Forum, activities in Chicago explore contemporary Chinese art
CHICAGO, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S.-China Forum 2020 kicked off at the University of Chicago (UChicago) here on Thursday with the theme "The Matter of Art."
"The University of Chicago has a long history of relations with China," and with the importance of China in the world today, "it's imperative to have our faculties and students engage with China," said President of UChicago Robert Zimmer at the opening of the forum.
When addressing the audience, Chinese Consul General in Chicago Zhao Jian, also a speaker at the forum, said that "cultural and artistic exchange plays an important role in the exchange of relations between China and the United States."
Wu Hung, a professor in Chinese art history at UChicago, said in his keynote speech that Chinese artists have tried a number of "unconventional" materials to create masterpieces since the 1980s.
Wu uses the term "material art" to describe artworks in which "material rather than image or style" is used as "the paramount vehicle of aesthetic, political, and emotional expression."
Material art is not unique to China, but Chinese artists have demonstrated "a very strong trend of development," Wu said, adding that their use of materials often show Chinese characteristics, such as the use of silk, which has a long history in China.
The forum sets the stage for the exhibition "The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China," a large-scale exhibition on the materiality of contemporary art from China, which opens on Friday and is co-presented by the Smart Museum of Art.
More than two dozen Chinese artists including such well-known names as Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing will showcase a total of 48 artworks, some in 3D, at the exhibition.
Orianna Cacchione, co-curator of the exhibition, said that the works presented will inspire people to contemplate "our relationship to the everyday material world" and "the inter-relationship between Chinese art and broader trends in contemporary art globally."
"I learned a lot about China from Wu Hung's earlier exhibition," said 73-year-old Allon Strong from Chicago. "The new art in China since the 1980s interests me because it has a major breakthrough."
Strong said he is looking forward to the coming exhibition.
Together with the exhibition, there will be a puppet-making workshop, an educator workshop and other special programs on material art.