Swiss collector Uli Sigg, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ringier Group and former Swiss Ambassador to China, Mongolia and North Korea from 1995 to 1998, has taken a keen interest in China and its culture since the late 1970s. Together with his wife Rita, he has been building a collection devoted exclusively to Chinese art since the mid-1990s, and can justly be regarded as a pioneer in this field. Having initially concentrated on the acquisition of new art, Sigg soon began to extend his collection to include ‘historic’ works of Chinese avant-garde art from the 1980s and early 90s.
This show provides an overview of a quarter of a century of Chinese avant-garde art (1979–2005). Huang Yongping, Wang Guangyi, Gu Wenda, Zhang Peili, Xu Bing, and Geng Jianyi, Huang Rui, Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Song Dong, Ai Weiwei, Zhang Peili, Weng Fen, Fang Lijun are among the artists whose works are on view.
In contrast with the strong abstract tendencies often seen in modern Western art, a great deal of China’s contemporary art has been figurative in character — the visual legacy of Soviet era Social Realism. Cinema, photography, pop art and advertising have fused with this style resulting in the work of artists such as Liu Xiaodong’s painting of party cadres on holiday, and Hai Bo’s restaging of a photograph taken during the era of the Cultural Revolution. The rise of a burgeoning consumer economy, the immensity of sprawling cities and the new propaganda of brand culture have also provided ample inspiration for many Chinese artists.
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