Yao Qingmei in “Factories, Machines and the Poet’s Words: Echos of the Realities in Art” at 798

Factories, Machines and the Poet’s Words: Echos of the Realities in Art

Exhibition Dates: 2019.10.05 – 2020.04.30

Exhibition Venue: A07, 798 Art Zone Buildings, Beijing

Curators: Liu Ding, Carol Yinghua Lu


In China, the trajectory of modern and contemporary art has always been closely linked to historical changes in society. The relationship between social reality and art was a central concern in the history of Chinese art in the twentieth century. The gradual emergence of realism and socialist realism in China in the 1930s, the reform of Chinese ink wash painting, along with the discussion and practice of “nationalizing oil paintings” in the 1950s, artistic production in the midst of the Great Leap Forward, the absolute dominance of Socialist Realism in literature and art in the 1960s and the 1970s, the upholding of such ideas as “formal liberation” and “renewal of concepts” in the 1980s, the commercialization and re-institution of Chinese contemporary art in its course of joining the global art movements, the growing tendency of being detached from the reality in Chinese contemporary art since 2008, all of these specific moments constituted a sketchy summary of the historical course of art in China. In such a process, the art world has maintained a close dialogue with the ideology of society as a whole. As producers in the field of creative practice, art has become a part of social productivity and landscape.

This exhibition brings together works from varying historical periods by artists across regions in and outside of China, reflecting their diverse efforts to represent, imagine, enact and take an active role in the realities. Their artistic productions have become an integrated part of historical realities and discourses. The artists’ observations and contemplations of historical and contemporary social lives in China, have demonstrated to us that the relations, institutions and discourses of artistic production have been deeply embedded in the ideological process of modern and contemporary Chinese society.