Edition 2007


Huang Rui’s œuvre is informed by an acute consciousness of the political world he lives in and the exercise of a rigorous aesthetics of social commitment, that have few equivalents in the world of contemporary art in China. The major strength of his work is that it succeeds in visually transforming the codes governing the society he is involved with, and this for the last thirty years in all the art forms he practises: painting, photography, installation and performance.The exhibition devoted to him presents a series of silkscreens titled Chai-na/China, a major work now being shown to the public for the first time. Huang Rui began this piece in 2001 when he returned for definit from Japan to a Beijing, whose state of ongoing urban upheaval, he began photographing nonstop: giant apartment blocks rising out of a grey, ruined city whose every wall bore the character chai (“demolish”). Demolition of the hutongs (the old streets) were not only changing the look of Beijing, it was also disrupting its social fabric, breaking up family units and drawing in massive numbers of migrant workers. Huang Rui began the series as such in 2003 and completed it in the spring of 2007: seven silkscreens drawing on the seven colours of the rainbow and divided into three tones thus twenty-one pieces in all. For one half of the large canvases he invented a punning slogan, now to be found almost everywhere in China, based on the characters “chai-na”, meaning “demolition here” and pronounced like “China” in English. The other half is occupied by photos taken in Beijing since 2001, of which a few random examples are; a red door covered with removalists’ labels, a building site, a demolishing square-courtyard house, a smiling little girl and two migrant workers arriving at the city’s central station. Here Huang Rui focuses on two vital aspects of his work: slogans and memories. His text games set us thinking about how we assimilate the past and construct the present. But this is not just a play on words and meaning: the artist is out to prick the conscience of a viewer faced with a cultural heritage being destroyed (chai) in the name of a modernised motherland (China). Even if the result is sometimes theatrical, the issue here is not nostalgia: this is a work that speaks of memories to better to speak of the future.
Bérénice Angremy
  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture