The Hubei Museum of Fine Arts is holding an exhibition featuring a most interesting contemporary Chinese artist. And I really would like you to check it out so let me introduce it to you in a few words.
Let me be clear to begin with, Chen Zijun (born in 1925) is an artist with a personal vision of the world and strong technical skills but her work is not amazing. To be honest I have seen this kind of contemporary art style all around sweet Europe. Does it mean this exhibition has no interest? Of course not. Chen Zijun has something to tell us through her art.
First room: a collection of clichés
The whole exhibition is divided into four rooms. The first one is boring do not lose time in it.
Step one: be a good mom
Take your time in the second room this one is the real beginning of the show. As a parenthesis I would like to say that Wuhan’s museums definitely lack any form of museology: nothing is sorted out and you are always wondering what you are looking at. The museum could have made a really interesting exhibition about a Chinese feminist artist with a strong message about sexuality and gender; instead we have a messy display of unrelated works. Anyway.
This second room has for theme « mama ». First I felt awkward, as I always do with this kind of very intimate and psychological subject in art. Why is the artist not going to therapy? Do I really want to know about your problem with your mom? Thankfully, Chen Zijun avoided this problem and made a moving and touching representation of what it means to give birth with all the horror and the beauty of the miracle of life.
A dirty alcove. Step two: make toys for your kid
Then please proceed to the alcove, which is only here to display a piece made out of stuffed animals. Honestly the result itself is pretty poor but it raises an interesting questions: who was the “mama” in the first room? Was it a reflection of the artist about her own feminine condition? About her experience as a child, or as a mom? And those questions will be deepened in the last room.
Please leave the third room without paying attention to the garbage on the side: is it part of the performance or did someone forget to clean? I have heard some stories about cleaning staff throwing away contemporary art pieces because it genuinely looked like trash. So maybe they received instructions to be very careful with anything in the museum. Anyway this kind of cleaning staff should be awarded for getting rid of obnoxious and so-called ugly “art”.
Step three: sewing and bleeding
The content of the third room will again discuss the feminine condition by using the theme of fabrics and sewing. A very smart theme indeed since this activity is related to women in a lot of different cultures but also, interestingly enough, with artistic creation. What about this big endless tunic? Does it symbolize the eternal work of the artist? What about the spools scattered around with couples on them? Is it an attempt of the artist to reconnect with social life through art? What about the blood spilled on the chair? Mother nature forcing the artist to stop her work?
I will not discuss the problem to long, as a man I do not feel like I am the best to do that, but this exhibition emphasises how women’s body change which is a major issue of feminism. Let us talk no more about that.
As a conclusion
Now it is all up to you to go to to the fourth room because it is boring as the first one.
You can still admire there the very beautiful and subtle painting of a child and a bird that you can see on the poster of the exhibition.
What does it mean to be a women and an artist? If you want to find out, go at once to this museum.