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Macau exhibit celebrates contemporary Chinese artists

Revolution
Contemporary artist Fang Li Jun's "Revolution" (right) is one of 42 works featured in "Futuro," an exhibit celebrating the return of Macau to Chinese rule  

MACAU (CNN) -- In artist Fang Li Jun's "Revolution," an image of people trapped in a collective, silent scream spreads across several yards of canvas.

It's one of 42 works by contemporary Chinese artists featured in "Futuro," an exhibit marking the return of Macau -- a former Portuguese province west of Hong Kong -- to Chinese rule.

Though much has been said about the effects of political and economic reforms on Chinese society, there have been few accounts about how the changes are affecting the country's arts movement.

Until "Futuro." Organizers say the exhibit is proof of the resilience of China's artistic spirit.

The 18 artists in the exhibit at the Contemporary Art Centre of Macau, notes Curator Jean-Marc DeCrop, are linked by a common thread: None has lived outside mainland China.

Two Comrades with Red Baby
"Two Comrades with a Red Baby," by Xhang Xiaogang, is interpreted as a commentary on China's one-child policy  

Chinese artists who left for New York or Europe are interesting and daring, he said, but their message now has been mixed with Western influences.

"I thought it's more interesting to really keep those artists who remain in China," he said.

Most of the paintings are done in brilliant hues, but the bright colors mask a sense of restlessness -- a "depressive optimism," as one critic characterized it.

The mood reflects the artists' collective experience, DeCrop says.

"The story of China in recent years was very difficult," he said, noting that artists were key targets during the Cultural Revolution. "I think it was quite difficult and their experience, I think, is very strong, and they reflect that in their painting."

painting
Xue Song, noted for bold color and a Picasso-esque style, uses cinders in his works from the remains of his studio, which was destroyed by fire  

One of the artists is Xhang Xiaogang, who created "Two Comrades with Red Baby." He belongs to China's first generation of pop-culture artists, whose works are based on the poster art of the '50s and '60s.

"Two Comrades," which depicts a young family, linked by bloodlines, is seen as a commentary on China's one-child policy.

Another artist is Xue Song, whose works stand out for their bold colors and Picasso-esque style. He uses cinders from the remains of his studio, destroyed by fire, as a medium on his canvases.

"I believe this artist is very important," DeCrop said. "He may be the next Picasso in the 21st century. We believe Picasso in the 21st century will be Chinese. Maybe it will be him."



RELATED STORY:
Unrest hits Macau too
July 21, 2000

RELATED SPECIALS:
Macau at the crossroads
Move over Mao: Do China's artists serve a new master?

RELATED SITE:
The Premier Collection of Jean-Marc DeCrop

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