30 Aug - 12 Oct 2008
2008.8.30 - 2008.10.12
Curator: Karen Smith
Artists: Aniwar, He An, Hu Xiaoyuan, Jia Aili, Qiu Xiaofei, Wang Wei, Xiao Yu, Xu Ruotao, Zhaung Hui
Opening Party: August 30, 2008, 4:00PM
Venue:Platform China Contemporary Art Institute Main Space A & B
"... [the] rejection of false or naive explanations is as important as the search for better and more correct causal theories. We must clear the ground of rubbish before we can build."
No one can define art absolutely. Everyone has an opinion as to what art can or can not be; of the acceptable and unacceptable forms it can take; the boundaries it can approach but neither ought to touch or cross. Post-modernist theory did much to break through those boundaries, just as Modernism had done in its time. Post-modernism also went one step further than anything prior to it: unleashing a ‘freedom’ as to what art could be—anything the artist decreed. Today, one can’t help sensing that what began as a positive spirit of anarchy has descended into a vapid, untrammelled ‘anything-goes’. The line between the two—between success and not quite succeeding; between triumph and falling just-short-of-the-mark, between enduring power and temporal punch—is so very fine: so subtle. Most people would agree with the following (1) An artist is a person who participates with understanding in the making of a work of art. (2) A work of art is an artifact of a kind created to be presented to a public audience. In terms of the first, there is always brilliance, there is always sublime inspiration and glorious invention. But increasingly, as the boundaries shift and fade, certain elements they once served to define are fading with them. This has a tendency to result in a complex process of navigating these ‘artifacts of a kind created to be presented to a public audience’. Today, formal considerations are less important than the events, contexts or issues to which a work alludes, or blatantly illustrate. Many works pivot on concepts tied to fleeting moments and temporal events. Art works no longer seek to stand alone, to speak beyond their time. Does it matter? We are in an age of increasing globalisation and universal understanding, are we not? Again, does it matter? Perhaps not, but it does beg the question: what are the enduring values of art? What is important today? Each of these artists is engaged in an on-going, very personal search for what they feel to be correct, in line with which they are constantly clearing new ground.
‘Subtlety’ sets out to explore this process. In a group of commissioned works from nine leading contemporary artists, we find a diverse range of ideas, thought processes, and sensibilities. The works ask the viewer to respond to their subtle nature, and consider what distinguishes enduring art from temporal trends: the importance of the search, and a desire to build on what has gone before.