By Sam Dalsheimer
Ready to read the blabbing of an unpaid, probably unqualified pseudo-intern? No? Well I’m gonna write down some of the thoughts I had when walking through the exhibition, “Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art.” I have limited knowledge of Eastern art traditions (next semester’s seminar should fix that) and have never been displaced, save for moving to another part of Durham at age 3.
Upon entering the exhibition, I was immediately drawn to Liu Xiaodong’s “Hotbed” (2005). A large oil piece covering several tall panels, the work is loose and extremely inviting to the eye. The artist draws upon traditional Chinese landscape paintings with its deep background of the Yangtze River, but positions a group of swimsuit-clad men at the forefront. I have this awfully patriotic love of early 20th century American realists and the faces and positions of the men impart a sense of isolation and ennui similar to those found in Hopper’s works. Isolation and displacement are pretty much part and parcel…right? In my eyes it is the exhibition’s “funnest” piece given the controversial subject matter these artists are dealing with.
The show contains a few other evocative/provocative pieces that I won’t say anything about (thank god). The show closes on July, 25th so move your sweaty feet to the Nasher Museum to catch it! The museum is totally cold and not humid (because it’s a museum) so it’s a great way to beat the brutal N.C. heat!
Sam Dalsheimer is an art history major at Occidental College.
IMAGE: Liu Xiaodong, “Hotbed” (detail), 2005. Oil on canvas, 8.53 x 32.8 feet, in five panels. Private collection, Beijing, China.