Ahead of the Curve
New china from China
Ahead of the Curve: New china from China was a partnership exhibition with three renowned English museums and one Chinese gallery: The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as Shanghai twocities gallery. This exhibition took five years to develop and was supported by Arts Council England as well as the British Council and the Art Fund. It was declared a National Exhibition by the British government.
Ahead of the Curve: New china from China opened in October 2014 at The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum and then followed with stops at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.
Notable attendees at the opening reception at The Wilson included the mayor of Cheltenham, Simon Wheeler, Arts Council England Chief Executive Geoff Mulgan, twocities gallery curator Shannon Guo and co-curators Kate Newnham and Helen Brown. One of the highlights of the reception was keynote speaker Shannon Guo’s seminar on contemporary Chinese pottery and glass art. The BBC and other news agencies were on-hand to provide press coverage.
The second exhibition at the Bristol Museum was also well received with a total attendance of over 22,000 visitors. In June 2015, the exhibition’s final stop was at the English center of ceramic production: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. There again the exhibition was well attended and visitors could scarcely believe such modern art originated from China since they usually associated Chinese ceramics with Qing Dynasty tableware. During the symposium in June 2015 at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, distinguished guests included British Museum curator Mary Ginsberg as well as Victoria and Albert Museum curator Luk Yu-Ping. It was such a success that The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery curator Claire Blakey exclaimed afterwards, “I can’t believe we did it!”
During the Bristol Museum stop, Lars Tharp, well known ceramics historian from BBC Antiques Roadshow, carefully perused the exhibition for four hours and then filmed a special promotion regarding the exhibition. In addition to some in-depth critique, he declared, “I have seen other exhibitions from China…modern Chinese ceramics which have none of the imagination that you see here- it’s what I call very derivative, safe- this is not, this is not. I think it shows there is exciting stuff coming out of China.” Mr. Tharp has visited China’s ceramic capital, Jingdezhen, 18 times and has hosted a special series on the BBC regarding Jingdezhen. He is very familiar with traditional as well as contemporary ceramic art, and his critique was authoritative and substantive.
Twenty artists were featured in this exhibition- fifteen ceramic artists and five glass artists. Most of these artists have had a long-time partnership with twocities gallery and they are all leaders in the world of contemporary Chinese art. Ceramic artists included Li Jianshen (Jackson), Zhang Jingjing, Chen Guanghui, Zhao Lantao, Huang Chunmao, Jiang Yanze, Kang Qing, Peng Zanbin, Shao Changzong, Wan Liya, Wu Hao, Xu Hongbo, Wang Ping, Wang Xiao, and Yao Jiliang. Glass artists included Zhuang Xiaowei, Guan Donghai, Shelly Xue, Han Xi, and Wang Qin. These artists teach at a variety of esteemed academic institutions including the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Academy of Arts & Design Tsinghua University, China Academy of Art, Nanjing University of the Arts, and the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, etc.
There was a total of 45 art pieces exhibited in Ahead of the Curve: New china from China, among which 19 were collected by Victoria and Albert Museum, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and private collectors, making this the single largest acquisition of Chinese contemporary ceramic and glass art by English museums to date.
Ahead of the Curve: New china from China was the largest international exhibition that twocities has participated in and involved artists with whom twocities has enjoyed long-term relationships. 2015 marks the 10th year anniversary of twocities. We have established ourselves as a gallery of influence in the international and academic arenas, and we look forward to promoting even more contemporary Chinese ceramic, glass and lacquer artists in the years to come. We are exceedingly grateful for all of the support we have received from our domestic and international artists, as well as partnerships, and we look forward to additional international opportunities in the future.
Ahead of the Curve: New china from China co-curator
Vice Director of the Jewelry Committee and Vice Director of the Glass Committee of China Arts & Crafts Association
Artistic Director and Founder of Shanghai twocities Gallery
Director of the Jewelry & Metals Program, Fine Arts College of Shanghai University
Red Walls & White Snow
on the lacquer painting of Bai Xiao Hua—The Forbidden City and Snow series
At the 10th National Juried Art Exhibition awards ceremony in October 2004, I saw a lacquer piece of the Forbidden City. The painting was a section of the Wu Men gate tower. The depth of the building was flattened and the two-dimensional, geometric divisions of horizontal and vertical lines, emphasized. Even though the painting didn’t depict the grandeur of the palace, the solemnity of the Imperial Garden was nonetheless impressive. The red walls and white snow made everything look to be in perfect harmony, which greatly enhanced the beauty of the snow scene. That piece was the winner of the Silver Prize and was painted by a young lacquer artist named Bai Xiao Hua. It was called, “Wu Men Snow”.
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Within every city, two cities simultaneously emerge. The first represents all that is good and right and desirable; the second city everything that we long to see changed.
The twocities art gallery seeks to help build the first city, through art and events that champion beauty, commitment, thoughtfulness and community. As one of the few galleries in China specializing in contemporary handcrafted art, twocities represents Chinese artists pioneering in modern glass, ceramics, jewelry and lacquer. We are dedicated to providing a platform for contemporary craft artists to engage in international dialogue.
Other events include lectures, film showings and concerts showcasing musicians from a variety of musical genres. In keeping with twocities gallery’s desire to build “the good city ” we work to promote events which highlight beauty, thoughtfulness and innovation in artistic expression and in the city we inhabit.