Philip Tinari on Xu Zhen and Armory Focus: China

Earlier this week, Art21 released three new film profiles of artists Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, and Cai Guo-Qiang, made for the occasion of Armory Focus: China at The Armory Show. In this follow-up release, curator Philip Tinari reflects on the work of Xu Zhen—the commissioned artist for the 2014 edition of The Armory Show.

Tinari, director of The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and curator of Armory Focus: China, identifies Xu as an artist at the forefront of a generation that addresses Chinese identity as part of a larger global conversation. Tinari notes a humor found in the artist’s work, as seen in the artist’s Under Heaven (2013) series of paintings—as well as an element of discomfort, as seen in his video work, Shouting (1998). In his curation of Armory Focus: China, Tinari blended a mix of artists from China’s “On|Off generation”—a term coined by Tinari to describe a newer generation of Chinese artists—with Chinese artists from older generations, in an attempt to “shed light on the diversity of artistic practice in China right now.”

Philip Tinari first partnered with Art21 in 2009, interviewing Cao Fei in Beijing for Season 5 (2009) of the Art in the Twenty-First Century series. Tinari would again partner with Art21 to interview artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing for Season 6 (2012).

Armory Focus is a specially curated section of The Armory Show that highlights the artistic landscape of a chosen geographic region. For The Armory Show 2014, Tinari curated Armory Focus: China, shining new light on the country’s contemporary cultural practice. Armory Focus: China is on view at The Armory Show in New York from March 6–9, 2014.

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