Culture ∙ Mind ∙ Becoming. Ingrandimento. 55th Venice Biennale.

Ingrandimento“, curated by Huang Du and Yang Shin-Yi, presents the work of 19 contemporary Chinese artists. Meaning “enlargement”, the title refers to the function proper of a microscope: literally, of enlarging images, and metaphorically, of enlarging (artistic) voices. As the curators state, “the exhibit also expresses the value of contemporary Chinese arts: refracting cultural potential and vitality in the process of China’s modernisation, and the performance of the individual imagination and creativity of the Chinese artist. Thus, ‘Ingrandimento’ adequately captures the dynamic characteristics of contemporary Chinese fine arts.”

“Ingrandimento” also includes subtle layers of signification, such as:

1. in physics it refers to increasing the volume of material, thus refering to the process of enlarging. it also includes the transformation of matter in the natural world.

2. in the sociological sense it includes the expansion of a nation, social progress or an individual’s spiritual state.

3. in terms of the visual arts, it refers to the artist’s subjective imagination, creativity and expressiveness, as the realization of artistic language and concepts.

The exhibition aims to be the means of expressing and realising the contemporary Chinese artistic aesthetic in its grandest variety.

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Chaile Travel, Nomadic Travel, 2007-2013, installation, dimensions variable

Chaile Travel is a group of artists, Huang Xuebin, Wen Wu, Weng Fen, who together form an independent individual identity. The group starts from the point of view that individuals tend to be invisible in this holistic society, as they have fallen victim to the violent force of social structures and relationships. Chaile Travel was founded on 13 March 2010 in Taishan Village on Hainan Island, as a response to the dislocation of villagers at Dongjiao Town of Wenchang nestled in the east coast of Hainan, due to the development of a satellite launch centre and a national space flight theme park.


Chaile Travel functions as a delivering field art experience in different places through travel, visits, interactive discussion and other on-site activities, with the purpose of provoking the reflections of visitors and locals about their social environment.


By stepping into the site of social tensions, Chaile Travel helps to open up more scenarios for future development, represent-ing a new approach to reflection about the art system. The artists wish to create a forum where people are urged to think about the best ways to achieve the desired progress and how to maintain a balance between development and tradition, between natural evolution and human intervention.


The artists state that their goal of founding this interactive art project is to “think over, from the perspective of art, problems and changes that rural tradition is facing in the process of modernization and urbanization.” They want to provide a forum that encourages personal experience and intellectual exchange. Chaile Travel is a project that accentuates the experimental and participative nature of contemporary art and simultaneously inquires into a specific local reality that is part of a massive nationwide movement.



Fan Angel (b. 1979, Shaoyang) is devoted to researching the psychology of young girls and teenagers. Her works reflect her interests in the problems faced by young girls when growing up. Through art training lessons for youngsters and meeting with young girls in animation exhibitions and festivals, the artist has been inspired to create her series of works “Secret Garden of the Angels”.


Fan Angel, Angle, 2011, resin, 45 x 12 cm, 100 sets

Maiden growth has always been covered by social fear of sexual taboos. The artist uncovers these hidden taboos, through art that looks directly into the psychology of girls in their puberty, resulting in a joyful representation of sexual development. The taboos of sexual growth are made public and stripped of their “shameful” labels.


Fan Angel, The Secret Garden of The Angels No. 8, 2009, oil canvas, 166 x 128 cm



Huang Hsin-chien, Still Life No. 1, 2012, lucite with eroded stainless steel embodiments, 31 x 31 x 8 cm x 15 pieces

Huang Hsin-chien (b. 1966, Taiwan) has always been fascinated by digital technology in aesthetics and culture and he has dedicated his practice to exploring the resonance between humanity and technology. His early works focused on the integrations between traditional beauties and new media. He used algorithms to analyse and reconstruct Chinese aesthetics, and the resulting works created cultural links through interactions between different audiences. In recent years, he began to investigate the possibilities of new media art in public spaces, transforming citizens’ collective memories and creations into physical embodiments in public spaces.


His most recent works are based on his profound understanding of technology and explore the issue that humanity is fractured by technology. For example, the invention of stereoscopic images enables the left and right eyes to see separated images. The continuity of human body and mind are broken by this new way of seeing, and human’s cohesive perceptions and cognitions become fragmented and unilateral.



Li Xiangqun, Spiritual Practitioner, 2012, white copper, 500 x 200 x 200 cm

Li Xiangqun (b. 1961, Harbin) is a leading figure in contemporary Chinese sculpture, professing the style of “new humanism”. His works embrace beautiful, flowing human forms, while also stripping his figures of facial features, in a way that renders them timeless. The artist uses historical content and references, like in the sculpture for this exhibition, where he depicts Confucius, albeit without a clearly identifiable facial expression. Such a move, says the artist, is meant to reinforce the identity and significance of Confucius. In addition, the artist has placed a pillow at the feet of the statue, a symbol of personal space, of dreams, of desires. While Confucius is a figure that related to law, order and rationality, the pillow is the opposite. The juxtaposition of the two results in a questioning of the status quo. The artist aims at raising questions, to which different viewers will have different answers.


Mao Lizi, Lotus–20110801, 2011, oil on canvas, 190 x 130 cm x 3 panels

Mao Lizi (b. 1950, Beijing) is a founding member of The Stars Group of 1970s-80s China, which pursued the freedom in creativity. Starting with a hyperrealist style, the artist moved on to Surrealism and then found his new artistic voice through abstract painting. His work has a lyricism that evokes traditional ink painting, mastering light and shadow, controlling shapes and forms that seem to have a spontaneous evolution. He says that nature lives with him in symbiosis, that it flows through him and is with him as a whole. His paintings reflect “Daoist state”  of being one with nature, of his tranquility and inner peace.


Xu Bing‘s video animation Mr. Black and his Brother Visit the Bund, is an exploration of the urban development in his native China, which has in the past decade especially, turned into a constant construction site in metropolitan areas around the country and has resulted in spectacular cityscapes, such as the Bund in Shanghai. Densely populated by high rises of various shapes and forms that light up at night with all sorts of lights, the view becomes something surprisingly beautiful. First shown at the Shanghai Gallery of Art that overlooks the Bund and the Pearl River in Shanghai, the video animation did actually fall in its right place, the windows adding views on the real Bund landscape, visually complementing the video.


Geng Yini, The Fault, 2013, oil on canvas, 120 x 180 cm


Hou Xiaowei, The Deserted Yard No. 2, 2010, oil on canvas, 150 x 200 cm


Li Chen, Sky, 2012, bronze, 41 x 27 x 74 cm


Li Hua, The Slices of Journey Cities No. 5, 2012, oil on canvas, 130 x 150 cm


Liu Zhengyong, The Pain of A Country, 2012, oil on canvas, 240 x 210 cm


Meng Site, Rainbow Hall, 2012, oil on canvas, 105 x 147 cm


Wen Wu, Deconstruction, 2012, oil on canvas and video installation


Yang Fan, Waterfall, 2011, oil on canvas, 160 x 120 cm


Zhang Kai, Leave My World Here, 2011, oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm


Zhang Kai, The Beauty in My Heart, 2011, oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm


Zhang Wei, The Unknown Woman’s Portrait Series, 2012, photographs, 100 x 100 cm

Other artists in the exhibition that are not highlighted above are: Geng Yini, Hou Xiaowei, Huang Xuebin, Li Chen, Li Hua, Liu Zhengyong, Meng Site, Su Ke, Wen Wu, Yang Fan, Zhang Huan, Zhang Kai, Zhang Wei.

You can download a combined catalogue of “Personal Structures” and “Culture Mind Becoming” HERE.

All Photographs: “Culture Mind Becoming. Ingrandimento.”, 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Photos: Prof Danilo Ardia.

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