DREAM 01

11 October – 21 October 2001
Chinese Art in the 21st Century @ The Atlantis

The exhibition showcased 75 works by 20 of the most exciting artists from China.

As China adopts some of the most fundamental characteristics of a capitalist society, from mass advertising to the emergence of nouveau riches, from shopping malls to skyscrapers, the pace of change is simply bewildering. DREAM was both a product and a reflection of this extraordinary stage in China’s history.

The works we gathered together, incorporating a broad range of media (oil, wood-cut, ink, sculpture, photography, video, installation and performance art), provide a cultural synopsis of contemporary Chinese urban society.

BACKBROUND TO DREAM 01

China has changed immensely over the past three decades, and this is reflected in the development of its art forms. The end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, followed by Deng Xiao Ping’s open-door policy in the early 1980’s led to a revolution in the Chinese art establishment. The floodgates of information were opened and this exposed Chinese society to half a century of Western art and literature in one measure.

Chinese cultural policy has become increasingly tolerant, creating more room for artistic expression, with the result that there are now several generations of artists each with differing experiences and perspectives of China’s recent history.

The floodgates of information were opened and this exposed Chinese society to half a century of Western art and literature in one measure. Chinese cultural policy has become increasingly tolerant, creating more room for artistic expression, with the result that there are now several generations of artists each with differing experiences and perspectives of China’s recent history.

Collectively, the artists are unified by their newly found freedom to focus on self-evaluation, exploring questions about individuality and the new consumer society that they live in.

Some of the Chinese avant-garde are creating works that would be prohibited in the UK – “Many of the works by these artists make Hirst and Emin look tame…” comments Kwok. “They are part of the extreme and urgent artistic debate that has emerged after the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution in China – in fact, it’s probably the richest and most engaging artistic debate currently taking place anywhere in the world.”

DREAM 01 represented the first opportunity for the British public to gain an insight into the whole spectrum of contemporary Chinese Art.