van Dijk, Hans

van Dijk, Hans
(Johannes Gerardus Adrianus Wilhelmus Cloeck)
b. 1946, Deventer, Netherlands; d. 2002
Art curator
Hans van Dijk began his career as an artist studying at the Arnhem Arts Academy and at the Eindhoven Design Academy, where he graduated in 1970. In the early 1980s, van Dijk began to take an interest in classical Chinese furniture design, elements of which he integrated in his own Western European constructivist art. Gradually he broadened his interests to modern Chinese art and decided to study Chinese language and Chinese culture. In 1984, he left the Netherlands for China, where he would devote the rest of his life to document, archive and promote the work of Chinese contemporary artists with incessant zeal until the time of his early death in 2002.
Van Dijk studied at Nanjing University and at the Nanjing Art Academy (Nanjing yishu xueyuan; see art academies) where he was first introduced to the local art scene. Between 1991 and 1993 he was curator in Berlin for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt [House of World Cultures] in preparation for the exhibition China Avant-Garde. Back in China, after many years of official hindrance often resulting in moving venues and temporary disruption of operation, he founded the New Amsterdam Art Consultancy (NAAC) in 1993. From 1998 in collaboration with Ai Weiwei and Frank Uytterhaegen he formed the China Art Archives and Warehouse (CAAW) which survives him and remains a critical centre for the promotion, exhibition and archiving of experimental art in China.
Van Dijk curated over forty shows in and outside of China, promoting artistic exchanges through the organization of joint exhibitions that often presented the work of both Chinese and European artists. Among the most important are: China Avant-Garde in Berlin (1993) which was the first ever to showcase Chinese experimental art in Europe; a joint exhibition by the New Measurement Group (Xin Kedu) and German installation artist Günther Ücker at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin in 1995; ‘“The Arts” Environment, Eighty Photographs of Artists in Beijing 1992–95’ at the Gallery of the Central Institute of Fine Arts, Beijing and at the Goethe Institute, Hong Kong in 1995–6; ‘China—Aktuelles aus 15 Ateliers’ (China—Recent Works from 15 Studios) in Munich, Basel and Tokyo, 1996–7; ‘Mondrian in China—A Documentary Exhibition with Chinese Originals’, which toured Beijing, Shanghai and Canton in 1998; the exhibition of the Modern China Art Foundation Collection in Gent, Belgium in 1999.
Moreover, through his various activities in Beijing he promoted and showcased the works of emerging artists, many of whom found in his support their first opportunity to make themselves known to a larger international public. Among these are Ai Weiwei, Chen Danqing, Chen Shaoxiong (see Big-Tailed Elephant), Ding Yi, Gu Dexin, Hai Bo, Han Lei, Hong Hao, Li Yongbin, Su Xinping, Sui Jianguo, Wang Xingwei, Zhang Hai’er, Zhang Lei and Zhou Tiehai. During his last years van Dijk concentrated on the promotion of new media art, particularly photography and video, making a substantially contribution to the emergence and visibility of this genre on the Chinese artistic scene.
Noth, Jochen, Pöhlmann, Wolfger and Reschke, Kai (eds) (1994). China Avant-Garde: Counter-Currents in Art and Culture. Hong Kong, New York: Oxford University Press.
van Dijk, Hans (1991–2). ‘Painting in China after the Cultural Revolution: Style Developments and Theoretical Debates (Part I: 1979–1985)’. China Information 5.3 (Winter): 1–21.
——(1992). ‘Painting in China after the Cultural Revolution: Style Developments and Theoretical Debates (Part II: 1985–1991)’. China Information 5.4 (Spring): 1–17.
——(1994). ‘Yishulilun bushi yishu’ [Art-Theory is no Art]. Jiangsu huakan (June).
——(1995). ‘Politik, Dollar, Wiedergutmachung und Ruhm’. In Configura 2 Dialog der Kulturen (exhibition catalogue). Erfurt: Thueringen [translated as ‘Zhengzhi, meiyuan, shuzui xinli he rongyu’, Hualang (November) 1995].
——(1995). ‘Meishushi de shenhua’ [The Myth of Modern Art History]. Jiangsu huakan (August).
——(1996). ‘Kunstgeschichte-Dollar-Wiedergut machung-Ruhm’ [Art History-Dollars-Rectification-Fame]. In China—Aktuelles aus 15 Ateliers, Performances, Installationen. Munich: Hahn Produktion, 124–7 [with English translation].
——(1998). ‘Modern Chinese Art and the Reaction to Non-Realistic Tendencies’. In Mondrian in China—A Documentary Exhibition with Chinese Originals (exhibition catalogue), Beijing.
——(1999). ‘From Piggy-Banks to “The Testimony of the Hare” and What Had Gone Before’. In Modern Chinese Art Foundation (exhibition catalogue). Provincieraad Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
van Dijk, Hans and Schmid, Andreas (1994). ‘The Fine Arts after the Cultural Revolution: Stylistic Development and Culture Debate’. In Jochen Noth, Wolfger Pöhlmann and Kai Reschke (eds), China Avant-Garde: Counter-Currents in Art and Culture. Hong Kong, New York: Oxford University Press, 14–39.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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