Hour at the museum: MoCA@Loewen

MoCA@Loewen has selected 10 artists for a special showing of the best of Chinese contemporary art. The artworks featured vary in theme and form - from a dark grid of faceless black dots to an army of colourful cats hanging from the ceiling. But there are often oddly related themes, such as the influence of communism and coping with an abstract feeling of loss.

Portrait (2009)

By Chen Liu, oil on canvas, 80x80cm

The hyper-realistic surreal painter is heavily influenced by video games, manga and classical Chinese legends and tales and brings them together in his works.

The Composition Of Distances No. 18 (1991)

By Liu Kuo-sung, ink on canvas, 183x91cm

Dubbed the father of modern ink painting, Liu paints spectacular landscapes combining the sensibilities of traditional Chinese painting with the ingenuity of modern, non-traditional ink-painting techniques.

China China (2002)

By Zhu Wei, bronze, 250x140x96cm

Zhu's faceless, Mao-jacket-clad figures are his interpretation of the everyday Chinese man who blindly follows the higher-ups and ends up caked in dirt and streaks of red.

Sandbox Series (2012)

By Zhang Linhai, oil on canvas, 120x160cm

Zhang paints a visually stunning series of works featuring elephants, sheep and pigs contained within dark walls and surrounded by spectral figures. His paintings evoke memories of his childhood in the countryside and his feelings about the rapid changes around him.

Dialogue With Mondrian No.11 (2012)

By Xue Song, mixed media on canvas, 200x125cm

Xue's studio burnt down in 1991, destroying most of his works. He decided to use the remnants of his studio as his medium, slathering and arranging ashes and dust onto a canvas of torn scraps of paper to form a kaleidoscope of images - traditional Chinese-style pictures framed by structurally interesting geometric shapes and primary colours.

Chinese Red Cat (2013)

By Jiang Shou, bronze, lacquer and cotton, 62x56x29cm

Jiang's signature character of a child-like guard in uniform stands upon a red cat (Mao, get it?) to symbolise the false success enjoyed by blind Mao worshippers. The cats are featureless and the guards have only a single hole on each of their faces to receive information, implying the blind leading the blind.

Expansion Series (1972-2012)

By Li Shan, ink on canvas, 98x84cm

If you look at this for too long, your eyes will probably get tired trying to separate the heads from the grids, which is perhaps a representation of the futility of ideas, or even people trapped behind metaphorical bars. Li rebelled against the traditional Chinese norm of realist art and escapes via abstraction from as early as 1972, during the Cultural Revolution, resisting herd mentality and making a stand for his individualism.

Cloud (Magnetic Suspension) (2011)

By Cai Zhisong, bronze, 40x25x3cm

This photo does not do justice to this work that is absurdly simple visually. Cai uses electromagnetism to keep a "cloud" suspended and constantly spinning above a fully mirrored structure.


WHERE: Museum of Contemporary Arts (MoCA@Loewen), 27A Loewen Road WHEN: Till Aug 10, 10am - 6pm INFO: www.mocaloewen.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Hour at the museum'. Print Edition | Subscribe