Li Xianting

Li Xianting
b. 1949, Jilin
Art critic, curator
Li Xianting graduated from the Department of Traditional Chinese Ink Painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1978). Between 1978 and 1980 he was one of the editors of the magazine Meishu [Fine Arts], through which he became one of the first outspoken supporters of the Stars group. In the years 1985–9 he co-founded and edited the tabloid newspaper Zhongguo meishubao [Fine Arts in China], the first to be dedicated solely to contemporary experimental art. In 1989 he participated to the organization of China Avant-Garde in Beijing with Gao Minglu. After the 1989 events and the progressive harassment he received from the authorities, Li quit all positions and began to work as a freelance critic and curator. He is responsible for coining the names of the art currents Political Pop and Cynical Realism. In 1993, together with Chang Tsong-zung, he curated the exhibition ‘China New Art Post ‘89’ in Hong Kong (see China’s New Art, Post-89 (Hong Kong, 1993) and China Avant-Garde (Berlin, 1993)) and helped organize the first large-scale participation of Chinese artists at the Venice Biennale in the same year. Since the second half of the 1990s, Li has been curating several exhibitions, mostly in Beijing, that attempt to scrutinize and interpret the incessantly emerging new artistic trends produced by the tumultuous transformations that are criss-crossing Chinese society. These exhibitions include: ‘Model from the Masses’ and ‘Gaudy Life’, with Liao Wen, at the Beijing Art Museum and Wan Fung Art Gallery in Beijing (1996); ‘Oh La La Kitsch’, also with Liao Wen, at the Teda Contemporary Art Museum in Tianjin (1999); and ‘Prayer Beads and Brush Strokes’ in Beijing (2003). Li Xianting (affectionately called Lao Li by most of his friends) lives and works in Tongxian on the outskirts of Beijing.
Li, Xianting (1980). ‘Guanyu “Xingxing’ meizhan”’ [On the ‘Stars’ Exhibition].
Meishu [Fine Arts] (8–9 March).
——(1993). ‘Major Trends in the Development of Contemporary Chinese Art’. In Valerie C. Doran (ed.), China’s New Art, Post-1989 (exhibition catalogue). Hong Kong: Hanart T Z Gallery, x–xxii.
——(1994). ‘The Imprisoned Heart: Ideology in an Age of Consumption’. ART and AsiaPacific 1.2 (April): 25–30.
——(2000). Zhongyaode bu shi yishu [What Matters is Not Art]. Nanjing: Jiangsu meishu chubanshe.
——(2001). ‘The Pluralistic Look of Chinese Contemporary Art since the mid-1990s’. In John Clark (ed.), Chinese Art at the End of the Millennium. Hong Kong: New Media, 72–80.
——(2001). ‘Some More Thoughts on the raison d’être of Gaudy Art’. In John Clark (ed.), Chinese Art at the End of the Millennium. Hong Kong: New Media, 81–8.
——(ed.) (2003). Curator’s Notes on Prayer Beads and Brush Strokes. Beijing: Beijing Tokyo Art Projects.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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