If you are in Chicago from today until May 3rd, make sure to check out The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China exhibition at both the Smart Museum and Wrightwood 659 before it ends! The exhibitions encompasses 48 works from 26 contemporary Chinese artists in an exhibition on view now.
Focused on the materiality of seemingly every day objects, the exhibition prompted artists to explore how substances like tobacco, plastics, and Coca-Cola could be seen differently.
“Taken together, the works introduce a broader framework for understanding global contemporary art, which I call ‘Material Art’ or caizhi yishu, where material—rather than image or style—is the paramount vehicle of aesthetic, political, and emotional expression,” said co-curator Wu Hung.
Since the 1980s, artists working in China have experimented with various materials, transforming seemingly everyday objects into large-scale artworks. These artists have exploded fireworks into paintings, felted hair into gleaming flags, stretched pantyhose into monochromatic artworks, deconstructed old doors and windows to make sculptures, and even skillfully molded porcelain into gleaming black flames.
Artists continue to explore and develop this creative mode, with some devoting decades of their practice to experiments with a single material. For the first time, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China brings together works in which conscious material choice has become a means of the artists’ expression, representing this unique trend throughout recent history.
The exhibition is divided into two unique halves, taking up the entire footprints of the Smart Museum of Art on the South Side and Wrightwood 659 on the North Side. To fully experience the exhibition, guests are encouraged to visit both locations.