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Paths to the Real: Process of Contemporary Art in China

Date: 3 October 2018 (Wednesday)
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Room 4.34, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus

Does contemporary art have history? According to Arthur Danto and Hans Belting, the answer should be no. “Contemporary art manifests an awareness of a history of art but no longer carries it forward.” In other words, “contemporary art reaches post-historical stage of art.” If they were right, it means that contemporary art in Northern American and Western Europe would not have history. But the situation in China and Eastern Europe, i.e. the post-socialist countries, is different. The beginning of contemporary art in post-socialist countries is clear. However, the history of contemporary art in Eastern European countries is suspectable. The radical revolution in Eastern Europe changed the society immediately. Contemporary art in Eastern Europe is absorbed into the international contemporary art soon and finally reaches its post-historical stage. The situation in China is different not only from the post-modernist but also from the post-socialist countries. Instead of radical revolution, China takes gradual reformation. Contemporary art does not yet win the right with its rival: the socialist realism. It does not yet accomplish its mission, that is, to promote political reform and social change. Therefore, contemporary art in China is in the progress toward and not yet reaches its end, the so-called post-historical stage.

Speaker: Peng Feng

A PhD of Peking University, Peng Feng is a professor of aesthetics and art criticism at School of Arts, Peking University. His research interests include history of Chinese philosophy, contemporary aesthetics and art criticism. He has published fifteen academic books, including The System of Contemporary Art Theory (Beijing: Peking University Press, 2016), Return of Presence: New Tendency in Philosophy and Contemporary Art (Beijing: China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Press, 2016), Aesthetic Venturing in the Arts (Beijing: Beijing Normal University Press, 2015), Modern Chinese Aesthetics (Nanjing: Fenghuang Press, 2014), Pervasion: China Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (Beijing: People’s Art Press, 2012), and seven translation books including Nelson Goodman Languages of Art, Peter Kivy (ed.) The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics, and Richard Shusterman Pragmatist Aesthetics among others. He has curated over 200 art exhibitions including the China Pavilion at the 54th International art exhibition of Venice Biennale 2011, The 1st International Art Exhibition of China Xinjiang Biennale 2014, and 2018 Fuzhou International Lacquer Art Biennial.

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