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Today Art Museum announces Wang Guangyi Thing-in-Itself. Utopia, Pop and Personal Theology

Today Art Museum presents Wang Guangyi “Thing-in-Itself”. Utopia, Pop and Personal Theology, on view 14 October–27 November, 2012.

2012 is the 10th anniversary of Today Art Museum. From October 14 to November 27, Today Art Museum will hold the large scale research exhibition “Thing-in-Itself”: Utopia, Pop and Personal Theology, supervised by Zhang Zikang and curated by Huang Zhuan.

Wang Guangyi, Red Rationality Revision of the Idols, 1987. Oil on canvas, 200 x 160 cm

The idea of the “thing-in-itself” is a core concept in Kantian philosophy, as well as a central theme in the history of modern thought. Thing-in-itself is the source and foundation of phenomena and sensory material, but are also unknowable things that lie beyond human cognition, imbued with a priori spatiotemporal form and universal, absolute metaphysical properties. Dialectically, it is a category that is distinguished from the “thing-for-us,” and in contemporary art history, this category has manifested as a series of multiple and paradoxical relationships between things and words, materials and ideas, reason and belief.

Wang Guangyi has been one of the most representative artists in Chinese modernist art history since the 1980s. His artistic path embodies the complex paradoxical logic of Chinese contemporary art’s progression from its era of enlightenment to avant-gardism, postmodernism and consumerism, but for a long time, critique and research of him has been misconstrued and limited by cold war critical discourse and the commercial capitalist interpretation that is “political pop.” There is a need for an individual case study that takes the history of Chinese thought and visual culture into account.

Politics, Art and Theology: the Wang Guangyi Art Research Project will use the theme of “thing-in-itself” to engage in in-depth academic research of the historical dialectic properties of the rationality and faith, secular and transcendental, political and mythological contents of Wang Guangyi’s art, and will use this research-oriented presentation of a typical case study in Chinese contemporary art history to apply combined art history and intellectual history methods to holistically clarify the internal logic, image methods and situational influences taking place within this period of history. The academic goal of this pursuit is to provide a Chinese-language critical case study for the global theoretical interpretation system of contemporary art.

The exhibition will comprise four components. The retrospective component will consist of three segments: “Cultural Utopia – the Logic of Creation,” ”From Analysis to Pop – Correction and Requisition” and “Materialist Theology: Matter and Form,” presenting a temporal trajectory that spans thirty years of Wang Guangyi’s most representative works from the 1980s to the present. The exhibition will also present a large number of previously unreleased documents, videos and photographs. The fourth component will feature the large scale installation work Things-in-Themselves, which the artist is creating for this exhibition.

On October 14, the most famous museum directors, curators and researchers all around the world will be invited to participate in the academic exchange in Beijing. In addition, in order to stimulate the academic interaction between Chinese and foreign contemporary art, an international symposium Ways of Constructing the History of Contemporary Art hosted by the famous art historian Wu Hong, will be held at the museum. During the exhibition, Wang Guangyi’s View of Art lecture will be held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

As the long-term strategic partner of Today Art Museum, Mercedes-Benz hopes to present more outstanding contemporary art works to the public via the cooperation with the Chinese avant-garde art landmark and push forward the development of Chinese contemporary art by supporting more artists with dreams and talents.

Meanwhile, Martell, also the strategic partner of the Museum, provides a lot of help to this exhibition. Upon its completion, the exhibition will tour Europe, America and Asia.

Today Art Museum
Building 4, Pingod Community
No.32 Baiziwan Road, Chaoyang District
Beijing, China
T + 8610 58769690