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Contemporary Chinese art is heterogeneous, chaotic, anarchic and often provocative. Modern art in China is still looking for its own identity. It is often equally unclear on what it is founded. Is this art rooted in deeper strata of Chinese culture, or is the concept of this work imported entirely from the West? Performances, political messages and satire, kitsch and poetry all go hand in hand, together with brilliantly painted scenes from the modern Chinese world and references to the classical tradition of painting in ink on paper. Politics is never far off in this work. The artists systematically probe the unwritten boundaries within which the political regime allows them to work. They passionately experiment to find out exactly how far they can exceed these boundaries without being called back into line.
The same question can be asked regarding this new art as for the transformation of the Chinese cities, especially Beijing: to what extent will the modern art of China still be Chinese art?
Sus Van Elzen, excerpted from her Introduction to Dragon & Rose Garden: Art and Power in China.