What does China have to offer? AHA alum Laura Moore reviews the exhibition ‘Art of Change’ at the Hayward Gallery

When I heard we had a field trip to the Haywood Gallery to see an exhibition by Chinese artists I was intrigued.  I know very little about the Chinese culture, mostly learnt from Disney’s Mulan, but I was very surprised at the works I saw, and they were very unexpected.

The exhibition was called ‘Art of Change – New Directions from China’ and I thought it would be full of unusual postmodern art that makes you think about the world from a completely different viewpoint.   The gallery was full of such a wide range of art that it was quite confusing to work out whose work it was.  They did have a catalogue but most of the work was unlabelled which added to the confusion.  However, there were a few interesting pieces of work hidden between gym equipment and x rated clay figures.  There was one in particular which was a piece by Xu Zhen called ‘In just a blink of an eye’.  The work consisted of a man that looked as if he had fallen.

"He is alive"

As we entered the room, we couldn’t work out whether this was an incredibly life like sculpture or actually a person.   As we began to inspect the body, we realised that he was breathing.  I thought this piece was absolutely inspired as it made the viewer engage in it so much more than just a painting on a wall.  It also made me doubt my eyes, as I couldn’t believe that they were alive as they were unbelievably still and it is impossible to stay in that position.  It was only until I saw him blink that I fully believed he was real.  It was then that I cried ‘He is alive’ and as a result making him laugh which convinced the rest of the room.

I was then really excited about the rest of the exhibition and couldn’t wait to see what was in the next room.  Unfortunately I was greeted by a life size Rhinosarous and an Anchiceratops. Yes they were very detailed and I could appreciate the craftsmanship but I just couldn’t see the point of this work and what it represented.

Wonky Wick Whack

However, my day didn’t end on a low, as there was a jagged, uneven Ping Pong table that the viewers could play.
This gave me great amusement and it proved tremendously difficult to return the ball.  We were having a great match until we saw the sign that read ‘Please hit the ball ONCE’.  That slightly killed our fun.  I did enjoy the exhibition but I felt that I didn’t really get a sense of what the art movement in China was doing and where it was going.  There was just too much randomness and pointlessness for me and I am very open-minded when it comes to modern art.  It was fascinating and I would recommend going to see this exhibition though, even if it is for the Ping Pong.

Art of Change: New Directions from China continues at the Hayward Gallery until 9 December

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