South Florida’s First Exhibition Of Contemporary Chinese Neo-Pop Art

ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, which has brought historically significant and innovative art to South Florida for 33 years, is about to do it again with the latest hot ticket on the art market, contemporary Chinese Neo-Pop art.

True to its tradition, the gallery will present Six 21st Century Chinese Neo-Pop Artists, the region’s first exhibition of this pioneering art movement, from Nov. 2nd through February 2008.

“We are fortunate indeed to be able to offer these works at a time when contemporary Chinese art is one of the most sought-after categories for the art world’s collectors,” said gallery owner and director Virginia Miller.

As recently noted by Suzanne Muchnic in the Los Angeles Times, Contemporary Chinese art has made a big splash on the art scene during the last decade or so, grabbing attention at major international exhibitions and commanding enormous prices at auction.

A recent article in Forbes magazine reported that the market for Chinese art began to soar three years ago. “In 2004 Christie’s only sold about $18 million worth of postwar and contemporary Chinese art; in 2006 those sales hit $120 million,” noted writer Barnaby Conrad III, citing one Chinese artist whose portrait prices shot from $76,500 to $1.4 million in four years.

“Clearly, the prices reflect the skyrocketing Chinese economy and its newly affluent professionals,” noted Miller, “but the fresh outlook of a new group of contemporary artists, born during an era of their country’s tremendous social, political and economic upheaval, is the basis for the booming international market in these works.”

Among our nation’s major museums incorporating Chinese contemporary work into their exhibitions and acquiring it for their permanent collections are the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Others are certain to follow suit.

“These works of representative Chinese Neo-Pop artists present us with a glimpse into the efforts of their nation’s artists to process the Western influences on the rapid changes in Chinese society during this extraordinary era,” Miller explained.

The most recognized of the artists being exhibited is Lu Peng. Born in Beijing in 1967, he has participated in more than 70 exhibitions in prestigious museums and galleries around the world. Two years older, Liu Yan‘s 28 exhibitions include group shows in Paris, Minnesota and the Cologne art fair. Their works tend to contrast traditional subjects with rock stars and media icons.

Xiong Lijun and Kang Can, two of the four younger artists in the show, are strongly influenced by Japanese “manga” comics and their animated versions. Yang Na clearly is deeply concerned about the influence of Western culture upon the relative infancy of the new materialism in China. And the provocative juxtapositions of Li Bo also remind us of the incredible contrast between Chinese tradition and his generation’s new affluence and its emphasis on the Internet, where “surfing” can create fortuitous associations just as those triggered by his iconic images.

“These are extraordinary examples of contemporary Chinese Neo-Pop art,” Miller said. “When we have the perspective of a few years to look back on this show, we’ll be able to see how this fascinating group of artists fits into the evolution of the international art market as well as to more fully appreciate their position in art history.”

Located in the Coral Gables business district at 169 Madeira Ave., ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. For more information, call 305-444-4493.

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