A Group Photographic Exhibition
Featuring work by Jia Youguang, Liu Bolin, Liu Jin, Xu Changchang and Yang Yongliang
27th November 2008 - 16th January 2009

China is in transition. Everything is in a constant state of flux and the feeling of displacement this causes is a recurrent theme in contemporary Chinese art. Over the last decade, photography has become an important medium for its ability to record and propagate the changes in society's fabric as well as to portray very personal stories. The works in this exhibition form deeply personal narratives; the artists' creations are not restricted to a single model or school of thought, but seek to express individuality and a distinct sense of subjectivity. In order to achieve this, they utilize the different applications of new media that are available to them. Thus China's art today is like a "mixed maze". Different perspectives (informed by upbringing, schooling, personal preferences), lead to diverse artistic results. Some conform to tendencies of the era or the vicissitudes of Chinese social psychology, some indulge in stereotypes (without progressing the genre), and as result their work does not reflection the real significance of contemporary art, but rather confuses and tangles as the walls of the maze thicken and ensnare. At it stands today, China's contemporary art is at risk of disintegration, unless a multitude of widespread copycat imagery is eliminated as patrons grow tired of their faddish conspicuousness. It is at this time, when history comes to a critical impasse, that the moment has come for new artists to seek fresh expressions to portray their perspective, and find a way to escape the maze.



An Exhibition of Chinese Urban Art
Curated by Yan Lei
23rd September – 21st November 2008

Down Town Production is a dynamic group show bringing cutting-edge, urban Chinese art to the UK. Curated by one of China's leading artists, Yan Lei, the exhibition brings together eight rising stars of contemporary Chinese art whose work reflects the recent dramatic social and economic transformation of China. It is anticipated that 70% of China's 1.3 billion population will live in urban areas by 2035. At the end of 2002, records showed that China's urban population totalled 502 million, living in over 21,000 towns and cities. Down Town Production is a selection of art that reflects and explores this dramatic shift.

The artists will give us a taste of China's emerging popular culture, with works as such as ground-breaking L.A.S.E.R. graffiti by conceptual artist, DJ and rapper, MC Yan. L.A.S.E.R. tagging is the very newest form of graffiti art developed only a year ago and currently cropping up in cities all over the world. Courtesy of MC-Yan, London will experience a major laser-tagging event this autumn, as part of the exhibition.

Down Town Production is was staged by The Red Mansion Foundation, which has been working to bring China’s contemporary art scene to the UK for almost a decade, discovering new talent and establishing an exchange program between London and China for some of the biggest names in contemporary art. Many of the works in the exhibition are be for sale.

The Down Town Production show took place both inside and outside the Red Mansion Foundation's gallery space, which was completely transformed for the purpose of this exhibition. Curator, Yan Lei, distorted the traditional "white cube" concept and created a totally new environment for the show that was particularly striking in the context of the Red Mansion, a listed Robert Adam building.

The exhibition also included a one-off special performance by Brain Failure, trailblazers in China's burgeoning punk scene, who played at the ICA on 17th October. Formed in 1997, the band were the first to emerge from the People's Republic of China, embracing Western punk ideals and now enjoying commercial success at home and in the US. This was their first UK performance, and offers an insight into a youth movement that is gathering force. The bill also included Stanley Kubrick Goes Shopping, a new collaboration between Youth of Killing Joke and Dennis Morris, lead vocalist of Basement 5 and music photographer, famed for his seminal images of the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley.

The "Down Town Production" artists included:

MC Yan is a truly urban creative; a conceptual artist, graffiti artist and rapper. Recently MC Yan has produced new work using laser projection technology, writing words and images on Beijing's skyscrapers, putting the debate about the plight of the individual in full public view. MC Yan will be tagging a prominent London landmark to demonstrate the art of laser tagging for the first time ever in London.

Liu Ding has exhibited extensively internationally. Liu works mainly with installation, however he also works across a variety of media including painting, performance and photography. After moving to Beijing, Liu Ding collaborated with nine artists to launch the Complete Art Experience Project, an artist-led initiative that produces group and solo exhibitions with a focus on interdisciplinary artistic experiments. He has exhibited internationally, including China Power Station at the Serpentine Gallery in 2006.

Hong Hao is a major graphic artist and photographer whose intensely witty and sophisticated work celebrates the tradition of the artist's book in contemporary Western and ancient Chinese forms. Born in China in 1965, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, Hong graduated from the printmaking department at Beijing's Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square protests. He is best know for his photographic series, My Things, which are composed of thousands of scanned images of objects from his own life and several will be included in Down Town Production. He has shown at galleries and museums in China and all over the world including the USA, Ireland, France, Czech Republic, Canada, Sweden, Australia and Japan.

Meng Luding is one of China's leading abstract painters. His work, Enlightenment of Adam and Eve in the New Age, went on record as the pioneering work for the '85 Art Movement. The Football, one of his expressionist works, is considered a masterpiece of the genre, pushing the medium of oil painting into a new realm. His recent works show a strong personal style and unique art concepts and demonstrate a new visual language and production method.

Liu Zhenchen was born in Shanghai but has lived in France for the last eight years, so that Shanghai is now only a memory to him, a compressed experience. His recent photographs and films, which are documentary and poetic hybrids, show the frantic changes taking place in Shanghai and their direct impact on its residents. Zhenchen Liu has been awarded numerous prizes. His latest video was named Best Experimental Film at France's 9th Aubagne International Film Festival and was screened at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Most Chinese people know Lao Liu as a rock 'n' roll musician from the 80's. Now, he works as a photographer and lives in Beijing. In one of his more recent works, Lao Liu managed to elude border checks at the Ya Lu River, smuggling his camera into North Korea to take a series of photographs. Entitled Dance over the Border (Wu Guo San Ba Xian) they record and express the passion and romanticism of the local population. Liu has shown in the USA and China.

Zhao Shaoruo was born in China but lives and works in Espoo, Finland. Moving between Beijing, Hong Kong and Helsinki, Zhao has experienced a sense of displacement and his work explores loneliness and the absurdity of human incompetence. He reinterprets photographs for instance in Under the Name of the City, he replaces the faces of the passers-by in city scenes with his own face and places his own name on all the adverts, banners and street signs. He shows regularly in Finland and has also showed in Germany, Japan, Czech Republic, Indonesia and the V&A Museum in London. He will have four photographs in the exhibition.

Whilst much of China's most visible contemporary architecture ranges from glittering towers created by international architects to the kitsch of Thames Town (a mock English suburb near Shanghai), China, naturally, has it own architects who are now building for themselves, rather than for the state. Wang Hui, a founding partner of Urbanus Architecture & Design, is one such architect. With branches in Beijing and Shenzhen, Urbanus projects include urban design, architecture, urban landscape design, interior design, exhibition design and public art installations. Urbanus is recognized as one of the avant-garde among young Chinese firms. Their concept of urbane urbanity instead of chaotic urbanism characterizes each Urbanus project and, as a firm, they aim to restore humanity back to China's vast and fast-growing metropolises. Hui will make wallpaper to dress the gallery space and an installation for Down Town Production.

Top Chinese punk band Brain Failure playing at ICA on 17th October 2008, supported by Stanley Kubrick Goes Shopping. Down Town Production curator Yan Lei has been collaborating with seminal Chinese punk band Brain Failure for many years, making paintings of them and inviting them to participate in exhibitions. The aim is to introduce another dimension to the traditional visual art exhibition and to open up possibilities for creativity and interpretation. Brain Failure is one of the leading punk bands in China. Founded by high school dropout, Xiao Rong, in 1997, Brain Failure's members are the first generation of Chinese musicians since the 1949 Communist Revolution to grow-up in relative political stability, economic prosperity and exposure to western popular culture. Brain Failure brings a power and a passion to the stage that reflects the years of playing underground gigs in Beijing. Lead singer Xiao Rong is relentless and tireless, a man possessed. Brain Failure is influenced by bands like The Clash, Ramones, Rancid, Op Ivy and Green Day. Their lyrics tend to deal with the social problems and attitudes of present day China, rather than the political issues. An almost complete lack of media interest and a general aversion to rock music in China hampered their progress at home, but they have found a warmer reception in the outside world. Their US tour in 2003 led to the release of the 2004 album American Dreamer, a reference perhaps to the fulfilment of a long-awaited dream for recognition in the music world. Further acceptance came in the form of a casting for a European Levi's Commercial and coverage across US printed press, with appearances on MTVU and MTV Chi, MTV's new Asian American channel.

Their latest EP Beijing Calling features Public Enemy's Chuck D.

Stanley Kubrick Goes Shopping: Supporting Brain Failure is a group who, in stark contast to Brain Failure, are steeped in the history of British rock 'n' roll. Recently formed, Stanley Kubrick Goes Shopping comprises legendary photographer Dennis Morris (best known for his seminal images of Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols during the 1970's); producer, Youth (ex-Killing Joke) and Phillipe (ex-Telephon). Yan Lei invited the band to be part of Down Town Production as a result of collaborative work with Dennis Morris - Lei is working with elements of Morris' iconic Sex Pistol imagery - while Youth has been working with Red Mansion artist Cang Xin on the latter's Exchanged Identity series.

There will be a laser-tagging event attached to the gig brought to us by Chinese rapper and graffiti artist, MC Yan, one of the Down Town Production artists. Laser tagging has been developed in the last 2 years and it is the latest trend in graffiti writing. MC Yan will be bringing to London a major interactive laser tagging event at a London landmark. MC Yan has also collaborated with Brain Failure on a track that will be released in China in October of this year.

Check out some laser tagging at: graffiti research lab

To view images of the LASER tagging event at TATE Modern on
September 27th, please CLICK HERE


A solo exhibition by Qiu Jie
11th June - 13th September 2008

The Red Mansion Foundation is pleased to present an exhibition of works by the artist Qiu Jie at its space in 46 Portland Place. In October 2007, The Red Mansion Foundation invited Qiu Jie to London to take part in an artist residency as part of our wider programme of exchange activities. Qiu Jie stayed in London for one month and produced a new series of work based on his encounters and impressions of the city. This new exhibition will consist of the series of work that was created as a result of this residency.

Qiu Jie was born in 1961 in Shanghai. He graduated from the School of Decorative Arts in Shanghai in 1981, and then furthered his education at the School of Fine Arts in Geneva, in 1994. Qiu's work is exhibited regularly at an international level, in Switzerland, France and China. He has received many prizes and distinctions, including a scholarship by Cite des Arts in Paris, and the Federal Fine Arts Prize in 1995. His work continues to be acquired by numerous contemporary art foundations (such as the Saatchi Gallery), museums, and private collectors. Recent exhibitions of his include a solo show at the Arrario Gallery in Beijing in 2008 and the Shanghai Biennale in 2006.

Qiu Jie's works consists of painstakingly intricate pencil drawings executed on a massive scale, some reaching up to 10 metres in width, and a series of portraits, over eighty in number, reflecting those people most important and influential in his life. Taking anything between six months and a year to complete, Qiu's pencil drawings are works of substantial achievement and endeavour. Yet despite their vast size, the breath taking detail and agile delicacy of these drawings makes for a very subtle and tantalising visual delight. The viewer is teased, our eye drawn on a diverse path through a melting pot of iconography, from titillating images of female sexuality to James Bond, from Pink Floyd album covers to Cultural Revolution soldiers. There is a playful and irreverent quality to his images; the convergence of culturally iconographic traditions from East and West creating a unique style, much like China itself. Yet when we look to the creator of the works themselves for some understanding, we are diverted once again - Qiu jokingly refers to them as "just high quality wallpaper".

Despite the more personal aspects to his work, especially the series of paintings that focus on important people in his life, including his son, Qiu Jie still refers to himself as an outsider - his name is in fact a pseudonym, meaning "foreigner", or "hermit". There may seem to be a dichotomy then, for an artist to take a name that means "outsider", yet whose work is deeply informed by tradition. One might wonder what role does tradition have in an increasingly rootless and scattered global culture? This perception of the world does not hold true for Qiu Jie however; his casual reply is not to worry, for no one can truly escape their roots.


A solo exhibition by Yang Qian, curated by Huang Du
29th April - 4th June 2008
The Red Mansion Foundation, London, UK
Open Monday to Friday by appointment only

The Red Mansion Foundation is pleased to present its fourth exhibition of works by Yang Qian, curated by Huang Du, editor of Avant Garde Today, at its space in 46 Portland Place. Yang Qian, born in Chengdu (China) in 1959, has shown extensively on an international level, at the Today Art Museum in Beijing, the Shanghai Biennale in 2006, the National Museum of contemporary art in Seoul, and at the Taipei Art Museum, among other places.

Yang Qian became known for his gauzy and dreamlike "photorealist" paintings of women at their toilette. Although richly lit and sensuously positioned, these steamy shots of showers and bathrooms ultimately contain a certain Oriental reticence; the veils of steam that coil around the figures conceal as well as reveal their form, creating an erotic tension between subject and painter, viewer and voyeur.

Yang Qian continues to play with the notion of multi-layered meaning in painting with his new work. He seeks to deconstruct the ocular-centrism of art and to liberate the act of observation and appreciation. In the "Bathroom" series, images overlap between truth and illusion as we view the subject through the film of a mirror, a sheen of water-droplets, and mist. Following the hidden realities of these reflective and reflected images, Yang Qian's new work can be categorized as "dual paintings". His technique involves painting over surfaces of already finished pieces of work, using a colourless fluorescent paint, so that the painting presents a different visual image, depending on whether they are viewed in regular or UV light. This allows for a multiplicity of images, and a new aspect of interaction to emerge.

Yang Qian states that his aim with this series of "dual paintings" was to formally disrupt and go beyond the perceived limitations of a 2 dimensional painting. His new work seeks to engage and interact with the surroundings in a way that totally contradicts the expected restraints of painting. His "dual paintings" are classic in style, but also absorb new media, thus creating a new form of art. Yang Qian's new work also involves the concept of kinetic paintings - again, these involve and interact with the viewer in a wholly unexpected manner, breaking with the traditional preconceptions of painting. This exhibition as a whole in fact illustrates how the artist seeks to subvert the normal concept, and re-define the connotation and extension of the paintings, through the idiom "Only renovation can rejuvenate painting".

To visit the China Now website CLICK HERE


Lu Chunsheng, a retrospective, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist
6th Feb 2008 - 20th April 2008
The Red Mansion Foundation, London, UK
Open Monday to Friday by appointment only

In February 2008 Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery curated a solo exhibition of Lu Chunsheng. Lu Chunsheng studied at China National Academy of Fine Art, and currently lives and works in Shanghai. Lu Chunsheng's brooding films and photographs up to 2003 appear preoccupied with industrial-era and communist history. However, the stories told via his films are more mystic than nostalgic, and deal more in the narrative imagination than anything that could be verified. The young men who act out the scenarios employ only basic costume and no dialogue; the sets are more chosen for their symbolic or evocative importance than their actual historical relevance.