Chinese 28 a new exhibit of 28 Chinese contemporary artists opened at this weekend in San Francisco at the Asian Art Museum. The Asian has stayed true to its reputation and continues to show some of the best contemporary art (from anywhere) that gets shown in San Francisco.
Before even starting to look, we had a seat in He Xianyu’s installation The Man in the Chair. Comfortable, high backed, wooden chairs fashioned from old, wooden aqueducts.
In the first gallery you could smell Zhu Jinshi’s Black and White Summer Palace – Black before you saw it. An epic, large, oil painting that has not finished drying (it was created in 2007). I was impressed by nearly every piece in this room.
The highlight of the second gallery was Huang Wei’s installation of three pieces of series called Buying Everything on You – where as the name suggests, he approached strangers on the street and offered to buy everything, everything on them at that moment. For each person there is a platform with all of the clothing they wore and items they carried carefully laid out. The effect is like a creepy time capsule and I can only hope he continues.
One of the open lobby spaces is dominated by Zhu Jinshi’s installation Boat. Constructed from 8000 sheets of Chinese calligraphy paper, it’s quite magical and was extra special on a quiet afternoon when I got to have the boat to myself for a few minutes (as it should be).
On the upper levels of the museum there are additional pieces integrated in with the permanent collection. No show of contemporary, Chinese art would be complete without a contribution from art superstar Ai Weiwei. Mr. Weiwei does not disappoint with his offering Ton of Tea. A big, massive block of pure, conceptual bullshit, er I mean a block of pu’er tea. It actually is pretty cool in that way that conceptual art can be sometimes. I noticed a little damage at a bottom corner, and can only hope it is a sign of mice nibbling away at the tea in the middle of the night. I’ll check back on my next visit and see how they’re doing.
The show is opened until August 16, 2015 and I’ll be heading back for a second and maybe a third look before the show closes.