Light Before Dawn: Curatorial Introduction & A Conversation with Artist Huang Rui
This program will begin with an introduction to the exhibition Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art 1974-1985 by the exhibition’s curators Julia Andrews and Kuiyi Shen, followed by a slide-illustrated conversation between Stars artist Huang Rui and contemporary art experts Jane DeBevoise and Anthony Yung.
The Stars (Xingxing) exhibition of 1979, hung on the fence outside the Chinese National Art Gallery in Beijing, was one of the most notable events in the recent history of Chinese art. By pushing for freedom of expression and stylistic diversity, it catalyzed the powerful cultural forces that would bring radical changes in artistic concepts and practices to China. The artist and writer Huang Rui was a key organizer of the Stars exhibitions in 1979 and 1980. In his conversation with Jane DeBevoise and Anthony Yung, Huang Rui will reflect upon his early creative career and his artwork in the context of his own times, from his youthful study of art, through the cultural revolution, and his period as leader of the Stars in Beijing’s post-cultural revolution artistic transition to his departure for Japan.
Huang Rui, born in Beijing in 1952, was a founder of the independent literary journal Today in 1978 and the Stars in 1979. His modernist paintings were exhibited with the Stars in 1979 and 1980, and in other unofficial exhibitions of the early 1980s. While living in Japan from 1984 to 2002, he expanded his work to experiment in multiple mediums, including installation art, performances, photography, print-making, and graphic design. He assisted in organizing retrospectives of the Stars in Hong Kong in 1989 and in Tokyo in 2000. In 2002 he returned to Beijing from Japan to help establish Tokyo Beijing Art Projects, one of the pioneering galleries in what would become the 798 art district. He is a leader of the artists in the 798 district, where he maintains a design studio. His art is often socially engaged, reflecting his cultural, historical, or humanistic concerns. He remains very active as an artist, exhibiting and performing both in China and internationally.
Jane DeBevoise is the Chair of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and New York. Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2002, Ms. DeBevoise was Deputy Director of the Guggenheim Museum, responsible for museum operations and exhibitions globally. A Ph.D. in art history from The University of Hong Kong, Ms. DeBevoise was appointed by the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government to the Committee for Museums 2004-2007 and to the Museums Advisory Group for the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District in 2006-2007. She is also a Trustee of Asian Cultural Council in New York.
Anthony Yung is researcher at Asia Art Archive (AAA), Hong Kong. He manages AAA’s major research project Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990, which produced more than 90 interviews with artist, critics, scholars and other participants and collected a large amount of research materials about Chinese contemporary art from late 1970s to early 1990s. Mr. Yung is also the co-founder of Observation Society, an independent art space in Guangzhou. His writings about Chinese and Hong Kong art have been published in Yishu, Leap, Contemporary Art and Investment, and artforum.com.cn, to name a few.
Julia F. Andrews and Kuiyi Shen are co-curators of Light Before Dawn. Their previous collaborations include the Guggenheim Museum's ground-breaking 1998 exhibition, A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth Century China, shown in New York and Bilbao, Blooming in the Shadows: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974-1985 (2011), and Art of Modern China (2012). Andrews is Professor in the Department of History of Art at The Ohio State University, and Shen is Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Director of the Chinese Studies Program at UC San Diego.
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Asia Art Archive