An Exhibition exploring Two Cities, Four Villages, and the Uses of Art in China's Pearl River Delta.
Curators Margaret Crawford and Winnie Wong
Exhibition Director Ettore Santi
Creative Director José Figueroa
Featuring the work of the Art+Village+City Research Studio And video works by SHIMURAbros (as researchers at Studio Olafur Eliasson), Sascha Pohle, José Figueroa and Jing WenMain
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Art+Village+City was an interdisciplinary research studio taught by professors Margaret Crawford and Winnie Wong at the University of California, Berkeley. The studio investigated a wide range of urban art villages in the Pearl River Delta in China through onsite fieldwork, and culminated in a multimedia exhibition in both Berkeley and Shanghai. I documented the scope of the project through an extensive series of watercolors, which became central to the project’s website, exhibition and catalogue. As the creative director of the exhibition, I worked on the immersive design and installation of this project and produced the exhibition’s three-dimensional objects including life-size dioramas, an architectural model and a fake Olafur Eliasson work. Without being reductive, these renditions communicated the physical reality of the sites and their complex narratives.
Dafen Village Kindergarden
Local watercolor on artist board, local frame 12in x 18 in
March 22, 2015
Dafen Oil Painting Village is the world’s largest production center for oil-on-canvas painting. In 2006, at its height, it housed an estimated 8000 painters, who produced five million paintings per year. For many Chinese people, it is a place where anyone can realize his or her dream of becoming an artist. José Figueroa set up his watercolors in front of Dafen Village’s colorful kindergarten, located in the village’s central square. Since most painters in Dafen village paint from photographic sources, the ability to paint from life is often considered to be a practice of “originality.” While painting this image of the kindergarten, José attracted the attention of many children from the school, as well as tourists, visitors, and other painters, who commented on his ability to represent the kindergarten building.
1 -Xiaozhou Art Camps 75"x 60" x 31"
High school student must take a General Art Exam (liankao). Designed to test their foundational art skills, the exam consists of three parts: a three-hour portrait drawn from a photograph, a 30 minute composition drawn from memory, and a three-hour still-life painting. A jury scores each drawing or painting out of a possible 100 marks. Only students with the highest scores are admitted. In 2015, 42,000 students took the Guang- zhou Academy of Fine Arts’ entrance exam but only 1,335 students were accepted, an admission rate of 3%.
2- Made in Xiaozhou 75"x 60" x 31"
The Guangzhou Art Academy, in addition to the fine arts, teaches fashion design, ceramics, furniture design and photography. Graduates from these programs occupy studios, workshops and shops in the village, where they make and sell their handcrafted, artisanal and designer products. Some focus on developing their craft, while others use their products to support less commercial forms of art. Xiaozhou’s bohemian shopping district, unique in Guangzhou, now also offers many non-local crafts as well. On display here are custom made leather goods and designer clothing purchased in Xiaozhou.
3- Van Gogh on Demand 75"x 60" x 31" is the title of a book on whose cover appears a painter, Zhao Xiaoyong, who for twenty years has specialized in the production of Van Gogh paintings. He has trained his wife, his brother, his brother-in-law, and many apprentices in the production of Van Gogh paintings. In 2007, he opened Impressions Gallery, which is the only workshop in Dafen village to specialize in the production and wholesale of Van Gogh paintings. Here he manages a small network of Van Gogh and other impressionist and post-impressionist painters, and paints about two Van Gogh paintings a day.
4-Sabaki Space 75"x 60" x 31"
Founded by Liu Ke and Zhao Qinshan in 2008, Sabaki Space is a 5m² room with picture windows on two sides. Its name refers to a strategy in the game of Go that means to take a space and produce a chain reaction in a difficult situation. Its founders intended it to be an independent and experimental art space, open to anyone who wants to exhibit. The gallery has hosted numerous Chinese and foreign artists. The Art+Village+City studio hopes to show their work there in 2016.