Art for the Masses – Chinese contemporary art in Hua Gallery.

 “Since the financial crisis, quite a few galleries had shut down”, says Hua Gallery’s founder-director Shanyan Koder. “There wasn’t a Chinese contemporary art gallery. I identified the gap in the market and decided to try to fill it”.

2011-established Hua Gallery acts as a pioneer-portal to Europe for emerging and established Chinese contemporary artists. Koder is interested in trying to look for the next culturally relevant wave. Now she brings together “Art for the Masses”, three collaborations between Chinese contemporary artists well established in China but new to Europe.

“Art Toys” is a collaboration between five Chinese contemporary artists Yue Minjun & KAWS, Zhou Chunya, Zhou Tiehai, Liu Ye and Jin Nu. Originally 2d-painters, they have created toy-like miniature sculptures combining art, design, architecture and fashion. Jin Nu is the only female artist of the collaboration. Two generations younger than her fellow artists, her artist life wasn’t restrained by the hard political and social times of China. She lived the times when China started to open up, and was allowed to read Western fairytales.

Loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Little Mermaid, this exquisite sculpture is about a young woman driven by jealousy of the Little Mermaid, to modify her self using a dismembered shark’s tail. The juxtaposition between the beauty of the girl and the aggressive nature of the shark exposes a powerful message of bitter sweet pressures and obsessions of the contemporary feminine ideal.

Jin Nu 2008 – 28 cm by 19 cm by 21 cm – FRP/Crystal resin.

Collaboration between Chinese contemporary artist, Zhan Wang, and Dutch architects MVRDV creates “Jia Shan De Wu”. Wang takes MVRDV’s 24 townhouses, toy like wood building blocks from the project “The Vertical Village”, and assembles them the way one would design a Chinese garden. In his final step he chose to use stainless steel, a very Western material created during the period of industrialisation. This generates a dialogue between art and architecture, combination of East and West, a piece to interpret the concept of urban arcadia.

Zhan Wang x MVRDV 2011 – 60.5 cm by 38.5 cm by 38.8 cm – Stainless Steel – “Jia Shan De Wu”.

  Two prominent artists from completely different disciplines, painter Zhou Chunya from China and design architect Jaime Hayon from Spain, have collaborated in the piece “Alive”. Zhou Chunya interprets the restraints of a man’s libido with his famous green dog and its’ various different expressions. “It is such a truthful way”, Koder smiles, “Dogs don’t lie, they look honest and foolish, they are clumsy and pompous – they are absolutely unrestrained”. Jaime Hayon’s clean, fluid-lined, almost clinical display cabinet traps the dogs leaving the cabinet door half-way open. “Alive” is a piece that combines art and architecture. It reminds us of the necessity of growing up but at the same time also how trapped our libido actually is.

Zhou Chunya + Jaime Hayon 2012 – 14cm by 5cm by 8cm (figures) – 130cm by 55cm by 81.5cm (display case) – Epoxy resins, Lacquer, Lacquered wood – “ALIVE”.

Hua Gallery has an exciting schedule for the next 12 months exhibiting young artists such as Yang Kai, emerging artists such as Xuhong Shang and established artists such as Sheng Qi. The 2,000 square feet gallery is located in the prestigious Albion Riverside in Battersea riverside, designed by world-renowned architects Foster & Partners.

“Art for Masses” exhibition is on from 7th June to 6th July 2012.

Text and photos by Tara Byakko.