes around issues of neo-liberal ideologies, consumption, development and economies of culture. The documentary ‘Ordos 100’ by Artist and activist Ai Weiwei shows an ambitious architectural project in the new city of Ordos, inner Mongolia, that engaged in an “out of the world location…where boom and bust co-exist and where creativity takes elusive forms”.

Image: Ai Weiwei, Ordos 100, 2015 © photo P A Black Artlyst 2015

The documentary also taps into the rich potentiality of China as a developing country, where development is pursued on an unprecedented scale. The film installation symbolises both the possibility of the future, drawn out in Ai’s project, and the hubris of China’s crazed project of ever- expanding urbanisation.

Artists: Ai Weiwei, Cai Yuan, Cao Fei, HMFF! Anthony Key, Sun Haili, Sun Yi, Wessieling

WASTELANDS – OVADA Gallery – Thursdays to Sundays, 12-6pm – until 9 August 2015


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