“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing,” said late, great
. Redolent of China’s ongoing challenges—and contrivances—surrounding appropriation, plagiarism and conceptualism in contemporary art, Dalí’s words are also relevant to an incident in China last month in which a white French artist effectively killed off the Chinese (and, significantly, already dead) alter ego he’d been hiding behind for a decade.
“On April 4th 2015, Tao Hongjing passed away in a mysterious construction site accident while conducting research for his next project,” read the press release for the artist’s recent exhibitions at Red Gate Gallery and Shun Gallery. All was not as it seemed, though, and on the eve of the show’s Beijing unveiling, the French ‘curator’ of this merry masquerade, Alexandre Ouairy, revealed that he and Tao Hongjing were, in fact, one and the same—and had been for the past decade.