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Brick Collection Makes An Exhibition of Contemporary Art in Beijing
   2015-06-19 14:03:55    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xu

The undated picture shows wooden boxes filled with everyday detritus from the ruined architecture of Wuhu. Artist Ying Tianqi makes an exhibition out of these everyday detritus to re-create scenes from the ancient Wuhu town in the exhibition hall of Today Art Museum in Beijing. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/agencies]

Anchor: Ying Tianqi, an artist who has drawn attention to Xidi village with his unique water woodblock print techniques, has arranged an exhibition showing his recent artworks.

The theme work of this exhibition is bricks, relics from the ancient town of Wuhu, all of which were hand-picked by local citizens.

Xu Fei has more.


Reporter: Xidi village is one of around 100 ancient villages scattered in the beautiful landscape of green mountains and racing streams in southern Anhui Province.

Ying Tianqi, an artist who was born in Wuhu, Anhui Province and graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts, has brought attention to the village through his water-print paintings and calligraphy.

Meanwhile, the artist has also garnered fame for his works of Xidi Village Series, which are about the destruction, confinement and distortion of lived history and aim to arouse concern to save part of Xidi village, in his native Anhui province, from demolition.

Yang Wei is an art critic, and also director of Heilongjiang Contemporary Art Research Institute.

"Ying Tianqi has made Xidi village more widely known. I think what made him a unique artist is that he elevated a city's position in the field of national culture via his art creations. This is also his contribution. The ongoing exhibition is about the ancient town of Wuhu and continues to showcase the close connection between art and a place, however big progress would be found in the exhibition."

A major work of the ongoing exhibition, titled Inquiry of the Brick, is an 11-meter long and seven-meter wide installation. It is composed of nearly a thousand wooden boxes filled with everyday detritus from the ruined architecture of Wuhu, all of which were collected by local citizens.

These wooden boxes now lie quietly and solemnly at the center of the exhibition hall of the Today Art Museum in Beijing.

Hu Shi is an architect and a professor of architecture with Southeast University. He's also assisted in the artist's exhibition.

"The most impressive thing is thousands of local citizens of Wuhu hand-picked bricks for his exhibition. The bricks stay lifeless, but the artist connects it closely with each member of the local society in a lively way, by which each piece of bricks bears a signature of the picker. In my opinion, the pickers' signature marks their role as a media to not only carry on history but also look forward."

Yang Wei thinks the exhibition has significant influence, and serves as a case study of the problems arising in the urbanization process of Wuhu.

"The exhibition employs multi means of contemporary art expressions, including, installation, video, behavior and so on. I think the most important thing is the artist injecting his concept of art into a public field to arouse public concern. The exhibition unveils many problems that came as a result of the huge transformation of Chinese society. This is where, I think, the social value and significance of contemporary art lies in."

Ying Tianqi is the only artist in China who uses architecture as a material to build his own artwork. He's kept using the regional resources of Anhui Province in his artworks for 30 years.

His artwork is also seen as an expression of his doubts and criticism on the changes that have been taking place in local society.

The themes addressed in this exhibition are certainly not new since the artist is a long-running campaigner for the protection of local cultural heritages. But the artist says what makes it new at the ongoing exhibition is a mass involvement of people ranging from professional architects to ordinary citizens.

"The exhibition is not my solo show. Viewers may find the statues of ordinary citizens picking bricks. They are also authors of my artwork. The exhibition also represents the wisdom of both architects and theorists. I'm full of gratitude to my colleagues who also have a deep passion for our history and cultural heritages to accomplish this art exhibition with me, including those ordinary visitors. Actually the visitors also constitute part of this exhibition, which may contribute through their interaction."

The artist re-created scenes from the ancient Wuhu town in the exhibition hall, which he says are more powerful than a verbal comparison of what the place used to be and what it looks like today.

Architect Hu Shi comments on the exhibition that revives the old Wuhu town.

"The renovation and development of Wuhu city is a very complicated thing in which government staff, real estate developers, and local residents all get involved in. What I've found in Ying Tianqi is his enthusiasm about his hometown as well as his expectation towards social transformation and development. His charm of personality as an artist is very impressive for me. He has done a great deal of work, which encourages us to contribute more efforts in Wuhu city's renovation."

The exhibition, which the artist hopes inspires viewers to reflect on the loss of history amid new developments, will run until June 29th.

For CRI, I'm Xu Fei.

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