Powerful New Exhibition of Contemporary Art Opens at Asia Society Texas
'Summoning Memories: Art Beyond Chinese Traditions' features 32 artists of Chinese descent pushing the boundaries of tradition
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HOUSTON, February 3, 2023 — Asia Society Texas (AST) announces the opening of the powerful new contemporary art exhibition, Summoning Memories: Art Beyond Chinese Traditions, featuring the work of 32 artists of Chinese descent. Curated exclusively for Asia Society Texas, this exhibition showcases an exhilarating mix of well-known and emerging artists, and creates a dynamic intergenerational dialogue steeped in memory and diverse perspectives. Summoning Memories will be on view from Friday, February 10, through Sunday, July 2. Admission is free for members, $5 for students and seniors with I.D., and $8 for nonmembers.
Summoning Memories: Art Beyond Chinese Traditions highlights stunning works by contemporary artists who reinterpret traditions in dynamic and innovative ways. Across painting, sculpture, and photography, these works by established and emerging artists of different generations use experimentation to draw on both Eastern and Western art-making practices and materials. According to guest curator Dr. Susan L. Beningson, “In Summoning Memories: Art Beyond Chinese Traditions, artists move ‘beyond the brush’ to create a dialogue — not only with different artistic, social, historical, and literary traditions, but also between some of the most important living artists of Chinese descent and the next generation of emerging talent.”
In addition to new works created specifically for this exhibition by Zhang Jian-Jun and Yang Yongliang, a few of the exciting pieces on view are:
- Xu Bing's famous handscroll How to Do Square Word Calligraphy as well as his Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats, both of which demonstrate his system for organizing English words into structures that resemble Chinese characters.
- Kelly Wang's Entanglement in which she weaves newspapers — collected outside her father’s apartment while he was in the hospital fighting COVID-19 — into a scholar's rock.
- Yun-fei Ji’s original hand scroll of the Three Gorges Dam Migration. Painted in a classical Chinese landscape style, this piece depicts the problematic migration and destruction forced by the creation of the dam.
"Yun-Fei Ji's epic Three Gorges Dam Migration handscroll is a 21st-century masterpiece. It's an honor to display this ten-foot saga about migration and loss, and we are honored to highlight the original, rarely exhibited painting," states Owen Duffy, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions at AST.
The artists featured in this show push boundaries, manipulating traditional materials, and developing unique fabrication processes that result in experimental ink painting, calligraphy, and deconstructed language, on both real and imaginary landscapes, cityscapes, and celestial patterns. While landscapes borrow from time-honored imagery, the artists in this exhibition subvert their visual language and meaning, responding to our present-day concerns about urbanization, the fragmentation of landscapes created by the degradation of the environment, and the rapid pace of China’s modernization, among other urgent issues. Ultimately, these artists summon memories of the past to move beyond its specter, forging new artistic ground on which to build.
- Dates: Friday, February 10, 2023 – Sunday, July 2, 2023
- Admission: Free for members, $5 for students and seniors with I.D., and $8 for nonmembers
- Hours: Wednesday–Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Opening Reception and Artist Talk
- Date: Friday, February 10, 2023 from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
- 5:30 p.m.: Artist talk with guest curator Dr. Susan L. Beningson and featured artists Zheng Chongbin, Zhang Jian-Jun, Wu Chi-Tsung, Kelly Wang, and Bingyi.
- 6:30 p.m.: Reception and gallery viewing
- Learn more »
About the Artists
Summoning Memories: Art Beyond Chinese Traditions features the work of 32 artists of Chinese descent. This exhibition creates an intergenerational dialogue between some of the most important figures in contemporary art, as well as emerging talents in the field. They include: Bingyi, Chu Chu, Cui Fei, Fu Xiaotong, Fung Ming Chip, Hong Hao, Hong Lei, Irene Zhou, Jennifer Wen Ma, Kelly Wang, Lin Guocheng, Liu Dan, Liu Wei, Liu Xiaodong, Lü Shoukun, Peng Wei, Qiu Anxiong, Ren Pan, Sun Xun, Tao Aimin, Wang Fangyu, Wang Tiande, Wu Chi-Tsung, Xu Bing, Yang Yongliang, Yun-Fei Ji, Zhan Wang, Zhang Dali, Zhang Hongtu, Zhang Jian-Jun, Zheng Chongbin, and Zheng Lu.
About the Guest Curator
Susan L. Beningson is an independent curator based in New York City. She is currently teaching at New York University. Her next project will be a special exhibition of contemporary Chinese experimental ink painting in conjunction with Art Basel Hong Kong (March 2023). In 2020-2021 she curated the exhibition We The People: Xu Bing and Sun Xun Respond to the Declaration of Independence as part of the Asia Society Triennial (New York). From 2013 through 2019 she served as curator, Asian Art, at the Brooklyn Museum. Her curatorial projects during this tenure included the exhibition One: Xu Bing and the reinstallation of the Arts of China galleries. She was a cocurator of the exhibition Infinite Blue and the reinstallation of the Arts of Korea galleries. Dr. Beningson was also responsible for the acquisition of more than fifty contemporary works of art for the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent Asian Art collection.
Previously, Dr. Beningson taught Asian and Islamic art history at the City University of New York, Rutgers University, and Columbia University and worked at Princeton University Art Museum. Her writings include contributions to Brooklyn Museum Highlights (2014), Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art (Asia Society Museum, 2010), and Providing for the Afterlife: “Brilliant Artifacts” from Shandong (China Institute, 2005), which accompanied an exhibition of the same title she co-organized in conjunction with the Shandong Provincial Museum. She has lectured and published widely on both contemporary and historical Asian art. Dr. Beningson received her Ph.D. in Chinese art and archaeology from Columbia University.
Summoning Memories: Art Beyond Chinese Traditions is curated by Susan L. Beningson, Ph.D., Independent Curator, with the support of Owen Duffy, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions, and Rebecca Becerra, Exhibitions Manager and Registrar. This program was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Special support provided by Sundaram Tagore Gallery.
Exhibitions and their related programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, and Leslie and Brad Bucher. Major support comes from The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston Endowment, and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Clayton Fund, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Wortham Foundation, Inc., Agnes Hsu-Tang, Ph.D. and Oscar L. Tang, and Ann Wales. Funding is also provided through contributions from the Exhibitions Patron Circle, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.