THE Confucius Institute based at DUT is hosting a Chinese Contemporary Art – Bird Fish Exhibition at Rivertown Contemporary, which is part of the Durban Art Gallery until Sunday, 12 June 2016.
The exhibition has been made possible by hosts, HANBAN/CI Headquarters, the Chinese Consulate General in Durban, DUT’s CI, as well as co-hosts, the eThekwini Municipality, Tatham Art Gallery, Durban Art Gallery, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
To showcase an artistic integration of contemporary Chinese visual arts and dynamic and indigenous South African art and culture, a preview of South African Chinese artist Kristin NG-Yang’s installation artwork first opened at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg on 20 May 2016 and was titled: “Bird/Fish” Art Exhibition – an Installation of Photographs, Prints and Drawings.
DUT Confucius Institute Director, Dr Eddie Chaobo Fu, says that over the last two decades the visual arts in China have come to reflect the dramatic shift in this country’s accelerated economic liberalisation and its global prominence.
“The rapid development of new, often acultural, visual expressions is drawn both from historical Chinese creative conventions and, more particularly, the absorption of Western and other models of art making. The encounter of Chinese artists with Africa and South Africa is rare, and has to date received little attention,” he said.
On 24 May 2016, representatives from DUT, government, Chinese consulate and the art and cultural fields converged on the Durban Art Gallery to view the artistic feast of contemporary Chinese and South African visual art.
The exhibition includes Kristin’s recent works, such as the water-colour monoprints, drawings, photographs, and the installation piece called the Bird/Fish.
“The theme is deployed metaphorically – the suspended fish/birds painted on plexiglass allude to that which is elusive – to disparate realms and difference. But the work also reflects on flawed perceptions of racial and cultural homogeneity, and on tainted histories of former encounters and power relations, then and now,” added Dr Fu.
He also said that the installation was intended to be contemplative – centering on sameness and difference, diffusion and conflict, the realms of the physical and metaphysical.
“In part, the work is autobiographical in that it reflects the artist’s predicament, as a diasporic Chinese artist/mother/father, Chinese/African, as she shifts between roles demanded of her both in the private and public sphere. Her identity, ostensibly homogeneous, is increasingly heterogeneous and in flux, to the extent that she, like both fish and bird (both culturally significant in China), is faced with various uncertainties and choices,” he explained.
DUT’s Dr Lolie Makhubu, from the Faculty of Arts and Design, said the exhibition showed how South Africa related to and collaborated with other parts of the world.
“The African (isiZulu, isiXhosa) performances, Chinese dance and the choreography displayed how the isiZulu and Chinese cultures relate to each other,” she said.
Furthermore, the exhibition will form part of the annual Grahamstown Arts Festival on 30 June, 1 and 2 July 2016.
Pictured: South African and Chinese artists sharing the stage with a depiction of a traditional Chinese Love Story dance.
For more information on Kristin NG-Yang, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fONlPdDFoSs&sns=fb