Gold Flow

Gold Flow

August 8 – September 6, 2020

Beijing Contemporary Art Expo

Yang Zi

CHAO in Sanlitun, Beijing.

“Gold Flow is the thematic exhibition of the Art Statement section of the 2020 Beijing Contemporary, the first section to debut this year, curated by Yang Zi.

The exhibition brings together more than fifty works by 35 Chinese and foreign artists, spanning more than one hundred years, from the early 20th century to many new works created especially for this exhibition. The exhibition includes installation, video, performance, painting, photography, and other media and forms of art richly associated with the term “gold”. It aims to offer a golden vortex to the epidemic-stricken capital.

The “Golden Flow” was conceived from the cultural history of precious metals and gems as a response to the pictorial meanings reflected in current reality. Gold, as a summary and condensation of such images, acts as a symbolic thread in the exhibition. The color gold often appeared in the sacred paintings of the Christ in mid-century Europe; in Asia, it’s been widely used on Buddhist sculptures and in temples. After the widespread use of electroplating in the mid-19th century, gold was used extensively in the everyday decoration of ordinary people. Within gold flows a series of tensions between power and money, between transcendent spirituality and mundane aesthetics.

Among many contemporary works of art, the implication of “gold” presents a hedging balance of the above mention. Contemporary Chinese art is rooted in the condition of reality, life, and aesthetics. At the same time, it continues to address the doubts presented from various perspectives to maintain its ontological openness. Following the same logic, many works in this exhibition are also related to death, disaster, and dreams, reflecting the flip side behind the symbolic connotations of wealth, power, and nobility, namely the disturbing world of unequal distribution, deprivation and oppression. From Kathe Kollwitz’s “Crushed to Death” and Hu Qingyan’s “Gold Mountain No.2” contemplation on death; to Zhang Guangyu’s illustrations of “Journey to the West” criticizing the Republican government at that time; to the “Metal Plate” series created by Zhan Rui reflecting on the financial cycle of capitalism; and Wang Bo’s “Dreamless Song” and Li Weiyi’s “Dream” attempt to fixate the sense of time from the subconscious of historical condensation, all of which are profound endeavors in discovering the popular meaning of “gold.” The work of Wang Shang and Wang Sishun confines gems and precious metals to structures beyond linguistic accords and pursuits and attempt to view these substances from a perspective that transcends the anthropocentric. In 2020 this crucial moment of history, these works provide a rich perspective for the imagery of “gold,” an aesthetic conclusion to the decades of rapid economic growth in China.

The color gold is often used in entertainment sites throughout China’s rapid economic development in the last few decades. A color once monopolized by the imperial family has become a stake for hedonistic boasting. In this sense, besides relaying its former symbolic system, the color gold represents the fantastic take-off of China’s economy and the folk aesthetic taste that has arisen from the Chinese people. Presently, China is gradually leaving a period of rapid economic growth, which provides us an opportunity to look back, to re-examine the transmission, absorption, and change of cultural expressions that the color gold has carried forward.

Installation Views


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