Is Google Getting Dumber?

Posted on April 10th, by admin in Blog. 1 Comment

Much digital ink has been spilled about Google’s new initiative to integrate its various platforms to profile users and ‘provide them with a better experience.’ Basically, what they’re doing is compiling the profile information it once kept on separate platforms, so that it can get a better idea of who you are. Here is one good article that looks at the implications .

I will leave the privacy issues in more capable hands for the moment. What I want to talk about is a more concrete difference that has emerged recently. Basically, Google, as a tool, seems to be getting dumber, at least at the tasks I use it for.

As a translator, Google has been a godsend. My art translation work requires me to track down a lot of obscure quotes, not only from art history tombs, but from every facet … Read More »

Calendar Page is Back!

Posted on March 22nd, by admin in Blog. No Comments

After a bit of tinkering, I’ve got a decent system setup for events listings. Check it out here. Don’t forget to send me your events…

Fabricated Texts and Invented Language

Posted on March 20th, by admin in Blog. No Comments

I had the great pleasure today to meet Xu Bing, a towering figure in the early history of Chinese contemporary art. We were in Shenzhen for the opening of Textual Logic, an exhibition of works by Xu Bing and calligraphers Wang Dongling and Qiu Zhenzhong at the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal.

Xu Bing rose to fame in 1998 with the release of A Book from Heaven, an artwork that was monumental on many levels. It was a massive tome printed with old-school movable type dies. The book’s accordion-folded pages stretched from floor to ceiling several times over in the exhibition hall at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. The walls were also covered with massive spreads from the book, all created using the same hand-carved printing dies.

So what was the book about? Here’s the thing: nobody knows, not even the artist. … Read More »

An Insider Account of Sotheby’s

Posted on March 14th, by admin in Blog. 1 Comment

An employee at Sotheby’s New York has just published an entertaining account of life inside the storied auction house. There are no great surprises there, but it is quite well-written.

The auction scene is considered to be the tiny tip of the massive invisible iceberg that is today’s international art market, as galleries, dealers and private collectors, the bulk of the market, are loathe to discuss how much money is actually changing hands, while auction houses thrive on the publication of prices. Some of the larger houses are publicly listed now, so we know not only how much a certain dead artist’s works garnered in the auctions last year, but also that Sotheby’s CEO made nearly $6 million in 2010.

Despite that, the overall auction culture, both in-house and among frequent bidders, is still shrouded with an aura of secrecy. While revealing … Read More »

Zhang Zikang on the Chinese Art Market

Posted on March 13th, by admin in Blog. No Comments

The Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business has just posted a video of Today Art Museum Director Zhang Zikang talking about the state of the Chinese contemporary art market. Zhang is the director of the Today Art Museum, the first independent contemporary art museum in China. He has played a very active role in the development of art institutions in China, promoting patronage, philanthropy and standards among independent museums. It’s always good to hear from a primary source.

Many outside observers condemn Chinese artists for catering to Western collector tastes by producing too much political pop and other art focused on the Cultural Revolution. Zhang spins this around by saying that Western interest in the political dimensions of artistic expression under the Chinese regime skewed the Western perspective from the beginning. This rings true to me. This focus on political themes … Read More »

The Chinese Roots of Print Art

Posted on March 9th, by admin in Blog. No Comments

Print art has always fascinated me, not only because it is within my reach as a collector, but also because it is the one medium in contemporary art that has its roots in China, and it embodies the diffusion of ideas between East and West. This medium, which began as the most primal, embryonic form of (semi)mass media, went on to play a major role in the rise of modernity in both Asia and the West, and is today a vibrant art form in its own right.



A page of the Diamond Sutra found at Dunhuang

The earliest known woodcut print is a 7th century copy of the Diamond Sutra discovered in the caves of Dunhuang, along the Silk Road in western China. It was a crude but important means of disseminating religious texts and other important works in ancient … Read More »

Upcoming Events

Posted on March 8th, by admin in Blog. No Comments

I have a bit more tinkering to do before my events page is up to snuff. In the future, I hope to make this site a clearinghouse of sorts for information on upcoming Chinese art and cultural events. While I tinker around with that, here are some noteworthy upcoming events to put on your calendar:

Note: the Jue Market is actually on March 10, not March 13 as posted before

Through April 14: Sui Jianguo at Pace Beijing
A retrospective to mark this seminal Chinese conceptual artist’s joining of the Pace family. Location: Pace Beijing, 798 Art District. More information

Through April 15: Re: Painting at Platform China
An in-depth look at the medium and meaning of painting through the work of various Chinese artists. Artists include  Bi Jianye, Gong Jian, Huang Liang, Hexie Baroque Group, Jia Aili, Jiang Guozhe, Ma Ke, Ou Yangchun,Qin Qi, Qi Wenzhang, Song … Read More »

Color of Memory – Lin Jingjing

Posted on March 5th, by admin in Archive. 2 comments

In 2011, artist Lin Jingjing created the collaborative work Color of Memory, in which she asked several people to recount their most painful memories, describe them as objects and assign them a color. She then created paintings and readymade installations based on these recollections, pairing them with video of the participants’ responses. Below are some of the responses:


What is your most painful memory?
Fifteen years ago, I took my three year old daughter to go shopping at the mall. I spotted a pink one-piece dress that I had her try on. It fit her well, and looked really pretty on her. So I went to the register about ten meters away to pay for it. She was squirming around in front of the mirror, trying out various poses. She was only out of my sight for two minutes, and … Read More »

Wuhua and Me – Yu Jian

Posted on March 5th, by admin in Archive. 3 comments

Yu Jian is a famous Chinese poet who resides in Kunming. This essay is the best homage to the city I have ever come across. It also contains his first poem, Green Park in Summer, written in 1973. I originally translated it for the now defunct Yunnan Magazine.

Though I’ve never left, I no longer recognize my hometown
Passing through this newborn city, I feel like a returning exile
Like a ghost returning to the temple, I still know
where the Li family well is, where the Zhang family garden is
where my grandmother’s rattan chair is, where her emerald earrings are
where the curtain hanging in the darkness is. I still know
where mother’s market is, where the eaves of the city god temple are
I can still hear the wind chimes, I can still see the bats in their grey robes
the sunset over the eucalyptus lake shimmering … Read More »

Ways of Looking at a Blackbird – On Kang Jianfei

Posted on March 5th, by admin in Archive. No Comments

 Kang Jianfei is a print artist and painter based at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. This essay by Tony Chang was written for a 2008 exhibition at Amelie Gallery. Visit their website for more information about Kang Jianfei

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms,
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
-Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens


 Kang Jianfei was born in Tianjin in 1973, and his life has always revolved around the academy. Since completing undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the China Central Academy of Fine Art, he has remained there as a member of the faculty. This once rambunctious student who was a constant headache to his teachers has now become the esteemed Instructor Kang.


The art academy, a hotbed of elitism, provided Kang with stability and social respect, allowing him … Read More »

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Latest Posts

Is Google Getting Dumber?

Much digital ink has been spilled about Google’s new initiative to integrate its various platforms to profile users and ‘provide them with a better...

Calendar Page is Back!

After a bit of tinkering, I’ve got a decent system setup for events listings. Check it out here. Don’t forget to send me your...

Fabricated Texts and Invented Language

I had the great pleasure today to meet Xu Bing, a towering figure in the early history of Chinese contemporary art. We were in...