From Beijing to Shanghai, Shenyang to the internet, a young crop of Chinese artists are making waves. They follow in the footsteps of a generation with a megastar status that was set at a time when China and its art were still something exotic, something to discover—and all the more fetishized thanks to record-breaking prices. Many artists found fame through exploring and responding to China’s knotty sociopolitical upheaval of the post-Mao era. In stark contrast, today’s surge of new Chinese talents have grown up in an altogether different China, and have enjoyed unprecedented higher education opportunities in art, both at home and abroad. Their questions and themes are reflective of this new epoch—their epoch—including the social and environmental impact of rapid urbanization, and the relentless digital onslaught of an age when everything from socializing to shopping happens online. They find modern means of adapting time-honored Chinese traditions and techniques in their work, via of-the-minute technology.
Today’s young artists have a different audience than their forebears. Recent years have seen an uptick in engagement with art within China, from collecting to gallery-going, building museums to launching art fairs. At the same time, Western audiences’ appetite for Eastern art shows little sign of abating—evidenced by a slew of current and upcoming Chinese contemporary art exhibitions and events in the U.K., U.S., and beyond. And fortunately for them, a generation of boundary-busting, genre-bending, thought-provoking Chinese artists is raring to oblige.