Hidden from History: the Mexican Influence on Chinese Art
When: February 27, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Arts W-215 (McGill University)
Exchange, dialogue and migration between societies have occurred throughout the history of art and continue to impact our society today. Many believe the “open policy” of China and Western influence are the two motivating forces creating contemporary Chinese art. Very few acknowledge foreign influence occurring prior to the opening of China in 1979, especially during the mid-twentieth century when China was completely closed to the West. Owing to China’s political inclinations from the early 1950s to the late 1970s, they chose to engage only with countries of the “Third World.” Mexico was one such country invited into dialogue with China. The exchange produced interesting influences largely overlooked by today’s scholars.
The contact between Mexico and China can be found in the early 1930s. The major exchange took place in 1950s after the People’s Republic of China was established. Public art created by Mexican artists and their ideas excited and inspired young Chinese artists, presenting alternatives to the Soviet socialist-realistic style. Many artists of the avant-garde movement in the 1980s remember that it was Mexican art that encouraged and nourished them at the earlier age of their career. This lecture will introduce the hidden history of this dynamic cultural exchange between two great cultures in the past century.
Zheng Shengtian, Managing Editor of Yishu, is a scholar, artist, and independent curator. For more than thirty years, he worked at China Academy of Art in Hangzhou as Professor and Chair of the Oil Painting Department. He was the co-founder of the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and currently is the Managing Editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and a trustee of Vancouver Art Gallery. He has been a member of the Academic Committee for the Shanghai Biennale since 1998 and was a co-curator of the 4th Shanghai Biennale in 2004. He has organized numerous exhibitions, including Shanghai Modern at Villa Stuck, Munich, Art and China’s Revolution at Asia Society Museum, New York in 2009. He is the Senior Curator of Asia for Vancouver Biennale and is a frequent contributor to periodicals and catalogues about contemporary Chinese and Asian art. As an artist, his art work has been showing in China, United States and Canada since 1960s.