Walsh Gallery

Wenbo / Yu / Jianhua / Shaomin / Qiusha: Portraying Food (and the absence of it)


Dates: Jun 6 2008 - Jul 19 2008

Opening Reception: Jun 6 2008

view video interview of exhibiting artists

view works in exhibition

view photos of installation


Arguably the most indispensable item in human life, food has been an important subject of still life painting, commercial and pop art. Images of food span throughout art history, frequently taking on the sociopolitical and moral concerns of the period through its representation. Wu Hung's latest curatorial project at the Walsh Gallery, Portraying Food (and the Absence of It), focuses on the representation of food in contemporary Chinese art. The show consists of recent paintings, ceramic sculptures and photographs by Chen Wenbo, Zhu Yu, Liu Jianhua, Shen Shaomin and Ma Qiusha. The opening reception will take place Friday June 6 from 5-8pm. Curator Wu Hung and artists Liu Jianhua, Shen Shaomin and Ma Qiusha will be present at the opening reception.

The central space in the exhibition features recent photorealist paintings by Beijing-based artists Chen Wenbo and Zhu Yu. In Chen Wenbo's Epidemiology series, he successfully turns an everyday food item into a popular icon by increasing its scale into epic proportions. His paintings of eggs have a shiny, plastic quality that further heightens references to consumerism in today's China. Zhu Yu, an artist who weathered considerable controversy over earlier projects, venerates the remnants of a meal, making an otherwise sullied scene of consumption into a classical one with a deceptively polished surface.

The exhibition also features sculptural works by two artists, Liu Jianhua and Shen Shaomin, both of whom have received strong critical acclaim for recent works. Liu Jianhua's sculptural installation of several hundred ceramic bananas, apples, wrenches, mugs, and cabbages sprawl across a white table. The items, otherwise disposable parts of the new Chinese economy, become precious modern equivalents to the long history of Chinese porcelain production and export. In Shen Shaomin's sculptural installation Experimental Field, perforated assemblages of odd bones and bone powder create the images of half-eaten or decayed Chinese cabbages.

Finally, photographic and new media work by emerging artist Ma Qiusha addresses female sexuality. In both the Milk Series photographs and Body Milk film, milk flows from truncated parts of the female body. Here, milk serves as a connection between the internal body and the external natural world while simultaneously drawing on a rich tradition of body art.

The artists represented in this show have been selected for inclusion in international biennale's including the Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, the Moscow Biennale and Guangzhou Triennial. Monumental exhibitions including Fuck Off and Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection.