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Zhang Peng
Yi Fan No.1



120 x 120 cm
Zhang Peng’s photographs look like stills from fantasy animation films; they are in fact documents of elaborate sets featuring little girls. Originally trained as a painter, Zhang approaches his compositions with a heightened sense of drama, using intense colours, theatrical props, and obscure angles of perspective to create a sense of artifice and illusion from reality.


China Now, Lost in Transition review

Chinese contemporary art has attracted worldwide attention largely because of several artists' highly creative reflections on the transformation of their landscape and the individuals who seem to be lost in transition. The people have been displaced from the traditional communal Chinese living quarters, in which residents shared a courtyard, to anonymous high-rises where they are suddenly alone and isolated from their community. The artists in this exhibition reflect the emotional trauma associated with this bewildering transition occurring at inhuman speeds. While continuing to deal with the residue of the Cultural Revolution, artists are faced with the challenge of expression amid constant demolition and construction not only of buildings, but of society at large.

Photography in China has become an important tool in coming to terms with the dynamic between the individual and the urban environment. Artists often use their own bodies in performances which subsequently are translated into photographs. China has a social structure built on control and suppression that has too often denied the right to self-expression. Using the body in performance art is a way to reclaim the power and assert individuality, while creating a bridge between the self and the larger society. In the West, we take the perspective of the individual for granted, but in China that perspective is considered objectionable, if not forbidden.

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Art sales: Chinese dealers get in the swim: Colin Gleadell on the Shanghai Art Fair

A new event on the art market's calendar has arrived with a bang. Last week, as dealers in London and New York waited for signs of an impending recession, the first truly international contemporary art fair in China opened its doors in Shanghai, and the results have surpassed its organiser's wildest dreams.

The fair, christened ShContemporary, is the brainchild of Swiss art dealer Pierre Huber. Housed in the faded, palatial splendour of the 1950s Sino-Soviet Mission, it provided a blend of Eastern and Western art from galleries across the world.

A former ski instructor, Huber, 65, conceived the idea four years ago. When he suggested that Art Basel, the world's biggest and most successful contemporary art fair, extend its activities to China, the proposal was turned down, so he took the initiative himself, producing the most professional-looking fair China has ever witnessed.

Visitors to the opening had to negotiate what at first looked like a protest (an aisle of silent students carrying placards of reproduced artworks from the fair), before arriving in a huge courtyard with a steamroller bearing down on a 300 square metre carpet of apples. Was this work, by Gu Dexin, perhaps a reference to the famous "bulldozer exhibition" in Russia in 1975, in which a progressive art show was literally bulldozed to the ground by the authorities?

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