The Chinese artist Liu Xiaodong has long been a superstar in Asia and belongs to the legendary generation of artists who peacefully demonstrated at Tiananmen Square, brushed up against the system and caused a worldwide sensation years later. Langsame Heimkehr (Slow Homecoming), a joint exhibition by Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and NRW Forum Düsseldorf, is the world's first comprehensive retrospective dedicated to the exceptional Chinese artist and will run from 9th June to 19th August 2018.
Curated by Heinz-Norbert Jocks, the double exhibition Langsame Heimkehr (Slow Homecoming) is a world premiere and the first exhibition dedicated to the enormous complexity of Liu Xiaodong's oeuvre. On display are works from 1983 to 2018, around 60 paintings, sketches, photographs, overpainted photographs, a digital painting machine, diary notes, and the internationally acclaimed black-and-white avant-garde film "The Days" (1993) by director Wang Xiaoshuai.
The Kunsthalle Düsseldorf will offer an overview of Xiaodong’s painting, supplemented by the film, which will be shown on 4 and 18 June 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Black Box in Düsseldorf. The NRW Forum focuses on the photographic works as well as Liu Xiaodong's digital exploration of painting and also presents the digital painting machine that XIaodong developed with scientists. In the exhibition space, pictures taken with a camera installed on the roof of the NRW-Forum are transferred by the painting machine to a canvas in real time. The slowness with which the digital image transforms into an analogue one creates the disconcerting impression that the painter is guiding the brush across the canvas by remote control.
Langsame Heimkehr (Slow Homecoming) approaches the extraordinary complexity of Liu Xiaodong's work not only by dividing works between the two exhibition venues, but also through a thematic division into four chapters. The starting point is Jincheng (Liaoing Province), where Liu Xiaodong was born in 1963 and grew up. The second chapter deals with traveling within China, the third with being away from home, and the last chapter with returning home to Beijing.
Liu Xiaodong belongs to the circle of contemporary artists who caused a worldwide sensation, and was most recently shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. As a painter fighting against the absolutism of collective thinking, he is committed to the diversity of cultures and the diversity of subjectivity. In his works, he deals with the condition of human existence and addresses global issues such as population displacement, environmental crises, and economic upheaval. For years he has sensitively dealt with minorities both in and outside of China as well as subtly and critically dealt with the rapid changes in Chinese society. For the double exhibition, Liu Xiaodong specially created the project "Transgender / Gay" in Berlin, which portrays Sasha Maria van Halbach, who is transgender, and the gay Chinese artist Isaac Chong. Parallel to the paintings, which use immediate on-the-spot impressions, the artist has also conceived a film that addresses the reciprocal relationship between the artist and his models.
The extraordinary thing about Liu Xiadong's artistic practice is that he usually does not paint from photos or memory, but, like Cézanne, in front of the subject. He is concerned with physical and psychological self-confrontation with the outside world and their translation into unique interior images parallel to reality, which testify to his deep empathy and sensitivity. He encounters the other and otherness with the greatest possible openness. With an obsessive desire to depict the world around him in accordance with his "organic-organising fantasy" (Peter Handke), he prefers to rely on his own perception, his own experience, and his own self-awareness more than on media images because of his experiences in China and elsewhere.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf. It is curated by Heinz-Norbert Jocks in collaboration with Gregor Jansen and Alain Bieber. The exhibition design is by Francesca Fornasari. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue, which includes an interview with Liu Xiaodong and texts by Gregor Jansen, Heinz-Norbert Jocks, and Pi Li.
About Liu Xiaodong:
Liu Xiaodong, born in 1963 in the small industrial town of Jincheng, moved to Beijing at the age of 17 to study art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). In 1988 he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and in 1995 the title of master in oil painting. From 1998 to 1999 he continued his studies overseas at the Academy of Fine Arts at the Complutense University in Madrid. He then became a professor of painting at CAFA.
As a student at CAFA, the most important academy in all of China, he made a name for himself as an actor in the black-and-white underground film "The Days" by filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai. Banned in China, the film was a great success outside its borders and was named as one of the 100 most important international films of the past century by the BBC. Fascinated by his painting, it was the famous American painter Mark Tobey who first recognized the quality of Xiaodong’s work in New York and exhibited him in his studio back in 1994 to introduce his great discovery to artist friends and important figures in the American art scene.
In Europe, Liu Xiaodong was shown in the group show "Des artistes Chinois à la Louis Vuitton Foundation" (2016). In October, some of his notable paintings will be featured in the group exhibition “Art and China after 1989: The Theater of the World" in New York's Guggenheim Museum, curated by Alexandra Munrow, Hou Hanru, and Philip Tinari.
Liu Xiaodong. Langsame Heimkehr (Slow Homecoming) Kunsthalle Düsseldorf und NRW-Forum Düsseldorf.
Duration: 9.6.2018 –19.8.2018
Opening: 8.6.2018 19:30: NRW-Forum opening 21 pm Kunsthalle opening
Press view: 8.6.2018 11 am at the Kunsthalle, 12 am at the NRW-Forum
We offer a combined ticket which entitles the holder to visit both exhibitions once (Tue - Thu 9,-€/ reduced 5,-€ and Fri - Sun 11,-€/ reduced 6,-€). Tickets are available in both houses.
Screening of The Days (1993)
Director: Wang Xiaoshuai
Dates: 4 June and 18 June 2018, 7 p.m.
Black Box, Schulstraße 4, 40213 Düsseldorf
After the screening on 4 June 2018, there will be an artist talk with Liu Xiaodong at the Black Box.