Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity 9781350041974, 9781350042001, 9781350041981

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Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity
 9781350041974, 9781350042001, 9781350041981

Table of contents :
Cover
Half title
Series page
Title
Copyrights
Dedication
Contents
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Prolegomenon
Post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity
Contemporary Chinese art within and outside the PRC
Rethinking contemporary Chinese art as a locus of criticality
Notes on theory and methodology
1 Critical art and aesthetics within China and Euro-America before modernism
Literati art and aesthetics within imperial China
Euro-American romanticism and radical idealism
2 Modernisms within and outside China
Euro-American modernisms
Modernisms within late imperial and republican China
3 Postmodernisms and contemporaneity within and outside China
Euro-American postmodernisms and contemporaneity
Postmodernisms and contemporaneity within the PRC
4 Case study: The work of Zhang Peili and the Pond Association (Chi she)
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili

Aesthetics and Contemporary Art Series Editors: Tiziana Andina and David Carrier Philosophers and cultural historians typically discuss works of art in abstract terms. But the true significance of art for philosophy, and philosophy for art, can only be established through close analysis of specific examples. Art is increasingly being used to introduce and discuss problems in philosophy. And many works of art raise important philosophical issues of their own. But the resources available have been limited. Aesthetics and Contemporary Art, the first series of its kind, will provide a productive context for that indispensable enterprise. The series promotes philosophy as a framework for understanding the study of contemporary arts and artists, showcasing researches that exemplify cuttingedge and socially engaged scholarship, bridging theory and practice, academic rigour and insight of the contemporary world. Editorial Board: Alessandro Arbo (University of Strasbourg, Fr.), Carla Bagnoli (University of Modena and Reggio), Leeza Chebotarev (Private Art Advisor), Paolo D’Angelo (University of Roma Tre), Noël Carroll (CUNY), Diarmuid Costello (University of Warwick), Maurizio Ferraris (University of Turin), Cynthia Freeland (University of Houston), Peter Lamarque (University of York), Jonathan Gilmore (CUNY), Luca Illetterati (University of Padova), Gao Jianping (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Birte Kleemann (Michael Werner Gallery), Joachim Pissarro (CUNY), Sara Protasi (University of Puget Sound), Shen-yi Liao (University of Puget Sound), Ken-Ichi Sasaki (Nihon University), Elisabeth Schellekens (University of Uppsala), Vincenzo Trione (IULM, International University of Language and Comunication, Milano). Available in the Series: Aesthetic Theory, Abstract Art, and Lawrence Carroll, David Carrier The Philosophy and Art of Wang Guangyi, edited by Tiziana Andina and Erica Onnis Forthcoming in the Series: Aesthetics, Philosophy, and Martin Creed, edited by Elisabeth Schellekens and Davide Dalsasso Visual Metaphor in Contemporary Art and Analytic Philosophy, Mark Stall Brandl

Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili Towards a Critical Contemporaneity Paul Gladston

BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA 29 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2020 This paperback edition published in 2021 Copyright © Paul Gladston, 2020 Paul Gladston has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgements on p. viii constitute an extension of this copyright page. Series design: Irene Martinez Costa Cover image: A Gust of Wind by Zhang Peili © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-1-3500-4197-4 PB: 978-1-3502-5401-5 ePDF: 978-1-3500-4198-1 eBook: 978-1-3500-4199-8 Series: Aesthetics and Contemporary Art Typeset by Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, India

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In Memoriam Geng Jianyi

Contents Acknowledgements Introduction Prolegomenon Post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity Contemporary Chinese art within and outside the PRC Rethinking contemporary Chinese art as a locus of criticality Notes on theory and methodology 1

2

3

4

Critical art and aesthetics within China and Euro-America before modernism Literati art and aesthetics within imperial China Euro-American romanticism and radical idealism Modernisms within and outside China Euro-American modernisms Modernisms within late imperial and republican China Postmodernisms and contemporaneity within and outside China Euro-American postmodernisms and contemporaneity Postmodernisms and contemporaneity within the PRC Case study: The work of Zhang Peili and the Pond Association (Chi she)

viii 1 11 11 17 22 36

43 43 59 75 75 90 105 105 119

137

Conclusion

171

Notes Bibliography Index

181 210 228

Acknowledgements I would like to thank everyone who has supported the putting together and publication of this book. Particular thanks are due to Zhang Peili, Song Ling and other members of the Pond Association for their kind assistance over many years in providing first-hand accounts and access to primary sources; to Colleen Coalter, Helen Saunders, Becky Holland and their colleagues at Bloomsbury for bringing the present book into print; and to the book’s anonymous peer reviewers for their very helpful insights and comments. I would also like to acknowledge Professor Frank Vigneron’s writing on the relationships between Chinese painting and that of Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an exemplary point of intellectual reference and Professors Gao Minglu, Wu Hung and John Clark’s writing on modern and contemporary Chinese art as a significant corpus from which the critical meditation presented here in part saprophytically demurs. In addition, I would like to thank the University of Nottingham for providing a period of study leave in support of the initiation of the writing of this book and acknowledge the freedom that my current position as Judith Neilson Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of New South Wales has afforded towards its completion. The meditation presented here refers to and expands significantly upon information and critical arguments set out previously in my published writings on contemporary Chinese art: Deconstructing Contemporary Chinese Art: Selected Critical Writings and Conversations, 2007-2014 (2016), Yu Youhan (2015), Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (2014) and ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 1979-1989 (2013).

Introduction

This book presents a critical meditation on contemporary Chinese art’s presumed status as a locus of aesthetic modernity in light of recent debates related to the concept of ‘contemporaneity’: an envisioning of present times as being defined by a conspicuous plurality of contesting sociopolitical and cultural outlooks1 comprising, at its perhaps intellectually starkest, what would appear prima facie to be a critically becalming stand-off between institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism’s projection of a deconstructively immanent Third Space and assertions of essential/significant differences of positioning implacably resistant to the paradoxical universalism of postmodernist indeterminacy. Although in general agreement with decolonizing extensions of legitimacy afforded by the debates in question to experiences and representations of modernity beyond the exclusory purview of still internationally dominant western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses – including those aligned with Euro-American modernism and institutionalized postmodernism – the meditation presented here also seeks to intervene in contemporaneity’s seemingly intractable factionalism by charting a genealogy of mutually formative appropriations-translations and resonances between the otherwise culturally distinct artworlds of Euro-America and China. It will be demonstrated that appropriations-translations and resonances of this sort have persisted in relation to the constructions of differing postEnlightenment and Daoist/Buddhist-inflected syncretic neo-Confucian aesthetics prevalent historically within the ‘modern’ (post-seventeenth century) artworlds of Euro-America and China respectively; both of which appear irrevocably partial (restricted and parti pris) from the particular point of view of the other, but nevertheless maintain an operative integrity in relation to their own immediate sociopolitically and culturally primed discursive domains – the former having been invoked persistently within China in support of assertions of an exceptional civilization-specific Chinese identity and the latter culminating institutionally, prior to the perceived emergence of contemporaneity, in the supposedly allpervasive deconstructivist outlook of poststructuralist postmodernism. Those contrasting aesthetics (artworld epistemes) are thus revealed as having been constituted not in splendid isolation but through a culturally

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indeterminate process of dynamic intersectionality formative upon both; a process inimical to settled rationalization that is open to interpretation, relative to cultural positioning (parallax) it will be argued, either from a poststructuralist postmodernist standpoint as a manifestation of the pervasively deconstructive actions of différance or in accordance with a Daoist/Buddhist-inflected syncretic neo-Confucian aesthetics as involving a fundamental reciprocity between otherwise opposed states signified by the pairing yin-yang – both abidingly non-rationalist in their particular interpretive outlooks but divergent in their respective counter-foundational and metaphysical orientations – and, therefore, definitively from neither. To choose one resolutely over the other would in each case involve on its own terms a necessarily self-contradictory denial of difference. The charting of mutually formative intersections between the artworlds of Euro-America and China set out here is therefore only partially comprehended – against the grain of an ineluctably culturally loaded institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism – by the supposed immanence of a deconstructive Third Space, even as it simultaneously interrupts assertions of fundamental cultural difference. Advanced in relation to this transcultural interpretative purview is a perspectivist rethinking of the discursive limits imposed on aesthetic modernity by not only western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses but also the ostensibly critically becalming condition of contemporaneity. In each case, those limits will be productively negated by an expanded view of artistic criticality as subject to continual variation in relation to differing/shifting cultural and historical circumstances and viewpoints. Consequent upon that expanded view is a discursively differentiated, and therefore by no means comprehensively systematic, understanding of the operative critical significances of contemporary art both within and outside China as well as the variable transcultural/ intracultural conditions contingent upon their emergence and development. As a provisional basis for discussion, contemporary Chinese art is defined here as visual art in and from the mainland of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) produced following the adoption of post-socialist reforms there at the end of the 1970s which combines aspects of western(ized) modernism and postmodernism with localized artistic thinking and practice. Excluded from that definition – in accordance with existing discursive framings of the subject – is contemporary art within and from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, whose localized sociopolitical and cultural circumstances imbricate but differ from those attendant upon contemporary art within mainland China. Aesthetic modernity is defined – in general accordance with post-Enlightenment principles – as the upholding of art as a site of self-reflexive and socially oriented transformative criticality alongside

Introduction

3

a related philosophical attention to the limits of artistic thought and practice. While mobilized as working points of departure, during the course of this book the limits and authority of both definitions will be placed insistently sous-rature – their operative significances still visible but suspensively struck through – as will any absolute cultural distinctions between Chinese and non-Chinese spaces. The term ‘appropriation-translation’ is used in the context of the meditation presented here to signify the taking up and shifting of texts, objects or images, with varying degrees of consciousness, from one spatio-temporal setting to another – a combined action that can be understood to deconstruct (productively negate) conventionally attributed meanings in a manner consonant with the recognized effects of artistic defamiliarization. The term ‘resonance’ is used to signify non-definitive reverberations linking bodies of similar cognitiveaffective frequency, evoking abiding traces of meanings, memories and feelings, and ‘artworlds’, broadly in accordance with Arthur C Danto’s definition, cultural contexts/atmospheres of artistic theory and practice.2 Since the late eighteenth century, western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity – associated variously with radical idealism, romanticism, modernism, postmodernism and more recently metamodernism and contemporaneity – has persistently appropriated/translated non-Western cultural thought and practice as contributory vectors of potentially transformational alterity. Included in this are radical-idealist and romantic invocations of ‘oriental’ non-rationality, modernist reworkings of what was once referred to prejudicially as the ‘primitive’ and poststructuralist postmodernist identifications of the deconstructive actions of culturally indeterminate Third Space.3 During much of the same period, non-Western societies have themselves appropriated/translated aspects of post-Enlightenment thought and practice, in numerous instances through intermediary westernized spaces, in conjunction with the upholding of their own endogenous cultures towards the development of, what can be seen from a western(ized) viewpoint as, culturally hybrid forms of localized aesthetic modernity. In spite of their sustained historical impacts, those various transcultural appropriations-translations have been consistently effaced in favour of hypostasizing assertions of cultural absolutism on all sides. In the case of westernized discourses, this involves a durable overwriting of the transcultural constitutions of aesthetic modernity by cultural practices and attitudes selfreferentially enmeshed with and, therefore, readily interpretable within the particular purview of post-Enlightenment thought. Such an overwriting has arguably been maintained regardless of the interventions of poststructuralist postcolonialism and related postmodernist identarian discourses, whose

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characteristic witnessing of a culturally hybridizing, linguistically refractive (plurally diffractive) Third Space serves to deconstruct the prejudicially orientalizing différend underpinning Western colonialism-imperialism but ultimately with sustained deference to the intellectual-philosophical terms set out by the particular developmental trajectory of western(ized) post-Enlightenment thought.4 In non-Western spaces, there has been a comparable overwriting of the transcultural constitutions of localized aesthetic modernities by resistant anti-imperialisms supposedly rooted in fundamental differences between Western and non-Western cultural values and identities. The first of these encompasses a habitual disregard for the significances of art and aesthetics related to Chinese cultural contexts, which have been relegated to positions of, at best, secondary/belated exoticism and, at worst, complete obscurity with respect to supposedly seminal post-Enlightenment constructions of aesthetic modernity.5 The second relates to localized assertions of civilization-specific cultural exceptionalism within China dismissive of western(ized) post-Enlightenment constructions of aesthetic modernity – including poststructuralist postmodernism – as universalizing and therefore culturally deracinating extensions of Western colonialism-imperialism. It will be shown here against the grain of such absolutist framings that neoConfucianism – supposedly seminal to the emergence of a civilization-specific literati culture during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) and whose refracted/ diffracted traces still demonstrably inhere to a culturally variegated contemporary Chinese art – incorporates a differently constructed, socially oriented mode of aesthetic criticality initiated historically prior to and intersecting formatively with western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. This is not with the intention of bestowing an unwarranted precedence and originality on neo-Confucian aesthetics over post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity simply in a reversal of orientalizing Western colonialist-imperialist discourses; neo-Confucianism is itself, as a syncretic combination of Daoist, Buddhist and Confucian thought and practice, neither culturally/discursively pure nor unchanging. It is instead to recognize a spreading and constantly shifting transcultural relay/network of culturally differing, always already indeterminate modes and relative developmental trajectories of aesthetic criticality. This foregrounding of neo-Confucian aesthetics and its formative relationships with western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity is intended as an opening onto a discursively prismatic attention to the critical significances of contemporary art related to Chinese cultural identities and its attendant sociopolitical and economic settings both within and outside the PRC. It also

Introduction

5

clears – or more accurately, divides – the theoretical ground for reflection on the critical significances of contemporary art more widely by demonstrating that an exclusive adherence to western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses results in a misleadingly myopic view of artistic criticality. As will be shown here, resulting from the relay/network of transcultural appropriations-translations and resonances that have constituted the differing critical aesthetics of neoConfucianism and post-Enlightenment modernity are sustained negative productivities of meaning that render each ineluctably polyvalent in its significances and impact with regard to the other. Attention to a more complexly diversified global landscape of similarly negative-productive transcultural relationships extends beyond the necessarily limited scope of the present text.6 Woven into the textual fabric of this book, among other things, is a knowing deferral to the art historian Michael Sullivan’s attempt to narrate a historical series of interactions between Eastern (for which read Chinese and Japanese) and Western (read Euro-American) art.7 Although in some ways prototypical of more recent attempts to develop a transcultural understanding of intersecting economies of cultural production, Sullivan’s narrative remains problematic both in its sometimes highly speculative claiming of stylistic and affective connections/ affinities and in its conservative exclusion of critically defamiliarizing modernist, postmodernist and contemporary art. The meditation presented here is a selfconsciously mimetic one that in part takes on the guise of Sullivan’s narrative as a way of saprophytically decomposing and extending its meanings. A crucial aspect of which is a shifting of interpretive register away from Sullivan’s almost exclusive focus on stylistic morphology towards another encompassing art’s socially oriented as well as specialist critical significances.8 Also partially echoed by this book is François Jullien’s exposition of a dialogic écart between Western and Chinese cultural thought and practice as a means of deconstructing the supposed centrality of the former.9 In contrast to Jullien’s sometimes insufficiently reflexive praising of Chinese culture as a distinctive alterity to that of the West,10 there is here instead, by dint of their mutually formative interrelationships, an emphatic polylogic (critically multivalent) suspension of western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity and neo-Confucian aesthetics as supposedly authoritative discourses on the social-ethical critical function of art. There is, in addition, a concentration on art’s relationships to the particularity of different discursive and material conditions that seeks to descend negatively-productively from the grander philosophical abstractions of Jullien’s writing. As will be demonstrated, a granular attention to the shifting ‘facticity’ of relatively limiting discursive as

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well as material conditions is indivisible from an understanding of the operative critical significances of art. Indeed, it is precisely with respect to this shifting facticity that those significances can be shown to arise – albeit provisionally and inconclusively. A polylogue of this sort has become urgent not only in light of emerging debates related to the concept of contemporaneity that look beyond the conjunction of western(ized) post-Enlightenment modernity and colonialismimperialism towards a more just ‘pluriversal’ decoloniality but also the increasing, arguably colonialist-imperialist, impact of Chinese cultural thought and practice as an aspect of present-day globalization and its relationship to an ever-more confident political authoritarianism within the PRC. The early twenty-first century has proven itself not to be a time simply of continuing decolonization in continuation of the ‘letting-go’ of European colonies and empires begun after the First World War. Nor assuredly of the realization through globalization of a single multinational hegemonic capitalist ‘Empire’ under the neo-imperial auspices of the United States11 – the idea of a global Americanized neo-liberal capitalist world order after the ending of the Cold War was, as Jacques Derrida has argued,12 always untenable. Instead, it is one during which there has been, as a result of an increasing shift of economic and political power from the West to the East and from the North to the South brought about by globalization, a proliferation of contesting neo-imperialist blocs, including principally the European Union, the United States and the PRC.13 In the PRC’s case this is made manifest in a number of ways: the internal subjugation of ethnic minorities to majority Han rule, including Uighurs in Western China; the outward-facing pursuit of what are arguably neo-colonialist enterprises in Africa, Asia, Eurasia and South America, including the ‘One Belt, One Road’ development strategy; the systematic projection of soft power abroad through, for example, the global proliferation of Confucius Institutes; and military expansion notably in the contested area of the South China Sea. The idea of a decade ago that the expansion of the PRC’s sphere of influence would be regional in outlook14 no longer pertains. From the point of view of dominant discourses within the PRC, all of which is to be viewed as necessary to the regaining of China’s historical standing as a major power after over a century of colonialist-imperialist humiliation by others, including Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States. While contemporary Chinese art characteristically appropriates/translates aspects of neo-Confucian thought and practice as an outward- as well as inwardfacing means of resistance to authority, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

Introduction

7

has also sought to consolidate its hold on power by a selective recourse to aspects of historical neo-Confucianism – also referred to somewhat confusingly as neoConfucianism – including ideas supportive of social and spiritual harmony (hexie) as well as the historical durability and immanence of China’s dynasticimperial authority (tianxia). That recourse renders the critical positioning of contemporary Chinese art highly problematic from a post-Enlightenment perspective by suspending any firm distinction between a Confucianist-informed resistance to and complicity with state authority – a set of circumstances made more pointed by the recent co-opting of contemporary Chinese art to the CCP’s projection of soft power at home and abroad, particularly after Xi Jinping’s installation as president of the PRC in 2012. The question thus arises as to how contemporary Chinese art might avoid recuperation both by the hegemony of internationally dominant western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses and an ideologically neo-Confucian-inclined authoritarian Chinese state. The response to which lies, it will be argued, in oblique and elusive modes of Daoist- and Buddhist- inflected counterauthoritarian criticality that are inherent to a syncretic historical neo-Confucian aesthetics and, to some extent, conceptually resonant with deconstructivist theory and practice. In making that argument, this book will seek to reply in culturally specific terms to the general question posed by the philosopher Peter Osborne in the face of the challenge to criticality posed by contemporaneity: ‘What kind of discourse is required to render the idea of contemporary art critically intelligible?’15. To which Osborne himself has responded by identifying a post-conceptual contemporary art resistant to the dominance of established western(ized) post-Enlightenment artworld discourses and practices – including inter alia a post-Duchampian indifference to the aesthetic and the use of the White Cube as a globally dominant mode of museum and gallery display16 – without, however, making searching critical reference to non-Western artisticdiscursive viewpoints such as those prevailing within the PRC. Shedding further light on this complex transcultural as well as intracultural contestation of values are existing debates within the academic field of discourse analysis. Within discourse analysis there is a general acceptance – following the example of Foucauldian poststructuralism – that knowledge is both socioculturally constructed and discursively articulated and, moreover, made absolute as an aspect of historical political power relations and associated attempts to assert particular truths. There is also a self-reflexive recognition by some within the field that this interpretative perspective is itself culturally loaded as a continuation of western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses –

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also comprising those of a long-standing orientalizing Western cultural anthropological positivism – and therefore subject to diverse sociocultural and political contestation. Proposed in its place is what has been referred to as a ‘transcultural’ or ‘postcultural’ repositioning of discourse analysis receptive to critiques from non-essentialized others that brings the existing conceptual basis of the field squarely into question.17 In the particular case of China that repositioning can be understood to involve a recognition of changing perspectives – shifting from respect to disenchantment via benevolence and hostility – historically constitutive of Western imperialist and neo-imperialist discourses as well as an openness to the productivity of a more diversified (multi-lateral) struggle for ‘truthfulness’ in the context of contemporary globalization.18 The meditation presented here accepts the critical importance of such a transcultural repositioning, but with the caveat that it is one whose injunction necessarily cuts both ways. Viewed in transcultural perspective it is not only incumbent upon a decolonizing West to extend hospitality to a non-essentialized China but also for a historically colonially imperially-inclined China to recognize the insupportable misstep of absolutist distinctions between itself and the West. Contemporaneity will thus be revealed as facing impossibly in two directions at once: as ineluctably negative of any shared discursive ground for reflexivity or critical distancing – a sharing of ground mistakenly ascribed by some to Jullien’s conception of écart – and as a (presently identified) location of the (continuing) transcultural proliferation of critical meanings. Related to which is a necessarily disjunctive witnessing of the demonstrable immanence of the actions of différance both within and across assumed East–West cultural boundaries that also paradoxically serves to suspend poststructuralist postmodernism as a singular transculturally pervasive critical discourse.19 After this general introduction, the present text will continue with a prolegomenon discussing the relationship between contemporary Chinese art and post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity as well as issues critically at stake in that relationship. The first section gives a concise overview of the changing constructions of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity from the late eighteenth century to the present, and the second, of the development of contemporary Chinese art both within and outside the PRC since the late 1970s. The third section gives an account of contemporary Chinese art’s contested critical significances and sets out a case for its rethinking as a transcultural locus of criticality. Concluding is a section outlining the theoretical and methodological resources activated in following chapters.

Introduction

9

Chapters 1, 2, and 3 present a genealogy of mutually formative transcultural appropriations-translations and resonances between the modern artworlds of China and Euro-America. Chapter 1 presents an extended overview of critical art and aesthetics within imperial China and Euro-America prior to modernism; Chapter 2 an overview of modernisms within and outside late imperial and republican China; and Chapter 3 an overview of postmodernisms and contemporaneity within and outside the PRC. As this genealogy will show, the artworlds of China and Euro-America, while operatively distinct, have intersected continually with one another in such ways that make it impossible to entirely disentangle their particular developmental trajectories. The implications of which will then be ‘tested’ in Chapter 4 through a case study focusing on the work of the artist Zhang Peili and his involvement with the Hangzhou-based art group, the Pond Association (Chi she). As will be shown, Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association can be interpreted as exemplary both of the appropriation-translation of deconstructive defamiliarization techniques in the context of contemporary Chinese art and of a durable tracerelationship with Daoism and Buddhism as historically critical constituents of syncretic neo-Confucianist art and aesthetics. Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association can thus be upheld, it will be argued, as indexical of a general, if uncertainly bounded and shifting, langue informing the parole of differing instantiations of contemporary Chinese art. The case study draws on interviews with Zhang and other members of the Pond Association conducted by the present author as well as first-hand engagements with and photographic documentation of related artworks. This book ends with a conclusion summarizing the demonstrations and arguments put forward in previous chapters. After which it proposes an extension of the critical meditation presented here towards a rethinking of the idea of contemporaneity more generally along critically dynamic and interpretatively granular trans-/intra- cultural lines.

Prolegomenon

Post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity The idea of aesthetic modernity is usually understood to have originated in Europe and North America during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as part of what were then emerging post-Enlightenment discourses. Following Immanuel Kant’s development of an integrated tripartite criticalphilosophical system towards the end of the eighteenth century – comprising critiques of pure reason (1781, 1787), practical reason (1788) and judgement (1790)1 – aesthetic experience came to be seen by Europeans and colonial Americans as a crucial locus of mediation between goal-oriented rationality and moral reasoning. This philosophical situating of the aesthetic in categorical relation to pure and practical reason took place in conjunction with a specialist recasting of art beyond its traditional role as a relatively passive appurtenance to religious and aristocratic ritual into another that sought to proactively combine specialist self-reflexivity with outward-facing critical engagement. The initial manifestations of which can be found in challenges posed to established European classicism during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by the fomenting of non-rationalist romantic and radical idealist aesthetics as means towards individual-subjective and by extension wider social transformation.2 Giving basic definition to post-Kantian aesthetic modernity are assumptions of art’s relative or absolute distancing from society as a prerequisite of progressive criticality and an associated generational disaffinity.3 Those assumptions are consonant with a historically dominant rationalist-dialectical tendency in Western philosophical thought initially established in written form during Greco-Roman antiquity and strongly revived during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by Euro-American neo-Classicism. Indicative of which is the persistence since the eighteenth century of a supposedly detached ‘pure gaze’, still operative today within elitist artworld circles, as a means of distinguishing between art of high and low quality.4

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The idea of aesthetic modernity emerged in relation to contemporaneous transformations of the material world associated with the first Industrial Revolution and the concomitant establishment of science as an instrumentally dominant discourse. Those transformations include a rapid growth in commodity capitalism and the associated rise of a mass urban proletariat alongside a property owning professionalized bourgeoisie as well as the coalescing of political tendencies on the right and left resistant to, or supportive of, industrial modernization. The idea of aesthetic modernity also emerged in the midst of Europe’s colonialist-imperialist expansion, which from its beginnings in the fifteenth century sought to accrue surplus economic value through unequal trading practices and the exploitation of slaves in conjunction with low-waged proletarian labour, first in support of mercantilism and after that industrial capitalism. Colonialism-imperialism and industrialization together provided capital for a significant expansion and enrichment of art in religious-aristocratic and secular settings both within Europe and throughout its colonies during the period from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. The development of aesthetic modernity in Euro-American contexts from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century saw the emergence of contrasting tendencies towards and away from direct social engagement within the arts that together constitute what is conventionally thought of as artistic modernism.5 During the mid-nineteenth century established European classicism was challenged still further by a bohemian avant-garde, initially antipathetic to but later aligned with romantic sensibilities, which sought to develop an art critically reflective of modern life in contrast to the idealism of classical academic history painting and sculpture and, by extension, contribute to a revolutionary overturning of established society and politics.6 In doing so, the bohemian avant-garde aimed to live out a vision of the future that it believed mainstream society would progressively come to inhabit. The bohemian avant-garde was supplemented during the later nineteenth century by a supposedly autonomous bourgeois aestheticism, identified with the so-called Aesthetic Movement, which was critically opposed to what it saw as the means-end rationality of modern industrial capitalist society as well as to an associated scientific rationalism.7 During the early twentieth century the bohemian avant-garde and aestheticism were superseded by a relay of politicized avant-garde movements, exemplified by Dada, Surrealism8 and Constructivism, whose use of collage-montage and related defamiliarization techniques as means of critically reworking life along the playful non-rationalist lines of art was informed in many instances by MarxianHegelian notions of dialectical struggle and revolutionary overcoming. The early-twentieth-century politicized avant-gardes’ use of collage-montage and

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defamiliarization can be understood as an attempt not only to bring art and life into closer synthetic and therefore revolutionary proximity but also to involve appropriations-translations of techniques associated with a wider modernizing shift in the economic base towards mechanical forms of reproduction, including photography, film and mass-circulation printing.9 Intersecting with the early-twentieth-century politicized avant-gardes was another vanguard tendency inclined towards non-figurative abstraction that would eventually gain ascendancy within Euro-American and other westernized contexts during the mid-twentieth century through a high modernist upholding of self-reflexive specialization as a necessary condition of modernizing progress in the arts.10 Although mid-twentieth-century high modernist abstraction is by no means a straightforward recapitulation of late-nineteenth-century aestheticism – which is characterized for the most part by highly stylized modes of figurative representation – it nevertheless shares with the latter a resistance to direct social engagement and to settled rationalist-scientific interpretation.11 In the case of abstraction more generally, that resistance extends to a belief in the possibility of transcendental shifts in consciousness consonant with radical idealism and romanticism.12 During the middle part of the twentieth century, thinking and practice associated with the modernist avant-gardes became increasingly institutionalized within Euro-American and highly westernized non EuroAmerican cultural contexts.13 Avant-garde modernist thinking and practice was established as a mainstay of mainstream art school teaching, and avant-garde modernist art began to enter the collections of major museums and was sold for ever-higher prices on the international art market. At the same time, avantgarde modernist styles and techniques were accepted as part of the everyday – for example, as an influence on fashion design and advertising.14 The latter encompassing high modernist abstraction as well as the defamiliarization techniques of the early-twentieth-century politicized avant-gardes. At more or less the same time, artists in Euro-American and highly westernized non EuroAmerican contexts began to revisit defamiliarizing techniques characteristic of the earlier twentieth-century politicized avant-gardes against the grain of dominant high-modernist abstraction as a means of re-contextualizing and re-motivating established discourses and practices, initiating what would eventually be recognized as a shift in sensibilities away from critical-dialectical modernist opposition towards non-rationalist postmodernist subversion.15 As a consequence, the precepts of aesthetic autonomy and generational disaffinity upon which post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity had been founded as a basis for progressive change were suspended – not in an abrupt curtailing of

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artistic criticality but as a marker of its self-reflexive prosecution by – what would be seen from the 1960s in light of the writings of Jacques Derrida as – other latently deconstructive means. By the late 1970s, poststructuralist postmodernism had begun to displace high-modernism as the dominant paradigm within Euro-American and highly westernized non Euro-American artworld contexts. Since then a sustained critique within those contexts of modernism and its relationship to capitalist society has been mounted, including critical interventions in unequal social relations of dominance related to patriarchy and Western colonialism-imperialism. Although now well established, that critique is, however, far from being consistent with its own deconstructivist principles. Not only is institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism marked by a residual modernist sense of critical distancing – notably, for example, in relation to its often highly daunting use of visual and written languages resistant to rationalist interpretation and continued pursuit of radical social change – but it is also possible to view its espousal of deconstructivist uncertainty as both symptomatic of and complicit with the precarity of the capitalist society it otherwise seeks to criticize. With the emergence during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of industrially developing societies outside Europe and America, the idea of aesthetic modernity became more widely established. Dissemination of the idea of aesthetic modernity beyond Europe and America took place initially through the spreading of Western colonialist-imperialist capitalist networks and related impositions of modernist thinking and practice. In the longer run, it has resulted in the development of localized forms of progressive artistic thinking and practice whose (supposed) hybridizing of aspects of endogenous nonWestern cultures with elements appropriated/translated from Euro-American cultural contexts can be seen as commensurate with the critical uncertainties of poststructuralist postmodernism. From their very beginnings, Western post-Enlightenment discourses explicitly rejected the capacity of non-Europeans to contribute meaningfully to modernity. Kant, for example, showed himself highly prejudicial in his hierarchical ordering of the capacity of abstract thought along racial lines with white Europeans and those of white European descent sitting exclusively at its apex.16 Such prejudices can be understood to inhere right up to the present day – the philosophers George Edward Moore, Martin Heidegger and even Jacques Derrida,17 for example, each having made assertions that indicate disqualification of non-Western thought from the category of philosophy proper.18 Viewed in that prejudicial light, aesthetic modernity within non-Western spaces presents itself automatically as

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a self-contradicting parody of Western post-Enlightenment values by appearing to gesture belatedly towards modernizing progress while still being mired in the repressive continuity of tradition. Over the past four decades, this abiding prejudice towards non-Western participation in the project of modernity has been relentlessly deconstructed by poststructuralist postcolonialist and related identarian discourses. As those discourses have sought to demonstrate, Euro-American modernism is underwritten by highly exclusive patriarchal and colonialist attitudes sustained only by the effacing of a wider and more culturally diversified field of artistic production. From a poststructuralist postcolonialist perspective, the hybridizing of differing cultural outlooks characteristic of progressive art in non-Western contexts serves as a critically refractive/diffractive linguistic ‘Third Space’ deconstructively supplementing the supposed integrity and dominance of Euro-American modernism. Identification of progressive non-Western art as secondary and belated in relation to a supposedly seminal Euro-American modernism is thus suspended through the revealing of both as culturally indeterminate.19 In recent years, poststructuralist postmodernism has itself been challenged by emerging debates relating to the concept of contemporaneity, through which legitimacy has been extended to a widened spectrum of critical outlooks including some asserting exceptional differences in the significances and historical trajectories of modernity in non-Western spaces running contrary to the supposed authority of post-Enlightenment discourses.20 Within nonWestern societies and related diasporic communities, poststructuralist postmodernism is widely interpreted as a universalizing extension of Western colonialism-imperialism that underhandedly persists in overwriting significant or essential differences between Western and non-Western cultures in favour of what are seen as highly abstract notions of cultural hybridity.21 Poststructuralist postmodernism’s supposedly immanent deconstruction of the underlying assumptions of aesthetic modernity is thus revealed as yet another colonizing imposition of ultimately exclusory self-referential limits, albeit one that, on the face of it, abjures all such restrictions. Of crucial importance to this resistance is a rejection of Third Space as a locus of the ambivalent and contradictory discursive enunciation of cultural meanings and value systems.22 In the view of some, contemporaneity’s upholding of difference beyond poststructuralist postmodernism signals the advent of a justly pluriversal post-West modernity.23 For others, however, contemporaneity has ushered in a highly problematic condition of ‘disjunctive unity’, wherein vying modernist,

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postmodernist and cultural-essentialist positions constantly and inconclusively deflect each other’s authority.24 As a result, previously institutionally dominant poststructuralist postmodernist conceptions of the shifting hybridity of cultural identity have begun to give way to a seemingly intractable and, in effect as part of contemporaneity, theoretically sanctioned stand-off between mutually resistant critical positionings. While debates associated with contemporaneity have sought to broaden the spectrum of cultural criticism beyond the paradoxical universalism of poststructuralist postmodernism, they have done so at the apparent expense of any clearly articulable mechanism for reflexive contestation between differing critical outlooks. Complicating this critically becalming condition still further is an increasingly widespread revisiting since the early twenty-first century of Marxian-Hegelian and related dialectical-materialist discourses antipathetic to the pervasive uncertainties of poststructuralist postmodernism that has taken place in concert with an upsurge in oppositional political protest25 and use of the Internet and social media as facilitators of public as well as online dissent26 – all of which have gained significant momentum in the wake of the global financial downturn of 2008. That revisiting of Marxian-Hegelian and related materialist discourses and upsurge in Internet- and social-media-supported oppositional protest is part of a wider refusal of postmodernist uncertainty now evident within EuroAmerican and non-Western contexts inclusive of, among other things, a global uprising of populist political movements – for example, those related to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and ‘Brexit’ in the United Kingdom; assertions of traditional cultural-religious values, such as those upheld by the evangelical right in the United States and Islamic fundamentalism; and the emergence of so-called ‘hipster’ subcultures characterized by collective enjoyment of supposedly authentic experiences and a return to craft production. In spite of first appearances, it would be a mistake to think of that wider refusal as indicative of a straightforward return to rationalist modernism. Alongside and intersecting with it are durable traces of postmodernist uncertainty, including, for example, in relation to the upholding of a performative rather than essentialist understanding of identity27 by an increasingly militant LBGTQI+ movement. What has arguably emerged within recent years, therefore, is not a stark instance of generational disaffinity pitching a revitalized modernism against a wholly discredited institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism, but instead a rather more fluid commingling of otherwise conceptually resistant ‘modernist’ and ‘postmodernist’ discourses and practices commensurate in its seemingly unreconcilable diversity with the factionalism of contemporaneity.

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That commingling is recognized by emerging discourses under the title of ‘metamodernism’, which seek to mediate critically between aspects of modernism and postmodernism within the context of post-Enlightenment thinking and practice.28 It also comprises critical discourses sceptical of human limits under the headings of Object-oriented Ontology,29 Speculative Realism30 and Posthumanism.31 As controversy surrounding new media industries indicates, it is also one comprising romantic-modernist reassertions of the illimitability of scientific and social progress but without an evident accompanying selfreflexivity.

Contemporary Chinese art within and outside the PRC During the period from the founding of the PRC in 1949 to the immediate aftermath of the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, all artistic production within mainland China was subject to explicit government directives based on Soviet-inflected socialist realist principles set out by Mao at the Yan’an Forum on Art and Literature in 1942,32 requiring artists to reflect the view of the masses and serve the revolutionary aims of the CCP. Upholding of those directives as a condition of the production, public display and reception of art persisted in relation to changing ideological circumstances during the PRC’s Maoist revolutionary period, including a major shift from bureaucratic state administration of the arts first established by the CCP during the early 1950s to a so-called ‘pure’ model of artistic production upheld throughout the Cultural Revolution supposedly under the direct auspices of Mao and his close political associates.33 Art discernibly discrepant from CCP directives – including highly stylized paintings by members of the unofficial No Name group (Wuming huahui) and the early-twentieth-century Chinese vanguardist Pang Xunqin34 – was consequently produced in more or less clandestine circumstances under a very real threat of violent state retribution, as incarceration and torture of the poet-painter Mu Xin attests.35 Produced alongside these were official artworks that can be interpreted as presenting oblique criticism of CCP authority, but whose ostensible adherence to the precepts of Maoist socialist realism kept them within the bounds of ideological acceptability – for example, Fu Baoshi’s painting Heavy Rain Falls on Youyan (1961), which presents a discernibly critical allegory on the disastrous outcomes of the Great Leap Forward.36 The emergence of art within the PRC recognizable as ‘contemporary’ was neither instantaneous nor entirely straightforward. Clandestine artistic resistance

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to CCP authority was a feature of cultural life within the PRC throughout the period from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. It was not until after the death of Mao and the official ending of the Cultural Revolution however that art discrepant from the principles of Maoist socialist realism first came to full public view within the PRC. The widely accepted starting point for that coming into view is an unofficial open-air exhibition of works by the largely autodidact art group known as the Stars (Xingxing), which was closed down by police two days after its opening in Beijing at the end of September 1979 on the grounds that large crowds attending the exhibition posed a significant threat to public order.37 The Stars’ unofficial open-air exhibition took place in the context of a brief but intense liberalization of culture known as the Beijing Spring initiated shortly after the death of Mao and ending less than a year after official acceptance of Deng Xiaoping’s so-called programme of ‘Reform and Opening-up’ (Gaige kaifeng) in December 1978, the starting point for the PRC’s prodigious social and economic modernization of the last four decades. Public exhibitions of unofficial and semi-official art were held during the Beijing Spring prior to that of the Stars in late September 1979. However, works included in those exhibitions were for the most part only formally divergent from Maoist socialist realism. This is in contrast to works by some of the Stars, including woodcarvings by Wang Keping, which present thinly veiled allegorical criticism of Mao and the Cultural Revolution and by association scepticism with regard to the PRC’s then current leadership under Deng Xiaoping.38 The Stars were granted further officially recognized public exhibitions in Beijing in late 1979 and 1980 but disbanded soon after in the face of a series of campaigns aimed at suppressing public criticism of the CCP concluding with the Antispiritual Pollution Campaign (Qingchu jingshen wuran) from October 1983 to February 1984. A significant consequence of Reform and Opening-up during the early to mid-1980s was the importation and open circulation of foreign art publications as well as the staging within the PRC of public exhibitions and discussions showcasing Euro-American modernist and postmodernist art. A combination of these factors alongside widened opportunities for foreign travel and emigration gave artists within the PRC access to previously forbidden forms of modernist and postmodernist artistic expression. Contemporary art conspicuously reflective of western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity became an ideologically acceptable aspect of public life within the PRC during the latter half of the 1980s following the ending of the Anti-spiritual Pollution Campaign. The ending of the campaign ushered in a renewed climate of liberalization that gave tacit permission for the coalescing of the country-wide

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‘avant-garde’ (qianwei) movement known as the ’85 New Wave (’85 meishu yundong), whose adherents openly appropriated/translated aspects of western(ized) modernist and postmodernist artistic practice and critical thinking in combination with images, styles and techniques taken from Chinese modern and traditional culture. It is important to note that official directives requiring artists to reflect the view of the masses and to support CCP strategy established within the PRC in 1949 have never been rescinded. The CCP’s tacit acceptance of the relatively autonomous space for artistic thought and practice carved out by the ’85 New Wave away from strict government control has therefore always been subject to potential reversal – a state of affairs confirmed, as shall be discussed in more detail later, by the CCP’s recent co-opting of contemporary Chinese art in support of its projection of soft power at home and abroad. The activities of the ’85 New Wave culminated in ‘China/Avantgarde’ (Xiandai meishu dazhan – A Grand Exhibition of Modern Art), the first-ever survey exhibition of modern/contemporary Chinese art staged in Beijing after the lifting of the CCP’s Against Bourgeois Liberalization Campaign, initiated in 1987, and a few months before the Tiananmen Square protests of June 1989.39 Following the Tiananmen Square protests, there was a far-reaching conservative CCP crackdown on liberal society within the PRC including support for Reform and Opening-up. This crackdown, which precipitated the emigration of numerous artists, curators and critics, lasted until 1992 when the paramount leader of the PRC, Deng Xiaoping made his so-called ‘Southern Tour’ in pursuit of political support for a revitalization of Reform and Opening-up. Since then contemporary art in and from the PRC has gained increasing prominence and market value both domestically and internationally.40 During the latter half of the 1980s, what is now referred to in Mandarin Chinese within the PRC as Zhongguo dangdai yishu (Chinese contemporary art) and in Anglophone contexts within and outside the PRC as ‘contemporary Chinese art’ was known domestically as xiandai yishu (modern art) or qianwei yishu (avant-garde art), partially with respect to an earlier and short-lived flowering of avant-garde modernist art in republican China during the first half of the twentieth century. Since the early 1990s, the term Zhongguo dangdai yishu has been used widely within the PRC both as a reflection of the increased synchronization of ‘progressive’ art in mainland China with the interests of the international contemporary artworld and heightened scepticism among mainland Chinese artists with regard to the intentions of the CCP following the Tiananmen Square killings of 1989.41 Placing of the adjective Zhongguo (Chinese) ahead of dangdai (contemporary) reflects the grammatical propriety of Mandarin Chinese and – as shall be discussed in more detail later – a durable, locally held sense of national-cultural exceptionalism.

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The increasing domestic prominence and market value of contemporary art produced within the PRC have been made possible by a number of localized factors. These include the setting up of departments in art academies dedicated to the making of experimental art, such as the Embodied Media Studio within the School of Intermedia Art at the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, first established in 2002; the presentation of artworks as part of proto-capitalist spectacle, notably during the 1980s and 1990s as attention-grabbing adjuncts to the opening of shopping malls and nightclubs; the re-establishment from the mid-1990s of a relatively private art market after the repressive collectivism of the Maoist era encompassing locally based commercially outward-looking contemporary art galleries such a ShanghArt in Shanghai and Boers-Li in Beijing;42 the founding of numerous government-supported as well as private art hubs and museums, among them Beijing’s now internationally famous 798 Art District (Dashanzi); and the recent co-opting of contemporary art by the CCP in support of its projection of soft power both at home and abroad, as evidenced by the establishment of an official government-supported China Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2005.43 In addition to all of which, during the last decade major commercial galleries from outside the PRC have established premises in mainland China and Hong Kong to showcase non-Chinese art to increasingly cash-rich Chinese buyers and to engage more directly with the showing and selling of the work of local Chinese artists44 thereby linking contemporary art in the PRC more or less directly to the international art market. Contemporary art in the PRC was first brought to the attention of international audiences by global media coverage of a march held on 1 October 1979 protesting the closure of the Stars’ first exhibition.45 The international standing of contemporary art in and from the PRC was increased still further by a series of landmark exhibitions held outside mainland China at the end of the 1980s and during the early 1990s: ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, the first global survey exhibition of contemporary art staged in Paris in 1989 included the work of three Chinese artists: Yang Jiechang, Gu Wenda and Huang Yongping;46 ‘China’s New Art, Post1989’, the first dedicated survey exhibition of contemporary Chinese art held outside the PRC, which toured, in differing formats, Australia (‘Mao Goes Pop: China Post-1989’), Canada and the United States after being staged initially in Hong Kong in 1993,47 where it introduced the now iconic genres Political Pop (Zhengzhi bopu) and Cynical Realism (Wanshi xianshi zhuyi)48 to international audiences – both of them open to interpretation as allegorically critical of political authority in the PRC;49 and ‘China Avant-Garde’, a survey exhibition of contemporary Chinese art of the 1980s and early 1990s, which toured in

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differing formats in the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK after being staged in Berlin, also in 1993.50 In the wake of those landmark exhibitions, contemporary Chinese art has been shown regularly outside the PRC, often in prestigious public museums, private galleries and other commercial art spaces, while attracting rising prices on the international art market.51 Although the domestic profile of contemporary Chinese art has grown significantly over the past three decades, particularly among a young indigenous urban middle class, that profile is still far less assured than in western(ized) liberal-democratic contexts where, in contrast to the PRC, art explicitly critical of authority is now a well-embedded and often governmentally funded aspect of public life. Some contemporary Chinese artists have nevertheless developed critical outlooks coincident with those now prevailing within the international artworld. These include critical explorations of the impact of human activity on the environment as well as queer and spectrum identities.52 Another, perhaps even more significant, contribution to the international prominence of contemporary Chinese art in recent years is the emergence of the artist Ai Weiwei as a world-renowned political activist and media celebrity.53 Following his widely reported public criticism of the Chinese government and subsequent detention by Chinese authorities in 2011 – purportedly on charges of tax evasion – Ai has become a media icon for politically engaged contemporary art worldwide. In that role, and in spite of increasing criticism of his sometimes blatantly attention-seeking engagement with the media,54 Ai has almost singlehandedly projected contemporary Chinese art beyond the specialist purview of the international artworld to the forefront of the popular global imagination. Two recent survey exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art, ‘Art of Change: New Directions from China’, staged at the Hayward Gallery, London in 201255 and ‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’, staged at the Guggenheim Museum, New York City in 2017–18,56 have also been embroiled in international media controversy – the former attracting negative criticism by Ai Weiwei in the British press57 and the latter protests by animal rights activists with regard to its intended inclusion of artworks featuring the use of live animals. Contemporary Chinese art is now, in short, a major force culturally, financially and critically within and outside the PRC. As such, it can be understood to represent a significant shift in cultural thinking and practice that has taken place in conjunction with the wider modernizing transformation of society and politics within the PRC ushered in by Reform and Opening-up. It is, therefore, possible to view contemporary Chinese art as a variation on post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity – albeit one that, by dint of its hybridization of differing

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cultural outlooks, shares in the qualifying indeterminacy of poststructuralist postmodernism.

Rethinking contemporary Chinese art as a locus of criticality Also contributing to the increasing domestic and international prominence of contemporary Chinese art is an ever-expanding body of related writings, public presentations, conferences, documentary films and television programmes, including countless reviews and articles published in non-peer-reviewed artworld and media contexts as well as scholarly articles, conference papers and monographs. Growth of the latter has resulted in the identification of a field of so-called ‘Contemporary Chinese Art Studies’, confirmed by the bestowing of the College Art Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award 2018 on the Sichuan-born, now US-based, academic Wu Hung,58 whose work as an art historian, critic and curator have added significantly to an international and domestic Chinese understanding of contemporary Chinese art. Although detailed research, as ever, remains to be done, there is now a more or less comprehensive mapping of significant events, tendencies and relationships in the development of contemporary Chinese art, as presented by a number of substantial narrative histories.59 In spite of this more or less comprehensive art-historical mapping, the status of contemporary Chinese art as a locus of criticality remains heavily contested. As the art historian Craig Clunas indicates, within Euro-American contexts there has been an abiding tendency to view Chinese art as ‘uniquely bound up with the study of its own past, and the reworking of old themes’ as part of a wider orientalizing distinction between a supposedly ‘dynamic’ West and ‘static’ East.60 With regard to which, the very idea of a modern Chinese art is effectively foreclosed, since that art is, as Clunas puts it, seen either as ‘Chinese’, and therefore ‘traditional’, or ‘modern’ and ‘not “really Chinese”’.61 Cultural interaction between the ‘West’ and ‘China’ has, as a consequence, been viewed from a Euro-American perspective as ‘creative’ in relation to the use of Asian ideas and techniques by European and American artists and as ‘uncreative’ in relation to the supposedly sterile borrowings of Asian artists.62 Throughout the 1990s and into the early years of the twenty-first century contemporary Chinese art was interpreted outside the PRC predominantly in one of two ways: as secondary and belated of Euro-American modernism and postmodernism in continuation of engrained Euro-American prejudices; or as deconstructive of authority in accordance with then internationally

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dominant poststructuralist postmodernist discourses – the latter encompassing postcolonialist and identarian perspectives focused on, among other things, unequal relations of gender and ethnicity. Included among those espousing the latter were Chinese nationals then active within the international artworld.63 Exemplary of the former viewpoint is a great deal of popular artworld and media-based writing about contemporary Chinese art in Euro-American contexts. Consider, for example, the critic Richard Dorment’s review of the exhibition ‘The Revolution Continues: New Art from China’, staged at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2008–9, which asserts that ‘Chinese artists produce nothing more significant than skilfully disguised imitations of commercially successful western art.’64 Consider also the glaring contradictions in the international reception of the work of Ai Weiwei, which has been criticized as unduly derivative of western(ized) post-Duchampian aesthetic paradigms while the artist himself is widely lauded as an exemplary political dissident with regard to his apparent opposition to Chinese government authority.65 Exemplary of the latter is Martina Köppel-Yang’s interpretation of avant-garde (qianwei) art in China during the late 1970s and 1980s as a localized variant of culturally hybrid postmodernist art.66 Attention to the concerns of western(ized) poststructuralist postmodernism has not resulted in a complete absence of cultural myopia with regard to contemporary Chinese art. Consider, for example, an article by the art historian Gavin Jantjes included in a scholarly anthology supportive of the idea of an inclusive transcultural global art history, which describes work by the artist Huang Yongping as presenting a vision ‘not shaped by ethnicity but rather by the desire to respond to questions artists deal with all over the world, such as how to be a contemporaneous being’.67 Although consonant with contemporary politically correct notions of inclusive diversity, Jantjes description is made in the absence of any reference to published writings by Huang through which the artist seeks to position his work as a critical resistance to western(ized) post-Enlightenment conceptions of aesthetic modernity rooted specifically in traditional cultural thinking and practices associated historically with Chinese Chan Buddhism.68 Another significant intervention in the question of contemporary Chinese art’s status as a locus of criticality is that of the art historian John Clark. As Clark rightly indicates, there is within the international artworld a persistent tendency to view contemporary Asian art as little more than a recapitulation of existing Euro-American models rendered critically ineffective by the jointly debilitating effects of localized limits on freedom of artistic expression and recuperation by an increasingly global capitalist-style marketplace. Clark argues

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that this view occludes understanding of the particular trajectories of artistic modernities in Asia relative to localized discourses and practices divergent from those conventionally assumed to underpin the development of modernist and postmodernist art in Euro-American contexts. In an early attempt to articulate a theoretical framework for identification and discussion of those trajectories, Clark presents a view of artistic modernity in Asian contexts that acknowledges the hybridizing of Western and Asian cultural elements as formative on the construction of localized artistic modernities in Asia. In doing so, however, Clark explicitly repudiates poststructuralist postmodernist modes of interpretation – seen by him (unjustifiably) as absolute in their relativism and as focused solely on dominant discourses – sustaining instead what is effectively a rationalist-dialectical distinction between Western and Asian aesthetic modernities.69 Although conceptually inconsistent, this framework nevertheless enables Clark to account more or less convincingly and in some empirical detail for transcultural as well as intracultural appropriations-translations and resulting refractions of artistic form and meaning within Asian contexts problematic to myopically prejudicial western(ized) discourses. Clark has reprised and extended this initial interpretative framework in a number of texts on Asian art including a comparative study identifying shared ‘evolutionary’ patterns of thinking and practice within Chinese and Thai contexts that seeks to give definition – in a manner ‘less dependent than previously on Western notions of modernity and post modernity, or conventional binaries such as China-West’70 – to what he sees as a regional genetics of Asian artistic modernity distinct from that of the West. Clark’s line of argument, which effectively maintains the dialectical East–West outlook underpinning colonialism-imperialism albeit in flattened form, twists back on itself on at least one occasion by citing Derrida in erroneous justification of what can be seen from a poststructuralist perspective as a highly questionable non-performative essentialism.71 In this Clark presages debates associated with the factionalism and conceptual inconsistency of contemporaneity. Most recently, contemporary Chinese art has been interpreted outside the PRC in accordance with both the persistence of poststructuralist postmodernist discourses72 and the return within the international artworld to oppositional perspectives critical of the uncertainties of institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism. As a consequence, there is now what might be described as an international ‘post-postmodernist’ melding of deconstructivist and rationalistdialectical perspectives on the critical significances of contemporary Chinese

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art that extends, particularly among early career artists, critics and academic researchers, to transcultural discussions of the Anthropocene, Speculative Realism and Posthumanism.73 Those espousing such perspectives again include Chinese nationals active within the international artworld.74 Reception of contemporary Chinese art among Chinese scholars and critics is critically divided along broadly similar though culturally inverted lines to those pertaining in Euro-American contexts. On one side there is a partial resistance to western(ized) cultural influences which acknowledges contemporary Chinese art’s culturally hybridizing deconstruction of the dominance of Western modernity while also asserting the particularity of conditions of cultural production, dissemination and reception within the PRC. On the other, there is a more or less straightforwardly exceptionalist upholding of definitive differences between Chinese cultural values and those of the international western(ized) artworld. While the former has continued to align itself with the position of the ’85 New Wave by embracing critically efficacious aspects of western(ized) aesthetic postmodernity, the latter occupies discursive ground favoured by official nationalist CCP ideology broadly dismissive of such transcultural accommodations.75 As such, both look towards the construction of an endogenous art history and theory assertive of localized tradition as indivisible from a recognizably ‘Chinese’ art.76 Included in which are abiding concerns with regard to proper standards and criteria for the production, showing and reception of such an art. These contesting positions have characterized cultural debates within the PRC since the 1980s with increasingly explicit official CCP support for the latter from the late 1990s onwards. Exemplary of the former position is an article by Wu Hung which interprets contemporary Chinese art both as deconstructive in its traversing of East–West cultural boundaries as part of now globalized networks of artistic production and display and as more critically focused with regard to specific sociopolitical and economic conditions within the PRC.77 In this Wu effectively seeks to upbraid western(ized) poststructuralist postmodernism for its often generalizing vision of cultural hybridity (viz. Jantjes). Exemplary of the latter is an article by Shao Dazhen, editor-in-chief of the influential art magazine Meishu (Art), in which Shao upholds CCP directives by condemning poststructuralist postmodernism as negative ‘of the concept that art is a reflection of life and influences life’s principle’ and therefore ‘art’s function in society’. In the same article, Shao urges artists within the PRC to develop their own artistic principles ‘blending the best of Chinese national traditions with the results of foreign creativity to establish a new art on this foundation’.78

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The differences between these two articles are more conceptually and politically nuanced than might first appear to be the case. In contrast to Wu, Shao upholds a sense of synthetic overcoming commensurate with locally dominant Marxiannationalist governmental discourses within the PRC. This places Shao’s article firmly on the side of CCP authority. Both, though, maintain degrees of cultural separation between localized Chinese and international artistic spheres that can be accommodated safely within the same nationalist ideological outlook. While Wu’s article proffers justifiable criticism of the continuing abstractions of western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses from a standpoint nevertheless accepting of the possibility of deconstruction, by effectively separating Chinese and international cultural spheres it also aligns itself implicitly with an exceptionalist resistance to Western colonialism-imperialism. Within the PRC’s currently prevailing discursive conditions, it is most likely to be interpreted as doing so. More starkly representative of Chinese exceptionalism is the art historian and curator Gao Minglu’s view that contemporary Chinese art is representative of a distinctive Chinese culture-specific identity and historical developmental trajectory resistant to western(ized) conceptions of aesthetic modernity and postmodernity. For Gao, this exclusion extends to poststructuralist postmodernism, which he, like Clark, explicitly rejects, and to western(ized) feminist discourses, which Gao argues are inapplicable in the context of contemporary China where, as he would have it, men and women occupy distinct positions of equality under state socialism.79 The refusal of western(ized) discourses informs calls by Gao for the development of a self-critically independent contemporary Chinese art made in relation to the opening up of a ‘third space’ which he titles Yi-pai (literally, Yi School).80 Yi-pai is not so much a school as an epistemological framework that interprets contemporary Chinese art in accordance with the abstractness and ineffability of resonant feelings between artists, nature and viewers traditionally characteristic of neo-Confucian aesthetics within China. In doing so, Yi-pai advocates a rigorous self-reflexive maintenance of traditional aesthetic-moral standards. It also projects contemporary Chinese art as an expression of ‘total modernity’ in relation to the establishment of China’s national republican boundaries after the ending of dynastic imperial rule there in 1911–12.81 Here Gao sustains an enduring localized Chinese view of history, which in contrast to the progressive rupturing associated with Euro-American modernism, conceives of a continuing relay of unfolding presents coextensive with the continuity of tradition. In Gao’s view, Yi-Pai embodies non-rationalist modes of thought traditional to Chinese Confucian culture – as exemplified by the Daoist conception of

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yin-yang – which, he asserts, facilitate ‘openness in the language between East and West’.82 From a Western rationalist perspective, such openness is, of course, immediately problematic to the idea of a distinctive ‘Chineseness’. From the non-rationalist position upheld by Gao, it is entirely commensurate. Although expressly protective of a separatist Chinese cultural identity, Gao’s conception of Yi-Pai thus incorporates something akin to Wu’s vision of a movement between differing localized Chinese and international cultural spheres, albeit one that, like Shao’s call for a blending of Chinese tradition with foreign creativity, expressly valorizes the former over the latter. Gao’s exceptionalist framing of contemporary Chinese art can be understood to coincide closely with prevailing discursive-political conditions within the PRC, where an assertive nationalism under the leadership of a still avowedly Marxian-socialist CCP remains opposed to what it sees – with justification – as the latent colonialism-imperialism of western(ized) cultural influences. As one might expect under such conditions, rationalist-dialectical interpretations of art continue to dominate public discourse, albeit in ways that draw short of any explicit opposition to established authority other than that of Western colonialism-imperialism. Giving further support to a dominant national-cultural exceptionalism within the PRC is a durable sense of China’s civilization-specific identity under dynastic-imperial rule stretching back over four millennia. That identity coincides with a historical projection of Chinese dynastic imperial power extending not just to China’s immediate territorial influence but in principle to ‘everything under heaven’ (tianxia).83 Such thinking reinforces a longstanding perception within the PRC that China was never made wholly subject to Western colonialism-imperialism – although colonizing enclaves such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Qingdao and Tianjin were an established aspect of life in late imperial and early Republican China, unlike India, the majority of China’s landmass did not come under the direct rule of Western powers. It also arguably informs the PRC’s recent economic expansion into, among other spaces, Africa and Southeast Asia84 as well as projections of soft power through, among other things, the establishment of Confucius Institutes and Chinese cultural centres dedicated to the global spreading of Chinese language and culture.85 This latently imperialist attitude not only prevails domestically within the PRC but is also often upheld by Chinese nationals and individuals of diasporic Chinese cultural identity working internationally.86 A recent end to limitations on the presidency of the PRC to two terms is arguably indicative of a return to historical imperial governmental norms within China.87

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Divergences in outlook between the international artworld and that of the PRC on the subject of contemporary Chinese art are thus interpretable not simply as expressions of cultural diversity but also of grounded ideological-political differences staking out contested boundaries of the discursively expressible and the real. While the former continues to uphold post-Enlightenment principles fomented historically in conjunction with the development of western(ized) liberal democracy, the latter diverges from and resists those principles in support of what is referred to within the PRC as ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. Those espousing essentialist views of contemporary Chinese art are by no means limited exclusively to Chinese citizens subject to political authority within the PRC as well as partisan diasporic Chinese. There are also non-Chinese citizens within and outside the PRC who uphold the special status of Chinese art and culture, not least in relation to traditional modes of Chinese ink-and-brush painting and calligraphy, albeit in ways often ostensibly detached from political concerns.88 Although exceptionalist interpretations of contemporary Chinese art remain anathema to the critical outlooks of both poststructuralist postmodernism and postcolonialism, any move to dismiss them outright stands in danger of a paradoxical reversion to colonialist-imperialist relations of dominance. In short, we cannot choose to align ourselves resolutely with poststructuralist postmodernism and postcolonialism in opposition to differing localized points of view without what would appear to be a self-contradictory denial of difference.89 At the same time, exceptionalist perspectives on the significance of contemporary Chinese art remain open to a witnessing of their own deconstruction as inversions of the pervasively asymmetrical oppositional logic of Western colonialism-imperialism and as adjuncts to political authoritarianism. Understandably, Chinese artists, curators and critics working and striving to make a living across contemporary transnational networks of artistic production, dissemination and reception have tended to alternate between an alignment with internationally dominant artworld discourses and those prevailing within the PRC depending on the location of the production, showing and discussion of their work.90 For Chinese artists and associated cultural workers, a motility of this sort is shrewd both in relation to personal career development across different cultural spheres as well as politically in relation to the dominant position occupied within the PRC by the CCP which, as Ai Weiwei’s story attests, brooks no explicit public opposition to its authority.91 Recently, some younger artists from the PRC have sought to align themselves openly with a global cosmopolitan rather than a separatist view of

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contemporary Chinese art.92 This self-alignment has been taken as a sign by some within the international artworld of a convergence on globally shared cultural and sociopolitical values.93 It is certainly the case that with increased wealth among the PRC’s burgeoning post-Mao bourgeoisie Chinese millennials have been able to access arts and humanities education internationally, primarily in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, and in doing so become directly engaged with western(ized) cultural attitudes and practices – including the learning of English as the international artworld’s de facto lingua franca and the postmodern and contemporary critical-theoretical discourses that inform current artistic practice. However, the proposition that this engagement has resulted in the establishment of a common cultural ground is by no means assured. Many young Chinese continue to assert the distinctiveness of their localized cultural identities and heritage as an aspect of international multiculturalism. Their assimilation/translation of western(ized) critical discourses is consequently by no means straightforward. Any direct alignment with western(ized) feminist discourses is, for example, still widely dismissed by younger as well as older Chinese artists and curators as an abiding colonialist-imperialist imposition.94 This dismissal takes place in the context of dominant Confucian-inflected Marxian political discourses within the PRC that recognize gender inequality but continue to prioritize overall social harmony over particular identarian concerns with regard to social injustice.95 It is, therefore, possible to view international assertions of convergence among Chinese artists on shared global values as framed by the traces of a persistent bourgeois-romantic/radical idealist desire for redemptive community that flies in the face of continuing (and almost certainly irreconcilable) cultural disjuncture while also smuggling in by the back door a neocolonial universalism on western(ized) terms. By turns, it is possible to view claims of global cosmopolitan identity by Chinese artists as its own species of colonialism-imperialism rooted in a present-day return within the PRC to supportive Confucian values, as signified by tianxia. Rendered problematic with respect to dominant (anti-)imperialist discourses within the PRC, therefore, is any straightforward identification of contemporary Chinese art as either an index of progressive multicultural postmodernity or a reassertion of historical Chinese imperialism. While Shao’s, Gao’s and Clark’s analyses all seek in differing ways to eschew the upholding of Western modernity as some sort of definitive evaluative yardstick, each does so by explicitly refusing deconstructivist interventions on questions of cultural appropriation-translation. In the case of Shao and Gao,

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that eschewal supports what amounts to an exclusory dialectical inversion of the prejudicial logic of Western colonialism-imperialism and in the case of Clark, a critically flattened out version of the same. With regard to which, a number of critical points might be made. One is that Clark continues to uphold the appropriationtranslation of Western artistic theory and practice effectively as a primary action. In doing so, he offers no significant insights into the formative impact of Chinese culture on the construction of western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. Also, absent from Clark’s writing is any searching reference to aesthetic modernity as a locus of socially oriented criticality, which for him, like Sullivan, remains predominantly a matter of stylistic morphology. A related criticism is that Gao’s upholding of a durable Chinese civilizationspecific identity and Clark’s use of genetic evolutionary theory are both suspect in light of performative ways of thinking about cultural identity now widely accepted within the international scholarly academy, which seeks to counter essentializing discourses – associated inter alia with the Holocaust – by framing identity as something constructed dynamically and plurally in relation to shifting contexts of time and place. Viewed in this light, Gao’s and Clark’s analyses can be seen as unduly limiting and inflexible in their accounting for differing constructions of Western and Chinese artistic modernities over time, not least in terms of the susceptibility of those constructions to further instances of recontextualization and re-motivation, and as politically questionable in claiming those differing constructions as essential or genetically inscribed. Also questionable is Wu’s identification of different local and international spheres of artistic operation within and outside the PRC, for which he provides no detailed theoretical articulation. While contemporary Chinese art’s critical significances within the PRC and internationally can be understood to arise in relation to the particularity of differing localized conditions, this does not support the view implicit to Wu’s identification of differing cultural spheres that the PRC is in some sense a cultural arena wholly distinct from that prevailing internationally. Although Wu’s position is less clear-cut in its acceptance of the transcultural impact of deconstructive action on Western colonialismimperialism, it is one that can be understood to share in the ultimately exclusory frameworks erected by Shao and Gao. Overlooked by all of the above is the demonstrable impact of deconstructive action on cultural appropriation-translations between China and the West, which render identifications of entirely distinctive Chinese and Western modernities as well as any straightforward coincidence of a culturally variegated contemporary Chinese art with poststructuralist postmodernist sensibilities highly problematic.

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Although such actions have been characterized by western(ized) poststructuralist postmodernism as retroactively contingent upon modernity, in Asian and other non-Western contexts that problematizing view is doubled by what is seen as the culturally deracinating and therefore implicitly universalizing status of the former. Rather than looking towards hypostatically distinctive Western and Asian aesthetic modernities and/or a pervasively indeterminate state of postmodernity common to all, it is necessary to acknowledge the contemporaneity of differing domains of artistic criticality that nevertheless deconstructively defer to one another for their operative significances – held in negative productive tension with regard to which is a distinction between the effects of a deconstructive action on cultural-linguistic signification and an effectively universalizing institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism. It will be averred here, therefore, in partial agreement with Gao and Clark, that the development of contemporary art within the PRC relates to durable if shifting localized modes of thought and practice differing from those conventionally associated with aesthetic modernity in Euro-American contexts. There is also qualified agreement with Wu that contemporary art in and from China is activated critically in different ways in relation to differing localized and international cultural domains. It will be demonstrated pace Gao and Clark, however, that cultural thought and practice is always already complexly constructed through shifting historical intersections between differing performatively engendered cultural identities and practices in ways that deconstructively problematize any sense of the fundamental disparity or sameness of Western and other modernities. This is not to deny differences or similarities between or within the two but to see their relative constructions as part of a wider historical field of persistently refractive appropriations-translations and resonances of cultural thought and practice without, in the ‘final analysis’, any single teleological point of origin or destination. Providing a historical (diachronic) axis for this critical intervention is the presentation here of a genealogical mapping of cultural appropriationstranslations and resonances mutually constitutive of the otherwise distinct artworlds of Euro-America and China. Such appropriations-translations and resonances are already widely acknowledged with respect to the colonialistimperialist metastasizing of western(ized) ideas and ways of working as part of the development of modern and contemporary art within the PRC. It will be shown here, however, that aesthetic modernity in Euro-American contexts has itself been persistently informed by appropriations-translations and resonances related to Chinese artistic thinking and practice, including crucially a syncretic

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neo-Confucian aesthetics associated with Chinese ‘literati’ art historically antecedent to western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses. In light of which, absolute hierarchical distinctions between western(ized) post-Enlightenment conceptions of aesthetic modernity and resistant standpoints within and outside China related to the making and showing of art must necessarily give way to the envisioning of a more complex, open-ended and shifting constitutive relaynetwork of refractive/diffractive transcultural encounters. Intersecting transversely with this genealogical mapping will be an attention to differing East–West cultural perspectives on the significances of aesthetic modernity. As Robert Williams makes clear, concentration on art as a locus of aesthetic modernity involves ‘a degree of self-consciousness, of critical poise’ tending towards a privileging of artworks ‘in which that selfconsciousness and poise are most articulate’.96 In other words, there is in such a concentration an inherent, indeed unavoidable, leaning towards exclusory reflexivity that disqualifies artworks incompatible with one’s own particular cultural critical outlook. In reflecting critically on the significances of art as a locus of aesthetic modernity at a cultural remove, there is therefore what might be seen as a pressing Levinasian imperative97 not only to register but also to embrace, as far as one can, the heteronomy of alternative viewpoints, without which one’s interpretative vision would remain unduly self-referential, even if those differences ultimately remain untranslatable (in the conventional sense). With regard to the specific case of contemporary art within and from the PRC that attention necessarily takes in cultural discourses and practices sometimes starkly incompatible with a western(ized) post-Enlightenment habitus. Within mainland China, artistic production and the public dissemination of art take place in relation to what is still in many ways, in spite of nearly four decades of increasingly precipitous post-Maoist economic and social reform, a culturally conservative and politically authoritarian society wary of supposedly progressive western(ized) cultural values.98 Art’s use as a public means of criticizing authority is therefore heavily embargoed both by law and by social expectation resulting in an understandable tendency towards obliqueness of expression and deniability of meaning often imperceptible to outside observers. This contrasts with prevailing circumstances within western(ized) liberal democracies where art’s use as a public means of criticizing authority is now explicitly institutionalized and, as such, often supported by public funding. Moreover, there is within mainland China an equally understandable orientation towards localized artistic traditions different in many ways from

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those in Europe and North America both as a support for culturally specific progressive criticism and as a source of resistant anti-Western identity. Consequently, artworks that appear entirely conservative from a western(ized) post-Enlightenment perspective may nevertheless be open to interpretation as critically forward-looking with respect to the particular sociopolitical and cultural horizons of China. In addressing the significances of contemporary art in and from the PRC as a locus of criticality it therefore becomes imperative to relinquish an exclusive adherence to western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses, characteristic of which, is the abiding assumption of a necessary critical distancing between art and mainstream society and, as a matter of generational disaffinity, between modernity and tradition. Indeed, it will eventually be concluded here that this assumption – which persists as part of internationally dominant artworld discourses in spite of the intervention of poststructuralist postmodernism – occludes more complex, shifting and contradictory relationships between art and its objects of criticism both within and outside the PRC. It can, of course, be argued with some justification that the effectively deconstructivist account of the shifting as well as uncertain historical construction of modernities upheld here is itself a universalizing colonialist-imperialist imposition. There is to some extent a danger of this being the case given the initial procession of deconstructivist thought and practice as a critical foil to Western rationalist modes of philosophical discourse and a more historically durable distinction between the systematizing tendencies of Western discourses and the studied suggestiveness of the Chinese intellectual tradition. However, as discussed in more detail later, such criticism overlooks the necessarily provisional and indeterminate status of deconstructivist thought and practice, which remains hospitable to, while pervasively sceptical of, differing interpretative outlooks, including, expressly, its own. The critical meditation presented here starts from a provisional, relatively open conception of aesthetic criticality – one that upholds the Western postEnlightenment idea of a potentially transformative critical relationship between art and the wider domains of society and culture but which does not, however, make specific assumptions about the intellectual rationale for such a relationship, nor the practical means through which its aims might be pursued, nor, indeed, where precisely interfaces/intersections between the aesthetic and its objects of criticism might lie. Beyond this relatively open conception, there will be no attempt to uphold a single all-encompassing definition of artistic criticality. Rather, it will be accepted, in respect of current debates relating

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to contemporaneity, that the critical significances of art are always already contingent upon relationships to differing spatially and historically located circumstances in ways that ultimately place the authority of existing culturally loaded western(ized) post-Enlightenment usages of the terms ‘modernity’ and ‘postmodernity’ sous-rature. As a critical rejoinder to the latent colonialism-imperialism of western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity and postmodernity, it will be demonstrated that while so-called modern and contemporary art produced in China since the late 1970s has drawn consistently on aspects of Euro-American artistic modernism and postmodernism – not least in its use of non-traditional media and disjunctive defamiliarization techniques characteristic of both – it has also been marked by historically durable and culturally insistent traces of localized modes of non-rationalist dialectical-reciprocal critical thinking and practice associated with the intellectual traditions of Daoism and Chan Buddhism that are divergent in their historical context(s) and critical intention(s) from, but – as a consequence of prior transcultural appropriation-translation – also tangentially related to, the construction of western(ized) aesthetic modernity. The positioning of literati art and aesthetics ‘ahead’ of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity as a crucial aspect of the genealogical mapping presented here is made knowingly with regard to a resonant viewpoint adopted during the eighteenth century by Voltaire. As Jennifer Tsien observes: In works, such as his monumental universal history, Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations (An Essay on Universal History: The Manners and Spirit of Nations, 1756), Voltaire … showed his admiration for Chinese civilization. The very fact that he begins his text with China demonstrates how he saw this country as far more advanced, in matters of technology and of governance, than any of the European latecomers. This narrative choice also placed the historiographer Voltaire at an important distance from previous authors of so-called universal histories, such as Bossuet, who had created a teleological schema that led from Egypt to modern Christendom, completely ignoring all other parts of the world.99

While wishing to recognize the impact of China on the European Enlightenment and by extension post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity, the present text does not, however, share entirely in Voltaire’s particular political interpretive perspective. Tsien continues: Not all aspects of Chinese culture appear in a positive light in the Essai sur les mœurs, however. While Voltaire heaps praise on Confucianism, which he

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describes in terms that make it sound like an Asian version of deism, he expresses contempt for Buddhism. This rejection of the supernatural aspects of Chinese beliefs gives us a clearer picture of the ‘good’ Chinese person that he wanted to imagine: a rational and refined being who dutifully acts to benefit the state. This idealized Chinese person also appears in some of Voltaire’s short polemical texts, such as the ‘Catéchisme chinois’, (‘Chinese catechism’) which can be found in his Philosophical Dictionary, and the dialogue ‘Galimatias dramatique’. In the latter, the Chinese man is there to reject the convoluted and obscure doctrines of Christian theology. … Like other Enlightenment texts that featured Hurons, Tahitians, and others foreign peoples as the standard of innate common sense, Voltaire’s works created the image of the rational Chinese person who would make readers notice the absurdities of European customs and religions.100

Voltaire’s selective advocacy of Confucian rationality is reflective of the conservative Enlightenment’s support for the continuity of a dynastic monarchical order. Here the critical value of Chinese art and aesthetics will be located precisely away from such a conservative standpoint in the ‘supernatural’ Buddhist non-rationality rejected by Voltaire as well as from that of Daoism as inherently critical of neo-Confucian rationalism. Commensurate with which is a further intervention that cuts across contesting sociological and aesthetical framings of the artworld by simultaneously upholding art’s status as a constructed practical-discursive category of human activity and non-cognitive feeling as an abiding culturally differentiated signifier of art’s social meanings. As will be shown, in both Chinese and Euro-American artworld contexts differing transcultural as well as intracultural perceptions of aesthetic affect remain integral to art’s constitution as a sociological category, even in relation to the supposed anti-aestheticism of the Western historical and neo-avant-gardes and the subversive counter-aestheticism of poststructuralist postmodernism whose varied uses of defamiliarization can be understood to share in the conceptual indeterminacy of the aesthetic more generally. Also subjected to critical attention by association is the insularity and repetitiveness of western(ized) critical discourses made conspicuous in the context of contemporaneity. Since the shift from late modernist to poststructuralist postmodernist sensibilities during the last quarter of the twentieth century, there has been no comparably seismic development in western(ized) critical thinking and practice.101 In recent years poststructuralist postmodernism – whose traces remain institutionally dominant with regard to identarian perspectives on social inequality within western(ized) cultural contexts – has been partially displaced by a return to Marxian-Hegelian and related dialectical-materialist thinking

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that has gained added traction in the wake of the global economic downturn of 2008. Attendant upon which is a comparatively inconsequential bringing together of modernist and postmodernist outlooks sometimes referred to under the title of ‘metamodernism’ whose quasi-synthetical fudgings are a longstanding feature of institutionalized postmodernism. This now conspicuous state of insularity and repetitiveness is indexical of a historically inconclusive shuttling between rationalist and non-rationalist outlooks more widely characteristic of post-Enlightenment discourses. The critical meditation presented here will seek to look beyond that culturally restricted shuttling towards a more expansive and multi-dimensional transcultural discursive morphology always already dynamically contingent upon western(ized) post-Enlightenment modernity.

Notes on theory and methodology As already indicated, among the theoretical and methodological resources mobilized in support of the critical meditation presented here are deconstructivist approaches to textual analysis associated with the writings of Jacques Derrida.102 Key to those deconstructivist approaches is an understanding that linguistic meaning arises through a continual movement of differing/deferring between signs and between signifiers and signifieds performed by Derrida’s coining of the term différance (in spoken French différance indeterminately signifies the actions of both differing and deferring). This is in contrast to Saussurian structuralist semiotics, where synchronic differences between signs are identified as the singular locus of linguistic meaning. Individual signs can thus be seen as marked by traces of what they do not immediately signify in such a way that meaning is never made fully present in any one place or at any one time: a condition of language also referred to as ‘trace structure’.103 Moreover, as one sign follows upon another, prior instances of signification are re-contextualized, thereby rendering their significances open to continual re-motivation. Linguistic signification is, as a consequence, constantly subject to overwriting by the actions of différance – a condition of language alighted upon by Derrida as a means of undoing supposedly authoritative textual meanings and named by him as ‘deconstruction’. As such, deconstruction is not something imposed upon texts from the outside. Rather, it is a witnessing and taking account of the negative productive actions of différance demonstrably immanent to linguistic signification.104 The wider implications of which have been addressed at length elsewhere and therefore require no further introduction here.105

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Différance is upheld in the context of the critical meditation presented here as contingent upon appropriations-translations of objects, texts and practices within and between cultures, whose meanings are consequently made open to continual deconstructive re-motivation. The workings of trace-structure are also upheld as conditional upon the possibility of linguistic signification and of resonances linking differing instances of signification within and between cultures. Although decidedly unfashionable in relation to a currently resurgent dialectical rationalism, this dual deconstructivist framing is maintained in light of the demonstrable immanence of différance to cultural-linguistic signification and therefore as something that cannot be elided simply as a matter of discursive inconvenience. Coinciding with which is a provisional upholding, as will already have been registered by attentive readers, of Michel Foucault’s conception of ‘discourse’ as a locus of the constituting of knowledge (that which is considered expressible and real) as well as attendant social practices, subjectivities and power relations, and ‘episteme’ as the conditions grounding the possibility of discourses within particular sociocultural and historical contexts alongside an acceptance of the possibility of coexistence and interaction between differing instantiations of the latter.106 The absence within Foucault’s writing of a mechanism articulating differing discourses and epistemes transculturally and historically is addressed in this critical meditation through an identification of the deconstructive actions of appropriation-translation and resonance. Bringing all of which into greater focus will be the use here of two related concepts taken from the writings from Hal Foster.107 The first of these is ‘parallax’, which, as Foster indicates, is conventionally understood as ‘the apparent displacement of an object caused by the actual movement of its observer’.108 Foster has used the concept of parallax to challenge assertions that the artistic avant-gardes have been made subject to terminal recuperation, given that our historical framings of the past can be seen as open to continual re-motivation in relation to our changing positions in the present.109 In the context of this meditation, the concept of parallax will be reused – in light of debates related to contemporaneity – to reinforce the idea that the perceived significances of art shift when viewed from differing sociopolitical and cultural standpoints. The second of the concepts taken from Foster is ‘deferred action’. In using this concept Foster draws upon Sigmund Freud’s observation – signified in the original German by the term nachträglichkeit – that ‘an event is registered as traumatic only through a later event that recodes it retroactively, in deferred action’, to propose that ‘the significance of avant-garde events is produced in an

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analogous way, through a complex relay of anticipation and reconstruction’.110 In the context of the critical meditation presented here, the concept of deferred action will be adapted to the genealogical mapping of differing neo-Confucian and post-Enlightenment critical aesthetics, which can be shown as having been constructed through comparable transcultural as well as intracultural relays of anticipation and reconstruction. Foster’s intention in bringing the concepts of parallax and deferred action together is to ‘refashion the cliché not only of the neo-avant-garde as merely redundant of the historical avant-garde, but also of the postmodern as only belated in relation to the modern’.111 Here, that same pairing is used to suspend the idea that contemporary Chinese art is only secondary and belated in relation to Euro-American modernism and postmodernism, and to theorize the multiple and shifting significances of that art in relation to differing artworlds prevailing in China and Euro-America. Suspended therefore will not only be enduring Euro-American prejudices about the standing of Chinese art but also – contra exceptionalist arguments associated with the concept of contemporaneity – the idea that the significances of contemporary Chinese art can be limited definitively to a singular context, socioculturally and/or historically. Foster’s combining of parallax and deferred action underlies his more recent identification of an unromantic ‘avant-garde’ that is ‘neither advanced nor rear … but caustically immanent’. In making that identification, Foster starts from a conventional understanding of the avant-garde as either ‘transgressive’ in its desire to violate an existing order or ‘legislative’ in witnessing the collapse of an existing order. Against the grain of which Foster advances the idea of a critical art that ‘does not pretend that it can break absolutely with the old order or found a new one’ but instead ‘seeks to trace fractures that already exist within the given order, to pressure them further, even to activate them somehow’.112 The meditation presented here looks critically askance from the limiting of Foster’s vision to associations simply with the Euro-American avant-gardes towards a wider culturally diversified understanding of artistic criticality. As the genealogical mapping presented here will show, persistent translationsappropriations of artistic thinking and practice between ‘China’ and the ‘West’ have resulted in an open-ended series of refractions (diffraction) of meaning suspending the categorical presences of both. In relation to which it will be argued that historically dominant Euro-American post-Enlightenment conceptions of modernity and postmodernity involve persistent marginalizations and occlusions of Chinese cultural thinking and practice in order to sustain a sense of

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their own authoritative integrity and that those marginalizations and occlusions compel us to reconsider the authoritative standing of the former. Alongside and qualifying this genealogical mapping, there will be an acceptance of the becoming necessity of a pervasively searching deconstructive self-reflexivity. As previously indicated, contemporaneity’s widening of the spectrum of experiences and representations of modernity has resulted in an apparent loss of any agreed interpretative theory or methodology. The critique presented here responds to that apparent loss by upholding deconstructive analysis as a rigorously self-reflexive as well as an outward-facing mode of criticality. In the absence of any obvious alternative, deconstructive analysis will thus be employed as a provisional means of resisting any singular hegemonic conception of aesthetic modernity, as well as an unthinking acceptance of differing para-modernities, including its own cultural-institutional privileging. Crucially, the negative productive actions of différance can be understood to extend to deconstruction itself. As Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak makes clear, Derrida’s naming of différance is not intended to signify a sovereign metaphysical ground outside signification but instead an indeterminacy immanent to language that suspends the authority of all signified meanings including its own.113 In light of which, it becomes necessary to think of Derrida’s identification of deconstruction as a ‘false’ entry into linguistic signification pointing continually towards its own undoing as an authoritative source of meaning. The alignment of the meditation presented here with the concerns of deconstructivist theory and practice may nevertheless be seen to involve an inescapable bias towards western(ized) post-Enlightenment conceptions of aesthetic modernity as well as the rationalist philosophical tradition informing those conceptions. However, such a view overlooks deconstruction’s pervasive openness to difference, including in relation to its own authority, in addition to undeniable structural resonances between Derridean deconstructivism and the non-rationalist outlooks of Daoism and Chan Buddhism traditional within Chinese cultural contexts both in and of themselves and as constituent aspects of syncretic neo-Confucianism. Of central importance to Daoism and Chan Buddhism is the conception of a dynamic cosmological reciprocity between opposites contingent upon all states of being. In the case of Daoism this is signified in multiple ways, including by the terms qi (literally ‘breath’), representing a vital energy running through all things and involving a continual interaction between actuality and potential, and yin-yang, fundamentally opposed states comprising that which is turned away

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from the sun (feminine) and that which is turned towards the sun (masculine), respectively. Dynamic reciprocity between yin and yang is considered by Daoism as the active manifestation of qi, whereby the cosmos moves cyclically away from and towards harmony through interaction between actuality and potential. Also significant in this regard is the related concept of fan (return) – a fundamental state of interdependence between opposition and cyclical return commensurate with yin-yang.114 In Mandarin Chinese fan signifies, in addition to ‘return’, a range of other meanings in which the idea of countermotion is implicit: to ‘oppose’, ‘revolt’, ‘go astray’, ‘be perverse’ and ‘be contrary’. The Daoist classic the Zhuangzi alludes metaphorically to the polysemy of fan by describing east and west as both opposed and interdependent upon one another.115 As will be discussed in more detail later in this book, dynamic reciprocity is perceived traditionally within China as the foundation of a resonance between subjects and objects definitive of neo-Confucian and other related East Asian aesthetics116 as signified by the terms qiyun shengdong (vital-energy resonance) and xushi (absence-presence). Although drawing short of any definitive mapping of Derridean deconstructivism onto Daoism and Chan Buddhism – such a mapping would be inconsistent with the re-motivational workings of différance – it is nevertheless possible to lay claim to a certain non-rationalist resonance between the two – albeit with respect to the ultimately metaphysical orientation of Daoism and Chan Buddhism and the counter-foundational outlook of Derridean deconstructivism.117 As will be demonstrated in relation to the case study of the work of Zhang Peili and the Pond Association presented here, it is possible to witness a certain structural affinity between Derridean deconstructivism and Daoism/Chan Buddhism as a negative-productive means of interpreting contemporary Chinese art beyond any hypostatizing opposition between Western and Chinese cultural perspectives. Reinforcing such a view is an acknowledgement, as part of the transcultural genealogical mapping presented here, that historical appropriations-translations between the western(ized) post-Enlightenment artworld and that of China are accompanied by non-intentional transcultural resonances. Numerous claims of an affinity between deconstruction and non-rationalist thinking and practice traditional in Chinese cultural contexts can already be found within scholarly and more popular artworld literature. Those claims, however, such as Byung-Chui Han’s recent monograph Shanzai: Deconstruction in Chinese,118 often conflate the two and/or place one in cultural ascendancy over the other. In contrast, the critical meditation presented here will eschew any definitive correspondence or hierarchical relationship between the two in favour of an upholding of their indeterminate differing from and deferring to one

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another. From the standpoint of Derridean deconstructivism that indeterminate relation may be viewed as a locus of deconstructive re-contextualization/ re-motivation extending crucially to its own potentially colonizing authority, and from the latter as an instantiation of immanent non-rationalist constitutive reciprocity. Both standpoints are thus placed sous-rature: their operative significances struck through but still visible by turns in a manner that holds out the possibility of further signification in relation to an enmeshing of their respective outlooks. It will be demonstrated here that this relationship is a manifestation of contemporaneity – a seeming impasse at the end of art’s (Western) history – as well as being immanent to mutually (per)formative relations between the culturally distinctive but also historically imbricating artworlds of China and the Euro-America. Neither of the aesthetic regimes pertaining to those standpoints can, as a consequence, be considered wholly real, natural and/or essential – although they may be upheld operatively as such in their respective domestic contexts.

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Critical art and aesthetics within China and Euro-America before modernism

Literati art and aesthetics within imperial China Throughout almost all of China’s history as a dynastic empire, high art – in the related forms of poetry writing and painting produced using of ink and brush on paper or silk – was closely associated with the imperial Chinese state’s scholargentry class known as the Shi. From the time of the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) – China’s second imperial dynasty – until the ending of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) – China’s last – members of the Shi served as state administrators both at court and across China. Formal examinations were introduced into the process of choosing talented individuals for entry into China’s imperial administration during the Sui dynasty (581–618 CE). Those examinations focused almost exclusively on the testing of skills in writing rooted in shared knowledge of classical Chinese literature. A key component from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) onwards was the eight-legged essay (baguwen), requiring systematic exposition, allusion to classic literary sources and the use of classical idioms. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, this exclusive focus on writing and classical erudition came to be seen as a barrier to China’s modernization. While clarity of argument and shared knowledge of classical literature and its idioms supported the continuity of a tightly knit elite administrative class adept at communicating among itself, it did not assist in the modernizing acquisition of practical skills and technical knowledge. Following maritime defeats by Western colonialist powers in the First and Second Opium Wars (1839–42 and 1856–60)1 and the subsequent initiation of a national ‘Self-strengthening Movement’ (c. 1861–95), acquisition of such skills and knowledge were perceived as crucial to China’s progressive development. Official examinations for entry into the Chinese state’s administration following the long-established imperial format were

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consequently brought to an end in 1905 as part of wider modernizing reforms. In practice, however, the scholar-gentry remained a dominant aspect of political life in China until the founding of New China in 1949. Indivisible from the continuing political authority of the Shi is the establishment of Confucianism. Confucius (Kong fu zi) (551–479 BCE) was a teacher, political thinker and intellectual active towards the end of China’s Spring and Autumn period (771–476 BCE) – the first part of which coincided with the pre-imperial Eastern Zhou dynasty (771–685 BCE). He is credited historically (though almost certainly erroneously) as the author or editor of many of China’s so-called classic texts, including the Five Classics, the Classic of Poetry, Book of Documents, Book of Rites, I Ching (Book or Classic of Changes) and Spring and Autumn Annals. Aphorisms and dialogues representing Confucius’s thinking were collected posthumously by followers in the text known in English as the Analects, which is thought to have been compiled initially during China’s Warring States Period (475–221 BCE) and completed during the middle of the Han dynasty. The basis of Confucius’s thinking lies in immemorial Chinese beliefs in loyalty to family (zhong), respect for family elders and ritual veneration of ancestors (xiao), often referred to collectively in English as ‘filial piety’. Confucius projects filial piety as an ideal model for the harmonious administration of not only the self and the family but also the pre-imperial-dynastic Chinese state – China’s imperial era proper usually being understood to begin with the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE). In doing so, he looks back to China’s Western Zhou dynasty (1122–771 BCE), before its displacement by invading forces and the setting up of the Eastern Zhou, as an almost mythical golden age. Confucius’s conception of family as a microcosm of the dynastic imperial state is not entirely prescriptive. Emphasized over rational argument and any rigidly held set of rules for social behaviour is the importance of individual judgement and interpretation. As well as advocating study of China’s classic texts as a source of moral guidance and personal self-cultivation (wenhua) as a means towards ethical propriety, Confucius also upholds the importance of ritual, whereby continuity might be sustained with the ethical actions of the past. Although the principal aim of Confucianism is the long-term maintenance of social harmony through ethical governance, as a pragmatic rather than doctrinaire school of thought it also allows, where necessary, for violations of social norms and challenges to established authority as outcomes of moral judgement based in deep reflection on classic texts. This allowance is consistent, as the Confucian Warring States period scholar Mencius indicates, with the notion of a reciprocal respect between the emperor and his scholar-gentry advisors,

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in which the latter ultimately defers to the authority of the former and the former is expected to follow the considered advice of the latter unless there is a demonstrable breakdown of moral rectitude on either side.2 Within the context of China’s highly authoritarian aristocratic-imperial order such violations and challenges nevertheless ran the risk of violent retribution by the state. As a consequence, resistance to authority by China’s scholargentry as a means of preserving the harmonious continuity of the state was, understandably, often obliquely symbolic rather than directly confrontational. Symbolic resistance to authority on the part of the scholar-gentry included circumlocutory references to celestial signs of the emperor’s failure to secure the Mandate of Heaven, coded criticism in the form of allegorical/allusive poetry and painting as well as studied eccentricity, drunkenness and withdrawal from public life. Symbolic/allusive forms of resistance of this sort are exemplified by the actions of the group known as the Seven Intellectuals of the Bamboo Grove, who during the third century CE dissented from the authority of the Jin dynasty (265–420 CE). The yimin, ‘leftover subject’ or scholar who withdraws into nature, remains a familiar figure within Chinese culture to this day. Confucius’s conception of good governance was not adopted by the Chinese state in his own lifetime. Confucianism gradually coalesced during the latter part of China’s Hundred Schools of Thought (Zhuzi baijia) period (sixth to third centuries BCE), eventually becoming dominant as a basis for government during the Han dynasty. This followed active suppression of Confucian ideas throughout the Qin dynasty in favour of the school of thought known as Legalism. In contrast to a Confucian faith in the essential goodness, sociability and improvability of individuals, Legalism views individuals as essentially bad and subject to self-interest and, therefore, as requiring strict control. Following the ending of the Han dynasty, Confucianism was supplanted by a combination of Buddhist and Daoist metaphysical thought focused more on spiritual enlightenment and the alchemical achievement of personal immortality than good governance in the temporal realm. Confucianism eventually returned to a position of dominance at the imperial court during the Tang dynasty (618– 907 CE) – one it retained until the ending of dynastic imperial rule during the early twentieth century – by incorporating aspects of Buddhism and Daoism into its thinking. This syncretic revival, which was cemented by the Song dynasty (960–1279) scholar and politician Zhu Xi’s writings on the combining of Confucianism with Daoism and Buddhism and the associated Cheng-Zhu (Rationalist) school of thought, is often referred to as neo-Confucianism. In spite of its rationalist/ethical outlook, Confucian thought retained a strong underlying connection to ancient non-rationalist Chinese cosmological beliefs.

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Confucius stressed the importance of righteous behaviour among China’s aristocratic rulers, and in particular the emperor, as a means of securing the Mandate of Heaven (tian ming) – that is to say, a state of harmonious reciprocity between heaven and earth, assuring tianxia, or the unity of all things under heaven, and, as a consequence, universal peace and prosperity. In practical terms, tianxia signifies the earthly territory ceded to the authority of the Chinese emperor by heaven. The centre of that territory was considered to be under the direct auspices of the imperial court. Outside the imperial court authority was understood to rest concentrically first with imperial officials, then commoners, tributary states and, finally, barbarians beyond the notional pale of the Chinese imperial state. Within the Confucian imperial state securing of the Mandate of Heaven involved annual rites of symbolic sacrifice to heaven conducted by the emperor in memory of actual sacrifice during antiquity.3 Perceived celestial signs of an emperor’s failure to secure heaven’s mandate, including famine and natural disasters, were considered as justification for his overthrow and replacement by a more righteous substitute, thereby vouchsafing the continuity of the dynastic imperial state beyond the interests of any single individual. This adherence to ancient cosmological beliefs is intimately bound up with the teachings of Daoism. Daoism coalesced as a school of thought in China during the third and fourth centuries BCE in relation to ideas propounded in the Daodejing,4 a text attributed to the almost certainly mythical author Laozi. The Daodejing’s vision of a harmonious cosmological reciprocity between heaven and earth and between humans and nature lies in shamanistic beliefs and practices rooted in China’s ancient history and prehistory. Of crucial importance to an understanding of Daoism are the related concepts of the Dao,5 qi,6 yin-yang,7 wu wei8 and ziran9. The Dao (literally ‘way’) is a metaphysical state of oneness constituting the origin of all being and the path or, perhaps more accurately, flow of its development over time. As such, the Dao is simultaneously ineffable and immanent to all things. Moreover, it is, as the fundamental manifestation and demonstration of nature, entirely spontaneous. In spite of its standing as a fundamental metaphysical condition of being, the Dao is by no means entirely static. As something infused with qi (literally ‘breath’) – a vital cosmological energy involving continual interaction between actuality and potential – the Dao always remains open to spontaneous transformation while otherwise remaining, in an ineffably non-rational sense, eternal and unchanging. Considered vital to the unfolding of the Dao are the interdependently opposed states of yin and yang: that which is turned away from the sun (feminine) and that which is turned towards the sun (masculine) respectively. Dynamic reciprocity

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between these opposed states, as represented by the now-universally iconic taijitu or yin-yang symbol,10 is the active manifestation of qi, whereby the cosmos moves cyclically away from and towards fundamental harmony through interaction between actuality and potential – a conception of the way of things sometimes referred to as ‘dialectical monism’. Wu wei is the concept of spontaneous action in accordance with the Dao or way of nature, often referred to somewhat erroneously in English as ‘non-action’. For Daoism, any non-spontaneous exercising of the individual human will against nature is certain to disrupt cosmic harmony resulting in unintended and perhaps calamitous consequences. The wise, therefore, seek to bring their actions into accordance with the spontaneity of the Dao through wu wei. Ziran – signifying Nature – refers to the natural spontaneity of the Dao and the state of non-desiring disinterestedness required by wu wei. Crucially, each of these terms can be interpreted as an approximate synonym for the others as part of a self-referential epistemic constellation of ideas. Complementing Daoism as an aspect of syncretic neo-Confucianism are the teachings of Buddhism. Buddhism, which seeks non-desiring enlightenment (wu) through meditation as a means of transcending human suffering, first entered China from India during the Han dynasty. Chan Buddhism became established as a distinct school within China during the Six Dynasties period (220–598 BCE), partly as a result of the work of Indian translators who sought to reconcile the principal ideas of Indian Buddhism with those of Daoism. Crucial to the impact of Buddhism on Confucianism is the concept of fa as a translation of the Sanskrit Dharma signifying both the teachings of Buddha and truth as a transcendent reality. In spite of their bringing together as elements of syncretic neo-Confucianism, Daoism and Confucianism are far from being entirely compatible. In contrast to Confucianism, Daoism tends away from an absolute commitment to organized governance and social order in favour of a spontaneous individualism commensurate with its central teachings. Exemplary of this tendency is the Daoist scholar, Zhuangzi’s scepticism with regard to ideas of social order and etiquette associated with ceremonies honouring Confucius (Li-jiao).11 Along with feudalism and a patriarchal clan system, the teaching of ethical principles (li) constituted one of the fundamental pillars of ancient Chinese society. Education later became a central aspect of Confucianism, underpinning relationships between individuals and social classes as part of a harmonious social order. During the latter part of the pre-Qin Warring States period (fifth–third century BCE), the Daoist scholar Zhuangzi criticized the relationship between education and rigid notions of social order on the grounds thatit alienated society from nature and, consequently,

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from a spontaneous achievement of social harmony.12 Zhuangzi also argued that rationally defined conceptual oppositions – upheld by a Confucian belief in the necessity of a Rectification of Terms13 – were both arbitrary and unduly rigid and, therefore, pointed away from natural conceptions of value; the notion of taiji, the ‘Supreme Ultimate’, a natural state of undifferentiated actuality and potential prior to yin-yang, is first developed in Zhuangzi’s writing. Daoism, in its most extreme form, has consequently been perceived within China historically as a potentially dangerous form of anarchism.14 Neo-Confucianism can thus be understood to harbour a subaltern that is embraced in support of but ultimately has the potential to problematize the former’s authoritative standing. The Seven Intellectuals of the Bamboo Grove sought to uphold Daoist principles against what they perceived as the overweening authoritarianism of imperial Confucianism. In Daoist terms that harbouring is interpretable as a manifestation of the eternal dynamic cosmic reciprocity between yin and yang. Daoism’s tendency towards non-absolutist thinking is embodied by a tradition of formally austere Daoist- and Buddhistinflected painting in China which went on to inform a similar tradition in Japan known as Zenga associated with Zen Buddhism.15 China’s scholar-gentry were schooled not only in writing as well as study and interpretation of the classics but also in a range of other skills known as the Four Arts, considered appropriate to their elevated aristocratic status. These include qin, the playing of and composition for a stringed instrument known as the guqin; qi, the playing of the chequers-like strategy game go; shu, calligraphy, and hua, painting – the latter two involving the use of ink and brush on paper or silk. In exercising the Four Arts the scholar-gentry were understood to embody a Confucian belief in the importance of self-cultivation. Crucial as indicators of the scholar-gentry’s ability to live up to the ideals of Confucianism were poetry writing and landscape painting. Both were valued as sources of aesthetic pleasure and forms of personal expression and as indexes of the ability of their makers to bring the otherwise disordered human mind into reciprocal accord with the way of nature and by association to administer the harmonious workings of the imperial state as an earthly manifestation of a wider cosmological order. As Craig Yee explains, in the context of the Chinese scholar-gentry painterly tradition, Interpretation of … natural images is primarily poetic, that is, interpretation through analogy. In this way, a limited set of natural forms can convey meaning relating not just to the natural world but also human affairs, individual psychology, and universal spiritual experience.16

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Crucial to this understanding is an alignment between aesthetic feeling and moral propriety. In contrast to the Euro-American post-Kantian aesthetic tradition where feelings of beauty (pleasure) and sublimity (pain-pleasure) are viewed as vehicles towards individual-subjective and wider social transformation, Daoistinflected neo-Confucian conceptions of the aesthetic have tended to regard beauty as a vulgar category of interested experience persistently redolent of its opposite ugliness17 and subordinate to a more elevated realm of spontaneously dynamic and indeterminate feeling in ethical accordance with the way of nature. In both poetry and painting, imperial China’s scholar-gentry developed formally simplified and ostensibly spontaneous modes of personalized artistic expression which came to be thought of as exclusive to their class. Traditional Chinese painting is divided conventionally into two stylistic categories: gong-bi (meticulous) and xie-yi (free-form), both involving the use of ink and brush on paper or silk.18 Belonging to the latter category and closely associated with imperial China’s scholarly-gentry is shan-shui hua (‘mountains and water painting’), which seeks to present subjective/realist views of nature expressive of the individual character and outlook of artists. In the context of shan-shui hua, mountains are understood to correspond to yang and water to yin. The production of shan-shui hua is underpinned by six principles of painting, or ‘Six points to consider when judging a painting’ (Huihua liufa), laid down in the fifth century CE by the writer and historian Xie He in the preface to his book The Record of the Classification of Old Painters. Those principles comprise: ‘Spirit Resonance’ (Qiyun shengdong) or vitality, referring to the cosmic flow of energy (qi) pervading the painting’s theme; ‘Bone Method’ (Gufa yongbi), referring both to the physical quality of brush strokes and to their significance as indexes of a painter’s personality; ‘Correspondence to the Object’ (Yingwu xiangxing), depiction of form in terms of shape and line; ‘Suitability to Type’ (Suilei fucai), application of colour; ‘Division and Planning’ (Jingying weizhi), formal composition and its relationship to the depiction of space and depth; and ‘Transmission by Copying’ (Chuanyi moxie), learning through copying from life and paintings by past masters. As Craig Clunas makes clear, while the exact significance of Xie’s principles remains subject to contestation, there is nevertheless an evident privileging of ‘expression by the artist (“Spirit Resonance”, vitality) over the transcribing of visual phenomena’.19 Xie’s principles can thus be understood to resonate with Confucian ideas of individual judgement alongside an attention to perceived reality. As Clunas also points out, although often seen as static from a Western cultural

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perspective, the Chinese painterly tradition is a richly diverse and dynamic one that involves a spectrum of individual and collective styles running between gong-bi and xie-yi as well as continual developmental variations on and between those styles.20 Informing Xie’s principles is an earlier theorization of pictorial and symbolic representation set out by the neo-Daoist Confucian philosopher Wang Bi – aka ‘Ink Wang’ – during the early Six Dynasties period (220–589 CE). Wang’s conception of pictorial and symbolic representation identifies a sequential relay through which perception of nature and understanding of its underlying principles gives rise to ideas that can initially be represented by images and then by words, and in relation to which ideas are reflected directly by images, and the meaning of images made explicit by words – a principal of abstraction derived by Wang from the I Ching and its systematic setting out of trigrams and hexagrams symbolically representing various aspects of the world. As Yee indicates, the I Ching’s ‘systematic process of abstraction from observation to underlying principle, and the representation of principle in abstract image or symbol, became one of the most persistent themes within Chinese culture, to which was attributed the origins of both China’s distinctive ideographic written language and its pictorial art of brush-and-ink painting’.21 From a sceptical contemporary viewpoint, such thinking can be seen as wholly mystical. It is nevertheless important to uphold its relevance to an understanding of the operative dynamics of the Chinese Confucian painterly-poetic tradition. The idea of a distinctive so-called ‘literati’ style of shan-shui landscape painting exclusive to China’s scholar-gentry became established during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. It is at this time that the Italian-born Jesuit Matteo Ricci, a guest at China’s imperial court, first used the term ‘Literati’ as a collective noun for the Shi in correspondence written in Latin. Ricci’s naming of the Literati took place more or less contemporaneously alongside accounts by Chinese writers such as Dong Qichang which describe the definitive emergence during the Yuan dynasty of a style of painting (shidafu hua or shiren hua) specific to the scholar-gentry that eschewed strict formal resemblances favoured by official court painters in favour of the abstractly poetic and resonant. Subsequently, these culturally differing constructions would be combined into what even now remains an enduring, though, in large part, mythical, transcultural vision of literati painting upheld by influential Euro-American art historians such as James Cahill and by East Asian scholars of Chinese art such as Li Zehou.22 Characteristic of so-called shan-shui landscape paintings are a number of related visual tropes supposedly engendering feelings of resonant empathetic

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reciprocity between painter, viewer and depicted subject. Literati painting is distinguished by depictions of landscape using ink and brush on silk or paper which organize topographic relations of foreground, mid-ground and background – sometimes referred to as the ‘three prominences’ – not through consistent use of structured perspectival geometry, but instead combinations of aerial perspective, multiple viewpoints and relative pictorial scale as part of integrated, sometimes highly abstracted, compositional arrangements of line and tone. As such, literati painting draws on observable qualities of actual landscapes in China to establish a formal interdependence between untouched areas of the paper or silk support, signifying cloud, mist23 or intervening atmosphere, and blocks of painterly depiction corresponding to foreground, mid-ground and background. The combined effect of which from a modern post-cubist interpretative perspective is to set up a constant shuttling on the part of the viewer between an awareness of the artificiality/abstractness of picturemaking and ‘realistic’ illusory depiction. Shan-shui hua also looks towards a fundamental spontaneity of execution, which in some cases overlaps with the simplicity and immediacy of Daoist/ Buddhist-inflected painting. As Wang Yao-Ting indicates, this bringing together of formal elements is not considered a means towards objective verisimilitude in accordance with Western cultural expectations.24 Rather, it is an attempt to express a felt reciprocity between the painter and nature, referred to by Wang as yi-ching (idea-realm) and consonant with Xie’s notion of qiyun shengdong, that is also identified by Yee as ‘the defining desideratum of Chinese painting’25 with which the viewer might empathize as a matter of shared aesthetic feeling. As Yee describes it, ‘the artist’s perceptions of nature’ are thus ‘transmitted to the Viewer through three stages of resonance: between Nature and Artist, Artist and Artwork (Gesture + Form), and Artwork and Viewer’. Here, the bringing together of qi and yun, that is to say, empathy with perceived patterns in nature and in art, is understood to signify, as Yee puts it, ‘a direct and non-rational epistemology of perception – a direct and intuitive means by which we extend our selves to the reality of which we find ourselves a part’.26 In other words, a sense of the mutual becoming of subjects and objects that brings non-rational feeling into harmonizing interaction with rational cognition. Such thinking extends additionally into a perceived reciprocity between presence and absence signified by the compound term xushi. As the art historian Jason Kuo indicates, when the otherwise distinct terms of xu (void, empty, unreal, absent) and shi (solid, full, real present) are combined in this linguistic relation ‘they often refer to the ways in which the artist deals with those things

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in a poem or painting that are real and present to the reader or viewer (shi) and those things that are absent and left to the imagination (xu)’.27 As such ‘Xu and shi, like yin and yang in traditional Chinese philosophy, are two complementary forces, interlocking and mutually interdependent’.28 References to xu and shi appear repeatedly in Chinese writing about painting after the sixteenth century with a more self-conscious usage by artists and writers emerging during the seventeenth century concurrent with early codifications of literati art by writers such as Dong Qichang. Xushi correlates with an array of related conceptual pairings reflecting reciprocal differences between Daoist/Buddhist non-rationality and Confucian rationality inherent to the structuring of neo-Confucian aesthetics. These include dualities between the Daoist concept of ziran (naturalness) and Confucian fa (regularity) and between the latter and the Chan Buddhist concept of wu (enlightenment). Supported by this pervasive sense of dualistic reciprocity is the paradoxical idea of an intuitive mastery reflected by the painter Shitao’s (1642–1707) assertion that ‘no rule’ is the ‘ultimate rule’ (wu fa er fa, nai wei zhi fa).29 Xushi is also allied conceptually with Daoist and Buddhist ideas of the openness and indeterminacy of linguistic meaning, whereby language suggests rather than directly communicates the ultimate ineffable truth of the Dao or Dharma. With regard to which the prima facie significance of written and pictorial form (xing) can be seen as indicative of a deeper, more elusive inner reality (zhen). Qiyun shengdong and xushi can thus be interpreted as manifestations of the problematic immanence of Daoist thought to syncretic neo-Confucianism. Both signify states of reciprocity commensurate with wu wei as a means towards harmonious administration of the Chinese imperial state in a manner coincident with Buddhism’s meditative relinquishing of desiring subjectivity. At the same time, both also point towards profound abstractions of meaning through aesthetic feeling commensurate with a Daoist and Buddhist rejection of the rationalist concerns of the life-world. Literati aesthetics thus lends itself simultaneously to orderly social governance and resistance to overweening rationality. The initial development of so-called literati painting as a signature means of artistic expression among China’s scholar-gentry can be traced back at least as far as the Tang dynasty. It is at that time that a stylistic/technical distinction began to develop between the formal, often highly detailed gong-bi styles of painting dominant within the imperial court and the spontaneous, less rigidly structured xie-yi styles favoured by some members of the Shi. This stylistic/ technical distinction was initially formalized by writers in China during the late

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Ming dynasty as one between so-called Northern and Southern schools (terms used previously to describe a schism within Chan Buddhism during the Tang dynasty), with formal styles of painting being aligned with the former and freer styles with the latter. In practice many landscapes were produced in the gong-bi style by painters belonging to the Shi. Contrary to the prima facie significance of these categorizations, production of paintings associated with the Northern and Southern schools was in practice not divided precisely by latitudinal geography. Early exponents of free-form styles of painting were, for example, located in the geographical north of China. The identification of Northern and Southern schools in part reflects a geographical shift of dynastic power in China during the Song dynasty. During the Northern Song (960–1127) the imperial capital was located in the north of China in the city of Bianjing. After the loss of its northern territories to the Jin dynasty, the Southern Song (1127–1279) set up a new capital in the south of China on the site of the present-day city of Hangzhou. This shift in the location of dynastic power resulted in a displacement of imperial court painting from geographical north to south and, as a consequence, renewed development of Daoist-inflected shanshui landscape painting in relation to the ‘picturesque’ scenery of Hangzhou’s West Lake. The distinction between Northern and Southern schools of painting was further amplified by the expulsion of scholar-gentry from the imperial court during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). As Li indicates, the Yuan dynasty was founded by invading Mongolian forces whose advance southwards seriously disrupted and eventually deposed the existing imperial order in China.30 The resulting collapse of the established Southern Song imperial court gave rise to a class of displaced scholars – ‘men of letters with no official status’ – who had formerly been employed in the administration of the state. This displaced class became freelance arbiters of aesthetic values attached to landscape painting previously upheld by a now-dissolved imperial art academy. The development of landscape painting away from the imperial court lead to a greater emphasis on subjective feeling over formal resemblance superseding a prior emphasis on harmonious beauty established during the Song dynasty, thereby giving definition to the dominant, generally aestheticist trajectory of literati landscape painting up until the ending of dynastic imperial rule at the beginning of the twentieth century, and indeed beyond that. By the seventeenth century, this unfolding diversification of styles had been significantly tidied up by Chinese scholars who sought to interpret the traumatic displacement of the scholar-gentry by the Yuan retroactively as a formative moment in the initiation of a literati painting. As Jerome Silbergeld

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has argued, the defining of literati painting as exclusive both to a particular class and a pivotal historical moment involves a major dissembling of rather less clear-cut historical evidence.31 Not only can the emergence of styles associated with literati painting be traced back beyond the supposed historical watershed of the Yuan to the Tang, but there was also in practice no definitive division between the production of gong-bi and xie-yi paintings along class or amateur-professional lines. Extant works of art indicate that a spectrum of styles between those supposedly polarized ways of working were adopted by the scholar-gentry according to personal preference and taste. Questioning of the sharp stylistic, technical and geographical distinctions upon which claims of a distinctive literati painting are based was first posed systematically by the Chinese art historian Teng Gu, who from the 1930s onwards brought Western/Germanic art-historical principles to bear on the analysis of Chinese painting.32 The purported relationship between literati painting and the Shi as living embodiments of Daoist- Confucian ethics is equally insecure. In spite of their supposed commitment to an ethical administration of the imperial Chinese state, the scholar-gentry often failed to live up to the lofty ideals of Confucianism. Many, not least those occupying positions outside China’s official imperial bureaucracy, used their authority corruptly as a means towards the material enrichment of themselves, their families and others of the same class. This tendency towards cronyism and nepotism was facilitated by a lack of any meaningful structures within government or wider society inside imperial China to ensure transparency and public trust of a sort now associated with the ideas of civil society and the public sphere. Instead, social coherence and deference to authority were underpinned by traditional gift-giving economies, involving what can be seen in relation to modern western(ized) notions of the public sphere and civil society as forms of bribery, as well as arbitrary responses to petitioning of authority and spectacular acts of disciplinary state violence, including public beheading, flaying and burning of convicted criminals. Reception of painting and poetry produced by the literati was typically conducted within the context of social gatherings known as yaji. The yaji was an intimist forum for artistic display exclusive to the literati class involving discussion of works of art as well as the consumption of food and alcohol. As Clunas notes, with the advent of republican China the exclusivity of the yaji gave way to more cosmopolitan modes of display mixing genders, classes and ethnicities.33

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Furthermore, the scholar-gentry remained an exclusively male class within a highly patriarchal Confucian social order that for the most part required women to occupy abjectly subaltern positions in relation to their husbands and senior male members of their family supposedly in support of a harmoniously ordered society. In practice, the position of women in imperial China was less rigidly constrained, as the Confucian text Lessons for Women (Nüjie) written by the female Confucian scholar Ban Zhao during the Han, the accession of Wu Zetian, China’s only women emperor, to the position of head of the Chinese imperial state during the Tang, and the supreme power exercised by the Dowager Empress Cixi during the late Qing attests. Nevertheless, women were largely disempowered throughout the history of imperial China. Although expressly excluded from the Shi, women did contribute historically to the production of paintings, including shan-shui hua. However, those who did were trained courtesans or relations of male professional or amateur painters34 – traces of which persist in relation to the work of the earlytwentieth-century Chinese modernist painter Pan Yuliang, whose supported status as a concubine enabled her to pursue an international career as an artist. In spite of these significant shortcomings, literati painting and poetry produced by China’s scholar-gentry were upheld from the Ming dynasty through to the early twentieth century as aesthetic expressions of the high moral values supposedly underpinning the Confucian idea of social order and the virtuous independence of their makers as defenders of the continuity of the imperial Chinese state. In the absence of any meaningful public sphere under imperial rule in China, literati poetry and painting also constituted a potential locus of critical resistance to authority as a matter of individual righteousness and ethical judgement – a potentiality attested to by the painter Shitao’s recognition of the power ‘that ignorance bestowed upon an artist, allowing the artist to cultivate him or herself in the freedom of “ignorance,” and thereby transform or renew human art and culture’.35 Developmental variations between gong-bi and xie-yi painting styles can be interpreted as indicative of changing discursive and material conditions within China. As Silbergeld indicates, the marked divergence between gong-bi and xie-yi painting styles during the Song is not simply a matter of specialist stylistic diversification but also an index of wider political struggles among the Shi with regard to how socially interventionist the imperial Chinese state should be.36 Artistic practice was thus durably enmeshed with the workings of power and state in imperial China, as an adjunct both to the socially harmonizing outlook of a dominant neo-Confucianism and to the possibility of critical interventions in/ contestations of authority in the expedient service of long-term social harmony.

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The enmeshing of literati painting with the workings of power and state in imperial China has no exact correlative in the West prior to the eighteenth century. Literary and philosophical resistance to authority were an accepted, indeed rhetorically codified, feature of Western discourses from antiquity onwards. They include an extended tradition of literary pessimism and satire exemplified in Roman antiquity by the writings of Lucilius, Horace and Juvenal revived as part of neo-classicism in Europe during the seventeenth century.37 Before the eighteenth century, such resistances can be understood to have occupied a similar position to Confucianism and related forms of literati art in China as a focus for aristocratic upholding and criticism of classically based authority. However, those same resistances also harbour an abiding Platonic prejudice against visual images that continued to relegate visual art to a subordinate position of artisanship in the European tradition up until the postEnlightenment period. As Plato argues in book 10 of The Republic, the world of the human senses is an illusory one that represents a transcendent reality of ideal forms (eidos).38 Within Plato’s idealist schema the spoken word is considered closest to abstract thought and therefore to transcendent reality. Visual images, including works of visual art, are for Plato merely renderings of a visible world that is always already an imperfect representation of reality and are therefore subordinate to the word as a means of elucidating ontological truths – an exclusory rationalization that differs markedly from Wang Bi’s seminal non-rationalist projection of resonant representation. In relation to historical neo-Confucianism no such extreme Platonic prejudice inheres. Although, as Clunas makes clear, calligraphy has in practice been accorded greater prestige than painting in China over the last two millennia, there is nevertheless an abiding sense that both have a capacity to represent the world in different but equally estimable ways – writing as a means of recording and painting of showing.39 Painting in the literati tradition is, as Clunas puts it, ‘not simply an attempt to “represent” (re-present) something called “reality”, which is existing elsewhere, beyond the picture. Rather, the relationship between the picture, the maker of the picture, and the subject of the picture is much more of a shared enterprise’40 – a sharing that, as the idea of qiyun shengdong indicates, can also be understood to extend to a resonant empathetic-aesthetic relationship with viewers. Attention to reality through painting is consequently envisaged as taking place through a felt reciprocity commensurate with literary-poetical expression and not a striving for objective representation. Painting and poetry within the purview of neo-Confucianism are thus more or less interchangeable

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as modes of expression – a traditional challenge for the literati scholar was to render a pre-existing poem in the form of painting or vice versa. There is, therefore, a case for viewing scholar-gentry painting in China as a distinct locus of intellectually codified aesthetic criticality more or less equal in status to the literary before the uplifting of visual art to a similar position as part of European post-Enlightenment discourses. The incorporation of painting into China’s scholar-gentry culture as a locus of aesthetic feeling and, potentially, of judicious critical dissent from corrupt authority does not correspond to Western post-Enlightenment notions of aesthetic modernity. Neo-Confucianism’s upholding of an indeterminate reciprocity between aesthetics and governance as well as its commitment to the continuity of imperial authority diverges from modernist notions both of a necessary critical distancing of art from society and a decisive breaking with tradition. Neo-Confucian’s aristocratic-patriarchal upholding of ethical behaviour rooted in antiquity is also divergent from an institutionalized postmodernist upholding of identarian difference and social equality. Neo-Confucian aesthetics does, however, constitute an upholding of visual art as an index of critical judgement that precedes the supposedly seminal instituting of visual-aesthetic experience as a locus of progressive criticality by Euro-American post-Enlightenment discourses. Crucially, while Euro-American post-Enlightenment discourses have tended, for the most part, towards systematic conceptualizations of the social function of art-making and the aesthetic, within the neo-Confucian tradition there is by contrast a persistent suggestiveness commensurate with what is seen as the ineffable condition of elevated aesthetic feeling. European visual art is known to have been introduced to the imperial court in China in the fourteenth century through copies made at the request of the Italian-born Franciscan missionary, Jean de Monte Corvino. From the late sixteenth century to the eighteenth century, cultural exchanges between China and Europe intensified as a result of maritime trade links established by the Portuguese, who reached Macau in 1516 and who subsequently leased a trading site there in 1557. These trade links were further developed by the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company who set up trading sites in Canton (modern-day Guangdong) and Taiwan in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. European modes of pictorial representation became known in southern China principally as a result of the founding of Jesuit missions there in the sixteenth century. Jesuits first established a presence at Macau in 1557, where they characteristically set about training locals in the techniques of European drawing

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and painting in support of the dissemination of Catholic theology. However, it was not until the late sixteenth century that the teaching of European drawing and painting techniques gained influence within imperial government circles in China. In 1595, the Jesuit Matteo Ricci became established in the by then imperial capital Peking (Beijing) by invitation as a teacher and adviser to the imperial court. During his time at the Chinese imperial court, Ricci was able to establish the foundations of a durable Jesuit missionary presence that would, throughout the seventeenth and much of the eighteenth century, serve as a focus for the exchange of thinking and practices related to the visual arts, design and architecture between Europe and China. Ricci introduced European oil painting techniques, perspective geometry and chiaroscuro into the artistic workshops of the imperial court along with illustrated treatises and engravings on European painting, sculpture and architecture. Among those who built on Ricci’s pioneering work was the lay Jesuit brother Giuseppe Castiglione (Chinese-style name, Lang Shih-Ning), who worked as an artist in the Chinese imperial court for over five decades from 1715, including the early part of the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–99). Castiglione’s influence was not limited solely to the teaching of Western drawing and painting techniques. During his time at the Chinese imperial court, Castiglione served as an architect, designing pavilions for the emperor in a distinctly Sinified Rococo style, and as a facilitator of a gift of furniture, clocks, paintings and tapestries sent by the French King Louis XV to the Chinese Emperor. He also served as a journeyman painter, producing decorative works combining European and Chinese pictorial elements, alongside others that pastiche various Chinese painting styles. The impact of European art on the work of Chinese artists inside and outside the imperial court during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was varied. While the Literati admired the spatial accuracy and consistency of perspective geometry and the illusionistic sense of depth brought about by the use of chiaroscuro, they nevertheless viewed European drawing and painting as an artisanal rather than truly artistic endeavour. Architectural drawings exhibited by the Jesuits in Peking in the early eighteenth century demonstrating geometrical perspective attracted the attention of Literati at the imperial court.41 Accordance with Xie’s historical principles nevertheless remained paramount for imperial China’s scholar-gentry class.42 By contrast, the impact of European drawing and painting among artisanal artists inside and outside the imperial court resulted in the development of culturally mixed forms of picture-making that brought together aspects of the technical objectivity of European illusionism with the more subjective-realist renderings typical of traditional Chinese painting.43

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Canton was one of the principal centres for this development, and from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century became a draw for visiting as well as resident European artists, among them the London-born and Royal-Academy-trained painter George Chinnery. A significant outcome was the adoption by Chinese artists of European classical academic high-art styles and techniques. Exemplary of this adoption is the work of the early nineteenthcentury Chinese artist Lamqua, who produced portraits in a classical academic style, perhaps under the tutelage of Chinnery, two of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.44 As Frank Vigneron has argued, the somewhat resistant reception of European painting and drawing in eighteenth-century imperial China can be interpreted in Foucauldian terms as resulting from an ‘epistemological blindness’ brought about by localized discursive limitations on understanding45 – limitations the relatively hide-bound Literati were less able to look beyond than commercially oriented artisans. As Vigneron also argues, the differing epistemes dominating the Euro-American and Chinese artworlds of the eighteenth century had nevertheless become increasingly enmeshed, thereby establishing conditions for an intensification of appropriations-translations between the two during the nineteenth and twentieth century.46

Euro-American romanticism and radical idealism The development of so-called Gothic architecture in Western Europe during the early to mid-twelfth century marks a significant modernizing stylistic and technical shift away from the classicism of Greco-Roman antiquity. Abbot Suger described his rebuilding of the Church of Saint-Denis (1137–44) – the first example of recognizably Gothic architecture – as an opus modernum (modern work).47 While there had been continual stylistic and technical shifts within a previously dominant classicism, the supersession of classical Romanesque styles by the Gothic throughout Western Europe during the early medieval period opened up a more diversified field of cultural production. One that would become the basis for what can be perceived as a serial dialectic between classical and non-classical styles extending to the nineteenth century and beyond. This serial dialectic was brought into initial relief by a championing of neoclassical style over the Gothic during the fifteenth and sixteenth century as part of what would later be described as the European Renaissance. The so-called European Renaissance sought to re-establish what it saw as the pre-eminent

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beauty of the well-proportioned and ordered forms of classical art and architecture. A crucial text informing the development of Renaissance neoclassicism is Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1550), the introduction to which includes the coining of the term ‘Gothic’ as a pejorative term for medieval pointed-arch architecture.48 Classicism remained the dominant style in Europe and European colonial contexts throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, first through the development of styles associated with the Baroque, then the Rococo and latterly a severe neo-classicism exemplified by the history paintings of Jacques-Louis David and neo-Palladian architecture. The stylistic dominance of classicism in Europe and associated colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is indicative of the ascendancy of cultural and social values emphasizing proportion, restraint and continuity with the past upheld very much in its own interests by an established aristocratic and religious political order. The upholding of classicism during the eighteenth century was given intellectual credence by Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s History of Ancient Art: Among the Greeks (1764), which develops a systematic and continuous arthistorical narrative asserting the pre-eminence of the classical art of ancient Greece as well as its association with Athenian democracy and the philosophy of Socrates and Plato.49 It was also supported by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten’s development of aesthetics as a discrete branch of philosophy first in Philosophical Meditations on some Matters Pertaining to Poems (Meditationes philosophicae de nonnullis ad poema pertinentibus) (1735) and later in Aesthetica (1758, partially completed at the time of the author’s death).50 In these writings, Baumgarten asserts that beauty in art and nature arises not through abstract thinking but through perception. In separating aesthetic experience from reason in this way Baumgarten sought to subject the non-cognitive irrationality of the former to particular philosophical analysis rooted in the latter. In his development of a discrete aesthetics, Baumgarten thus set the stage for subsequent specialized philosophical speculations on aesthetic experience throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Disaffinity between classicism and the Gothic became an even more prominent aspect of European visual culture through a politicized revival of the latter during the second half of the eighteenth century. This revival was instigated by, among others, the English antiquarian and Whig politician Horace Walpole, whose fantastical neo-Gothic rebuilding of Strawberry Hill House at Twickenham (now in south-west London) between 1749 and 1776 embodies a repudiation of classicism as a style – Walpole intended Strawberry Hill

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House as a foil to Lord Burlington’s pioneering neo-Palladian design of Chiswick House (completed 1729) – and, by association, the entrenched conservatism of Europe’s established political order.51 This dissenting revival of the Gothic was bolstered further by Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s essay ‘On German Architecture’ (1773), which inverts Vasari’s valorization of the classical over the Gothic.52 With the emergence of Enlightenment discourses during the latter half of the eighteenth century, the relationship between visual culture and political dissent in Western contexts was significantly reconfigured. Of major and lasting importance in this regard is Immanuel Kant’s seminal identification of Enlightenment with a turn towards critical philosophy. The ‘Copernican’ revolution in philosophical thinking brought about by Kant involves a shift away from traditional Western metaphysical speculation and an early modern contestation between rationalist and empirical views of how human subjects acquire knowledge towards a conception of a free and proper exercising of reason in relation to experience. This critical breaking with an unthinking adherence to established orthodoxy characterizes not only the Enlightenment but also the subsequent emergence of discourses related to the Western project of post-Enlightenment modernity. First in Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764)53 and then in Critique of Judgement (1790), Kant articulates what has become a durable Western vision of aesthetic experience both in relation to nature and art. Cumulatively in these works, Kant argues that pure judgements of taste, that is, of the beautiful, are not cognitive but rooted in subjective emotional feeling and therefore a ‘free’ play of imagination and understanding. Moreover, such feeling is, Kant argues, dependent on a ‘disinterested’ – that is to say, noninstrumentalist, non-desiring, non-moralizing – attitude towards art and nature. Pure judgements of taste can thus be understood to appeal to a universal validity as being derived not from determinate concepts but a commonly held sense (sensus communis). In Kant’s view judgements of taste are therefore comparable to ethical judgements insofar as both should be disinterested and therefore appeal to a universal validity. Kant reinforces this view in his Critique of Judgement through discussion of feelings of pain-pleasure associated with the aesthetic concept of the sublime made fashionable throughout Europe during the latter half of the eighteenth century in part by the writings of the Anglo-Irish statesman and Whig Member of Parliament in the Westminster House of Commons, Edmund Burke. In his treatise A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), Burke distinguishes between beauty and sublimity as

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categories of aesthetic experience, describing the former as pleasure taken in the appreciation of things that are well formed and the sublime as pain felt in the face of the overwhelmingly powerful or destructive.54 Taking his lead from Aristotelean metaphysics, Burke argues that the causes of beauty are a love of certain formal qualities, such as delicacy, regularity or smoothness, resulting in a sense of calm that ultimately speaks to divine providence, and the causes of the sublime fear or terror in the face of vastness, infinity or enormous power resulting in nervous tension ultimately relating, as he sees it, to God’s epic struggle with Satan. Crucial to Burke’s argument is his distinction between terror in the face of actual danger, which completely overwhelms human reason, and the ‘delightful horror’ of the sublime which, as aesthetic feeling, is experienced at a safe remove and therefore preserves a relationship to reason. In distinguishing between aesthetic categories of beauty and the sublime, Burke sought to develop a refined psychological understanding of the relationship between ideas and practice and in particular the affective impact of art and nature on human behaviour. Burke’s treatise draws on Longinus’s first-century text On Sublimity (Peri hypsous), a critical account of grand and solemn effects obtained through literature and public speaking which, as Donald Russell indicates, upholds the view ‘that the inferiority of contemporary oratory is due to loss of liberty and “democracy”’, but also takes a more pointedly ‘moral line’ in seeing ‘passions and the corruption of the heart’ as inhibiting ‘the creation of great thoughts’.55 As Kant would have it, the sublime is, like beauty, experienced subjectively. However, instead of arising from a free play of imagination and understanding, the sublime results, he avers, from failures of the imagination to comprehend natural objects that are without perceptible limits. Kant divides the sublime into two modes: the mathematical sublime – objects that are either so vast or so minute that they defy imagination; and the dynamical sublime – objects that are so powerful that they threaten to overwhelm or destroy us. Such objects engender feelings of pain, Kant argues, not only by revealing the shortcomings of human perception and imagination but, in the case of the dynamic sublime, also by having the potential to extinguish life. In contrast to Burke, Kant then goes on to argue that initial feelings of pain associated with the sublime give way to the pleasure derived from the capacity of human reason to conceive of the illimitable in a way that supersedes the limits of our imagination. For Kant this supersession of the imagination by reason points to the moral ascendancy of humanity over nature. Experience of the sublime in nature and of its representation by art thus provides a focus for progressive moral development in Kant’s view.

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As a consequence of the European Enlightenment’s rejection of aristocratic and religious dogma in favour of secular rationalism and scientific method, aesthetic experience came to be viewed as a key means towards social progress mediating critically between practical and moral reasoning and thereby binding reason, freedom and morality together as a basis for, as Kant puts it, ‘active existence in the world’. The Enlightenment’s upholding of aesthetic experience as a crucial locus of mediation of this sort cleared the ground both for the oppositional art of nineteenth- and twentieth-century modernism and the deconstructively subversive art of late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century postmodernism. Burke’s separation of the sublime and the beautiful and Kant’s subsequent elaboration on that separation contributed to a wider discursive shift away from classicism towards romanticism in Europe during the late eighteenth century. Romantic preferences for the imaginative dissonance and illimitability of the sublime over the good forms of classicism were not simply a matter of taste but something that was also used to signify dissent from established authority. Walpole’s espousing of the Gothic at Strawberry Hill House, for example – which was intended as a means of engendering feelings of ‘gloomth’ (a neologistic commingling of gloom and warmth) commensurate with the ‘delicious terror’ of the Burkian sublime – gestures strongly towards the potentially liberating impact of expansive consciousness-altering aesthetic experience both culturally and sociopolitically. Romantic invocations of the sublime in art, architecture and garden design became increasingly prevalent in Europe throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Prominent examples include John Henry Fuseli’s painting The Nightmare (1781); Friedrich Wilhelm Erdmannsdorf ’s design for a Gothic mansion as part of a garden scheme including an artificial volcano at Wörlitz near Dessau (1785–86); Francisco e Goya y Lucientes’ series of etchings Los Caprichos (produced 1797–98 and published 1799) and Disasters of War (1810–1820); and Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Wanderer above a Sea of Mist (c. 1818). In some cases, invocations of the sublime by artists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century were used against established authority – for example, Goya’s Disasters of War, which reveals in nauseating detail the horrifying outcomes of military conflict. In others, however, they were used in support of pre-Enlightenment tradition. Consider, for example, so-called Luminist paintings by members of the Hudson River School, which, as Barbara Novak indicates, drew on Kant’s association of the sublime with moral judgement to uphold biblical tradition.56 Although seemingly conventional from a present-day

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perspective, Luminism’s highly polished and topographically detailed depictions of the American landscape were interpreted in their immediate historical context as invoking heightened feelings of transcendent sublimity experienced within what was perceived as a pristine ‘New Eden’. Intellectual mobilization of aesthetic experience in Europe during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in support of progressive sociopolitical change was not confined solely to considerations of the sublime. That mobilization also took place in relation to what has been described as ‘radical idealism’. From the end of the eighteenth through to the middle of the nineteenth-century philosophers sought to correct perceived shortcomings and/ or inconsistencies in the aesthetical writings of Kant looking instead towards a revolutionary enlargement of the human mind’s ‘claim upon reality’ as a means of ‘actively reshaping the world in new and more perfect form’.57 Key to radical idealism is the notion of an ‘essential interdependence of art and thought’ in which ‘art became a kind of philosophy and philosophy a kind of art’58 in a manner that arguably prefigures the more recent idea of a ‘conceptual art’.59 In an early formulation of radical idealism, in Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Mankind (1794), the poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller argues that sociopolitical conflicts in practice can only be resolved by first addressing questions of the aesthetic and that ideal beauty is the sole means towards political freedom.60 In Schiller’s view, true freedom is achieved through a dynamic interaction between shifting sensory experience and a human need for stability and order. This interaction is found through contemplation of beauty in art, which, Schiller argues, leads to a mutual negation of sense and reason resulting in a further higher impulse he refers to as spieltrich (play drive). As such, Schiller’s argument draws on both the Platonic notion of the ideal as it relates to classical notions of beauty in antiquity and the Renaissance and Kant’s contention that pure judgements of taste arise from a free play of the human faculties. What is novel here, however, is Schiller’s assertion that one is only truly free and indeed human in contemplating the beautiful in art and that freedom found in such contemplation is a basis for social and political change. Schiller’s idealizing identification of the aesthetic as a potential locus of social and political change was developed by a number of other thinkers including Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and the brothers Karl Wilhelm Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel. Fichte starts from the view that Kant’s distinction between pure and practical reason sets up a problematic division between thinking and acting in the world. Fichte seeks to counter this perceived deficiency by insisting that thinking is itself an act which

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brings pure and practical reason together into a higher unity. Following Kant’s idea of ‘transcendental consciousness’, the human mind is thus for Schlegel the fundamental organizing principle of reality. This position, which came to be referred to as ‘transcendental idealism’, was described by Schlegel as an elevation of freedom of thought to the level of art. Schelling was dissatisfied with Kant’s distinction between mind and the world in addition to Schlegel’s identification of the former as the fundamental organizing principle of reality. In Schelling’s view, truth emerges from an interaction between mind and nature whose apparent opposition is ultimately subsumed under a higher order of reality he refers to as ‘spirit’. Schelling seeks to further his argument in System of Transcendental Idealism (1800) by tracing a historical process of progressive self-consciousness starting from unconscious nature and culminating in transcendental consciousness as the most developed form of human reason.61 Schelling also argues that the best means towards transcendental consciousness is art rather than rational philosophical thought. It is only in art Schelling avers, where reason and irrationality combine, that nature ultimately comprehends itself. This recognition of the subjection of rationalist philosophy to an irrationality that it cannot comprehend presages Friedrich Nietzsche’s later critique of philosophical rationality and identification of art as a locus of self-realization. The Schlegels were in turn unconvinced by Schelling’s emphasis on the unconscious and irrationality. In their view, heightened selfconsciousness involving an ironic awareness of poetic artifice is a necessary condition of art. In this, they saw a combination of art and philosophy as the basis for a progressive modern romantic art. Of equal importance to the European artworld of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is a critique of established classicism from within the artistic academy as well as attempts by artists and architects to adapt traditional classicism to a more contemporary aesthetic of the sublime. During the eighteenth century, the French and other European art academies accorded the highest standing to large-scale paintings and sculptures in the classical style representing historical and mythical subjects, particularly those associated with Greco-Roman antiquity. Other genres were placed in hierarchical order below ‘history’ painting and sculpture with still life being considered the lowest after portraiture and landscape. The philosopher and editor of the Encyclopaedia of Arts, Sciences and Crafts (1751–52), Denis Diderot was well-versed in these academic conventions, making reference to them in critical essays on annual exhibitions staged by the French Academy. Diderot nevertheless criticized contemporary classical painting for what he perceived as its failure to address

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truly serious subjects and engender heightened feelings. In doing so he advocated a revision of established academic conventions as well as a rejection of the superficial eroticism of Rococo painters such as François Boucher in favour of a more severe style addressing modern subjects and moral themes taken from everyday life. Diderot’s criticism was in part a response to an existing departure from academic classicism by the painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze, who had already produced moralizing paintings of modern life on a grand scale after the manner of established classical history painting. It also prefigured Jacques-Louis David’s development of a severe, moralizing and highly emotive classical style in paintings such as Oath of the Horatii (1784) and The Death of Marat (1793) as well as a gargantuan neo-classical architecture of severely pared down geometrical forms which emerged towards the end of the eighteenth century. Another of the established conventions of European academic art was a supposedly close relationship between painting, sculpture and poetry. This convention was challenged by Diderot and by the playwright and theoretician Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who argued in his essay Laocoon (1766) that the visual arts and poetic literature occupied distinct fields of specialization.62 Lessing’s argument in this regard is that visual art is less suited than literature to narrative and that its principal focus must, therefore, be on the representation of visual beauty. Of major significance during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe as part of emerging romantic and radical idealist sensibilities were appropriations-translations of thinking and practice related to culture in China. Cultural interaction and exchange between China and Europe can be traced back indefinitely to antiquity. Regular trade in jade and silks was established along the Silk Route between China and Europe via third parties during the time of the Roman Empire from the first century BCE. Surviving accounts from China indicate continuing diplomatic contacts with the Byzantine Empire and Europe from the ending of the Roman Empire until the medieval period in spite of intermittent breakdowns of trade along the Silk Route. Direct cultural exchanges between China and Europe first took place during the thirteenth century as a result of trading expeditions to the East mounted by Europeans along the Silk Route, which first established continuous trade links between China and Europe. Diplomats from the Yuan court in China visited Europe between 1287 and 1288. There are numerous written accounts by Europeans of travels within China at this time, many written by early Christian missionaries. The most famous and widely read is that attributed to the Venetian

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Marco Polo. In the account of his travels in China, Polo comments on architecture and the decorative arts but makes no mention of scholarly Chinese ink-andbrush painting.63 Discussion of Chinese painting half a century later by the Berber Muslim Moroccan scholar and explorer Ibn Battuta is enthusiastic but concentrates only on paintings by border officials given the task of accurately recording the likenesses of visitors to China.64 From the late sixteenth century to the eighteenth century, cultural exchanges between China and Europe intensified as a result of the establishment of direct maritime trade routes connecting the two. One of the consequences of the establishing of these trade routes was the increasingly large-scale importation into Europe of Chinese and other East Asian artefacts. Major sales of Chinese porcelain in Europe, for example, took place in Amsterdam in 1600 and 1603. Chinese porcelain started to be depicted in Dutch still-life paintings in the 1630s. Copies of Mughal paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn have been identified as having been made on torinko paper imported from Japan, which was a widely available, though highly expensive commodity in sixteenth- and seventeenthcentury Amsterdam.65 As a consequence of this importation of artefacts from the East as well as publication in Europe of writings by European travellers in China, European interest in and admiration for all things Chinese grew significantly throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. King Louis XIV of France amassed an extensive collection of Chinese artefacts at Versailles, some gifted by the Chinese emperor Kanxi (r. 1661–1722) in exchange for experts in the use of perspective and European artefacts sent from France to China.66 Included in Louis’ collection were illustrated encyclopaedias produced in China containing engravings representative of Chinese art and life. Decorative designs by the painter Antoine Watteau include appropriations-translations of Chinese subjects and motifs.67 This growing interest and admiration resulted in, among other things, the development of the style known (since the late nineteenth century) as ‘Chinoiserie’, which saw appropriations-translations of Chinese styles and techniques as part of the production of European ceramics, decorative painting, architecture, fashion, interiors and gardens. Exemplary of such appropriations-translations is the inclusion in Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Makers’ Director (1754) of ‘Chinese’ designs alongside others representing the French Rococo and the Gothic.68 The development of Chinoiserie in Europe was given initial impetus by China Illustrata (1667), an illustrated encyclopaedia of all things Chinese compiled by the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher drawing on firsthand reports by Catholic missionaries to China, including Ricci,69 which includes

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in one of its engravings what is perhaps the first European representation of Chinese landscape painting.70 Other books published in Europe during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including L’Estat présent de la Chine en figures (1697), Collection précieuse et enluminée des fleurs les plus belles et les plus curieuses (1697) and Description de la Chine (1735), also contain engraved transcriptions of original Chinese paintings.71 Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European interest in Chinese artefacts was largely confined to the decorative arts and architecture. As Joachim von Sandrart’s treatise Teutsche Academie (1675–80) makes clear, Chinese painting was generally regarded as inferior to that of Europe because of its lack of perspectival realism.72 Serious attention to painting from China was first paid in Europe during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries as part of the collecting and display of Chinese art and artefacts in Italy.73 That attention was however heavily refracted by Western aesthetic preoccupations and fantasies of an exotic east. First-hand accounts of Confucianism reached Europe during the seventeenth century. Among the first Europeans to write about Confucianism were the Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Prospero Inforcetta – the latter being the author of The Meaning of Chinese Wisdom (1662), Sinarum scientia politico-moralis (1667) and Confucius Sinarum philosophus (aka The Life and Works of Confucius, co-authored with Phillipe Couplet in 1687). The Jesuits considered Confucianism correctly to be a secular-ethical system rather than a religion. This interpretation was disputed by Dominicans and Franciscans within the Catholic Church during the early eighteenth century as part of what came to be known as the ‘Rites Controversy’. In contrast to the Jesuits the Dominicans and Franciscans regarded Confucianism as a pagan religion and its rites as idolatrous. As a consequence, during the mideighteenth century Confucian rites were banned by Pope Benedict XIV. In the religious sphere interpretations of Confucian thought impacted on the development of Deism, a theological-philosophical tendency in eighteenthcentury Europe that explicitly rejected mystical-revelatory aspects of Christianity such as the Trinity and miracles in favour of reason, observation and knowledge of the natural world as sufficient to determine the existence of God – a position refuted by Kant in his rejection of the so-called ‘argument by design’. Advocates of Deism considered the ethical pragmatism of Confucianism as resonant with their own repudiation of religious dogma. Deism’s cosmological view of the existence of God impacted in turn on thinking associated with the revolutions in France and America at the end of the eighteenth century.

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Confucian conceptions of social governance were received positively in eighteenth-century France. In his book, Despotisme de la China (1767) François Quesnay, a reforming member of Louis XV’s court, upheld China’s meritocratic support of imperial despotism embodied by the Literati as a progressive alternative to France’s hereditary aristocracy. In this, Quesnay – who was known as the Confucius of Europe – advocated adoption of the Daoist conception of wu wei as a principle of social and economic governance – a position that almost certainly informed the idea of a laissez-faire market economics first developed by Quesnay’s contemporary and fellow physiocrat, Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay. China’s system of governance was also upheld as a model for social progress by Voltaire (François Marie Arouet) whose projection of China as a harmonious state at the historical epicentre of civilization conceives of Confucianism as a secular alternative to Christian church dogma and the sociopolitical order in China as a model for enlightened monarchical government.74 Another advocate of Chinese thought was Jean Jacques Rousseau who, in his novel La Nouvelle Héloïse (1751), propounds the idea of humanity’s return to natural selfhood through communion with nature – a vision commensurate with Daoism’s upholding of harmonious reciprocity.75 Others at the time poured scorn on interest in China as a feminized retreat from reason and a descent into moral ambiguity lacking the intellectual rigour of classical Western antiquity.76 The impact of Chinese culture on that of Europe during the eighteenth century also includes thinking and practices relating to the law, literature, politics and philosophy. Exemplary in this regard is the work of the philosopher Christian Wolff. In his public lecture Oratio de Sinarum Philosophia Practica (Discourse on the Practical Philosophy of the Chinese) (1721) Wolff argues that Confucianism demonstrates the possibility of constructing an ethical system of governance that does not have its foundations in religious belief. Wolff extended that argument in a second public lecture, De Rege Philosophante et Philosopho Regnante (On the Philosopher King and the Ruling Philosopher) (1730), by applauding China’s dynastic imperial state for its openness to philosophical thought. Wolff ’s sympathetic philosophical reception of Chinese thinking resonates with the Schlegels’ later popularization of Indian philosophy as well as the discernible impact of Eastern thought on Arthur Schopenhauer’s recasting of Kantian disinterestedness as a ‘release from the will’.77 European engagement with Chinese thinking and practice during the eighteenth century is also evident in relation to the writings, architectural designs and landscape garden designs of Sir William Chambers, who, as a young

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man in the 1740s, made at least two and perhaps three voyages to Canton as an employee of the Swedish East India Company, where he carried out studies of local Cantonese architecture and design. Following the publication of his Designs of Chinese Buildings (1757), Chambers was commissioned by Princess Augusta to design her gardens at Kew, which under Chambers’ instruction incorporated a number of follies, including a Confucian house and a Chinese-style pagoda alongside ‘ruins’ in the classical Greco-Roman style.78 This combination of Chinese and Greco-Roman styles was intended to engender contrasting moods ranging from the uplifting to the eerie commensurate with aesthetic theories set out by Chamber’s friend Edmund Burke in his treatise on the beautiful and the sublime.79 In this Chambers claims to have been influenced by a description of Chinese gardens provided by an artist in Canton as encompassing three modes of aesthetic feeling: ‘pleasing’, ‘horrid’ and ‘enchanting’.80 Burke’s vision of the sublime is arguably similar to that of the Confucian conception of da (vastness or magnificence). In traditional Chinese culture, there is no term corresponding exactly to a Kantian moralizing conception of the ‘sublime’. The Confucian conception of da is, however, broadly equivalent to the Burkian sublime as a source of awe and moral supplication. In the Analects, Confucius uses the term da to praise the legendary Emperor Yao (c. 2356–2255 BCE). In the view of the present-day Chinese philosopher Liu Yuanyuan81, da is used by Confucius in this context to signify the limitlessness of Yao’s power which, he asserts, can be understood to engender feelings of horror and fear and therefore induce moral supplication to authority among his subjects. The extent of the impact of Confucian aesthetics on Burke’s writing is a matter of speculation. However, his resonant theorization of sublimity takes place, as the writing of Chambers and others attest, squarely in the context of other translations of Chinese cultural thinking by Europeans. Chamber’s design for the imposing pagoda at Kew is perhaps a manifestation of da witnessed by Chambers at first hand in China and mediated indirectly by Burke’s description of the sublime. In his A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening (1772) Chambers sets out a largely fanciful vision of Chinese gardens.82 In it, he nevertheless propounds the not entirely misplaced idea that classical Chinese gardens are a manifestation of the neo-Confucian philosophical concerns of China’s scholar-gentry. Chambers envisioned the Chinese garden as a site of flowing aesthetic experience in marked contrast to the neo-classical style of his contemporary, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who constructed gardens comprising separate, carefully premeditated picturesque vistas. In an essay for The Gentleman’s Magazine (1757) Chambers states of the ‘horrid’ Chinese garden:

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Their scenes of terror are composed of gloomy woods, deep vallies inaccessible to the sun, impending barren rocks, dark caverns, and impetuous cataracts rushing down the mountains from all parts. The trees are ill formed, forced out of their natural directions, and seemingly torn to pieces by the violence of tempests: some are thrown down, and intercept the course of the torrents; others look as if blasted and shattered by the power of lightening: the buildings are in ruins; or half consumed by fire, or swept away by the fury of the waters: nothing remaining entire but a few miserable huts dispersed in the mountains, which serve at once to indicate the existence and wretchedness of the inhabitants. Bats, owls, vultures, and every bird of prey flutter in the groves; wolves, tigers and jackalls howl in the forests; halffamished animals wander upon the plains; gibbets, crosses, wheels, and the whole apparatus of torture, are seen from the roads; and in the most dismal recesses of the woods, where the ways are rugged and overgrown with weeds, and where every object bears the marks of depopulation, are temples dedicated to the king of vengeance, deep caverns in the rocks, and descents to subterraneous habitations, overgrown with brushwood and brambles; near which are placed pillars of stone, with pathetic descriptions of tragical events, and many horrid acts of cruelty, perpetrated there by outlaws and robbers of former times: and to add both to the horror and sublimity of these scenes, they sometimes conceal in cavities, on the summits of the highest mountains, founderies, lime-kilns, and glass-works; which send forth large volumes of flame, and continued columns of thick smoke, that give to these mountains the appearance of volcanoes [sic].83

This description resonates strongly with contemporaneous visions of the sublime in European art and garden design.84 A direct connection may indeed exist between it and depictions of volcanoes and scenes of industrialization by the artist Joseph Wright, including Vesuvius in Eruption (1776) and An Iron Forge Viewed from Without (1773), which look very much like close visual transcriptions of Chambers’ written account of the Chinese horrid garden. Conventionally, Wright’s penchant for the sublime is attributed to the influence of the proto-romantic Italian painter Salvator Rosa. The similarity of the subject matter of Wright’s painting to Chambers’ account of a sublimely horrid Chinese garden suggests multiple cultural influences, albeit in mediated form. Chambers’ account of the Chinese garden was criticized by Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld in his Theorie der Gartenkunst (1779) as little more than a presentation of his own ideas in fashionably exotic form. Chambers’ presence in Canton counters that assertion, at least to some degree. Further examples of the use of Chinese-style architectural fantasies as part of European garden design during the eighteenth century include the Chinese

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Teahouse (1755–64) by Johann Gottfried Büring, which was incorporated into a phased redevelopment of the Palace Gardens at Potsdam; the Chinese Tower (1789–90) by Johann Baptist Lechner, a reworking of Chambers’ pagoda at Kew which was incorporated into the Englischer Garten scheme in Munich; and Chinese ‘villages’ at Drottningholm in Sweden and Tsarskoe Selo in Russia. English garden design of the eighteenth century was strongly informed by ideas put forward by Sir William Temple in his essays ‘Upon Heroick Virtue’ (1683) and ‘Upon the Gardens of Epicurus’ (1685) and echoed in writings by Joseph Addison and Oliver Goldsmith. The second of Temple’s essays uses the uncertainly derived term Sharawadji (sharadge) to denote the idea of ‘beauty without order’, which the author ascribes to the asymmetry and naturalism of gardens in East Asia.85 This notion of asymmetrical naturalistic beauty was taken up by English garden designers, including Walpole in relation to his design of Strawberry Hill, as a radical response to established, highly symmetrical, classical European garden design.86 Temple’s description of East Asian garden design is highly generalizing. However, it can be understood to give representation to an established tradition of literati garden design in China aimed at creating naturalistic as well as harmoniously symbolic spaces conducive to reflective retreat and meditative enlightenment – as exemplified by Wen Zheming’s development of Zhuo Zhen Yuan (Unsuccessful Politician’s Garden) at Suzhou during the sixteenth century87 and the related development of gardens in Japan, from the Muromachi period (1333–1568) through to the Edo (1600–1868), whose incorporation of multiple off-set vistas draws directly on the example of neo-Confucian shan-shui hua.88 Literati gardens were intended as settings for meanderings through apparently natural, though in actuality highly contrived, scenery evoking a multi-sensory aestheticized motility of perception, including, among other things, floral scents, birdsong and ritualistic consumption of tea. In spite of a general repudiation of Chinese scholarly ink-and-brush painting in Europe during the eighteenth century, there is some evidence that British landscape painters of that time were seeking to incorporate Chinese methods and aesthetic sensibilities into their practice. The British painter, illustrator and engraver William Alexander visited China in 1792 as a draughtsman accompanying the Earl of Macartney’s Embassy to Peking. Romanticized drawings of Chinese scenes produced by Alexander for engravings accompanying an account of the embassy use stylistic tropes stereotypical of Chinese literati painting.89

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The impact of Chinese cultural thinking and practice on that of Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is by no means direct. Firsthand engagements with Chinese cultural thinking and practice by Europeans during this time are vanishingly rare. Chambers’ study of vernacular architecture in China and application of that study as part of garden design in England is almost certainly unique. In most cases, appropriations-translations of Chinese culture by Europeans took place through the mediation of writings by others resident in China. What is more, those appropriations-translations were usually refracted by localized cultural and sociopolitical concerns. Walpole’s early romantic resistance to dominant classicism, for example, involves the bending of a supposedly East Asian concept of ‘beauty without order’ towards an engagement with a locally dominant political conservatism in Britain. As such, that resistance can be understood to point towards a fundamental overturning of established authority in the context of a disaffinity between classical and Gothic styles that does not correspond either intellectually or practically with neo-Confucianism’s support for the continuity of China’s imperial-dynastic order. Upholding of Confucian values by European conservatives such as Quesnay and Voltaire in support of the continuation of monarchical government involves a better fit between established European political thinking and that of imperial China. However, it too involves a bending towards localized European concerns largely alien to imperial China – in particular, challenges to the continuity of established aristocratic-monarchical tradition. The impact of Chinese culture on that of Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries consequently involves significant refracting abstractions of form, style and meaning. Chinoiserie, for example, gives a stylistic impression of Chineseness to the Western imagination that is only very loosely allied both technically and stylistically to the decorative arts of China. This is exacerbated by a tendency to view East Asian cultures together as lumpen. Exemplary of which is Temple’s coining of the term Sharawadji, which is not only of indeterminate cultural-linguistic origin but also used to signify a highly abstracted notion of asymmetrical beauty in opposition to dominant classicism rather than as an opening onto a specific understanding of East Asian cultures. Such abstractions would now be described as orientalizing in their casting of Asia as a generalized exotic other. Nevertheless, it is possible to trace a variegated outward-facing engagement with Chinese cultural thinking and practice as part of the formation of early romanticism and radical idealism in Europe during the seventeenth and

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eighteenth centuries. This engagement can be understood to provide an efficacious sense of alterity, no matter how generalizing, in support of differing conservative and reforming sociopolitical outlooks that in doing so also informs a subsequent post-Enlightenment upholding of aesthetic experience as a locus of individual-subjective and wider social transformation. Maintained in operative separation are differing European and Chinese artworlds that also defer productively to one another.

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Euro-American modernisms Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, there were continuing artistic and philosophical challenges in Euro-American contexts to the established values of academic classicism. Those challenges include subversive artistic invocations of sublimity and exoticism in the context of academic classicism as well as systematic philosophical elaborations of radical idealism and romanticism. They also include the development of an art representative of modern life that diverged radically from the practical idealism of academic history painting and sculpture as well as the philosophical aesthetics of radical idealism and, to some extent, romanticism. Fichte and Schelling’s visions of transcendental idealism and their critique of shortcomings in Kant’s philosophy were developed significantly by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel follows Schelling by identifying spirit (geist) as the fundamental underlying principle of reality. As such, spirit is to be thought of as a state of transcendental self-consciousness commensurate with that described by Fichte. Hegel also takes a lead from Schelling by envisaging a process of historical development through which spirit becomes increasingly self-conscious of its own transcendent reality. Hegel adds to Schelling’s vision by proposing that the increasing self-consciousness of spirit proceeds through a triadic process of overcoming or sublation (aufhebung) whereby the abstract or immediate becomes progressively more concrete (absolute) as a result of the mediating actions of negation.1 The perceived position of art within Hegel’s idealizing historical schema is however at odds with the status accorded to it by Schelling. In Hegel’s view, art embodies the historical development of the consciousness of spirit only in Greco-Roman antiquity through idealizing representations of the human body prevalent during the Hellenistic period (323–31 BCE). After which art is

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superseded first by religion and then philosophy as true representations of the self-consciousness of spirit.2 Hegel supports this reading by identifying three stages in the historical development of art, each of which is supposed to accord with stages in the progressive realization of the self-consciousness of spirit: first, ‘symbolic’ art prior to Greek antiquity, which includes the art of ancient Egypt and the non-Western world; second, ‘classical’ art of ancient Greece and Rome; and third, ‘romantic’ modern art of Christian Europe (that is to say, art of the medieval period onwards). The first, Hegel argues, merely indicates the existence of spirit, the second embodies the developed self-consciousness of spirit at that particular moment in history and the third involves a continuing tension between art’s representation of the material world and religion’s superior representation of the self-consciousness of spirit. As a representation of the self-consciousness of spirit, classical art is thus relegated within this schema to only historical significance and non-Western art to a position of at best only marginal relevance. What Hegel’s schema nevertheless continues to suggest is the possibility upheld by Schelling, Fichte and the Schlegels of the subsuming of art into some kind of higher philosophicalconceptual practice as the ultimate realization of the self-consciousness of spirit. Hegel’s positioning of non-Western art as merely symbolic of the selfconsciousness of spirit extends Kant’s earlier prejudice about non-Western cultures, including Chinese culture, as inferior to that of Europe. Arthur Schopenhauer’s conception of the significance of art and aesthetic experience is, like his thinking as a whole, rather more pessimistic in its outlook than Hegel’s. Schopenhauer refines Kant’s distinction between mind and nature, naming ‘will’ as the morally indifferent set of drives and desires that inhabit and animate nature, and ‘representation’ as the capacity of the human mind to foment ideas and to engage in moral reasoning.3 As Schopenhauer would have it, we as humans are caught up in a recurrent state of suffering brought about by an inability to completely satisfy our natural wills that is only finally brought to an end by death. This leads Schopenhauer to the opinion that it would be better for us not to have been born at all. He also concedes, however, that in aesthetic experience we have recourse to temporary respites from the persistent tyranny of human suffering, since natural will is suspended through an indifferent contemplation of beauty, as described by Kant – a view resonant with a Buddhist conception of non-desiring meditation as a source of transcendental enlightenment and the Schlegel’s popularization of Eastern thought more generally. Exemplary of continuing artistic challenges to academic classicism within Europe during the early nineteenth century is Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the

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Medusa (1818–19), a painting depicting events related to the running aground of the French naval frigate Méduse off the coast of what is now Mauritania on 2 July 1816. Ostensibly, Géricault’s painting upholds the established conventions of eighteenth-century academic history painting by representing in highly dramatic and idealizing over life-size detail the moment of the remaining crew of the Méduse’s rescue. The painting can also be understood to subvert those conventions, however, not only by seeking to engender romantic feelings of tragic sublimity rather than classical moralizing beauty but also by representing contemporaneous events through means usually reserved for historical and mythological subjects. The result is a critical synecdoche for wider corruption and incompetence within French society that exposes the patent unreality of the conventions of academic classicism used in propagandist support of prevailing authority, as given definition by the revolutionary neo-classical paintings of Jacques-Louis David. Also exemplary in this regard is Eugène Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus (1827), which makes use of the conventions of academic history painting while subverting them through a highly romanticized depiction of an exotic, violently eroticized historical subject: the reportedly potlatch-like destruction by Sardanapalus, the last king of Assyria, of all of his possessions, including his concubines, in the face of impending military defeat. Géricault’s subversion of the established tropes of academic history painting was further developed during the mid-nineteenth century by Gustave Courbet. Courbet’s Burial at Ornans (1849–50), for example, elevates an otherwise quotidian event – the burial of the painter’s great-uncle in their home-town of Ornans – to the level of epic history or myth but without the rhetorical uplift usually expected of academic classicism. Again, the patent unreality of academic history painting is revealed by a bringing together of usually hierarchically distinct genres. Courbet’s insertion of realism into the idealizing context of academic classicism contrasts with small-scale genre paintings of everyday rural life then popular in Britain.4 While the latter appealed to bourgeois sentiment by presenting reassuring depictions of bucolic harmony and social order, Courbet’s realism most assertively did not. Courbet instead sought to represent rural life in France through unconventionally disjunctive formal and stylistic means that eschewed received academic convention in addition to connoting abiding antagonisms between social classes. Courbet’s eschewing of academic convention was also signalled by his response to the rejection of his work from inclusion in the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1855. Following that rejection Courbet set up a self-funded exhibition space, titled ‘The Pavilion of Realism’, as an exclusive showcase for his own work

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alongside the Exposition Universelle, initiating a series of similar secessions from academic authority throughout the rest of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. In his Realist Manifesto, included in the catalogue to the exhibition held in ‘The Pavilion of Realism’, Courbet upholds the value of independent self-expression and self-actualization in opposition to both the restrictions of academic convention and the detachment from social reality of art produced for its own sake. A similarly individualistic socially oriented refusal of authority characterized Courbet’s involvement in the revolutionary Paris Commune of 1870–71, during which he quickly found himself at odds with the Commune’s leadership. Courbet’s critical realism and non-conformist engagement in radical politics points both towards an opening up of art as a locus of individualistic creativity and expression against the constraints of academic classicism and, as such, the establishment of a wider social democracy. The coming together of idealism, romanticism and realism which informed the development of aesthetic modernity in Europe during the early to midnineteenth century found singular expression in the writings of the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire sought to uphold romanticism and its aspirations towards unbounded aesthetic experience in opposition to the restrictions of academic classicism while also rejecting Courbet’s particular version of realism as an insufficiently elevated alternative to both. In doing so, he envisaged a vital role for aesthetic experience as a locus of imaginative-poetic transcendence in the face of the real. Like Diderot, Baudelaire criticized the academy’s imposition of a hierarchy of genres and valorization of history painting. In their place, he called for a painting of ‘modern life’5 that would celebrate the variety of urban experience – both its beauty and its inescapable degradation. Baudelaire exhorts artists to look for the aesthetic not simply as a manifestation of the ideal and the absolute but also as attendant upon the fleeting moments of an ever-accelerating and sensorially overwhelming urban modernity – a conception of urban space as an arena of shifting affect between the beautiful and sublime that extends eighteenth-century European aesthetical preoccupations. He also identifies the Flâneur – a dandified male roving aimlessly through the urban landscape – as an exemplary spectator taking visual (scopophiliac) pleasure in the varied spectacle of modern life. Intersecting with mid-nineteenth-century critical realist and neo-romantic conceptions of art and aesthetic experience are the contrasting criticalphilosophical outlooks of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. Marx’s criticalphilosophical engagement with the industrial modernity of the mid-nineteenth century comprises two related aspects: a searching critique of capitalism that takes account of its positive as well as negative impacts on human society, and a

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dialectical-materialist conception of history that inverts Hegel’s idealist vision of the increasing self-consciousness of spirit.6 In this, Marx distinguishes between two interrelated spheres: a dynamic socioeconomic base encompassing material contradictions and dialectical struggle between classes as the principal drivers of historical development and an ideological superstructure, including political governance, the law and cultural tradition, that serves to keep the former in check. The role of art as part of the ideological superstructure envisaged by Marx is a contested one. While so-called vulgar Marxists reject art as an irredeemably ideological aspect of capitalist society, others have sought to co-opt it as a means of representing the actuality of material conditions and therefore of raising class consciousness beyond the constraints imposed by a dissembling capitalist ideology – often considered as exemplary of which is socialist realist art produced in support of revolutionary change during the early years of the Soviet Union. Others still, namely those aligned with Trotskyism, have looked towards an emancipatory interaction between avant-garde art and the socioeconomic base,7 for example through a surrealistic bringing together of material reality with the unfettered eroticism of dream states as a means towards a revolutionary overcoming of established culture and society.8 Nietzsche’s conception of aesthetic experience explicitly rejects Schopenhauer’s passively nihilistic vision of art as an ultimately futile palliative in the face of persistent human suffering, affirming instead its potential as a locus of subjective and wider social transformation. Initially, Nietzsche sought to frame his affirmative understanding of art in the context of shared cultural experiences, in which he envisaged the possibility of a collective transcendence of morally restrictive Christian values.9 Following disillusionment with the composer Richard Wagner, whose music he initially saw as a focus for that collective transcendence, Nietzsche would go on develop his conception of the aesthetic in relation to the idea of contesting wills to power.10 Nietzsche’s idea of contesting wills to power maintains his earlier rejection of Christianity by asserting individual transcendence of conventional moralizing distinctions between good and evil through aesthetic self-actualization – an assertion coinciding with Nietzsche’s perspectivist view that knowledge is contingent upon differing self-interested interpretive points of view and that the limits of knowledge, therefore, stand in constant need of reflexive reassessment.11 This conception of the aesthetic as a means of transcending conventional Christian morality resonates with the illimitability of the romantic sublime while also diverging from Kant’s rationalist upholding of the aesthetic as a locus of moral and aesthetic consensus.

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Of further importance to an understanding of the development of aesthetic modernity during the latter half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries is the emergence of critical thinking and practice associated with the idea of the avant-garde. The first recorded use of the term ‘avant-garde’, in its accepted high-cultural rather than military sense, was by the Saint-Simonian social reformer Benjamin Olinde Rodrigues, who argued during the first quarter of the nineteenth century for an advanced guard in the arts to clear the way for wider social, economic and political reforms.12 However, it is not until the middle part of the nineteenth century in the wake of the European revolutions of 1848 that the first recognizably avant-garde tendencies within the arts began to manifest themselves. At the forefront of this development was Courbet, whose rejection of the established conventions of academic classicism and romanticism combined with his openly libertarian lifestyle and direct engagement with revolutionary politics first gave practical definition to the idea of the modern avant-garde bohemian artist.13 Another major contributor to the shaping of European avant-gardism during the mid-nineteenth century was Baudelaire whose use of the term ‘modernité’ (modernity) to signify the experience of modern urban life as a series of fleeting ‘just nows’ as well as his injunction that the artist should seek to represent the ephemeral state of urbanized modernity rather than an idealized mythical or historical past became key aspects of the Western understanding of progressive avant-garde artistic practice.14 During the latter part of the nineteenth century the term ‘avant-garde’ became associated with the idea, as expressed by, among others, Victor Cousin, Benjamin Constant, Théophile Gautier, of ‘l’art pour l’art’ (art for art’s sake). This conception of art as an autotelic medium – that is to say, one separated from any moral, didactic or utilitarian function – as well as an associated testing of art’s established stylistic and technical limits, first manifested itself as a basis for artistic practice towards the end of the nineteenth century through the work of Euro-American artists associated with the Aesthetic Movement.15 The Aesthetic Movement’s rejection of any moral, didactic and/or utilitarian function for art did not, as it might first appear, involve an outright dismissal of art’s critical significance. Rather, it was an attempt to secure the position of art as a locus of free subjective cultural expression beyond any established moral, conceptual and practical constraints and, therefore, as the marker of a wider conception of social autonomy and self-actuating individuality – a position resonant, to some extent, with that of Nietzsche. It has become usual to divide avant-garde art of the early to mid-twentieth century into two broadly divergent, though to some extent imbricating,

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tendencies: first, the ‘aesthetic’ avant-garde who saw the progressive development of visual art practice under modernism in formalist-specialist terms as a move towards increasing abstraction; and second, the ‘politicized’ avant-garde who sought to bring about progressive social change through a more or less direct critical engagement with the life-world. The first of these tendencies – which remained culturally dominant within Euro-American liberal-democratic contexts throughout much of the twentieth century – is strongly associated with the writings of the critic Clement Greenberg. In his early critical writings, Greenberg argues that a truly avant-garde art is the product of progressive postEnlightenment critical thinking, and that, as such, it should be distinguished from the regressive kitsch of socialist realism under totalitarian communism and modern consumer culture under free-market capitalism16 – a view prefigured by Nietzsche and shared in part by the critical theorist Theodor Adorno.17 Later, Greenberg would go on to argue that modernist abstraction in the visual arts is the outcome of a necessary process of specialization arising out of the rationalist division of reason, practicality and aesthetic judgement set out by Kant as a basis for critical modernity at the end of the eighteenth century.18 The second tendency in question is associated with artistic uses of collagemontage and related defamiliarization techniques. As Peter Bürger indicates, collage-montage – which involves the excision (collage) of objects, images and/ or texts from their everyday settings and remounting (montage) within artistic contexts – can be understood from a Marxian-Hegelian perspective as a means by which to bring a morally indifferent goal-oriented industrialized modernity into closer proximity with art and, therefore, of reworking the former critically along the more playful lines of the latter.19 A significant aspect of which is the unsettling of art both as a means of naturalistic representation and as a source of categorical aesthetic experience, as signified by Hans Richter’s use of the phrase ‘art and anti-art’ to describe artworks associated with Dada.20 In addition to the division between aesthetic and politicized avant-gardes, it has also become usual, following Bürger, to further divide the twentieth-century avant-gardes into two historical blocs: the ‘historical-avant-garde’ (HAG), which is generally understood to run from the 1890s through to the 1940s; and the ‘neoavant-garde’ (NAG), including groups and movements such as Pop Art, Fluxus, Situationism and Conceptualism,21 which succeeded the HAG in the aftermath of the Second World War, becoming part of the initial shift towards postmodernist sensibilities during the latter half of the twentieth century. What is more, those blocs can be divided still further between differing political outlooks: bourgeoisliberalism associated with the development of abstract art; revolutionary Marxism

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associated with the work of the politicized avant-gardes; and politics on the far right espoused by, among others, the Italian Futurists22 and the film-maker Leni Riefenstahl.23 From the early twentieth century, avant-garde art became increasingly institutionalized resulting in the establishment of what has been widely referred to as high-modernism. Not only did high-modernism persist in upholding a postEnlightenment identification of art as a locus of critical opposition to established convention, but that upholding also took place alongside a continuing faith in coherent subjectivity and authorial agency as well as universal truth-claims and master narratives related to the representation of history.24 From the late 1950s onwards, visual artists and curators at the forefront of the Euro-American NAG, among them Allan Kaprow and Robert Rauschenberg, began to develop a socially and politically engaged art critically resistant to the institutionally dominant concerns of high- modernism. In doing so, they abandoned the grand abstractions that had once informed the thinking of the HAG in favour of a rather more focused micro-political involvement with socialized constructions of the self and social relations of dominance. Included in which are explicitly feminist resistances to an inherently masculinist high-modernism by artists such as Judy Chicago and Martha Rosler. A similar shift in attitudes can also be understood to have taken place at more or less the same time among non-Western artists and curators who had by then appropriated-translated collage-montage and defamiliarization techniques associated with the Euro-American historical- and neo-avant-gardes as part of their own practice, deploying them as means of actively resisting high-modernism and its underlying associations with Western colonialism-imperialism and patriarchal relations of dominance. In the wake of the failure of the European uprisings of 1968, there were also the beginnings of a shift towards self-reflexive criticism of modernist precepts as part of the theorizing of art. A key aspect of this shift was a Marxian-inflected critical reappraisal of the avant-gardes.25 During the nineteenth century, China’s Qing dynasty became increasingly isolationist in the face of encroaching Western colonialism-imperialism. Although China was never made subject to comprehensive colonialistimperialist rule, the ceding of numerous trading concessions, including Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai and Hong Kong, to European powers as well as punitive colonialist expeditions, such as the joint Anglo-French raid on Beijing in 1858 as part of the Second Opium War (1856–80), made it abundantly clear that the balance of power relations between the West and China had tipped towards the former. China’s isolationism was accompanied by growing Western knowledge

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of and consequent disillusionment with the often highly despotic nature of Chinese imperial rule contrasting with conservative admiration by the likes of Voltaire during the previous two centuries.26 Qing isolationism and a general hardening of colonialist-imperialist attitudes in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century resulted in a diminishing of cultural exchanges between China and the West. At this time, Japan, which had recently been opened up to international trade forcefully by the United States, became a greater focus for cultural exchanges between East Asia and the West. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, cultural exchanges between China and the West regained something of their intensity of earlier years. This included appropriations-translations of styles and techniques from Chinese decorative arts by contributors to the Aesthetic Movement and representations of Chinese artefacts by post-Impressionist painters.27 A revival of Chinoiserie in EuroAmerican contexts from the 1880s was significant both of an improvement of diplomatic and trade relations between China and the West and of a European nostalgia for what was even by then Europe’s waning colonialist-imperialist power. Chinese aesthetics also impacted on the French Symbolist movement, including the group known as the Nabis, who drew on Chinese and Japanese conceptions of the metaphorical resonance of poetic imagery as part of their artistic practice.28 There were, in addition, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries appropriations-translations of Chinese cultural thought and practice as part of the development of Western philosophical aesthetics. Of significance in this regard is Nietzsche’s interest in Buddhism as a religion fostering selfreflexivity and Daoism as a locus of intellectual relativism,29 which coincided with his assertion of the possibility of ‘eternal return’:30 the idea of an infinite recurrence of the universe across time and space resonant both with the Buddhist idea of a migration of souls and the Daoist idea of cyclical reciprocity.31 In this Nietzsche sustains a romantic vision of the non-rationality of Asian culture espoused by the Schlegels. He also prefigures later engagements between Germanophone philosophy and the Chinese intellectual tradition, including in relation to the work of Martin Heidegger.32 In the United States there was from the mid-nineteenth through to the twentieth centuries an abiding interest in and appreciation of traditional Chinese calligraphy and ink-and-brush painting as well as of aesthetic traditions associated with those practices as part of the teaching of art and art history. Among those who sought to integrate traditional Chinese artistic practices and aesthetics into the teaching of art in the United States is the painter, printmaker and influential

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educationalist Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow was dissatisfied with the training he had received as an art student in Paris and, in response, began to make a comparative study of differing artistic traditions, which included research into East Asian painting and design. During his investigations, Dow met the orientalist Ernest F. Fenollosa, whose extensive knowledge of traditional Japanese and Chinese art and synthetic-formalist conception of art as a form of ‘visual music’ impacted strongly on Dow’s own thinking. In the 1880s, Dow worked closely with Fenollosa on the development of a teaching programme incorporating engagement with Chinese and Japanese art and aesthetics.33 Dow taught for over thirty years at art colleges and institutions in the United States, including the Teachers’ College at Columbia University, the Art Students’ League of New York, the Pratt Institute and, after 1900, his own summer school in Massachusetts, among whose alumni are the early American modernists Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Sheeler, both of whom were influenced by Daoism.34 Chinese and Japanese art and aesthetics also impacted on the teaching at the short-lived but highly influential Black Mountain College. Black Mountain College was founded in Black Mountain, North Carolina in 1933 as an institution supportive of progressive approaches to liberal arts education in which teaching of artistic practice would be central. During its relatively short period of operation up to 1956, Black Mountain College became a significant focus for the localized development of avant-garde art in the United States. Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Kenneth Noland and John Cage were, for example, all affiliates or students of the college. Cage made explicit use of techniques associated with the I Ching as part of his musical composition. In early 1951, Cage’s pupil Christian Wolff presented the composer with a copy of the first complete English translation of the I Ching, which had been published by Christian’s father, Kurt Wolff. Chance divination techniques set out in the I Ching became the principal compositional means for Cage throughout the remainder of his career. The first results of which were Cage’s Imaginary Landscape No.4 for twelve radio receivers and Music of Changes for piano (both 1951). Cage’s appropriation-translation of techniques from the I Ching extends his one-time mentor, Henry Cowell’s development of an ‘aleatory’ approach to musical composition during the 1930s. Other avantgarde Sinophiles in the United States during the mid-twentieth century include the film-maker Maya Deren. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Cage is known to have attended a series of lectures on Zen Buddhism (a variation on Chinese Chan Buddhism) by the Japanese popularizer of East Asian culture D. T. Suzuki.35 Cage’s description

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of avant la lettre minimalist paintings, produced by his student Robert Rauschenberg at Black Mountain College in the summer of 1951, as ‘landing strips’ for ambient light and shadow has been interpreted as an index of the former’s interest in the non-desiring outlook of Zen Buddhism.36 Cage would go on to produce an equivalent musical work, 4’33” (1952), which, as one requiring its musician not to play, draws attention to the non-directed ambient soundscape of the performance space. In later life, Cage would add to his work as a composer with work as a painter and printmaker.37 Cage’s long-standing fascination with the work of the ‘anarchist’ philosopher and early ecologist Henry David Thoreau, who like the Schlegels sustained an interest in Indian philosophy, resonates indirectly with Daoist ideas of a desirable reciprocity between humanity and nature. Cage’s involvement with Buddhism and Daoism took place in relation to other artistic appropriations-translations of Eastern thinking and practice as part of Euro-American modernism, including some influenced by the teachings of the Theosophical Society, which from the 1870s and in various manifestations aimed to establish a universal brotherhood based in comparative theology and occultism. Artists who came under the direct influence of the Theosophical Society during the first half of the twentieth century include Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinksy. The teaching at Black Mountain College drew on educational principles set out by the pragmatist philosopher John Dewey. Dewey argued that educational institutions should act as places of social reform through direct interaction with wider society and that students should play a democratic-andragogic role in the shaping of their own curriculum.38 Dewey’s thinking drew in part on an engagement with Asia’s intellectual traditions, to which Dewey was introduced by his then-publisher Paul Carus and D. T. Suzuki in the 1890s.39 Dewey visited China between 1919 and 1921 during major reforms made to the education system there as part of the New Culture Movement. He also developed an aesthetic theory that stresses the reciprocal relationship of art to wider society and interpretation of artworks from the perspective of the local cultural circumstances of their production.40 The impact of Chinese cultural thinking on the US artworld of the twentieth century can be registered in part through interactions with European artists who travelled there. These artists include Marcel Duchamp, whose ‘readymade’, Fountain (1917) was interpreted contemporaneously as resonant with a Buddhist sculptural aesthetics41 and Richard Hulsenbeck, Sinophile and author of the book China frisst Menschen (China Eats People) (1930), who asserted that Dada was a modern form of Buddhism.42 In 1917 Duchamp’s New York circle included

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Beatrice Wood and the Theosophist Katherine Dreier, both of whom maintained significant interests in Asian art and culture. Chance techniques used by avantgarde European artists who made their home in the United States, such as Max Ernst, have a discernible resonance with those associated with the I Ching. Duchamp is recorded as commented on Ernst’s signature use of frottage as simply ‘a rediscovery of old Chinese rubbing techniques’.43 Aesthetic similarities have been identified between traditional Chinese painting and artworks produced by early-twentieth-century European abstractionists including Wassily Kandinksy, Paul Klee and Naum Gabo.44 Evidence linking the two is largely circumstantial, however. Klee, for example is known to have immersed himself for a time in translations of Chinese poetry, and in 1909, Kandinksy wrote a positive review of an exhibition of Japanese and Chinese art in Munich for the Moscow-based magazine Appollon. Earlytwentieth-century modernists with a significant interest in China include Ezra Pound, whose development of Imagist poetry is heavily indebted to readings of classical Chinese and Japanese literary sources.45 While living in London at the beginning of the twentieth century, Pound was introduced to the modernist artists Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Wyndham Lewis. Pound wrote for Lewis’s magazine Blast.46 He also sought to extend his poetic concept of ‘Imagisme’ to visual art, renaming it ‘Vorticism’, a term subsequently used to refer to the work of modernist artists in Lewis’s circle.47 A case has also been made for stylistic connections between traditional Chinese painting and the work of mid-twentieth-century American and European abstractionists, including Jackson Pollock, Pierre Soulages and Henri Michaux.48 There are superficial formal similarities between abstract expressionist and tachist works by these artists and xie-yi style traditional Chinese ink-and-brush painting and calligraphy as well as ekphrastic connections with accounts of ‘wild’ paintings produced under the influence of alcohol in China during the Tang dynasty.49 Related to which is Yves Klein’s explicit espousal of the exotic and esoteric, including aspects of East Asian cultural tradition, as part of his spectacularist artistic practice. In the absence of evidence of conscious appropriation-translation, such a reading is, though, highly speculative if not erroneous.50 A more compelling case can be made for connections between traditional Chinese artistic thinking and practice and the work of the Euro-American modernists, Mark Tobey, Agnes Martin, Ad Reinhardt and Brice Marden. Tobey, whose mature painting is associated with Abstract Expressionism, was taught traditional Chinese ink-and-brush calligraphy in Seattle during the early 1920s

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by Teng Kuei, a student from China studying at Washington University. As the catalogue to an exhibition of Tobey’s work at the Museum of Modern art in New York describes it, ‘What Tobey learned from Teng Kuei … was “the difference between volume and the living line” – a means of opening solid form, giving tangibility to empty space, and of breathing life into static western realism.’51 Tobey’s interest in Asian culture developed through his initiation into the Baha’i World Faith after 1917. The Baha’i World Faith is a monotheistic religion that believes, not unlike theosophy, in the spiritual unity of humanity including the unity in diversity of Western and non-Western religions. Tobey’s interest in Asia was further stimulated during his time as a teacher at Dartington Hall – a progressive education establishment similar to Black Mountain College situated in Devonshire, England – between 1930 and 1938, where he met a number of artists and intellectuals, including Aldous Huxley and Arthur Waley, both of whom shared in Tobey’s desire to bring Western and Eastern cultures together. In 1934 Tobey travelled to China and Japan, living for a time in Shanghai with the family of Teng Kuei. While in China, Tobey saw traditional paintings and sculptures and met with local artists. In Japan, Tobey spent a month in a Zen monastery in Kyoto where he studied meditation and practiced ink-andbrush painting and calligraphy. Although in his diaries Tobey asserts the value of his engagement with Zen as a means towards a breaking down of the rational mind and release from ‘the domination of others’, he also accepts that he could never be anything other than occidental.52 Tobey’s mature abstract-calligraphic style developed soon after his return from East Asia. In his diaries Tobey acknowledges the relative closeness of the west coast of the United States to Asia, arguing that if the entirety of the west coast ‘had been open to aesthetic influence from Asia, as the East Coast was to Europe … what a rich nation we would be!’53 Agnes Martin, whose mature painting is associated with Euro-American minimalism and conceptualism, combined Tobey’s interest in Zen with the study of Daoism. During her studies as a trainee teacher, first at Western Washington College of Education and then at Teacher College, Columbia University, from the 1930s to the 1950s, Martin became aware of the writings of Dewey, from which she took the idea of the artwork as an experience rather than as an object or event. Martin’s engagement with Dewey’s thinking was reinforced by exposure to Asian cultural thinking and practice, information about which circulated widely in the United States after the Second World War finding a ready audience there with artists and intellectuals. In a response to a researcher in the early 1980s, Martin acknowledged the durable ‘inspiration’ of Daoist and Chan/Zen Buddhist thinking on her life and work as an artist.54 In both, she

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saw the possibility of a reciprocal relationship with nature as well as spiritual transcendence and self-actualization. For Martin these possibilities were not simply an adjunct to counter-cultural non-conformity but a personal therapeutic support towards creativity. Martin suffered increasingly throughout her life from schizoaffective disorder combining hallucinations with bipolar swings between mania and depression. The meditative, harmony-seeking outlook of Daoism and Chan (Zen) Buddhism was a significant palliative for Martin. Associations between Daoism and Buddhism and Martin’s work have contributed to her upholding as a major feminist icon. Martin may have become exposed to Daoist and Buddhist thinking, like Cage, through lectures given by D.T. Suzuki in the early 1950s. Suzuki – whose popularizing writings on Buddhism and English translation of the Daodejing for Paul Carus were widely read in the United States during the immediate post-war years – taught at Columbia University between 1952 and 1957 where Martin studied as a graduate teacher-trainee between 1951 and 1952. Irrespective of when her engagement with Daoism and Buddhism first took place, by the 1980s Martin claimed to have read widely in relation to both traditions – including the Daodejing as well as more obscure Chan Buddhist texts by Hui Neng and Chuang Ze in English translation.55 Like Tobey, Martin spent her formative years on the west coast of America, in her case in Vancouver in close proximity to an established East Asian diasporic community. Martin’s friend Ad Reinhardt is known to have attended lectures by Suzuki and to have incorporated a continuing study of Zen into his development of formally simplified and tonally and chromatically subtle geometric abstract paintings, which have been interpreted as bridging the perceived art-historical divide between Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Reinhardt shared an abiding interest in Zen with his close friend Thomas Merton who knew Suzuki and, like Martin, read the writings of Dewey. Ambient circulation of East Asian cultural thinking and practice in the United States also impacted on the work of the painter Brice Marden who produced highly simplified single-panel monochrome and multi-panel polychrome paintings from the 1960s to the 1980s before moving on in his later career to the making of gestural paintings self-consciously redolent of traditional Chinese calligraphy.56 The work of Tobey, Martin, Reinhardt and Marden is indexical of a much larger body of avant-garde art produced in the United States in relation to the impact of East Asian cultural thought and practice, the exact extent and range of which remains to be fully identified. Related to which is the forming of diasporic Asian art groups in the United States during the last quarter of the

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twentieth century, such as Godzilla, Godzookie and the Barnstormers.57 Chinese diasporic artists were also involved in the post-war development of modernist art in Europe. These include Li Yuan-Chia, who became part of the minimalist/ conceptualist movement in London during the 1960s before setting up a studio and art centre in Cumbria in the northwest England. It is possible, therefore, to identify a sustained exposure to aspects of traditional Chinese cultural thought and practice as part of progressive art education and practice in the United States before and after the Second World War. That exposure can be understood as having contextualized the development of new artistic practices and ways of thinking about art as part of Euro-American modernism. Direct links between Chinese artistic tradition and Euro-American modernism are few. Most notable is the existential connection between Tobey’s learning of ink-and-brush techniques associated with neoConfucian literati and Chan (Zen) Buddhist painting and calligraphy and the abstract-calligraphic style of painting he is best known for. Tobey’s signature abstract-calligraphic paintings do not correspond formally or aesthetically, as he himself recognized, exactly with traditional Chinese painting. Rather, his is a selfconsciously re-motivational appropriation-translation of Chinese and Japanese artistic thinking and practice conducted first and foremost in relation to a EuroAmerican modernist desire for a progressive individualistic transcendence of established forms of pictorial representation. Produced as a result are paintings that have accrued connotations of Eastern otherness by association with Tobey’s personal development as an artist, but when set aside from that association have no close formal or indeed aesthetic correspondence to traditional Chinese or Japanese painting nor any precise relationship to their particular cultural significances, which in the case of a continuity-focused Confucianism are in many ways anathema to those of progressive Euro-American modernism. In the case of the work of Martin and Reinhardt, the relationship to Chinese culture is even more tenuous. In spite of the commitment of both to the study of China’s intellectual/spiritual traditions, neither’s mature style has, unlike Tobey’s, any strong practical or stylistic connection to traditional Chinese inkand-brush painting. If anything, both are outcomes of a generalizing desire for formal simplicity and subtlety of aesthetic affect more closely aligned in formal and practical terms with traditional Japanese architecture, garden design and the decorative arts than traditional Chinese painting. Resulting, yet again, are paintings with only loosely attached connotations of East Asian otherness. Tobey, Martin, Reinhardt and Marden’s interest in East Asian cultural thinking and practice nevertheless remains crucial to an understanding of their

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development of innovative painterly styles and ways of working in the context of Euro-American modernism. It may also be interpreted as an instance of deferred action whereby Chinese artistic thinking and practice repudiated in the context of prejudicial eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Enlightenment and early post-Enlightenment discourses is brought back into play by a more expansive and accommodating twentieth-century modernism.

Modernisms within late imperial and republican China In spite of Qing isolationism, Western artistic culture continued to impact on that of China throughout the nineteenth century and into the very early twentieth century. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, classical Western drawing techniques involving the use of geometric perspective and chiaroscuro were incorporated into the curricula of Chinese educational institutions, including military and naval academies. In 1902, classical Western drawing and painting became a compulsory subject in all Chinese schools from primary to college and technical institute level. This institutional teaching of classical Western drawing techniques was part of a wider programme of military, technical and industrial modernization in imperial China, known as the ‘Self-strengthening Movement’ (Yangwu yundong), initiated in response to China’s cataclysmic defeat by Western colonialist powers in the First and Second Opium Wars (1839–42 and 1856–60 respectively) and sustained in the face of a further defeat at the hands of Meiji Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95). In addition to the assimilation of the teaching of classical Western drawing techniques into the curricula of educational institutions as part of technical reforms, there were also during the early twentieth century in China assertions of the modernizing superiority of Western realism over the subjective abstraction of traditional Chinese literati painting. Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century scholar-gentry painting in China became increasingly entrenched in its outlook as part of Qing isolationism. This entrenchment was strengthened during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through the development of so-called national painting (Guo hua) – identified explicitly with the literati tradition – as a supposed cultural bulwark both against Western colonialism-imperialism and an expansionist Meiji Japan; China’s defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War resulted in a significant shift in the balance of power towards Japan after centuries of Chinese regional domination. Major exponents of national painting during the early twentieth century include the peasant-born

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painter Qi Baishi, who would go on to become the president of the Association of Chinese Artists in 1953.58 Kang Youwei, leader of the 1898 reform movement in China, argued that traditional Chinese gong-bi painting should be adapted to Western realism as a corrective to the ‘false’ doctrines of subjective abstraction that had dominated the tradition of literati painting in China.59 An idea that would find practical expression in relation to the Lingnan School of painters active in Hangzhou during the 1930s, whose members produced paintings combining traditional Chinese techniques and modern subject matter. Exemplary of the Lingnan School’s variegated style is Gao Jianfu’s painting Flying in the Rain (1932), which depicts biplanes flying, somewhat incongruously, over a typically rendered shan-shui landscape.60 Assertions of the modernizing superiority of Western realism took place in relation to wider perceptions among China’s educated classes that rigid adherence to traditional Confucian values as part of feudal dynastic rule had not only prevented China from developing materially but also perpetuated huge and shaming social inequalities among the country’s population. Following the example set by a modernizing Meiji Japan, increasing numbers of educated Chinese began to study abroad in Europe, the United States and Japan as a way of gaining first-hand knowledge of western(ized) modernity. This wave of educational migration included students looking to acquire proficiency in western(ized) artistic thinking and practice. On returning to China, many of those students would go on to play a significant role in Chinese society by promoting cultural practices and ways of thinking that, in many cases, departed radically from China’s long-established Confucian traditions. A key focus for cultural modernization within China during the early twentieth century was the New Culture Movement (Xin wenhua yundong), which came together after the ending of dynastic rule and the establishment of republican China in 1912. The New Culture Movement gained national prominence following student protests in Beijing on 4 May 1919 against the unfavourable terms perceived to have been forced upon China by the Treaty of Versailles, including the ceding of German colonial possessions in China to other European states. Those protests resulted in a wider cultural upsurge across China known as the May Fourth Movement (Wusi yundong). While some associated with the New Culture Movement viewed persistence of tradition as the principal impediment to China’s modernization, others were reluctant to embrace Western modernity unreservedly due to abiding fears of the deracinating effects of Western colonialism-imperialism. The movement was consequently divided between a desire to assimilate progressive ideas and practices from outside China – prominent among which for

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reformers in China at the time were those associated with American Pragmatism, social Darwinism and Nietzschean philosophy – and a desire to reconcile that assimilation with an upholding of China’s supposedly civilization-specific identity. The tension between a desire for progress and resistance to colonialist-imperialist domination has been a persistent characteristic of modernity in China ever since, contributing to a heightened sense of dread (anxiety/exhilaration) typical of the experience of modernity more generally. Of crucial importance to the modernization of art in China during the early twentieth century was the establishment of specialist academies dedicated to the transmission of Western artistic thinking and practice. Westernized art academies of this sort were established in major urban centres across China, including in Peking, Xinhua, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Canton and Shanghai. Curricula at those academies included drawing and painting directly from the nude and en plein air as well as classes in human anatomy and the use of perspective geometry.61 Although such activities had long since become an established part of the curricula at academic art academies across Europe and the United States and were consequently targeted for modernist avant-gardist dissent there, by contrast in China they held out the possibility of a radical overcoming of localized tradition. Within China, pictorial depictions of the naked human form were confined traditionally to private collections of erotica. The public depiction of nudes thus became a signifier of a progressive, indeed dangerous, radicalism.62 In accordance with their progressive standing, many of China’s Western-oriented art academies of the early twentieth century were open to female as well as male students. A major proponent of educational reform in China at the beginning of the twentieth century was the highly influential educationalist and one-time anti-Qing anarchist revolutionary, Cai Yuanpei, who studied Western philosophy and art history in Germany between 1907 and 1911. In 1912, as newly appointed Minister of Education for China’s recently formed republican government, Cai issued his five principles of education. These included the idea that aesthetic education should rank equally alongside and interact productively with moral and practical education while also replacing organized religion in China – including quasi-religious worship associated with Confucianism. Cai’s five principles can be understood as an attempt to synthesize the tripartite structure of Kantian critical philosophy with Daoist notions of harmonious reciprocity and Confucian ethical propriety. Cai looked towards aesthetic experience as a secular expression of universal ‘world spirit’ – a view resonant within similar notions propounded by Kang Youwei, the Theosophical Society and the Ba’hai faith. Although familiar with modernist

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and avant-garde art in Europe through visits to exhibitions and artists’ studios during his time there as a student, like Kang, Cai argued that Chinese artists should abandon their traditional emphasis on subjective abstraction in favour of the objectivity of Western realism. Cai’s outlook was shared by the painters Xu Beihong and Jiang Zhaoke, both of whom adopted a Western realist style of painting in modernizing opposition to the established literati tradition. Xu and Jiang’s adoption of Western realism would impact significantly on the later development of socialist realist art in China after 1949. Others within China during the early twentieth century sought to embrace the anti-realist and abstractionist tendencies of the Euro-American modernist avant-gardes. These include members of the Shanghai-based Storm Society (Juelanshe) – China’s first identifiably modernist avant-garde art group, founded by the artists Ni Yide and Pang Xunqin in 1931 – most of whom had been trained in Paris and/or Tokyo.63 Although the Storm Society sought to align itself explicitly in its manifesto with the major European avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century including Cubism and Dada, in actuality the work produced by its members is relatively unchallenging from a contemporaneous Euro-American perspective, comprising as it does of styles redolent of nineteenth-century Western post-Impressionism and decorativecommercial forms of Cubism. In China, where dominant high-cultural tastes continued to reside with scholarly ink-and-brush painting, works produced by the Storm Society were, however, nothing short of incendiary. Again, this can be interpreted as an appropriation-translation that confers new critical significances on otherwise passé styles. The Storm Society was part of a wider movement in China known as Xi hua (new ‘Westernized’ art) encompassing modernist and realist styles. The production of realist and modernist works of art by Chinese artists was accompanied by the development of Euro-American modernist-influenced design64 and architecture.65 Other Chinese artists who trained outside China and who sought to align themselves with Euro-American modernism include Lin Fengmian, whose paintings of the 1930s are stylistically indebted to European Fauvism and Expressionism. Lin was responsible, with Cai Yuanpei, for the establishment of China’s first national academy of fine art at Hangzhou in 1928. The Hangzhou academy, which included departments of Guo hua and Xi hua, became a significant focus for progressive art education in accordance with Cai’s neo- Kantian/Confucian conception of a progressive conjunction between aesthetics, morality and artistic practice. A notable aspect of the development of Xi hua is the contribution of women artists. Prior to the twentieth century, women in China were, like

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their counterparts in the West, generally excluded from artistic practice. This exclusion was strongly reinforced by gender restrictions on access to China’s scholar-gentry administrative class, which traditionally remained all-male. By the early twentieth century, however, women had begun to assume roles within Chinese society previously denied to them. This shift took place in relation to the rise of an indigenous cosmopolitan urban bourgeoisie that cut disruptively across traditional social-hierarchical Confucian distinctions of class and gender and looked towards gender equality advocated by Western feminist modernity as a beacon of social progress and liberation. Concepts related to the first wave of feminism in the West, such as the ‘New Woman’ (translated as xin nuxin or xi nuxing), impacted on the thinking and actions of radically minded women in China. Qiu Jin, a writer and revolutionary active in China at the turn of the twentieth century, for example, not only contributed alongside Cai Yuanpei to an anti-Qing alliance lead by Sun Yat-sen, including writing and speaking out in support of women’s rights, but also wore Western-style male clothing, thereby challenging conventional gender, sexual and racial stereotypes. Others resistant to patriarchy within imperial and early post-imperial China include the anarchist He-Yin Zhen, whose essay ‘On the Question of Women’s Liberation’ (1907) calls for the transnational abolition of male rule and the establishment of equality among humanity as primary socially progressive aims – a position accompanied by He-Yin’s use of the term ‘nannü’ to signify an indeterminate, typically Daoist Confucian, reciprocity between men and women and masculinity and femininity which she sees as fundamental to all social analysis, above Marxian revolutionary dialectics, and which diverges from the dialectical-oppositional outlook of Western first- and second-wave bourgeois conceptions of gender equality.66 Contestations of female identity in China during the early twentieth century should not be viewed simply as an extension of progressive Western liberal values.67 They were also indicative of a wider localized struggle between those who wished to embrace and those who wished to resist a rupturing with patriarchal Confucian tradition consequent upon the modernizing ingress of westernized modernity. Among the women who contributed to the development of xi hua was Qiu Ti, an exponent of fauvist-style painting who studied in Paris and Tokyo,68 and Pan Yuliang, a one-time concubine who was active as an artist in Shanghai working in modernist idioms during the late 1920s and 1930s after studying in Paris, Lyon and Rome.69 The 1920s and 1930s also saw the emergence of a Chinese artistic diaspora comprising artists from China working with Western realist and modernist

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styles. This diaspora, which added to existing communities of artists of Chinese identity that had already become established outside China as a result of earlier waves of migration during the mid-nineteenth century,70 included artists, such as Sanyu (Chang Yu) and Pan Yuliang, who after first studying abroad chose to live and work outside China, and Zhao Wuji (Zao Wou-ki), who left China as an already established artist in the 1940s. The emergence of this early-twentiethcentury Chinese artistic diaspora prefigures later waves of migrating artists including those who left the PRC in the 1980s and 1990s in the face of intense political repression. Developing alongside realist and modernist art in China during the first half of the twentieth century was another stylistic mode that presented Chinese inkand-brush painting simultaneously as a manifestation of established tradition and as a progressive contribution to modernity. Proponents of a forwardlooking traditional Chinese art include the critic Fu Lei. While Fu acknowledged the quality and importance of Euro-American modernist art – in particular, the work of Paul Cézanne – he also argued that the abstractionist tendencies of Euro-American modernism had been foreshadowed by those of traditional Chinese literati art. This view supported Fu’s assertion that the late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century practitioner of shan-shui hua, Huang Binhong, was a modern as well as a traditional Chinese master.71 Appropriation of Western realist and modernist styles by Chinese painters took place in relation to wider politicized debates about the direction of modernization in China during the 1920s and 1930s. These debates involved continuing tensions with regard to the impact of Western modernity on Chinese cultural identity. They also encompassed starkly different interpretations of the value of revolutionary action as a means of bringing about progressive social change. In the context of those debates, artistic modernism and realism in China became aligned with competing ideological positions: the former with liberal-bourgeois democratic reform, and the latter with communist/socialist revolution. During the 1920s and 1930s major urban centres in China, such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, were globally connected and highly cosmopolitan.72 Modernist and realist art in China was, therefore, party to a complex and often subtle melding of Western and Chinese cultural and political outlooks that gave weight to the contrasting significances of both as loci of aesthetic modernity. During the 1930s, the making and public showing of modernist art in China were made increasingly difficult as a result of hardening attitudes on both the political right and left. While the republican right stepped-up its existing condemnation of artistic modernism as a focus for unwelcome radicalism, those

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on the revolutionary left began to align themselves more closely – following the example of the Stalinist Soviet Union – with realist forms of art. As early as the late 1920s, the CCP, which first formed in Shanghai in 1921, had begun to lend its support to a wider movement advocating the development of ‘proletarian’ literature, plays and art in the service of radical revolutionary change. This movement was further supported by public calls from major cultural figures in China, including the esteemed poet Lu Xun, who urged artists to ‘take close heed of the affairs of society’ by engaging as closely as possible with the lives of the urban proletariat and rural poor.73 Exemplary of which is the so-called Chinese Modern Woodcut Movement.74 Artistic modernism nevertheless continued in China well into the 1940s through the work of painters such as Huang Xinbo, who developed a style formally similar to that associated with the expressionist and Neue Sachlichkeit movements in Germany.75 During the late 1930s and 1940s, artistic production within China became increasingly subject to the disruptive effects of imbricating military struggles between the country’s ruling Kuomintang party (KMT), the CCP’s insurgent People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and invading Japanese forces. In May 1942 Mao Zedong – by then de facto leader of the CCP – convened a three-week forum on literature and art at the Lu Xun Academy in Yan’an. At that forum, Mao gave his now famous ‘Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art’, in which he argued that there is no art detached from, or independent of, politics, and that a truly revolutionary art should be used to represent and promote the view of the masses. In doing so, Mao reiterated the view espoused by the CCP during the late 1920s and early 1930s that artists and intellectuals should seek to transform themselves by engaging closely with the lives of the rural poor and urban proletariat. This vision of art as part of a larger ‘revolutionary machine’ was influenced strongly by the cultural policies of the Soviet Union, as well as views put forward by Chinese Marxists and socialists as part of the New Culture and May Fourth movements. It subsequently became the basis for the CCP’s administration of artistic production after it came to power in 1949.76 The CCP’s policy on artistic production in the newly founded PRC was introduced at the first National Congress of Literature and Art Workers in Beijing in July 1949. In 1951, an initial period of CCP tolerance for bourgeois art came to an end. This resulted in a vigorous programme of political re-education involving denunciation of artists critics and teachers. In 1955, the CCP held a meeting at the China Academy in Beijing at which academics from twenty-two art schools were invited to join a movement aimed at resisting open criticism of the party’s position on the arts. Among the artists and academics who were

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either willing or felt compelled to join this movement were former members of the Storm Society, Ni Yide and Pang Xunqin. Prominent artists, including Lin Fengmian and Pang Xunqin, were forced to publicly renounce their previous involvement with modernism.77 Throughout the 1950s, talented and ideologically compliant Chinese artists were sent to Soviet art academies to acquire skills in conformity with the conventions of Stalinist socialist realism. On their return, these artists became pivotal in disseminating socialist realist modes of representation through state art academies within the PRC. Also supported by the CCP at this time were traditional styles of Chinese painting that had been made to conform to the requirements of the party. Throughout the 1950s, official support for Sovietstyle oil painting and sculpture nevertheless placed traditional Chinese painting under a degree of ideological suspicion as a perceived residue of China’s prerevolutionary feudal society. Towards the end of the 1950s, however, Sovietstyle oil painting itself fell out of official favour to some degree as a result of weakening links with the Soviet Union. Resulting was a renewed enthusiasm for traditional and indigenous folk styles as politicized forms of expression. At that time, Mao issued a slogan, ‘Revolutionary Romanticism Combined with Revolutionary Realism’, which upheld the importance of China’s poetic and romantic traditions alongside the use of socialist realism.78 Although seen as kitsch from a Greenbergian high-modernist perspective, that conjunction is nevertheless open to interpretation as an aspect of the development of aesthetic modernity in China. During the early years of the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1968, young leftist revolutionaries known as Red Guards (Hongwei bing) mounted attacks on individuals and institutions within the PRC perceived to be in opposition to established Maoist thought. A significant consequence of which was widespread destruction and sequestering of traditional Chinese cultural artefacts as well as damage to cultural sites. The Cultural Revolution also saw the instituting of a so-called ‘pure’ model of cultural production, involving the dissolution of the PRC’s existing cultural bureaucracy, the banning of art magazines and periodicals, and the widespread closure of universities and art academies as academic awarding bodies. The establishment of this pure model of cultural production resulted in a decade-long disruption of established bureaucratic structures related to artistic production within the PRC. It also enabled young revolutionaries to develop forms of public art, including collage-like big character posters (dazibao), open-air performances and multimedia events ostensibly similar in formal/technical terms to the work of the Western avant-gardes. Although that similarity did not come

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about as the result of any direct cultural interaction or exchange between the West and China, given the vehemently anti-Western outlook of Chinese society at the time, it is nevertheless possible to register a further diversification of visual culture within the PRC during the Maoist period beyond socialist-realist and traditional Chinese styles. Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 ushered in a period of significant political turmoil within the PRC including open public dissent from the policies of the CCP, a major focus for which was China’s then emerging democracy movement. In response, previously exiled senior member of the PRC and veteran of the Long March, Deng Xiaoping proposed far-reaching reforms. Acceptance of Deng’s so-called policy of ‘Reform and Opening-up’ at the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the CCP in December 1978 initiated the PRC’s centrally driven social and economic modernization of the last four decades, while also confirming Deng’s position as paramount leader of the CCP over Mao’s successor-designate Hua Guofeng. Deng’s reforms were accompanied by significant changes in official thinking with regard to the making and showing of art within the PRC. These included the reinstatement of institutional structures used to govern artistic production prior to the Cultural Revolution along with the reopening of fine art academies and craft colleges, which had been closed down during the Cultural Revolution, as academic awarding bodies. Reinstated committees and associations with administrative responsibility for artistic production gave public support to Deng’s reforms but did so without establishing clearly defined programmes to which artists might be expected to contribute. In late 1978, the CCP issued an official directive that artists should praise ‘the masses of workers, farmers, and soldiers, the Party and the old generation of revolutionaries rather than celebrating single personalities’.79 Public statements were also issued calling upon artists to ‘Emancipate Thought and Encourage Literary and Artistic Democracy’. The CCP continued to uphold its 1949 directive that art should reflect the point of view of the masses, but in 1982 declared that strict subordination of literature and art to politics was an ‘incorrect formulation’. Also significant at this time, were calls for a re-defining of the role of Chinese culture in relation to Deng’s economic and social reforms which looked towards ideas of cultural enlightenment first developed during the 1920s and 1930s by China’s New Culture and May Fourth movements. This looking back involved the national onset of a state of so-called ‘aesthetic fever’ (meixue re) resonant with historical neo-Confucian connections between elevated poetic feeling and morality. Soon after the ending of the Cultural Revolution, art magazines and journals in the

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PRC started to include features on Euro-American modernist and classical Chinese art. There were also public exhibitions of reproductions of Western art. In 1978 a new edition of Mao’s Letters on Poetry was published, including reflections on the positive role that ‘image-thinking’ (xingxiang siwei) might play in the process of artistic production. Publication of these writings opened up ideological space for renewed public debate on the relationship between form and content in official Chinese art. This debate was initially developed by the publication of a previously suppressed article, ‘On the Beauty of Form in Painting’ written in 1960 by the Paris-trained artist Wu Guanzhong that finally appeared in print in the magazine Meishu zazhi in May 1979. Wu’s article diverges markedly from the accepted conventions of Maoist socialist realism by asserting that the principal value of painting lies in its formal beauty and that form should not, as a consequence, be subordinated to political content. The publication of Wu’s article resulted in a series of other articles, including an official rebuttal by the conservative critic Jiang Feng and a defence of Wu’s position, titled ‘Emotion, Individuality, Formal Aesthetics’ by Liu Shaohui stressing the value of individual creativity.80 The joining of this debate was echoed by a controversy surrounding the installation of a series of decorative murals, titled The Water Splashing Festival installed at Beijing’s international airport in 1979, which after initially receiving tacit CCP approval were denounced as profoundly unrealistic.81 In spite of the widening of public debate to include formalist perspectives, during the late 1970s and early 1980s academic realism was effectively reinstated as the dominant style of artistic production in the PRC. Prominent as part of that reinstatement was the so-called Sichuan School, whose members responded to official directives on art after the death of Mao by producing paintings representing recognizable individuals as well as human feelings and emotions. Paintings by members of the Sichuan School draw on the established example of Soviet socialist realism as well as aspects of Euro-American modernism. Paintings by Luo Zhongli, such as his celebrated portrait of an ageing peasant, Father (1979), were, for example, strongly influenced by newly circulated reproductions of super-realist paintings by the American artist Chuck Close.82 This official return to academic realism also included the genres ‘Rural Realism’ or ‘Native Soil Art’, and ‘Melancholy Youth Painting’ or ‘Contemplative Painting’. These genres also drew on the combined examples of Soviet socialist realism and Euro-American modernism. Rural Realist paintings by Chen Danqing and paintings of melancholy youth by He Duoling were both influenced by reproductions of paintings by the American modernist-realist Andrew Wyeth.83

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The (re-)emergence of a recognizably ‘modern’ art in the PRC has been widely attributed to the Stars’ first, unofficial exhibition of late September 1979 and involvement of some of the members of the group in a subsequent protest march through the streets of Beijing on 1 October that year. Work exhibited publicly by the Stars diverged openly from the established stylistic conventions of Maoist socialist realism while also presenting, in some cases, a thinly veiled allegorical criticism of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. In a conversation published contemporaneously in the journal Meishu, leading members of the Stars describe their work as a critical response to the events of the Cultural Revolution. In the same conversation, they also acknowledge the impact on their work of earlytwentieth-century European and Chinese modernists, including Pablo Picasso, Käthe Kollwitz and members of the Chinese Modern Woodcut Movement.84 Identification of the Stars’ open-air exhibition and subsequent protest march as a clear-cut starting point for the re-emergence of a progressive modern art in China is however very much open to question. Members of the Stars and of other contemporaneous groups such as the No Name had already been active as artists in the PRC outside official circles before the death of Mao, albeit in more or less clandestine ways. Moreover, some semi-official and unofficial art groups had begun to stage public exhibitions of their work in the PRC prior to the Stars’ first unofficial exhibition. These include the No Name group’s first public exhibition, staged in Beijing in July 1979. Most of the Stars enjoyed a relatively privileged social standing under Maoist communism with historical familial links that exposed some to China’s scholargentry artistic traditions from an early age. The Stars’ eschewal of socialist realism in favour of largely untutored forms of artistic expression can thus be interpreted as being marked by the traces of literati preoccupations with spontaneous individualism and amateurism. Furthermore, while the Stars’ criticism of the Cultural Revolution and alignment with Euro-American modernists may on the face of it seem radical, by the time of their first exhibition such things had been given a certain licence by the events of the Beijing Spring and the CCP’s desire to establish qualified distance between itself and the ‘mistakes’ of the Maoist period. Nevertheless, it is possible to view the Stars’ first exhibition and its bringing to public visibility of hitherto excluded artistic styles and subject matters as a challenge (deferred action in relation) to what was by then a prior (traumatic) political authority. In late 1979, the CCP initiated what would become a series of political campaigns aimed at suppressing increasing public criticism of its policies. As a result, between 1981 and 1984, all unofficial cultural activities within the

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PRC were, in principle, suspended. This series of campaigns precipitated the emigration of artists whose liberal attitudes were at odds with the then prevailing political circumstances within the PRC. Away from the tightly controlled political climate of Beijing, attempts were made to exceed the restrictions imposed on cultural activities by the CCP. These included an exhibition at the Xiamen People’s Art Centre, titled ‘A Modern Art Exhibition of Five Artists’, whose participants would later go on to form the ‘avant-garde’ group Xiamen Dada. This exhibition, which comprised assemblages drawing on the example of the Western avant-gardes as well as more conventional forms of painting, was hung but reportedly never opened to the public.85 The last of the campaigns of the early 1980s aimed at suppressing public criticism of the CCP came to an end in February 1984. Almost overnight tight restrictions on the production and exhibiting of art outside the PRC’s statecontrolled system were lifted. Although the CCP persisted in upholding its longstanding directive that art should reflect the view of the masses, there was a tacit understanding through the issuing of vague governmental statements and legal statutes that production and exhibiting of art outside the PRC’s state-controlled system would be tolerated as long as those activities did not undermine the authority of the CCP and/or the integrity of the PRC. Artists were consequently afforded much greater stylistic, technical and expressive licence while working in relation to what might be seen as uncertainly situated panoptical limits requiring persistent self-reflection. In response to the qualified freedoms opened up by the ending of the antispiritual pollution campaign, a new generation of artists, known as the ’85 New Wave, began to work more or less openly outside the PRC’s state-supported system. The work of this new generation – which was described at the time as xiandai yishu (modern art) and interpreted by the critics Lü Peng and Yi Dan as a return to the modernizing ‘cultural revolution’ initiated by the May Fourth Movement86 – was informed by an increasing openness in the PRC to outside cultural influences. In the context of China’s emerging post-Mao ‘modern’ artworld, such openness was mediated by a range of established and newly founded magazines and periodicals, which, after 1984, began to publish illustrated articles on western(ized) art. The work of the ’85 New Wave was also informed by newly produced as well as previously suppressed translations of art-historical and theoretical texts related to the development of modernist and postmodernist art outside the PRC, including key works of poststructuralist theory by, among others, Foucault and Derrida. These translations did not however become available according to the sequence

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of their initial publication. Consequently, the precise historical ordering of the development of modernist and postmodernist art and related theoretical writings remained, to some extent, obscure. As a result, uptake of western(ized) postmodernist styles sometimes proceeded that of styles characteristic of EuroAmerican modernism. Of additional importance to the development of the ’85 New Wave were conferences and symposia that brought artists and critics together from across the PRC to share in and discuss ideas and practices outside the ideological purview of established socialist realism, including symposia convened at Huangshan in 1985 and 1988.87 During the late 1970s and 1980s, existentialist philosophy was widely discussed among progressive artworld circles within the PRC as part of a growing wave of ‘Humanist Enthusiasm’ (Renwen reqing) accompanying the early implementation of Reform and Opening-up.88 While discussion of this sort during the late 1970s and into the 1980s may seem hackneyed from a Euro-American cultural perspective, within the PRC it acted as a crucial point of reference for the renewed possibility of artistic agency after the repressive collectivism of the Maoist revolutionary period. In light of localized readings of existentialist philosophy, unquestioning adherence to Maoist socialist realism was effectively identified as an instance of bad faith in opposition to a newly emerging humanist post-revolutionary artistic ‘avant-garde’, which sought to combine aspects of critical western(ized) modernism and postmodernism with localized Chinese cultural thought and practice. Avant-garde artists in China were thus discursively empowered to distance their actions from the previously pervasive ideological reach of the CCP while continuing to uphold the moralsocial responsibilities of progressive artistic practice.89 During the 1980s, modern (xiandai) art within the PRC was also often referred to locally as qianwei (literally, advance (qian) garde (wei)) – a term used to identify works of art that can be understood both to merge with and semiotically oppose established social, political and cultural norms in a manner broadly commensurate with the negative dialectical social-critical function conventionally ascribed to the work of the early-twentieth-century European and North American politicized avant-gardes.90 In spite of ostensible stylistic/ technical and linguistic-conceptual equivalences between the two, it would, however, be a mistake to conflate qianwei Chinese art of the 1980s with established western(ized) conceptions of avant-garde cultural thought and practice. It is important to acknowledge that the emergence of qianwei art within the PRC during the 1980s involved the reconstruction of a relatively autonomous sphere of artistic self-expression as a move away from the CCP-dominated

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and distinctly non-autonomous socialist realism and street propaganda of the Maoist period. Consequently, while the term qianwei signifies an oppositional stance towards established convention broadly consonant with that of the Euro-American historical avant-gardes, the general trajectory of ‘avant-garde’ art within the PRC after 1979 can be seen to run more or less contrary to the Euro-American historical avant-gardes’ desire to negate artistic autonomy as part of a critical sublation of art within the life-world.91 Indeed, in seeking to rebuild a relatively autonomous aesthetic sphere after the ravages of the Maoist period, many of those involved in the making of ‘avantgarde’ art within the PRC during the 1980s were involved in a self-conscious and explicit revisiting and reworking of aspects of traditional Chinese cultural thought and practice. It is therefore necessary to make a distinction between qianwei forms of art produced within the PRC after 1979 and the work of the Euro-American avant-gardes on the basis that the former can be understood to go against the grain of the latter’s intentions by actively seeking to reinstate autonomous cultural practice and tradition as part of its opposition to established social, political and cultural norms. Of crucial significance with regard to which is the enthusiastic reception an exhibition of the work of Robert Rauschenberg staged in Beijing in 1986 in conjunction with local artisans as part of the former’s global Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Initiative (ROCI) project. Progressive artistic practice in China from the early to the last quarter of the twentieth century can thus be understood to encompass an array of styles and techniques involving active appropriation-translation of those developed in EuroAmerican contexts under the categories of realism, avant-gardism and socialist realism. To interpret the development of realist, avant-garde and socialist realist art in China simply as recapitulations of existing Euro-American ‘models’ is however misleading. In each instance, there are demonstrable shifts and reversals in the application and significance of Euro-American styles and techniques in relation to different material and discursive conditions within China related to the effects of cultural parallax. These shifts and reversals problematize any straight forward translation of the styles and techniques in question in ways that are arguably commensurate with a poststructuralist postmodernist deconstruction of aesthetic modernity. Early-twentieth-century realism in China does not, for example, equate directly with Courbet’s refusal of established classical academicism in Europe, but instead involves an upholding of techniques associated with academic classicism as a critical divergence from China’s own long-standing artistic traditions. Chinese modernism of the early twentieth century is by no means formally

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and technically innovative with respect to avant-garde art in Euro-American contexts, but nevertheless provides a significant focus for modernizing cultural diversification and cosmopolitanism, not least in relation to the politicized enactment of new localized identities. Traditional Chinese-style ink-and-brush painting is not allied simply with the conservatism of Guo hua but also presented as prior in its modernity to that of Euro-American modernist art. Art during the Maoist revolutionary period in China does not slavishly follow the example of socialist realism in the Soviet Union, but instead encompasses a diversity of styles and techniques ranging from realism to romanticism as well as what might be seen as an endogenous avant-gardism during the Cultural Revolution. Such a reading is also applicable in reverse to the impact of Chinese cultural thought and practice on modernist art in Euro-American contexts. In those contexts, appropriations-translations of thinking and practice from China are a recurrent aspect of the development of a modernist art, contributing to a supposedly transformative romanticism as well as its extension into modernist abstraction and avant-garde defamiliarization. It is, therefore, possible to view the emergence of aesthetic modernity in Europe and the United States, like that in China, as an outcome of unfolding localized interactions between different cultural outlooks rather than as a seminal, culturally specific event. This is not to deny the localized critical significances of different Euro-American and Chinese aesthetic modernities. Rather, it is to remain receptive to the possibility of historical as well as spatial differences in terms of their culturally variegated constructions. In other words, the significances of aesthetic modernity may be seen as subject to the combined transcultural as well as intracultural effects of cultural parallax. Aesthetic modernity in twentieth-century China may appear belated and therefore ineffectual as a locus of aesthetic modernity from a colonialistimperialist Euro-American modernist perspective. However, its localized critical significances are nonetheless telling; cultural appropriations-translations between China and the West related to aesthetic modernity remain demonstratively refractive rather than direct. Moreover, establishment of the Western postEnlightenment idea of aesthetic modernity can be understood to involve a retroactive effacing of translations of Chinese cultural thinking and practice as part of its initial construction during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, traces of which then reappear – revenant-like – as part of the development of modernist avant-garde art during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as deferred action. Seen in that combined light, aesthetic modernity is opened up to interpretation as a multi-valent, complexly constructed and continually shifting phenomenon. Again, maintained in operative separation are differing Western and Chinese artworlds that also defer productively to one another.

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Postmodernisms and contemporaneity within and outside China

Euro-American postmodernisms and contemporaneity During the 1970s and 1980s, thinking and practice within the international Euro-American-dominated artworld was increasingly informed by two differing though imbricating sensibilities critical of modernism. One, ‘neo-conservative postmodernism’ or ‘anti-modernism’, sought to oppose a by then heavily institutionalized modernism’s desire to distance itself from mainstream society and break radically with the past. The other, ‘poststructuralist postmodernism’, sought to deconstruct – rather than directly oppose – all of the rationalistdialectical assumptions upon which modernism’s institutional authority had initially been founded. In both cases, critical challenges were presented to a Greenbergian high-modernist insistence on progressive specialization in the arts and claims of originality by the modernist avant-gardes more generally. In the case of poststructuralist postmodernism, that challenge was supplemented by criticism of modernism’s adherence to ideas of coherent subjectivity and heroic agency as well as rationalist-teleological master-narratives of art’s historical development. Exemplary of neo-conservative postmodernism are critical interventions in the narrowness of the modernist international style in architecture that identify and celebrate a range of architectural styles and techniques, some involving explicit reworkings of historical styles running contrary to high-modernism’s insistence on a progressive formalist breaking with the past.1 These interventions in modernist architecture were accompanied by others in relation to the visual arts. For example, the staging of the international survey exhibition ‘New Spirit in Painting’ at the Royal Academy in London in 1981, where a stylistically and technically diverse array of paintings was displayed, most employing figurative

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modes of representation conspicuously at odds with the precepts of highmodernist abstraction and its successors, Minimalism and Conceptualism.2 In making those various interventions, neo-conservative postmodernism attempted to arrive at a ‘reconciliation with the public (which is also to say with the marketplace) that was said to be alienated by the overly conceptual art of the sixties and seventies’.3 At the same time, it also retained modernism’s faith in subjective coherence and heroic agency, albeit energized by a self-consciously renewed engagement with tradition rather than the prospect of radical forward-looking change. Indicative of which is a return to classicism within Euro-American art and architecture of the 1980s exemplified by George Moore’s fragmentary referencing of ancient Roman and neo-classical Renaissance architectural styles as part of his design for the Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans (1978).4 Embraced by some adherents to neo-conservative postmodernism are ‘New-Age’ forms of mysticism that reconnect with the reassuring metaphysics of religious tradition and ritual, including in relation to Charles Jencks’s design and construction of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation at his home near Dumfries in southwest Scotland.5 Definitive of poststructuralist postmodernism are critical interventions that diverge from the high-modernist idea of art’s progressive specialization6 by foregrounding defamiliarizing techniques characteristic of the politicized avantgardes of the early to mid-twentieth century.7 Such techniques typically involve the remounting of texts, images and/or actual objects within artistic settings wherein they take on diverse and unexpected meanings. Recognized as a seminal contribution to which is Marcel Duchamp’s use of ready-mades, including the now iconic Fountain (1917), the proposal of a urinal as a work of art that can be interpreted simultaneously as both and neither. During the latter part of the twentieth century it became possible to reinterpret avant-garde defamiliarization in light of Derrida’s deconstructive undoing of Western philosophical truth-claims. Viewed in that light, avant-garde defamiliarization came to be seen as analogous to Derrida’s use of various forms of textual dislocation as means of productively negating supposedly authoritative meanings. Avant-garde defamiliarization was thus recast away from its prior associations with the dialectical-oppositional Dadaist ideas of anti-art and the anti-aesthetic as an avant la lettre form of deconstructivism8 – not wholly identical to but resonant with Derridean textual analysis by dint of the actions of cultural-linguistic trace-structure. Artistic defamiliarization can be understood to subvert modernist assumptions of critical distancing, originality and authorial agency by bringing art and the life-world together in mutually unsettling relationships expository of the indeterminate limits and significances of both. It can also be understood to

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intervene in modernism’s rationalist-teleological view of history by re-motivating techniques already inherent to its object of criticism. Poststructuralist postmodernist defamiliarization therefore emerges both as a critical departure from and, in a certain qualified sense, an extension of established modernism by other means – a paradox consonant with the ontological indeterminacy of the Duchampian ready-made. In actuality, thinking and practice within the international artworld during and since the emergence of poststructuralist postmodernism has persisted in harbouring durable traces of a previously institutionalized modernism. This harbouring includes a tacit retention of the key ideas of critical distancing and progressive innovation as well as a faith in the socially transformative potential of aesthetic experience, without which the artworld would have no obvious social utility. A deconstructive intervention in institutionalized modernism, while not amounting on its own terms to a conclusive liquidation of aesthetic modernity, nevertheless suspends, when pursued rigorously, any readily articulable way forward for a critically progressive art. It is unsurprising, therefore, that to hold itself together institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism not only retained aspects of modernism but also adopted an increasingly disciplining political correctness in support of what became a self-righteous pursuit of diversity. It is also unsurprising that poststructuralist postmodernism has recently been partly eclipsed by a return to far more easily digestible forms of dialectical-oppositional artistic criticality. The use of defamiliarization techniques by Euro-American postmodernist artists of the 1970s and 1980s was not always self-consciously deconstructive. While some artists, such as Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, produced intentionally incoherent assemblages of ‘texts’ as a means of demonstrating the profoundly de-centred, uncertain and fragmented nature of the ‘postmodern condition’, others used defamiliarization more conservatively. Julian Schnabel’s montaging of objects, such as broken ceramic plates and deer antlers, to provide fractured surfaces for large-scale bravura painting and spectacularly clashing pastiches of differing artistic styles is, for example, still closely aligned with the concerns of high-modernist formalist abstraction and related assertions of the necessarily self-contained presence of artworks as well as the authorial agency of artists.9 Although the distinction between these differing uses of defamiliarization is a nuanced one, it nevertheless speaks to varied political investments in art’s significance. Other users of defamiliarization in the context of late-twentieth-century poststructuralist postmodernism include Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Louise Lawler and Cindy Sherman, whose interventions

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in the underlying assumptions of high-modernism include deconstructions of a patriarchal-masculinist privileging of artistic labour associated infamously with Abstract Expressionism. Informing neo-conservative and poststructuralist postmodernism are a series of critiques of the modernist avant-gardes initiated by Bürger’s Marxist-Hegelian reassessment of the mid-1970s. As Bürger would have it, by the mid-twentieth century sterile repetition of the defamiliarizing techniques characteristic of the historical avant-gardes by the neo-avant-gardes alongside the institutionalization of modernism and its acceptance as an aspect of the everyday had resulted in an effective dialectical recuperation of modernist opposition. A similar conclusion was also reached by Suzi Gablik and Rosalind Krauss from contrasting intellectual standpoints – in the case of Gablik, that of left-leaning American liberalism, and in the case of Krauss, poststructuralist postmodernism.10 These differently motivated critiques of the modernist avant-gardes provided intellectual support to both neo-conservative postmodernism’s call for a reconciliation of art with popular tastes and poststructuralist postmodernism’s deconstruction of the constraints set out by institutionalized modernism. From a neo-conservative postmodernist standpoint avant-garde modernism ‘had to be overcome because it was too critical’11 – that is to say, too detached from prevailing public tastes and the workings of the marketplace. From the standpoint of poststructuralist postmodernist that overcoming had become necessary because modernism as ‘the official art of the museums, the favoured architecture of the corporations, and so on’ was ‘no longer critical enough’.12 For its part, neo-conservative postmodernism continued to uphold the possibility of unified representation, whereby art might successfully reflect majority interests in the wider sociopolitical and economic sphere. From the standpoint of poststructuralist postmodernism, such a thing was not only unachievable in practice but, as an idea bent on the marginalization of minority vanguardist dissent, also politically suspect. Critical interventions in the continuity of the modernist avant-gardes were accompanied by so-called ‘endist’ arguments focused on perceived limits to the formalist experimentation of modernist art. Arthur C. Danto, for example, asserts that after an initial breaking with classical mimesis and a subsequent competition between different styles and ideologies among the avant-gardes, art is no longer constrained by any particular aesthetic or ideological viewpoint. Art has therefore entered, argues Danto, into a ‘post-historical’ condition wherein the previous modernist master-narrative of art’s progressive development no longer pertains.13 Douglas Crimp’s discussion of the ‘end’ of painting – both as

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denouement and aim – presents a similarly sceptical view of art’s continuing development that in effect deconstructively suspends painting somewhere between its traditional standing as an embodiment of representational and authorial presence and a terminal realization of the absurdity of such an embodiment.14 Danto’s assertion that art has entered into a post-historical condition takes as its point of departure Hegel’s dialectical vision of art’s development within the context of Western culture, with respect to which a classical mimetic tradition can be readily interpreted as having been overcome by modernist abstraction and the defamiliarizing techniques of the political avant-gardes. The idea that art is no longer constrained by the limitations of Hegel’s particular dialectical vision should not, however, be understood as signalling a definitive end to the history of art, as the idea of a post-historical condition might superficially suggest. Instead, Danto’s acceptance of the unconstrained plurality of postmodern art opens up the possibility of a productive broadening of historicizing outlooks – the traces of which inhere in later discourses associated with postcolonialist postmodernism and contemporaneity. A resonant argument is mounted by Hal Foster who rejects Bürger’s supposedly terminal dialectical critique of the avant-garde in support of a deconstructive vision of art’s openness to critical re-contextualization and re-motivation in face of changed circumstances of time and place.15 Of related importance to such endist arguments are tensions inherent to poststructuralist postmodernism with regard to the representation of history. Modernism’s upholding of a necessary critical distancing between art and society as well as an ever-more rigorous self-reflexive specialization in the arts can be seen from a modernist standpoint as being ‘grounded’ historically in a rationalist dividing and hierarchical ordering of industrial society under capitalism. As Fredric Jameson makes clear, deconstructivist sensibilities characteristic of poststructuralist postmodernism have intervened in that view by instigating a far-reaching relativization of truth claims as well as a profound scepticism towards all historical master-narratives.16 In this Jameson includes derogations from rationalist-dialectical distinctions between appearance and essence, centre and periphery, high and low culture, art and life, and past, present and future underpinning modernist thinking and practice.17 While it is possible to conceive of poststructuralist postmodernism superficially as a fundamental breaking with modernism, as the prefix ‘post’ suggests, that conception is, as Jameson indicates, inconsistent with the insights of poststructuralist postmodernism, which characteristically suspend all such notions of absolute rupturing. With respect to which, Jameson seeks to present poststructuralist postmodernism as

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something that can still be comprehended by a Marxist-Hegelian framing of the relationship between cultural superstructure and socioeconomic base. As Jameson would have it, the relativism and scepticism of poststructuralist postmodernism is symptomatic of, and indeed in dialogue with, material conditions brought about by a shift towards highly disjunctive multinational late capitalist modes of production – a point also made at length by David Harvey.18 Postmodernism is consequently, argues Jameson, not something that can be opposed simply on ethical grounds in hope of a redemptive return to modernist rationalist-dialectical clarity. Instead, it should be accepted as involving experiences and representations that, in differing from those associated with modernism, continue to bear witness to the possibility of historical change, albeit in relation to a shift towards the refractive uncertainties embodied by the workings of late multinational capital. In adopting that position Jameson effectively shuttles between postmodernist uncertainty and the remnants of modernist rationalist-dialectical clarity. Jameson’s indeterminate positioning in relation to historical representation is echoed by Jean-François Lyotard’s identification of the sublime as the signature aesthetic of the postmodern condition. As Lyotard indicates, the use of the prefix ‘post’ in relation to the term ‘postmodernism’ is an inherently paradoxical one, signifying an intervention that is immanent rather than posterior to modernism. With regard to which, it is no longer possible to consider the world, either now or historically, as definitively knowable.19 To establish a philosophical understanding of that unknowability in relation to aesthetic experience, Lyotard returns to Kant’s definition of the sublime: feelings of pain experienced in the face of either unimaginable vastness or overwhelming power and then pleasure as a result of the capacity of the human mind to establish moral ascendancy over such vastness and power by intuiting a sense of illimitability beyond the constraints of cognition. In Lyotard’s view, sublimity is more fitting to artworks representative of the postmodern condition than its Kantian counterpart – the beautiful, which, he avers, as an outcome of the perception of good, wellproportioned cognizable forms corresponds with institutionalized modernist sensibilities where the criteria for art are securely established in advance of its production. Lyotard’s revisiting of the Kantian sublime effectively situates poststructuralist postmodernism as an instance of deferred action in relation to late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Euro-American romanticism. A related line of argument is opened up by Rey Chow in her problematization of an attempt by Jameson to extend his Marxian-inflected vision of postmodernism to developments in Chinese literary culture. Here Chow questions Jameson’s

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claim of a shift from modernist to postmodernist sensibilities in Chinese writing as insufficiently sensitive to the Western colonialist-imperialist différend. Chow does so by asserting that while inextricably bound up with Western imperialism Chinese modernity has followed a distinct developmental trajectory wherein modernist differentiations between old and new are both depleted – the old because it has lost its original relevance in the face of the ingress of Western modernity and the new as something applied from the outside that invites resistance for fear of cultural deracination,20 from which, in Chow’s view, a localized aesthetic ‘truthfulness’ may emerge.21 Chow supports her argument by drawing attention to resonances between the Lyotardian postmodern sublime, as a forwarding of the ‘unpresentable in presentation itself ’, and a Daoist-inflected literati poetics, in which aesthetic feeling is knowingly heightened by a formal play between absence and presence, as signified by the term xushi. Chow does not, however, seek to conflate the postmodern sublime with what she describes as a literati aesthetics of ‘emptiness’; such a conflation would be to ignore the deconstructive effects of cultural appropriation-translation. Rather, she locates the former specifically in relation to a desire within Euro-American contexts to sustain artistic criticality beyond the institutionalization of Euro-American modernism by upholding a subversive unknowability ‘distinct from the officially endorsed’, and the latter in relation to a Chinese cultural context where a Daoist sense of reciprocity has been upheld traditionally both as a precept for aesthetic resonance (Qiyun shengdong) and as a mean of negotiating critical resistance to authority.22 As Chow would have it, discursive conditions prevailing historically in China manifest a locally significant displacement of traditional high-art literary aesthetics into lower literary genres incommensurate with Jameson’s more generalizing sense of postmodernism.23 Here, Chow’s argument can be interpreted as carrying prior traces of the acutely fragmented condition of contemporaneity – something she has developed as part of recent artworld debates about the problems posed by the global visual economy.24 Moreover, although Chow does not allude to it herself, her identification of resonances between the postmodern sublime and a literati aesthetics of emptiness is open to interpretation as an instance of deferred action in relation to a resonant connection as part of the construction of postEnlightenment aesthetic modernity between a localized Chinese construction of the sublime, as invoked by Chambers, and the Burkian sublime, upon which the Kantian sublime, as the signature aesthetic of post-Enlightenment romanticism, is a further rationalist-moralizing elaboration.

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Resonances between aesthetics traditional to China and those of poststructuralist postmodernism are also brought into play by Gregory L. Ulmer’s identification of a relationship between Derridean deconstruction and avant-garde artistic practice. In addition to similarities between the avant-garde’s use of defamiliarization and the disjunctive effects of deconstructivist textual analysis, Ulmer also makes a connection between the latter and John Cage’s translation of chance divinatory techniques drawn from the I Ching.25 To which might be added an observation that Cage’s use of seeming silence in 4’33” has a certain resonance with xushi. Echoing Ulmer’s argument along different cultural lines of sight is Thomas McIvelley’s assertion of a multi-valent multiculturalism in light of poststructuralist postmodernism involving interaction between Greek and Indian intellectual aesthetic traditions26 – a vision redolent of the East-facing romanticism of the Schlegels. It is therefore possible to discern a repeated, if inconclusive, bringing together of Euro-American poststructuralist postmodernism with a similarly non-rationalist Chinese literati aesthetics as part of debates about the nature and limits of poststructuralist postmodernism during the 1980s. One that takes place alongside a conceptually related bringing together at the same time of Japanese cultural tradition and poststructuralist postmodernism.27 To speak of an absolute origin or ansatzpunkt for poststructuralist postmodernism would require an unreconcilable reinvestment in rationalistdialectical conceptions of history. It is nevertheless possible to view circumstances in Europe and North America during the 1960s as increasingly conducive to the discursive formation of poststructuralist postmodernism. Second-wave feminism and the civil rights movement in the United States in conjunction with the failed uprisings of 1968 ushered in an intellectual climate increasingly sceptical of Marxian-Hegelian discourses focused narrowly on class conflict and faith in the historical inevitability of millenarian change. That intellectual climate was further informed during the 1970s and 1980s by criticism of the established rationalist precepts of post-Enlightenment modernity by, among others, Michel Foucault,28 whose intellectual lineage is traceable in part to the Frankfurt School of the 1930s.29 Out of which eventually emerged a discursively dominant poststructuralist postmodernism. A significant aspect of the coalescing of poststructuralist postmodernism is a shift of interest among Euro-American artists and intellectuals away from Stalinist state communism to Maoism in China. In the wake of the failed uprisings of 1968, radical left-wing European and American intellectuals and artists began to break with a discredited Stalinist revolutionary politics, looking instead to

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Maoism within the PRC as a source of renewed political direction. These artists and intellectuals include Jean-Luc Godard, whose film La Chinoise (1967) narrates the activities of a Maoist group in Paris during the 1960s; the film-maker Michelangelo Antonioni, who was invited to visit the PRC in 1972 to make the film Chung Kuo, Cina (1972), a documentary of life during the latter years of the Cultural Revolution; and the theorist and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, whose collection of writings About Chinese Women (1977) discusses Chinese women’s experience from the perspective of continental poststructuralism. Kristeva’s writing on Chinese women has been roundly condemned in both Chinese and Western contexts as insufficiently sensitive to cultural differences.30 On its completion, Chung Kuo, Cina was denounced by the CCP as both anti-Chinese and anti-communist. In 1974, the Paris-based Tel Quel group, which had broken with the Stalinist French Communist Party in favour of Maoism in 1971, was invited to visit the PRC.31 This visit was to divide the group between members such as Kristeva who continued to align themselves, for a time at least, with Maoist principles, and others, including Roland Barthes, whose commitment to those principles, if it ever really existed at all, waned significantly as a result of the group’s exposure to the materially impoverished and highly suppressive conditions of life under Maoist revolutionary communism. Tel Quel distanced itself publicly from Maoism in 1976. Among the artistic indexes of the alignment between radical Western politics and Maoism is Andy Warhol’s depiction of Mao in a series of drawings, prints and paintings, initiated in 1973. Warhol himself visited the PRC in 1982. The period from the late 1980s to the early 2000s saw the ascendancy within the international artworld of postcolonialist postmodernist discourses and an associated politics of identity, which together mobilize the deconstructivist insights of poststructuralist postmodernism in support of an artistic-critical engagement with social inequality and injustice. Exemplary of which is Yinka Shonibare’s use of defamiliarization in works such as Gallantry and Criminal Conversation (2002), as a means of deconstructing colonialist-imperialist and related patriarchal relations of dominance. This mobilization was informed by a series of theoretical texts, including those by Jacques Lacan, Edward Said, Judith Butler and Homi Bhabha, among others,32 which together identify the culturally ingrained structural asymmetries of discursive thought and practice underpinning social inequality and injustice – extending to that between the West and a supposedly inferior East signified by Said’s use of the term ‘orientalism’, and the consigning of women to subaltern positions as part of patriarchal societies. In the case of Butler and Bhabha, also identified is the suppressed immanence

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of performatively embodied hybrid subjectivities running deconstructively counter to those structural asymmetries. Such thinking intersects with a nowwidespread institutionalization of artistic and curatorial practices associated with the term ‘Third Space’, which Bhabha uses to signify the unsettling refraction of hybrid identities as a result of their deconstructive translation-mediation through language, but which in its more generalized usage has come to be seen more straightforwardly as an alternative passage (third way) between existing dialectically opposed positions. Postcolonialist postmodernism and identity politics not only stemmed from, but were also critical of, a poststructuralist postmodernist engagement with the supposedly unsettling effects of the ‘postmodern condition’. During the 1970s and 1980s, there was an effective presumption among artists in Western Europe and North America that the supposed ‘crisis’ of identity brought about by postmodernity was a universal one. This presumption can be understood as having been strongly informed by persistent traces of the narrow concerns of high-modernism as well as a culturally partisan view of art history, and as such reflects what can be seen from the position of a politics of identity as a predominantly white, middle class and male sense of loss provoking ‘both laments and disavowals concerning the end of art, history, the canon, the West’ et cetera.33 As one major history of the art of the twentieth century observes, ‘especially for people marked as “other”, whether sexually, racially, and/or culturally, postmodernism did not signal an actual loss so much as a potential opening to other kinds of subjectivities and narratives altogether’34 – one in which deconstructive interventions by the Other might productively overwrite established western(ized) accounts of art’s significance and historical development. Examples of the productive opening up of art to alternative postmodernist subjectivities and narratives include the establishment of culturally diversified international survey exhibitions of contemporary art initiated by the staging of ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ at the Centre Pompidou and the Parc de la Villette in Paris in 1989, which presented for the first time on the international stage contemporary art from the PRC. Although the latter was criticized at the time for what was seen as a problematic co-opting of works whose localized significances were far from being wholly informed by western(ized) cultural concerns, it nevertheless established a format for the global dissemination of non-Western art that remains highly influential up to the present day. Of additional importance at this time is the development of the idea of a ‘strategic essentialism’ resistant to Western cultural imperialism – key

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exponents of which include Gayatri Chakaravorty Spivak,35 Paul Gilroy36 and Anthony Appiah Kwame.37 The idea of strategic essentialism does not seek, as its naming suggests, a straightforward return to modernist conceptions of unitary subjectivity but instead to foreground lived identities and cultural connections running counter to those identified with western(ized) culture. Gilroy’s conception of a ‘Black Atlantic’, for example, posits ‘black’ experiences and representations of the consequences of European colonization, including slave economies, in the geographical sphere of the Atlantic, thereby framing the possibility of historical narratives intersecting with and divergent from those imposed on the same circumstances by ‘white’ Western cultures. Since the early twenty-first-century poststructuralist postmodernism has been challenged by a reassertion of rationalist-dialectical critical thinking and practice within the international artworld including in relation to Marxian-Hegelian discourses. This reassertion has taken place partly as a result of institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism’s perceived complicity with the social and economic abstractions promoted by a now-globally dominant neo-liberalism given added credence in the wake of the global financial downturn of 2008. It also coincides with a wider shift within popular culture towards collectivism and assertions of authentic experience supported by the rise of the Internet and social media. As a result, poststructuralist postmodernism no longer holds complete sway within the international artworld. Indicative of this return to rationalist-dialectical critical thinking and practice within the international artworld is a renewed interest in the philosophical writings of Alain Badiou, who has since the 1960s consistently upheld aspects of Marxian-Hegelian thinking in relation to the interpretation of art. In his writing, Badiou espouses ideas of being, truth, event and subject that depart from the counter-foundational outlook of poststructuralist postmodernism. Truth for Badiou is invariable and universal. In this, he can be understood to sustain thinking associated with the tradition of Platonic idealism in Western philosophy. Badiou also argues, however, that the invariability and immanence of truth render it indiscernible under most circumstances and that revelations of truth take place only through evental disruptions in the conventional understanding of being and representation – an assertion resonant with Derridean deconstructivism. As Badiou would have it, the truth of art is itself both immanent and singular – that is to say, universal and attributable only to art itself. Badiou’s conception of ‘inaesthetics’ posits the possibility of revelations of the truth of art with respect to ‘aesthesis’: the philosophical idea that sensory perception and affect have the capacity to give rise to new meanings constitutive

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of concrete thought.38 In Badiou’s view, a combination of the immanence and invariability of truth and its revelation through evental disruption, including in relation to aesthetic experience, provides the basis for a renewed faith in the possibility of a progressive shift from capitalism to communism called into doubt by institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism. Informing Badiou’s philosophical vision is a long-standing engagement with Maoist revolutionary thinking and practice sustained since the 1960s. In Badiou’s view, Maoism represents a significant critical foil to both capitalism and Stalinist communism. In an interview with an anonymous Chinese philosopher (possibly the critic of contemporary Chinese art, Lu Xinghua), Badiou acknowledges the enormous destruction and loss of life brought about by the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, while also upholding both as laudable attempts by Mao to maintain the forward momentum of revolutionary communism within the PRC in contrast to the political stasis of the Soviet Union. In this, Badiou claims that Mao was able to think in an ‘almost infinite way’, providing a model for dialectical thought and, perhaps, the continuation of a global revolutionary project.39 Addressed critically, that claim can be understood to involve a profoundly abstract and dehumanizing view of discursive and material conditions within China in extension of an existing tendency towards orientalism as part of Western post-Enlightenment discourses – one that also ascribes to Mao far more control over events than was in actuality the case. Badiou’s continuing espousal of Maoism has attracted significant attention among academics within the PRC, where he has been invited to speak on a number of occasions, cancelling pre-planned visits at the last minute more than once.40 Of additional significance in this regard is a proliferation of explicitly politicized artistic practices critical of the socially and economically divisive consequences of globalization and digital technologies often conducted in open opposition to neo-liberal capitalism. This proliferation, which has been widely referred to as ‘the social turn’,41 contrasts with critical approaches characteristic of poststructuralist postmodernism where subversion rather than opposition is upheld as a means of overwriting and displacing established authority. As such, the social turn reflects a renewed faith in direct social engagement and dialectical struggle after poststructuralist postmodernism’s pervasive scepticism with regard to the effectiveness of such approaches following the abortive European uprisings of 1968. The social turn in contemporary art is to some degree coextensive with a wider field of oppositional protest and activism, including anti-capitalist protests before 2008 as well as those instigated more recently by the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, the #Metoo movement

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and Extinction Rebellion. Viewed from a deconstructivist perspective, this renewed faith in oppositional protest can be interpreted as a reversion to an eminently questionable metaphysics of presence. The reassertion of rationalist-dialectical critical thinking and return to oppositional protest within the international artworld coincides with debates related to the ideas of the ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘Capitalocene’ that recognize pressing material limits on social development brought about by the impact of human activity on the world’s ecosystems commensurate with MarxianHegelian millenarian notions of the finite limits of capitalism. Related to which are debates associated with the idea of ‘Accelerationism’ that propose an active speeding up rather than a revolutionary interruption of neo-liberal capitalism with a view to precipitating a historical crisis towards a post-capitalist future, of which there are neo-Marxian and Alt-right wings. A leading exponent of Accelerationism, Nick Land currently lives and works in Shanghai. Also coinciding with the reassertion of rationalist-dialectical critical thinking and practice and a return to oppositional protest within the international artworld is, as has already been discussed in the Prolegomenon to this book, are debates related to the idea of contemporaneity. As Terry Smith indicates,42 contemporaneity can be understood to signify a multidimensional state in which Western and non-Western experiences and representations of modernity co-exist alongside and contest one another’s authority. While some of these experiences and representations coincide more or less closely with the indeterminate outlook of poststructuralist postmodernism, others claim the existence of essential differences between Western and non-Western cultures and societies in critical opposition to what is perceived as the (b)latent Euro-American centrism of institutionalized modernism and postmodernism. The latter includes Gao’s repudiation of poststructuralist postmodernism as irrelevant to an understanding of the particular circumstances of the development of artistic modernity in China as part of the construction of a post-imperial republican Chinese nation-state.43 In spite of the challenges posed to a previously dominant poststructuralist postmodernist by a reassertion of rationalist-dialectical critical thinking and practice and the diversification of views attendant on contemporaneity, durable traces of the former nevertheless continue to circulate within the discursive economies of the international artworld. This is both in relation to artistic and curatorial practices addressing questions of identity and social inequality and aspects of the social turn. The social turn in contemporary artistic practice has taken place in part through to a growing international archipelago of

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diverse communities of interest engaged reflexively with contemporary artistic thinking and practice in its institutional settings.44 As such, those communities performatively eschew the notion of a homogenous public by conceiving of the public sphere both as diverse in its outlooks and as an inevitable locus of contestation. This conception of diversity and contestation in the public sphere resonates with Claire Bishop’s critical identification of an ‘antagonistic aesthetics’ contra the institutionalization of Nicolas Bourriaud’s identification of a collectivist ‘Relational Aesthetics’,45 which draws on Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s seminal poststructuralist conception of ‘radical democracy’.46 Other instances of the commingling of a resurgent rationalist-dialectical critical thinking and practice with the persistence of poststructuralist postmodernist uncertainty within the international artworld include debates and the production of artworks related to posthumanism and Speculative Realism, both of which look towards ethically informed societal transformation beyond the centrality of human perception and experience. They also include artworks and debates related the bringing to bear of actor-network theory on an analysis of social networks in terms of interactions not just between people but between people and things, and therefore a combination of material and semiotic relations as a field of reality construction. There are nevertheless, in spite of these various comings together, widespread perceptions within the international artworld and more widely that the progressive impact of the poststructuralist postmodernist critical turn of the late twentieth century has long since been dissipated. Perceptions reflected by debates joined as part of the staging of the ‘Third Guangzhou Triennial, Farewell to Post-Colonialism’ at the Guangzhou Museum of Art in 2008.47 Irrespective of this conspicuously acute state of discursive fragmentation, art and aesthetic experience are still viewed in Euro-American-dominated international artworld contexts largely through the prism of postEnlightenment ideas of aesthetic modernity. Since the emergence of Kantian critical-philosophical thought and its distinguishing of judgement from practical and moral reasoning at the end of the eighteenth century, there has been an abiding assumption within western(ized) contexts that an autonomous or relatively autonomous artistic practice has the capacity to engage in critically transformative ways with society. That assumption underpins the outlooks of modernism and a return to modernist dialectical opposition within the international artworld more recently as well as of an institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism. A rigorous deconstructivist intervention in post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity combined with resonant assertions

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of an uncertainly bounded relationship between society and art associated with Chinese art does however bring such discursive postulations insistently into question.

Postmodernisms and contemporaneity within the PRC After the ending of the Anti-spiritual Pollution Campaign in 1984, public exhibitions of Euro-American high-modernist, postmodernist and contemporary art were held within the PRC for the first time. Among those exhibitions was a major display of work by the artist Robert Rauschenberg staged at Beijing’s National Art Museum in 1985, which had a significant impact on the ’85 New Wave. The work shown in the exhibition was the product of a collaboration between Rauschenberg and local artisans organized as part of the ROCI: a series of cultural exchanges and accompanying exhibitions staged in ten countries across the world between 1984 and 1990. Artists and critics associated with the ’85 New Wave saw work exhibited in the Beijing ROCI exhibition as a model for the development of a modern cosmopolitan art divergent from the established strictures of Maoist and post-Maoist socialist realism but with still discernibly Chinese characteristics.48 Artworks produced by the ’85 New Wave are characterized by a combining of ideas, styles and techniques appropriated-translated from Euro-American modernist and postmodernist art with artistic thinking and practice endogenous to China. Those artworks include figurative paintings sometimes referred to under the title ‘Trans-realism’, which draw more or less explicitly on European Surrealism, in some cases to illustrate a return to literati values of aristocratic detachment, as well as abstract paintings informed by Euro-American modernist and traditional Chinese literati ideas, styles and techniques. Among the latter are paintings produced by the Shanghai-based artists Yu Youhan and Ding Yi who are pioneers of modernist-style abstraction in the PRC. Artists associated with the ’85 New Wave also produced China’s first culturally variegated conceptual, video, installation and performance artworks. These artworks include Wei Guangqing’s photographically documented multi-site performance Suicide Project/Personal Experience of the Simulated Suicide Project Relating to ‘One’ (1988). Informing Suicide Project is a relationship between the existentialist idea, as set out by Albert Camus in his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1942), according to which suicide is the only ‘really serious’ problem in philosophy and the Daoist metaphysical concept of ‘One’ (Yi, Tai yi), a

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state of unity preceding the division of heaven and earth – the two are connected by a shared desire for coherence and meaning in the face of absurdity. The allegorical significance of Suicide Project in relation to the febrile political climate within the PRC at the time of its making, while deniable, is all too clear. Further examples of the culturally variegated work of the ’85 New Wave include ‘conceptual’ artworks and critical writings produced by the artist Huang Yongping. Huang’s related assemblages, Big Roulette and Small Portable Roulette (both 1987), bring together practices related to cleromancy derived from the I Ching with collage-montage and chance techniques appropriated-translated from the Euro-American avant-gardes. A discernible relationship between both of those artworks and John Cage’s signature compositional method critically reverses the transcultural direction of the latter’s formation. Huang confirms that reversal of direction in the related text ‘A Completely Empty Signifier’ (1989) by arguing that Dada is a ‘renaissance’ of Chan Buddhism49 in what also amounts to an overturning of the cultural direction of the alignment of Dada and Buddhism by the Dadaist Richard Hulsenbeck. As the critic Hou Hanru indicates, these reversals of historical order not only ‘suggest a process of constant change in the universe, the duality and interconnectedness of necessity and chance, of the rational and irrational, culture and anti-culture, but also a strategy to launch “attacks” on the legitimacy of the West-centric monopoly in intellectual and everyday life’.50 Also exemplary of the ’85 New Wave are theories and artworks produced by members of the Northern Art Group (Beifang yishu qunti), which was formed in the northern Chinese city of Harbin in 1985. The collective vision promoted among the group by its leading members was based on three related assertions: that the adoption of Deng’s policy of Reform and Opening-up had initiated a decisive modernizing movement away from the non-rationalism and naturalism of traditional Chinese culture towards Western rationality and urbanization; that this movement would result in the emergence of a new ‘Northern Culture’ synthetically overcoming those of China and the West; and that the emergence of the latter would precipitate a paradigm shift within the artworld of the PRC away from the established dominance of socialist realism.51 These related assertions draw on the work of an array of European and American thinkers including Hegel, Nietzsche, Ernst Gombrich and Thomas Kuhn. Hegel’s vision of history as a progressive realization of spirit supported the group’s idea of an overcoming of the division of Chinese and Western culture, Gombrich’s appropriation of the concept of ‘paradigm shift’ from Kuhn

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(comparable to Foucault’s conception of the episteme) enabled the group to think of an associated departure from conventional modes of artistic expression, and Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch encouraged the group to see themselves as individualistic agents of iconoclastic cultural change in ways that diverged both from an institutionalized socialist realism within the PRC and the Daoistinflected softness, as they saw it, of traditional literati culture. Translations of Nietzsche read by members of the group were almost certainly reflective of manipulations of Nietzsche’s work by his sister. The Northern Art Group’s thinking also drew on China’s intellectual traditions. This included Confucian conceptions of sublimity associated with the term da and Buddhist notions of non-desiring enlightenment, which, in the group’s view, together uphold the possibility of a transcendental distancing of art from the contingencies of everyday life in a reversal of Mao’s belief that a truly revolutionary art should bring art and life more closely together. Also included was the Confucian conception of self-cultivation. Alignment with these ideas coincided with the vision of transformative individualism the group had taken from Nietzsche (who had himself drawn on aspects of Daoist-Confucian and Buddhist thought) as well as supporting a reconnection with tradition against the grain of Maoist revolutionary thinking during the Cultural Revolution. Members of the group looked in addition to writings by the Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore, whose revitalization of Bengali and Indian art through engagement with Euro-American ideas of aesthetic modernity they saw as prescient in relation to their own thinking and practice. The practical outcome of this combining of Western and Eastern thinking and practice by the group was the development by some of its members, including Shu Qun and Wang Guangyi, of a decidedly non-expressive ‘cold’ style of painting, redolent of the dream-like imagery of European Surrealism. In spite of stylistic similarities between paintings by the Northern Art Group and European Surrealists, their respective intentions were divergent. While European Surrealism sought a revolutionary conjunction of reality and the unconscious, by contrast, the Northern Art Group’s aim was to assert the value of a lofty northern Chinese aesthetic (da) as a way of rebuilding the autonomy of Chinese culture after the ravages wrought by the Cultural Revolution.52 A comparable disjuncture also pertains to so-called ‘Political Pop’ paintings produced by Wang from the early 1990s onwards, after the dissolution of the Northern Art Group, that bring together imagery representative of the Maoist revolutionary period in China and of multinational capitalism. While it is possible

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to interpret that bringing together from the point of view of poststructuralist postmodernism as a mutually assured deconstructive juxtaposition of differing ideological positions, as the critic Huang Zhuan indicates, from within the PRC, where rationalist-dialectical discourses remained officially dominant, it could also be understood to occupy a ‘non-standpoint’ relating objectively/synthetically to both endogenous Chinese and exogenous Western cultural, social and political perspectives.53 The critic Li Xianting complicates an understanding of Wang’s Pop paintings still further by arguing that they present distinctly unrealistic juxtapositions of differing pictorial elements, which, he suggests, have their precedent in the ‘New Literati “Art Games”’ and ‘Absurd Trends’ of the ’85 New Wave.54 Following the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989, there was a conservative CCP crackdown on all unofficial activities within the PRC that lead to a slowing down of Reform and Opening-up. The crackdown persisted until 1992 when Deng Xiaoping toured several cities in southern China to gather political support for a revitalization of Reform and Opening-up. The CCP’s postTiananmen crackdown effectively brought the activities of the ’85 New Wave to an end resulting in the emigration of numerous artists, curators and critics whose professional ambitions were now thwarted within the PRC. The end of the 1980s also saw increasing synchronization of the interests and aspirations of China’s localized ‘modern’ artworld with those of the international artworld. At almost the same time as the Tiananmen protests, contemporary Chinese art was shown for the first time in Europe as part of the international survey exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ staged at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle at Parc de la Villette in Paris between 18 May and 14 August 1989. Artists who left the PRC at the end of the 1980s include Huang Yongping, who was in Paris for the opening of ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ at the time of the Tiananmen massacre and chose to remain there. Huang Yongping’s decision to remain in Paris after ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ along with the curator Fei Dawei, who had assisted with the staging of the exhibition, formed the basis for an expatriate group of Chinese artists, curators and critics, also including Hou Hanru, who became active internationally. After leaving the PRC, expatriate Chinese artists, curators and critics became more closely engaged with a then internationally dominant poststructuralist postmodernism and Third Space postcolonialism. This resulted in the production of often spectacular artworks – in line with the then increasingly museum-based showing of contemporary art internationally – involving self-conscious juxtapositions or attempted reconciliations of Western and Chinese cultural elements. Examples of which include Cai Guo-

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Qiang’s Extraterrestrials series (begun 1989), Gu Wenda’s Monuments of the United Nations series (1993–2004) and Xu Bing’s Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy (1994–6). Evidence of the shift in cultural perspectives undertaken by expatriate Chinese artists, curators and critics during the 1990s towards poststructuralist postmodernism can be found in a private letter written by Fei Dawei to the critic Li Xianting, the latter having remained in the PRC. In this letter, Fei addresses Li’s concern that art detached from its ‘cultural motherland’ will suffer an inevitable withering of creativity. Fei responds by arguing for a transnational contemporary Chinese art that is critically engaged with not only questions of cultural Chineseness but also the deconstruction of neo-colonialist-imperialist relations of dominance.55 As a consequence of the conservative crackdown that followed the events of 4 June 1989, optimism among the ‘85 New Wave gave way to widespread feelings of scepticism and cynicism. This change in outlook and increasing synchronization of the interests and aims of the PRC’s localized modern artworld with those of the international contemporary artworld resulted in a shift in nomenclature away from modern (xiandai) towards contemporary (dangdai) as a means of categorizing progressive art in and from the PRC after the death of Mao. A further consequence of the post-Tiananmen crackdown was a return to clandestine forms of art-making within the PRC, which includes the movement known as Chinese Apartment Art – a term adapted by Gao Minglu from the naming of a similar movement active in the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries during the 1970s and 1980s. As its title suggests, Chinese Apartment Art was characterized by the production of small-scale and ephemeral artworks, the making of proposals rather than actual art works, and by the staging of secretive exhibitions in domestic spaces. Examples of artworks produced under the heading of Apartment Art include Song Dong’s A Kettle of Boiling Water (1995), an action, recorded by a series of photographs, in which Song fleetingly drew a line along a side street by pouring hot water from a kettle. By adopting such clandestine approaches, artists were able to avoid official censure while maintaining a certain distance between themselves and CCP ideology. As Gao Minglu indicates, clandestine artworks produced and shown in the PRC in the early 1990s were often conceived as a way of preserving ‘a specific measurement or other attribute’ in order ‘to approach the truth’.56 The detached position occupied by artists associated with Chinese Apartment Art is open, on the face of it, to interpretation in accordance with post-Enlightenment modernist ideas of aesthetic modernity as a heroic act of

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defiance made in direct opposition to authority. Such a reading can, however, be qualified on a number of counts. The detachment of Chinese Apartment Art from mainstream politics was not initiated by artists themselves but was instead forced by the CCP’s post-Tiananmen crackdown. The decision of artists to continue their practice, more or less safely out of view, was therefore largely reactive rather than proactive in what amounts to a return to the position of largely ineffectual public invisibility occupied by unofficial art during the Maoist revolutionary period within the PRC. Moreover, Chinese Apartment Art continues the development of a relatively autonomous sphere of artistic activity more generally characteristic of modern/avant-garde after the death of Mao, which, as has been argued, tends paradoxically away within the context of the PRC from direct avant-gardist engagement towards something more akin to aestheticism. Viewed in this light, the position of detachment occupied by Chinese Apartment Art can be interpreted as eminently manageable with respect to CCP authority, its position of critical distancing rendered more obliquely gestural than directly oppositional. A more fitting way of interpreting Chinese Apartment Art within the particular context of China, perhaps, is to view its absence from public visibility as resonant with critical withdrawals from public life traditionally characteristic of literati culture – withdrawals that were both licensed by and whose symbolism was open to de-codification with regard to established neo-Confucian ideas of social governance. This is not to deny the critical significance of Chinese Apartment Art in relation to CCP authority. Rather, it is to acknowledge the specific localized discursive conditions under which that criticality was both made possible and interpretable. Clandestine approaches towards the making and showing of contemporary art during the early 1990s were most prevalent in and around Beijing, where CCP authority was at its strongest and the impact of the post-Tiananmen crackdown most keenly felt. The public showing of contemporary art was still heavily restricted but more easily negotiated away from Beijing. Indicative of which is the displaying of Qiu Zhijie’s ambitious multimedia installation, On the New Life (1992) in a graduation exhibition at the China National Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. As a continuing consequence of the post-Tiananmen crackdown, contemporary art in the PRC continued to occupy a position of relative estrangement from mainstream politics throughout the 1990s. Although some artists, curators and critics sought to uphold and extend the humanist project of the ’85 New Wave by establishing a rapprochement between contemporary art and government policy, most contemporary art remained outside the economic

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and political interests of the CCP. The high-water mark of this estrangement from mainstream politics is marked by extreme forms of body art produced and shown fleetingly within the PRC during the late 1990s which involved the use of human and animal cadavers and of live animals. The making and showing of those works led to the handing down of a notice outlawing pornography and extreme forms of bodily violence in the name of art by the PRC’s Ministry of Culture in 2001. Exemplary of these extreme forms of body art is a series of artworks by the Beijing-based duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, including Aquatic Wall (1998) and Linked Bodies (2000), the former using live animals and the latter aborted human foetuses. Reports of artworks in the PRC using live animals and animal and human cadavers, such as those represented in the catalogue accompanying the nownotorious exhibition ‘Fuck Off ’ staged at the Eastlink Gallery in Shanghai in 1989,57 were received initially in Euro-American liberal-democratic contexts, where laws restricting cruelty to animals are strongly enforced and where similar artworks have consequently been vanishingly rare, with a mixture of outrage and perverse admiration for what was seen as their daring artistic transgression of moral boundaries.58 That initial sense of outrage was sustained in relation to the survey exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, ‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’ staged at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 2017–18, whose inclusion of video works by Sun and Peng involving images of live dogs running on and tethered to treadmills facing each other in close proximity drew significant public opprobrium from animal rights campaigners. Such works can be interpreted as both a challenge to conservative Chinese cultural norms and as an effective deconstruction of the work of the Euro-American avant-gardes and post-avant-gardes, whose claims of critical illimitability can be shown to be fictive. It is important to note that the use of human and animal bodies and body parts in artworks produced within the PRC during the 1990s was legally permissible in that context where no specific governmental restrictions on cruelty to animals and use of human bodies were in place at the time. Sun and Peng’s work and that of others making similar use of bodies and body parts was, therefore, transgressive only of moral boundaries and associated sociocultural taboos. Indeed, those moral boundaries and taboos were themselves far from being categorical given the generally harsh treatment of animals as part of the production and selling of their bodies for food which persisted in the PRC during the 1990s.59 Tensions between international and localized perspectives on the critical significance of contemporary Chinese art became increasingly conspicuous in the PRC during the 1990s as part of endogenous debates with regard to the

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international reception of contemporary Chinese art, and, in particular, the international artworld’s identification of contemporary Chinese art with the deconstructivist outlook of a then still internationally dominant poststructuralist postmodernism and postcolonialism. Those debates culminated in two conferences held in 1998: one staged in Shanxi by the China Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing and another accompanying the 1998 Asia-Pacific Contemporary Art Exhibition in Fuzhou. As Yiyang Shao observes, at these conferences, a number of Chinese critics refused to accept the position assigned to their country as part of Western-dominated global discourse through an attempt to regain their lost subjectivity. They advocated the idea of a Chinese version of modernity by creating a new sense of national cultural identity. They also demanded a return of their legitimate rights as self-defined historical subjects, capable of developing their own narrative of modernity relating their own experience and mapping out their own future. This vision recognized the importance of cultural difference. At the same time, it also emphasized dialectics rather than absolute difference between the two poles, and hence went beyond confrontational logic of the self versus the other, and beyond the desire to assert its own subject position as an overpowering one. While May Fourth intellectuals during the early twentieth century could only conceive of and emulate a single Eurocentric mode of modernity, a number of Chinese art critics during the 1990s became conscious of the historical nature and cultural origins of modernity. They began to locate modernity within a global context. The absolute nature of Western modernity was de-constructed, and the myth became a reality defined in the mundane day-to-day process of Chinese modernization.60

There was, in short, an appropriation-translation of the critical outlook of poststructuralist postmodernism turned both to a generalized deconstruction of colonialist-imperialist relations of dominance and to an assertion that Chinese culture should be understood in relation to its international and local contexts. As Shao’s choice of words indicates, that appropriation-translation did not involve a straightforward assimilation of poststructuralist postmodernism but its re-motivation in support of a ‘dialectics’ not only resonant with the harmonizing reciprocity envisaged by Daoism but also acceptable in its dualistic outlook to Marxian-inflected CCP ideology. From the 1990s onwards, debates on aesthetics within the PRC among younger generations of scholars and critics have included a focus on the traditional literary concept of ganxing (aesthetic experience) and its relationship to subjective autonomy. These debates have resulted in contesting interpretations of ganxing with regard to the PRC’s current social and political development.

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Although generally desirous of some sort of theorized upholding of subjectivity after the extreme collectivism of the PRC’s revolutionary period, their overall tone remains understandably Marxian in outlook and as such incorporates what is seen as a dialectical striving towards a synthesis between tradition and modernity and between occidental and oriental aesthetic outlooks.61 This academically sanctioned outlook has been consistently overwritten within the PRC by more starkly anti-imperialist and essentialist views. By the mid-1990s Reform and Opening-up had resulted in an intensified engagement with Euro-American and other outside cultural influences. There was also, however, growing domestic confidence within the PRC with regard to the country’s socioeconomic and cultural standing on the world stage. That confidence manifested itself through both a significant reinforcing of public antipathy towards aspects of western(ized) culture – which the CCP had always sought to manage because of its tendency towards extreme and destabilizing nationalism – and an officially sanctioned return to traditional Confucian values of familial piety, self-sacrifice and social harmony (referred to somewhat confusingly as ‘neo-Confucianism’) as a way of promoting social cohesion and harmony in the face of the upheavals to society wrought by Reform and Opening-Up. Marginalized or excluded were those aspects of Chinese tradition (i.e. Daoism and Buddhism) that had provided a historical basis for intellectual dissent from authority, including the writings of Zhuangzi whose challenges to Confucian propriety were seen as profoundly anarchistic.62 As Wang Meqin makes clear, this officially sanctioned return to Confucian values has cast a long and lasting shadow over the localized artworld of the PRC. The revival of centuries-old Confucianism and the search for the authentic Chinese spirit are trends that were seen as complementary to the huge efforts mobilized to meet the standards for entering into the WTO and to be the host of the Olympic Games in 2008. In this context, nationalism is seen as a particular way to circumscribe and practice globalization, while globalization is used to evoke and manipulate the sentiment of nationalism. The two terms have been promoted equally by the Chinese government in Post-Deng Chinese society. Their connection is only one aspect of the complexity of today’s economic, social, and cultural conditions within China. Cultural nationalism, like marketization and globalization, has played an important role in the overall transformation of the Chinese art world. Essentially, it brings unofficial contemporary art into the scope of official art while challenging the definition of the art establishment in China.63

By the late 1990s, there was within the PRC, as a consequence, a pronounced divergence of views with regard to the interpretation of contemporary Chinese art.

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On the one hand, there were those who sought to frame contemporary Chinese art as a resistance to the Euro-American-dominated international artworld, in part through a co-opting of the latter’s then-dominant poststructuralist postmodernist standpoint. On the other, there were those who took the position of upholding a more or less straightforward opposition between Chinese cultural values and the rather less culturally certain outlook of the international artworld. While many of the former continued to align themselves with the cosmopolitan stance of the ’85 New Wave, the latter occupied intellectual territory supported by nationalist CCP ideology. Intersecting with these differing viewpoints is a localized engagement with Fredric Jameson’s theorization of postmodernism. Jameson was invited to visit the PRC as a speaker on a number of occasions between the mid-1980s and early 2000s, beginning in 1985 with lectures at Peking University and the then newly founded Shenzhen University. Initially, Jameson’s writing had an only limited impact within the PRC. By the mid-1990s however, it had become a major point of reference for Chinese domestic and expatriate scholars seeking to understand and come to terms with the shift from Maoist collectivism towards mass consumer-oriented culture under Reform and Opening-Up.64 Jameson’s book Postmodernism and Cultural Theories was translated into Mandarin Chinese in 1987.65 Jameson’s intellectual cachet within the PRC was established in large part because of his residual upholding of a Marxian world-view, which appealed strongly to Chinese scholars who, as intellectual guardians of the PRC’s progressive development, were (in principle at least) still closely aligned with such thinking. References by Jameson in his writings to the Cultural Revolution as an immense and unfinished project did much to secure his intellectual reputation among older Maoist-oriented Chinese scholars. Reception of Jameson’s writing within the PRC involved significant refractions/ diffractions of meaning in relation to locally dominant discourses. As Gloria Davies indicates there has been a persistent ‘worrying’ as part of intellectual life within China stretching back to imperial times that looks towards a perfectibility of the Chinese state.66 Within the PRC before and after the death of Mao that worrying has been framed by dominant discourses upholding socialism as a reality and Marxian dialectical thinking as the appropriate means of guiding the PRC’s progressive development. Jameson’s writing on postmodernism was interpreted by Chinese scholars in relation to those dominant discourses not as a critique but as an objective reflection and indeed celebration of late capitalism67 – a view that overlooks the immanently deconstructive condition of postmodernity identified by Jameson.68 Informing which was a concern that Reform and Opening-up had

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not only transcended Maoist collectivism but along with it also the previously established role of intellectuals as guardians of revolutionary progress. An alignment with Jamesonian postmodernism thus became an expedient means for ‘progressive’ intellectuals to get with the CCP’s reforming socialist programme and its stewardship of market capitalism under ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. At the same time, staunch defenders of Maoism, who were then on the political backfoot, saw in Jameson a means of sustaining a critique of post-Maoist corporatist politics and their marginalization within it. As Darren Jorgensen, a participant in a conference on ‘Globalization and Indigenous Cultures’ staged at Zhengzou University in June 2004, which involved Jameson as a keynote speaker and included debate on Benedict Anderson’s book Imaginary Communities,69 attests, reception of postmodernist discourses within the PRC often verged on the wilfully absurd. There was a strong nationalist strain at the conference, and it seemed to me that many in the room were not taking Benedict Anderson's book critically but had taken it as a kind of template for national consciousness, and somehow combined this with Jameson's vision of postmodern Marxism.70

In short, dominant nationalist and Marxian-Hegelian discourses within the PRC had significantly refracted the reception there of Anderson’s postmodernist deconstruction of the disciplining authority of national identities as well as Jameson’s recognition of the wider deconstructive implications of an entry into postmodernity. In addition, Jorgensen recalls conspicuous differences of outlook at the conference between older Chinese scholars still supportive of Maoism and younger scholars aligned with Reform and Opening-Up. The conference’s lead organizer was basically nostalgic for Mao’s day, while a younger generation of scholars was very troubled by both the Maoism of the older generation and by the way in which Jameson was being interpreted as Maoist. I remember clearly one younger scholar fuming with anger at an older one’s Maoist presentation and being told in a whisper that his family had been sent to the countryside by Mao.71

There were also, Jorgensen relates, ‘many comic moments … I just found incredible’, including on the final night a Chinese banquet with ‘Chinese and Western Marxists singing The Internationale and The East is Red with raised fists’.72 Here, two things are revealed: first, generational differences in the interpretation of postmodernism within the PRC split between those who wished to align Jameson’s writing with Reform and Opening-Up and those

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who wished to co-opt it as a resistance to the same; and second, the persistence among Western scholars of a faith in post-Enlightenment modernist ideas of transformative dialectical opposition in spite of their identification of and alignment with the deconstructive implications of postmodernity. The impact of Jameson’s writing was only indirectly felt in relation to the production and reception of the visual arts within the PRC during the 1990s, being confined there largely to literary and political circles. It is important to note however that public debate about art within the PRC is part of the general climate of worrying towards the perfectibility of the Chinese state. In contrast to EuroAmerican artworld contexts where postmodernism has instituted a pervasive scepticism with regard to universal truths and cultural values, within the PRC’s there is a persistent countervailing desire to establish appropriate criteria for artistic production and aesthetic judgement. Uses of the prefix ‘post’ in the titling of art exhibitions and art-related conferences in the PRC, while signalling prima facie an engagement with the uncertain condition of postmodernity, are more often than not intended locally as signifiers of progressive cultural change in line with official CCP ideology. Following successful staging of the 2000 Shanghai Biennale, a new ideological climate began to emerge within the PRC which saw increasing CCP interest in Chinese art as a contributor to progressive social change at home and as a means of projecting soft power abroad. In a speech given on the occasion of the Seventh National Congress of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles on 18 December 2001, the president of the PRC Jiang Zemin gave a brief summary of the CCP’s emerging view of culture. In his speech, Jiang argued that it was important for developing countries, such as the PRC, ‘to preserve and develop the excellent traditions of their native national cultures’ and to ‘promote national spirit, actively absorb the fine cultural fruits from other nations, and push the update of native culture’.73 Jiang then went on to argue that ‘striving to construct our advanced culture and to make it appeal strongly to people nationwide even worldwide is an equally important strategic task for us to realize as part of socialist modernization; as is the endeavor to develop advanced productivity as part of the enlisting of China as one of the developed countries’.74 Jiang’s speech announced a significant shift in outlook away from the CCP’s prior concentration on economic and social reform towards a structural coordination of socioeconomic and cultural interests. At the 17th National Congress of the CCP in 2007, then president of the PRC Hu Jintao gave further weight to Jiang’s remarks by asserting the importance of international diplomacy and calling for improvements in the PRC’s use of soft

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power. During a speech at the 6th Plenum of the 17th Central Committee of the CCP on the 18 October 2011, Hu went further by arguing that the PRC’s cultural endeavours within the PRC had been greatly enhanced by Reform and Opening-up and as a result had become a crucial aspect of the PRC’s projection of soft power on the international stage.75 Political conditions were therefore set for an active recuperation of contemporary Chinese art to the ideological interests of the CCP. The co-opting of contemporary Chinese art to the political interests of the CCP since the early 2000s has taken a number of forms. In recent years Chinese higher education institutions involved in the teaching of art and design have become increasingly subject to calls from the CCP to strengthen the PRC’s creative industries sector. In response, many of those institutions have embraced contemporary modes of cultural production including the use of new digital and computer-based technologies, which are taught alongside more established modern Western and traditional Chinese techniques. There have also been exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art at major national institutions within the PRC, including a substantial survey exhibition of work by young Chinese artists titled ‘The First “CAFAM” Future Exhibition – Sub-Phenomena: Report on the State of Chinese Young Art Nomination’ staged at the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2012. In addition, there have been a number of governmentally supported survey exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art held outside the PRC. Among these exhibitions is ‘Living in Time’, staged at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2001 and ‘Alors la Chine?’, staged at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 2003. They also include a digitally mediated exhibition of the work of the celebrated Guo hua painter Pan Gongkai staged in the then recently established China Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 and a group exhibition of new media art by young Chinese artists in the same venue at the Venice Biennale in 2013 – both of which were critically dismissed in international artworld circles. The CCP’s active co-opting of contemporary art to its inward- and outwardfacing political objectives since the early 2000s may appear as evidence of increasing liberalization. This is by no means unambiguously the case. Embracing of contemporary art by the Chinese state is certainly indicative of the CCP’s ideological commitment to expansive economic and political reform. Coinciding with that commitment there is also within the PRC, however, a continuing and indeed, since the installation of Xi Jinping as president there, heightened suppression of public dissent from CCP authority. Instrumental in that heightening is the construction of a technologically advanced infrastructure of pervasively

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synoptical control known as the ‘Han-opticon,76 which ties access to services and resources to the good conduct of citizens, and the so-called ‘Great Firewall’,77 which denies easy public access to the Internet and social media outside the PRC. Although opposition between supposedly progressive western(ized) liberaldemocratic values and resistant nationalisms and religious fundamentalisms had already become conspicuous in relation to globalization during the 1990s and early 2000s,78 that opposition has now hardened significantly as a consequence of rising political populism and related re-localizations worldwide. In the particular context of the PRC, before and since the death of Mao, there has been a cycle of political openness and resistance to Western values. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s contemporary Chinese art was tacitly accepted by but held at arm’s length from power as a consequence of the CCP’s initial concentration on socioeconomic reform as part of Reform and Opening-up. Within which there was sequential tightening and relaxation of government limits on culture. Presently, there is an assertive national cultural retrenchment within the PRC following the installation of Xi Jinping as president in 2012.79 Two years after his succession to the role of president, Xi spoke at the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art insisting on a rededication to CCP directives on artistic production handed down shortly after the founding of new communist China in 1949.80 As previously indicated, in spite of changing political circumstances those directives have never been rescinded. While there has, in effect, been a realization of the ’85 New Wave’s desire to close the gap between cultural production and reform, absent from that relationship is any accepted public function for art beyond that sanctioned by the CCP. Granted, some intellectuals belonging to the PRC’s ‘New Left’, including the scholar Wang Hui, have looked towards the opening up of a localized public sphere within the PRC as a means of managing the socially divisive effects of Reform and Opening-up without the conditional necessity of Westernstyle democracy. Such thinking is, however, at best intellectually unresolved and at worst in effective complicity with the continuation of governmental authoritarianism. The commingling of differing cultural outlooks characteristic of contemporary Chinese art has thus been recuperated against the grain of western(ized) deconstructivist dissent to inward- and outward- facing assertions of national cultural identity commensurate with the CCP’s return to Confucian values – assertions which serve, on the one hand, to buttress a continuing agenda of anti-imperialism and, on the other, to provide a reassuring sense of domestic sociocultural coherence. As a result, not only has assimilation-translation of

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China’s long-standing cultural traditions by contemporary Chinese artists as a dual resistance to Euro-American colonialism-imperialism and the authority of the CCP been partially deflected towards a suspension of the latter, there has also been a corresponding rise of nationalist sentiment within the contemporary Chinese artworld. As writings by Gao Shiming accompanying the third Guangzhou Triennial, ‘Farewell to Post Colonialism’ (2008), make clear, the use of deconstructivist analysis by the Chinese artworld has always of necessity been selective in its assessment of localized political conditions within the PRC. In Gao’s view, we are currently entering into a ‘post-West’ global society where differences between democracy and autarchy have effectively been erased.81 While this assertion accords with generalizing postcolonialist ideas of the deconstruction of colonialist-imperialist relations of dominance, its abstractness can, on closer inspection, also be understood to gloss over the localized sociopolitical conditions under which contemporary art has developed within the PRC – conditions which persist in placing significant constraints on public criticism of governmental authority. Gao’s vision of a politically levelling post-West society is, of course, understandable within a still authoritarian PRC where distinctions in favour of liberal democracy remain anathema. It, nevertheless, signals the effective complicity of deconstructivist approaches within the PRC with governmental authority. Present-day assertions of Chinese exceptionalism may be intended by some as a strategically essentialist resistance to the persistence of Western colonialismimperialism. In practice, however, such assertions are, in spite of subjective intentions, still wedded publicly within the PRC to the CCP’s neo-Confucian upholding of the idea of a ‘harmonious’ society – an upholding undertaken both as a bulwark against the profoundly destabilizing effects of Reform and Opening-up and as a way of shoring up the CCP’s political (il)legitimacy as a focus for governance. It would nevertheless be a mistake to view the CCP’s co-opting of contemporary Chinese art as absolute. As a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) compiled by the Hong Kong-based scholar and artist Zheng Bo posted online in 2017 indicates, there have been within the PRC numerous recent instances of socially oriented artistic and cultural activity that can be understood as attempts to raise environmental consciousness, address issues of inequality and make visible authoritarian processes of governance.82 These include rural and urban community-based projects akin to those conducted outside the PRC under the title of Relational Aesthetics as well as public performances redolent of the street art of

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the Cultural Revolution. While claims made as part of the MOOC and by others in relation to it that the artistic and cultural activities in question have had a direct impact on Chinese society83 are – like claims associated with socially engaged art more generally – almost wholly unsubstantiated, and while the outward form and intentions of those activities are in many respects assimilable within the CCP’s co-opting of contemporary art to its own socially educative political purposes, it is nevertheless possible to discern an artistic-critical tendency among them away from centralized government power within the PRC and its continued upholding of a Marxian teleological view of history. As Zheng attests, ‘Social change is a complex process. It is not helpful to imagine social change as a chain of linear causal relations.’84 Such thinking resonates strongly with Zheng’s own work as an artist and educator. Zheng has produced a series of artworks focusing on environmental change within the context of debates related to the Anthropocene. The ‘core theoretical concern’ of which ‘is how to integrate Chinese practices emphasizing restraint, self-cultivation and interspecies collaboration with Euro-American discussions on environmental justice and political ecology’.85 Here Zheng can be understood to have developed thinking and practice that coincides with wider global concerns, including emerging debates related to Speculative Realism, while making intentionally constructive (rather than deconstructive) assertions of localized cultural identity consistent with the development of contemporary art within the PRC. Zheng’s identification of a local socially engaged art within the PRC adds to curator and critic Wang Chunchen’s identification of a recent upsurge of artistic social intervention within the PRC rooted historically in the persistence of socially oriented art on the left of China’s political spectrum.86 Critical re-motivations of traditional Chinese identity can also be discerned in relation to representations of the Chinese landscape by contemporary Chinese artists. As the scholar of contemporary Chinese art, Chang Tan has indicated, from a present-day critical perspective representations of nature by shan-shui paintings appear as ‘abstract inventions, bearing only tenuous connections with the physical world beyond human habitation and control’.87 A foregrounding of this abstractness by contemporary Chinese landscape artists, Chang argues, should be viewed as continuing to point towards an undoing of ‘the binary between nature and culture’ characteristic of neo-Confucian literati culture and, in doing so, as being implicitly critical of contemporary urbanization and commodification.88 Shan-shui hua can thus, when refracted through a contemporary critical lens, be seen as a locus of renewed criticality, traces of

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its particular aestheticized envisioning of an uncertain resonance between humanity and nature partially suspended but still operative. The problematic standing of contemporary Chinese art is not simply one that emerges in relation to continuing postcolonialist sensitivities on the part of ‘Western’ commentators. As the Beijing-based critic and curator Carol Yinghua Lu indicates, it is also a persistent conundrum for those looking from endogenous Chinese cultural perspectives. Lu writes, For those of us working in China: how do we examine and activate our own cultural conditions and contexts in a global discourse, rather than emphasize our own uniqueness and become burdened by it? … Maybe it’s less relevant to ask what is ‘Chinese Art’ than to think about what is contemporary in our own particular context and how it relates to the larger context of the world.89

While, for Lu and others, exceptionalist assertions of ‘Chineseness’ run the distinct risk of succumbing to the burden of self-orientalization, there is still a need to address the particularity of localized conditions and contexts in ways that also raise problematic questions of an uncertainly bounded engagement with western(ized) aesthetic modernity. Assertions of a straightforward confluence of progressive artistic concerns within the PRC with those prevailing internationally or of a categorical separation of the two are thus placed irretrievably under erasure.

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Case study: The work of Zhang Peili and the Pond Association (Chi she)

Zhang Peili is an artist and sometime university professor who lives and works in the city of Hangzhou on China’s eastern seaboard. Hangzhou is a major, rapidly growing metropolis 175 km to the southwest of Shanghai with a population of almost 9.5 million people. The city is a historical seat of literati culture within China whose scenic West Lake is regarded as a seminal source of visual-aesthetic inspiration for the development of shan-shui hua. Hangzhou’s China National Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), where Zhang worked as a teacher for much of his career, was founded under the leadership of Cai Yuanpei as the National Academy of Art in 1928 and is one of the PRC’s leading fine art universities combining tuition in traditional and contemporary media. Shortly after graduating from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts – now the CAFA, Hangzhou – in 1984, Zhang achieved national recognition both through his association with the genre known as ‘Rational Painting’ (Lixing huihua) and as a leading member of the Hangzhou-based art group, the Pond Association (Chi she). Within the PRC, Zhang has been instrumental in the initiation of site-specific, video and installation art and is a highly respected and influential educator; he established the ground-breaking Embodied Media Studio within the School of Intermedia Art at CAFA in 2002, whose former students include many of the PRC’s most significant video and new media artists. Zhang’s own work as an artist has been shown in numerous one-person and group exhibitions within the PRC including the solo show ‘Now That’ staged at the Boers-Li Gallery Beijing in 2018.1 Zhang was awarded ‘artist of the year’ at the 9th Awards of Art China in 2015. Although less well known outside the PRC than his exact contemporary, Ai Weiwei, Zhang is also recognized as an artist of significance internationally. Indicators of that recognition include

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one-person exhibitions of his work at the Maison des Cultures du Monde Galerie du Rond Point, Paris (1993), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998), the Jack Tilton Gallery, New York (1999 and 2008), the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand (2009) and the Chicago Institute of Art (2017). This case study begins with a critical analysis of paintings by Zhang and fellow member of the Pond Association, Geng Jianyi associated with the genre of Rational Painting. The artworks in question, which include Zhang’s painting Mid-Summer Swimmers (Zhongxia de yongzhe) (1985), will be situated in relation to prevailing sociopolitical and cultural conditions within the PRC during the 1980s as manifestations of a critical resistance on Zhang and Geng’s part not only to established Chinese socialist realism but also to hermeneutic art writing within the PRC supportive of CCP ideology. That resistance can be understood to have informed Zhang and Geng’s later artistic thinking and practice by providing a basis for continuing scepticism towards cultural and political authority. This case study will then go on to present a critical meditation on two sitespecific artworks by the Pond Association, No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series (Zuopin yi hao–Yang shi taiji xilie) and No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space (Zuopin er hao–Lüse kongjian zhong de xingzhe) (both 1986); three video artworks by Zhang of the early 2000s, Actors’ Lines (Taici) (2002), Last Words (Zuihou dehau) (2003) and Happiness (Xingfu) (2006); and a video installation by Zhang titled A Gust of Wind (Zeng feng) (2008). Also discussed will be Zhang’s early videos 30×30 (1988) and Document on ‘Hygiene’ No.3 (Guanyu weisheng 3 hao de wenjian) (1991). All of these works involve the use of techniques that can be interpreted from a poststructuralist postmodernist standpoint as defamiliarizing and, therefore, deconstructive of authoritative meaning. Formal aspects of each alongside related statements by Zhang and other members of the Pond Association complicate that view by inviting supplementary readings commensurate with the metaphysically oriented non-rationalist outlook of Daoism and Chan Buddhism as well as aspects of Confucianism. In being open to interpretation from those differing cultural perspectives, the works concerned remain elusive of any settled exegesis. They can thus be understood to occupy an indeterminate position of resistance to political and cultural authority both within and outside of the PRC. Zhang Peili was born in the city of Hangzhou in 1957, eight years after the founding of communist New China and a year before the initiation of The Great Leap Forward (1958–62), the CCP’s ultimately disastrous campaign to transform the PRC’s then largely agrarian economy through rapid industrialization and an abrupt shift from private ownership to collectivism. Zhang’s life horizons are

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consequently within the historical limits of the existence of the PRC. They also make him a first-hand witness to the events of the Cultural Revolution and the transition from Maoist collectivism to Reform and Opening-up. Zhang’s parents both worked in medicine: his mother as an obstetrics nurse and midwife and father as a paediatrician and medical school teacher. Zhang’s upbringing was a relatively privileged one within the wider context of Maoist collectivism. It was also strict in accordance with long-established bourgeois Chinese family values. As a child, like many others within the PRC during the 1950s and 1960s, Zhang contracted tubercular meningitis and thymitis,2 the former often being fatal. Zhang’s family home was situated directly opposite the children’s hospital at which his mother and father worked. His childhood was consequently lived in close proximity to a place of remedy for his ailments as well as the physical suffering and death of others. Zhang’s close friend and fellow member of the Pond Association, Geng Jianyi was a long-term sufferer from hepatitis A, another common disease in late-twentieth-century China. Geng died of cancer related to his hepatitis in 2017. The details of childbirth, childhood illness, and associated bodily and psychological trauma were often a topic of conversation between Zhang’s parents over the family dinner table. Zhang’s father would sometimes bring human organs home to study. As a child, for want of the availability of professional care, Zhang played at his parents’ workplace, regularly coming face-to-face with corpses and body parts. When reluctant to stop play and go to sleep, Zhang was threatened by his father that, if he did not, he would fall sick and die, his body would then be dismembered at autopsy and its parts placed in specimen jars.3 Doubtless, this grim threat was issued out of parental love and concern. However, for Zhang, faced continually with the corporeal realities of hospital life and the trauma of his own life-threatening illness, it must have been profoundly unsettling. Zhang is one of two male siblings. At high school Zhang and his brother were taught by a teacher known affectionately as ‘Carpenter Cui’, who instilled in both a desire to pursue artistic vocations, Zhang as a painter and his brother as a musician. Cui, a highly cultured man who had been trained in the techniques of Western fine art and classical music, was sent down to the countryside at the height of the Cultural Revolution for political re-education. After returning, life during the later years of the Cultural Revolution proved unbearable for Cui; he would eventually commit suicide by ingesting mercury.4 Following his graduation from high school, Zhang worked at his father’s hospital for six months as a medical illustrator. After which, he enrolled as a student in the oil painting department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. Zhang’s initial

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training in visual representation thus took place between its uses as a means of subjective artistic expression and objective scientific recording.5 Zhang’s early training in these different uses of visual representation and childhood exposure to traumatic illness can be understood to have informed his subsequent thinking and practice as an artist. After graduating from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Zhang rose quickly to prominence within the localized artworld of the PRC. Paintings produced by Zhang and fellow graduate of the Zhejiang Academy, Geng Jianyi were included in the critic and art historian Gao Minglu’s identification of the genre known as Rational Painting. Gao’s identification of Rational Painting encompasses artworks produced in different locations within the PRC during the mid-1980s connected by the use of formally simplified figurative styles connoting cool nonexpressive detachment. Principal exponents of Rational Painting discussed by Gao alongside Zhang and Geng include leading members of the Northern Art Group, Wang Guangyi and Shu Qun who were based in the city of Harbin in northern China. Although Zhang would later become acquainted with members of the Northern Art Group, the production of so-called Rational Painting in Hangzhou and Harbin during the mid-1980s took place independently at a time when movement within the PRC was severely restricted. Rational Painting can be interpreted as a critical response to the genres of Rural Realism and Melancholy Youth Painting at the leading edge of officiallysanctioned Chinese socialist realism during the early 1980s. Both genres involve representations of recognizable individuals (rather than revolutionary types) in rural settings using hyper-realist figurative styles connoting feelings of human warmth and sympathy commensurate with the wave of Humanist Enthusiasm that had begun to emerge within the PRC after the death of Mao. As Shu describes it, Rational Painting contrasts with Rural Realism and Melancholy Youth Painting by presenting ‘a rigid and mechanical ordering of form that is neither organic nor vivid’ and that consequently signifies ‘coldness and even a bit of antipathy’.6 Wang and Shu’s contribution to Rational Painting saw the production of paintings that draw conspicuously on European Surrealism. Shu’s paintings of the 1980s, for example, include direct quotations of works by Salvador Dalí both stylistically and in terms of their subject matter. As previously discussed, the work of the Northern Art Group was accompanied by an elaborate transcultural interweaving of differing theoretical and philosophical positions, including Nietzschean non-rationalism, Hegelian dialectics and the Confucian conception of da. That interweaving took place in support of what leading members of the

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group saw as an overcoming of the historical antithesis between Eastern and Western cultures by a ‘cold’ Northern culture synthetic of both, of which they considered themselves to be the leading exponents. The subject matter of Zhang and Geng’s contribution to Rational Painting is, by contrast with that of Shu and Wang, firmly grounded in quotidian urban experience. Zhang’s painting Mid-Summer Swimmers (Figure 1), for example, depicts an everyday scene at a public swimming pool during the height of summer and Geng’s ’85 Another Shaved Head of Summer (’85 ling yige gua hizi de xiatian tou) (1986), shows a man having his head shaved at a barber shop. Moreover, the formally simplified non-expressive style of Zhang and Geng’s paintings is used not as a means of connoting vaulting transcendence but instead alienation or ennui felt in direct existential relation to the materially divisive impact that Reform and Opening-up had begun, even by then, to have on Chinese urban society.7 Other paintings by Zhang associated with Rational Painting include a series of representations of surgical gloves with the shared title X? (1986–87), and a highly detailed depiction of a saxophone titled, No Jazz Tonight (Jin wan meiyou

Figure 1 Mid-Summer Swimmers (Zhongxia de yongzhe) (1985). Painting, oil on canvas 185×185cm. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

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jueshiyue) (1987). In the case of the former, there are distinct connotations of dislocation redolent of paintings by the Surrealist René Magritte that situate the images concerned uncertainly somewhere between deadpan objectivity and a registering of the uncanny – a bifurcation of significance reflective of Zhang’s early training both as an artist and medical illustrator. The intentions of Zhang and Geng in producing such paintings were far less elaborately theorized than those of Wang and Shu. In a contemporaneous statement, Zhang asserts that the principal aim in producing artworks associated with Rational Painting was to bring to an end the misuse of painting as a means of illustrating grand historical narratives by focusing instead ‘on personal experience and specific things’, and, in doing so, to preserve the ‘purity and dignity’ of art.8 Though not stated explicitly, the clearly intended target of Zhang’s criticism is the established genre of Soviet-influenced socialist realism within the PRC. Zhang and Geng’s critical demurral from grand historical socialist realist narrative painting is open to interpretation as to some extent resonant with Courbet’s similarly down-to-earth secession from academic classicism. Rational Painting can thus be understood to encompass stylistically similar artworks that are otherwise distinct both in their subject matter and accompanying theoretical outlooks. Rational Painting should not, therefore, be seen as a practically or intellectually coherent movement but, as the artist, Wang Guangyi has acknowledged, an interpretative abstraction constructed by Gao in the service of art-historical narration.9 Accompanying Zhang and Geng’s resistance to grand narrative history painting is a stated discontent on the part of both with ‘hermeneutic philosophy’ – that is to say, official artwriting on socialist realism supportive of CCP ideology – a surplus of which within the PRC during the 1980s, they argued, was symptomatic of a heightened antagonism between individualism and collectivism ushered in by the renewal of humanism after the Maoist revolutionary period. Zhang and Geng objected to hermeneutic philosophy on the grounds that it stymied a direct public engagement with art, adding that they wished to ‘break down the barriers of language and advocate an indistinct form’.10 In adopting this position, Zhang and Geng can be understood to echo the pure model of artistic production developed during the Cultural Revolution as a replacement for bureaucratic state administration of the arts within the PRC – an interpretation that finds support in Zhang’s stated rejection of all artistic principles as a way of locating himself ‘within a relatively free state’.11 The critic Huang Zhuan’s has described Geng and Zhang’s resistance to hermeneutic philosophy as ‘unclassifiable’.12 In offering that description, Huang

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contrasts Zhang and Geng’s position with what he sees as the determinate rationalist-dialectical ‘conceptualism’ of socialist realism within the PRC as well as the remnants of that conceptualism espoused by early exponents of contemporary Chinese art13 – for example, in relation to the upholding of an existentialist distinction between good and bad faith as the basis for a progressive socially oriented art, and the Northern Art Group’s projection of a transcendent Northern culture. Zhang and Geng’s repudiation of grand narrative history painting and of hermeneutic philosophy can be interpreted as indicative of a desire to eschew all readily intelligible meaning. While Zhang and Geng’s repudiation of grand narrative history painting and hermeneutic philosophy are certainly radical with regard to the established precepts of Chinese socialist realism, it is important to note, however, that their overall position nevertheless remained more or less acceptable under prevailing ideological conditions within the PRC during the 1980s. Not only could Zhang and Geng’s contribution to Rational Painting be interpreted as consonant, to some extent at least, with CCP directives handed down at the beginning of the 1980s calling for an art representative of individuals rather than revolutionary types, their proposing of a pure and dignified art open to direct public engagement was effectively still in accord with overarching CCP directives requiring the production of an art reflective of the view of the masses in place since 1949. This is not to deny the critical edge presented by Zhang and Geng’s repudiation of grand narrative history painting and hermeneutic philosophy. Rather, it is to acknowledge an indeterminacy of positioning that enabled Zhang and Geng to pursue a critical engagement with established cultural and political authority while, at the same time, deflecting its suppressive attentions – a positioning that, as will be shown later, has continued to inform Zhang’s artistic thinking and practice consistently ever since. The Pond Association was formed in Hangzhou during the Spring of 1985. Its six members included five recent graduates from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts: Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi, Song Ling, Wang Qiang and Bao Jianfei – the group’s sole female member – and an autodidact writer and artist Cao Xuelei, who was otherwise employed as a railway worker. The five graduate members of the Pond Association had previously belonged to a larger group known as the Zhejiang Youth Creation Group (Zhejiang qingnian chuangzuo she) that coalesced briefly under Zhang’s leadership to organize an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art titled ‘1985 New Space’ (Bawu xin kongjian 1985). ‘1985 New Space’ opened in Hangzhou in December 1985. Included among its exhibits was an installation by Wang Qiang titled, The Start of the Second

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Movement of the 5th Symphony (Di wu jiaoxiangyue di’er yuezhang kaitou de rouban) (1985), one of the first such works to be produced and exhibited publicly within the PRC. Wang’s installation, which was made up of the relics of an earlier performance by the artist titled After Hours Artist (1985), consisted of a large rectangular glass vitrine containing a series of suspended plaster covered conductor’s batons flanking an upstanding two-piece Western-style morning suit doused in plaster of Paris metonymically representing the presence of a conductor. ‘1985 New Space’ had a significant impact on the development of contemporary Chinese art during the latter part of the 1980s as a result of the dissemination of information about its staging at conferences and in art magazines within the PRC.14 The form of Wang’s installation may have drawn on the example of work by Joseph Beuys, information about which had by then begun to circulate within the PRC.15 After the staging of ‘1985 New Space’, Zhang, Geng, Song, Wang and Bao decided to establish a new, smaller group that they hoped would support them in the making and exhibiting of art outside the established political-cultural system within the PRC. This new group, known as the Pond Association, was a loosely knit collective whose members continued to produce artworks independently. A great deal of the Pond Association’s time together was taken up by discussion of art and the watching of movies on video. A favourite was The Day of the Jackal (1973) a cinematic reworking of Frederick Forsyth’s novel of the same title directed by Fred Zinnemann, which the group suspected to be a documentary of some sort. Working collaboratively, members of the group nevertheless produced three significant artworks between June and November 1986 that can be considered as both technically innovative and critically significant in the context of the PRC during the mid-1980s. The first of these chronologically is a site-specific work, titled, No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series (Figure 2a,b), which was posted on a wall opposite the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts on Nanshan Road in Hangzhou on 3 June 1986. The second is a performance, often referred to as Wrapping Up–King and Queen (Baoza-guowang yu huanghou), in which Zhang Peili and Geng Jianyi posed as living sculptures wrapped from head to foot in newspaper tied together with string at a private event staged in Luoyang, Henan Province, on 2 November 1986. The third is another site-specific work titled, No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space (Figure 3a,b), which was suspended from trees in a wooded space known as Wan song lin near Hangzhou’s West Lake on 4 November 1986. At the time, only a very few installations by local Chinese artists had been exhibited publicly

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Figure 2 No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series (Zuopin yi hao–Yang shi taiji xilie) (1986). Site-specific installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of Song Ling.

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Figure 3 No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space (Zuopin er hao–Lüse kongjian zhong de xingzhe) (1986). Site-specific installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of Song Ling.

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within the PRC. The Pond Association’s use of outside urban and natural space is almost certainly ground-breaking in this regard. Indicative of the Pond Association’s intentions in producing these works is a declaration distributed privately by the group within the PRC in 1986. Declaration of the Pond Association Art is a ‘pond’, we rely on carbohydrates to live. It’s not because we want to be like this. It’s just that we rely on carbohydrates… We are eager to purify our minds properly. Our thoughts are flowing and vague. Have you ever experienced a rational impulse? The moment of immersion is intoxicating. The moment of resurfacing is a kind of ‘enlightenment’. The result is not so important; however, the seeds are sprouting.

The group’s declaration is gnomic in its poetical use of metaphor and rhetorical questioning. Any definitive interpretation must, therefore, be doubted. It is nevertheless possible to read from it in triangulation with other statements by Zhang and Geng four interrelated lines of thought. The first is that artists act in response to the demands of their discipline rather than subjective desires or wants; the opening assertion that ‘Art is a pond’ and that ‘we rely on carbohydrates’ indicates, through metaphorical juxtaposition, a specific artistic ecology or environment subsuming and directing the behaviours of its inhabitants. The second is a stated desire for purity of thought juxtaposed with an assertion of conceptual fluidity and vagueness. This juxtaposition suggests that purity of thought is to be found not in rational cognition but in non-rational feeling. The first sentence of the fourth line of the declaration is a rhetorical question indicating that rational impulses are illusory. As such, it implies a distinction between considered rationality and impulse as a strong and sudden unreflective urge to act. The second sentence of the fourth line returns to the metaphor of the pond as a signifier of the particular immersive ecology of art. It suggests by association with the preceding question that non-rationality is coextensive with aesthetic experience, immersive and intoxicating in its effects, and conducive to a relinquishing of/liberation from rationalist control. The fifth line of the declaration reinforces such a reading by proposing that ‘resurfacing’ from the conceptual indeterminacy of aesthetic experience brings about enlightenment – that is to say, liberation from the constraints of illusory desiring rationality. The final line of the declaration extends the previous use of natural metaphor in a manner consistent with the idea of art as a locus of

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non-rational immersion and enlightenment. Here, process and open-ended development are emphasized over rational design and purpose. Interpretation of the Pond Association’s declaration as a statement of belief in the liberating outcomes of immersive non-cognitive aesthetic experience extends Zhang and Geng’s upholding of a ‘pure’ art resistant to hermeneutical interpretation. It also resonates – almost certainly unconsciously – with the transcendental outlooks of radical idealism and romanticism in Euro-American contexts. It is important to note that while Chi she has been widely translated into English as ‘the Pond Association’ (the now generally accepted Anglophone name of the group), the term chi more accurately signifies the idea of a pool. This second more usual meaning is suggestive of an association between the ideas of immersion and resurfacing signified by the group’s declaration and the kind of public swimming pool represented by Zhang’s painting Mid-Summer Swimmers. The declaration’s juxtaposition of the image of the pool with consumption of carbohydrates suggests, at the same time, a natural rather than artificial environment. Differing translations of chi as pool and pond are therefore made viable. The Pond Association’s declaration can be interpreted further in relation to the non-rationalism of poststructuralist postmodernism. Zhang and Geng’s attention to ‘personal experience and specific things’ alongside the Pond Association’s upholding of the liberating potential of immersive non-rationalist aesthetic experience resonates with poststructuralist postmodernism’s deconstruction of modernist master narratives as well as Greenbergian high-modernist assumptions of art’s necessary self-reflexive specialization. Resonances between the Pond Association’s declaration and Euro-American romanticism give credence to a further relationship between the former and the postmodern sublime. Definitive interpretation along these lines is resisted by Zhang and Geng’s insistently counter-hermeneutical outlook. When questioned, Zhang has consistently refused to either confirm or completely reject any interpretive position that might be upheld as a definitive insight into the significances of his work and that of the Pond Association.16 Geng was equally evasive.17 An authorized retrospective catalogue of Geng’s work produced towards the end of his life, excludes, at the artist’s insistence, any interpretive text.18 It is nevertheless impossible to deny outright resonances between the position adopted by the Pond Association in their declaration and that of poststructuralist postmodernism. While Zhang and Geng’s desire to uphold the purity of art is paradoxical in this regard, theirs is nevertheless a position which, like poststructuralist postmodernism, upholds the critical value of conceptual indeterminacy. Zhang and Geng’s work and that of the Pond Association during the 1980s can thus

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be situated in a certain alignment with the contemporaneous dominance of poststructuralist postmodernism within the international artworld. The Pond Association’s projection of art as a locus of liberating non-rationalist aesthetic experience is also highly redolent of two aspects of traditional Chinese cultural thought and practice: a Daoist upholding of non-rationality as a basis for cosmic as well as temporal reciprocity and a Chan Buddhist belief that freedom from human suffering can be achieved through non-desiring meditative states. The former resonating with the Pond Association’s valorizing of non-rationality over rationality in their declaration as well as Zhang and Geng’s associated refusal of a rationalist separation between art and life, and the latter, assertions in the Pond Association’s declaration of the enlightening potential of an immersive aesthetic experience. This Daoist/Buddhist oriented reading is supported by similarities of form and content between the Pond Association’s declaration and the allusive/ metaphorical style characteristic of kõans: stories, dialogues, questions or statements without rational solution, used traditionally by Chan and Zen Buddhist teachers as a means of demonstrating the limitations of cognitive rationality and thereby of engendering non-desiring meditative states towards the achievement of enlightenment. Consider, for example, the following kõan included in the classic text of Chan Buddhism, The Gateless Gate (Wumenguan), a collection of forty-eight kõans and commentaries published by the Chinese monk Wumen in 1228: Words cannot describe everything. The heart’s message cannot be delivered in words. If one receives words literally, he will be lost. If he tries to explain with words, he will not attain enlightenment in this life.19

While there is no substantive evidence that the Pond Association intentionally appropriated/translated the form of this or any other Buddhist kõan in intracultural relation to the writing of their declaration, resonant similarities, both in terms of style and content, are nevertheless evident. In both the kõan cited above and the Pond Association’s declaration there are doubts expressed with regard to the operative extent of rationality combined with an upholding of non-rationality as a means of gaining enlightenment couched in concisely poetical elusive/allusive terms. Kõans are not, as is sometimes assumed, texts ultimately of empty significance opening on to an enlightened consciousness equally devoid of categorical

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meanings. Instead, they have been used traditionally as a focus for reflection and commentary on unresolvable paradoxes that are in principle endlessly polysemic. The significance of kõans is shown through the free play of reflection and commentary not to reside in their texts alone but in a dynamic and illimitable interaction between readers and texts. To be enlightened is thus to enter into a state of always incomplete cognitive and affective resonance constantly replete with potential meaning but without any definitively cognizable ends or objects of desire. In light of its similarity to the form and content of kõans, the Pond Association’s declaration may be seen as resonant with this illimitably polysemic state rather than as indicative of a nihilistic desire for the destruction of all meaning (within the PRC the term ‘nihilism’ (xuwu zhuyi) is used by the CCP to identify deviations from established party ideology). All of which is commensurate with the Pond Association’s reported desire to create a style redolent of China’s historical Southern School of Chan Buddhism.20 Further similarities of form and content are discernible between the Pond Association’s declaration and the Shanghai-based Storm Society’s manifesto of half a century earlier. Consider, for example, the following extract from the latter. The Storm Society Manifesto The air around us is too still, as mediocrity and vulgarity continue to envelop us. Countless morons are writhing around, and countless shallow minds are crying out. Where are the creative talents of the past? Where are the glories of our history? Impotence and sickness are what prevail throughout the entire artistic community today. No longer can we remain content in such a compromised environment. No longer can we allow it to breath feebly until it dies. Let us rise up! With our raging passion and iron intellect, we will create a world interwoven with colour, line and form! We acknowledge that painting is by no means an imitation of nature, nor a rigid replication of the human body. With our entire being, we will represent, unconcealed, our bold and daring spirit.21

The Storm Society’s manifesto is not only similar in its poetical structuring to the Pond Association’s declaration; both also share assertions of the capacity of aesthetic experience to transcend prevailing circumstances. There is, in addition, in the Storm Society’s manifesto a refusal of mimetic realism resonant with Zhang and Geng’s repudiation of grand narrative history painting. Although there is no substantive evidence that the Pond Association intentionally sought

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to echo the form and content of the Storm Society’s manifesto – it is highly unlikely that any of the group’s members would have had access to information about the long-since officially denounced Storm Society under the political conditions prevalent within the PRC during the 1980s – evident similarities of style and content between the two nevertheless indicate the persistence of a certain localized artistic-critical habitus. No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series comprised a series of stylized figures cut out from newspapers glued together in sheets three metres high by two metres wide that were then posted onto a three-metre-high brick wall near to the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou. Each of the figures represented a pose used as part the traditional martial art known as tai-chi, which is based on Daoist principles of bodily reciprocity with nature and widely practiced as a collective form of therapeutic exercise within China, usually in the very early morning. Each of the figures was inscribed in Mandarin Chinese with the title of the pose it represented. The work was prepared between 9.00 am and 6.00 pm on 2 June 1986 in the gymnasium of a middle school in Hangzhou and placed in situ the following day at around 2.00 am. The members of the Pond Association involved in the preparation and installation of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series were Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi, Wang Qiang and Song Ling. In an interview conducted some two decades later, Zhang describes No. 1– Yang Style Tai Chi Series in terms consonant with contemporaneous statements by himself and Geng with regard to the idea of indistinct form. We tried to merge an artwork into the public environment … to make an artwork in public surroundings that would have a direct relationship to public life. We wanted to reflect an attitude that emphasized the relationship between art and non-art; in other words, a deviation from art or an experience that couldn’t be defined simply as art. It was also intended as a signal to the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, or, at least, one that would attract the attention of the students. That piece was totally open. We chose to make No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series because every morning a group of people met to practice tai chi on the street opposite the academy. By sticking the cut-outs on the wall, we were looking to create an incident. The people who practiced tai chi on the street where the work was staged realized that something uncertain had happened. Some may have thought that it had something to do with them, while others may have thought that it didn’t. It all depends on people’s individual attitudes.22

Here, Zhang highlights the openness of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series to differing interpretive perspectives as a work intentionally situated to draw the attention of an academic as well as a wider public audience: the former primed

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to receive the work potentially as art and the latter, as will be discussed later, as a form of street propaganda. Although not discussed by Zhang, the intervention into public space carried out by No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series is resonant with similarly conceived Letterist and Situationist attempts to détourne (divert) urban spectacle as a means of revealing the pervasive falsity of capitalist ideology,23 and by extension the deconstructive outlook of Euro-American poststructuralist postmodernism more generally. This resonance is, however, only partial. It is unclear to what extent the Pond Association consciously appropriated/translated specific examples of Euro-American site-specific and interventionist art, even though by then information about such works was in circulation within the PRC through domestically published magazines and journals and the importation of international artworld publications. Moreover, in the context of the PRC during the mid-1980s, the intervention into public space made by the posting of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series did not take place in relation to developed capitalist spectacle – Reform and Opening-up was still in its infancy – but more tellingly in the context of memories of the street actions carried out by Red Guards and others during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. As Wang Qiang indicates, the Pond Association’s posting of cut-out paper figures has strong technical affinities with the use of big character posters (dazibao) and large-scale public murals as ways of communicating public information and propaganda within the PRC during the Cultural Revolution. Yes, the goal was similar. The building of cultural value has continuity. My generation experienced the Cultural Revolution, seeing or experiencing something that Western artists haven’t experienced, which made us want to continue to bring art and life more closely together. During the Cultural Revolution, the official policy on art was to immerse oneself into life and to represent life. … The work of the Pond Association continued the state of being involved or immersed in life that came with the Cultural Revolution. Seen from this point of view, the work of the Pond Association was a continuation of the Cultural Revolution. As an artist, I think putting up posters or handing out leaflets during the Cultural Revolution was quite artistic, just like performance art. A lot of conventional art forms were destroyed or suspended during the Cultural Revolution and replaced by these more public ways of working.24

However, as Wang also indicates, the Pond Association did not make an entirely conscious connection of this sort when putting together and installing No. 1– Yang Style Tai Chi Series.

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As for the work of the Pond Association, that was produced somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness. My mates and I all experienced the Cultural Revolution, so the art produced during the Cultural Revolution had some influence on us. Actually, we didn’t think that much at that time. The Pond Association might have been unconsciously influenced by the Cultural Revolution because the end of the Cultural Revolution and the founding of the Pond Association were very close.25

In retrospectively identifying the Pond Association’s conscious/unconscious engagement with the Cultural Revolution, Wang also seeks to make a qualified distinction between the work of the group and technically similar works by the Euro-American avant-gardes. The Western avant-garde’s attempt to bring art and life more closely together was a self-conscious one, while the bringing of art and life together as part of the Cultural Revolution took place unconsciously, as part of China’s national reformation. This is different from the West. The Cultural Revolution was primarily a political movement. We might think life and art were merged during the Cultural Revolution from our current point of view, but the starting point of the Cultural Revolution was not to demonstrate that art was life, or that life was art. As an artist, we might think there’s an artistic side to the Cultural Revolution, but ordinary people wouldn’t see it like that. Though Western avant-garde art may appear to be similar in its aims to that of the Cultural Revolution, their backgrounds are different. … As an artist, I don’t want to comment too much on the Cultural Revolution. I often say to my students: ‘politicians are there to solve problems.’ As artists, we are very sensitive to our surroundings. We may raise a lot of questions, but not comment practically on what should be done, or what shouldn’t be done. It seems to me that, by comparison, Western artists are quite idealistic. In China, a lot of things are handed down by the Party. There’s just no way to refuse. People are expected to have a sense of being part of a collective. It seems tomorrow has nothing to do with each individual.26

Wang’s comments are indicative of a complex relational field in which different Euro-American and Chinese interpretative viewpoints are possible, but in which each continually problematizes the settled standing of the other. While No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series may be interpreted as technically similar both to Euro-American defamiliarizing artworks and dazibao/large-scale murals used as vehicles for political propaganda during the Cultural Revolution, as Wang indicates, reception of the work definitively along one or other of those different cultural lines of sight remains subject to the effects of cultural parallax. The significance of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series can thus be understood to shuttle

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inconclusively between perceptions of its standing as both a poststructuralist postmodernist work of art and a localized propagandist intervention. It is consequently open to interpretation simultaneously as both of those things and definitively as neither. This indeterminacy of significance is amplified by reports of an indifference on the part of the public to the installation of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series. As Song Ling admits, Actually, I don’t think we had any response from ordinary people. Maybe ordinary people didn’t even notice it. We had a response from the college. After dinner, they went for a walk and they passed by saying: ‘Oh, what’s that?’ First, they probably thought it’s a kind of tai chi instruction. But they also thought it might not be, because it’s so big. The main response was from the college, the students and the teachers.27

The construction of art as a sociocultural category and of an artworld audience competent (philosophically speaking) to recognize and interpret it as such should not be overlooked in this regard – as Duchamp’s ready-made Fountain shows us, the existence of the aesthetic as a given ontological category cannot be assumed. At the time of the making and installation of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series, audience competency within the PRC with regard to the recognition and interpretation of Euro-American postmodernist art was severely limited (in reverse relationship to an abiding ignorance about Chinese art within EuroAmerican contexts). While artists, art historians and critics within the PRC had by then assimilated thinking and practice associated with Euro-American postmodernist art to varying degrees, the wider public was for the most part either wholly disinterested or largely oblivious to that art and its significances. From the point of view of the latter, No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series would, therefore, most likely have been received more closely in association with the use of big character posters and large-scale murals within the PRC during the Cultural Revolution. The partial conformity of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series to the recognized conventions of big character posters and large-scale murals during the Cultural Revolution and a lack of general public familiarity with Euro-American postmodernist art rendered the significance of the work from the point of view of a non-specialist audience highly uncertain, and perhaps even unintelligible. From that point of view, reception of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series definitively either as a work of art or as propagandist intervention was almost certainly constantly derailed in the imagination. Song’s comments suggest that the response from

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the Hangzhou Academy, who were at that time more versed in the conventions of socialist realism than in those of poststructuralist postmodernism, was also far from being clear-sighted. It therefore becomes necessary to acknowledge slippages between the intentions of the Pond Association reconstructed by its members in tranquillity some two decades later and the highly uncertain reception of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series at the time of its making and installation. A comment by Song confirming Wang’s assertion that the group ‘didn’t think much at that time’, is, perhaps, telling in this regard. Well, we just wanted to do something new. Now, a lot of people think our work has a lot of meanings, but actually we were quite simple. We wanted to do something different, to give art back to ordinary people. We wanted to do something to shock the college – ‘Ha! Who did this?’28

While, it is possible to project sophisticated intentions and significances retrospectively onto No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series with post facto in-depth knowledge of the differing international and localized contexts of its production, the immediate less-well-sighted motivations for making and installing the work were almost certainly far cruder. The significance of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series consequently emerges as indeterminate both in relation to the spatial effects of cultural parallax – synchronic differences between Euro-American and Chinese cultural viewpoints – and to the construction of its meaning as a deferred action – a diachronic shift from a partially towards a more fully ‘competent’ understanding of the work with regard to the initial trauma of its public showing. In both cases, any definitive interpretation is withheld. A reading unlikely to be challenged by Zhang or Geng. No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series attracted scholarly and artworld attention outside Hangzhou. As Zhang recalls, There were some comments on the work of the Pond Association published at the time, including some in the magazines Art (Meishu zazhi) and Art Trends (Meishu sichao) that impressed me deeply. They were about No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series and they approved of the blending of art into society that was expressed by that work. It was an important trend and many other artists didn’t notice or realize it. Actually, it started with an open letter from a professor, Zhu Qingsheng, at the art college in Peking University, who later went to Germany. At that time, I mailed him some materials relating to the No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series and he wrote back to me. He then published our exchange of letters openly in Art (Zhu 1986). The open letter was called ‘Return Art to the People,’

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(Ba yishu huang gei renmin) which seemed like a political statement but actually didn’t reflect the attitude of the government.29

Here Zhang indicates a recognition of the Pond Association’s attempt in staging No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series to close down the gap between art and society. As he also suggests, while that attempt was not intended to coincide with established CCP orthodoxy, it could be perceived as doing so. A perhaps less complexly multivalent relational field can be understood to have operated in respect of the Pond Association’s No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space. This second installation by the Pond Association consisted of another series of large-scale paper cut-outs, this time representing walking or jogging human figures strung up in depth in a woodland away from immediate public view. As Song describes it, the group’s second installation was intended as an engagement with three-dimensional space in contrast to the two-dimensional frieze-like format of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series. I think we just wanted something different because the one on the wall only had two dimensions. But when we hung the figures in the trees, it had real space. It’s a spatially different form of art. … Yes. At that time, we got really interested in real space. We took a lot of photographs, we used lights – very interesting, very happy. Actually, no one saw the artwork hanging in the trees. We just took photographs of it.30

As Song also indicates, No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space was at the time of its making primarily a technical experiment in developing a new artistic language divergent from the established conventions of socialist realist painting. We were trying to develop a new language. That’s why we wanted to do environment art. We wanted to bring art into the environment. We never did it before. We didn’t know how it would work.31

Because of its relatively secluded location, No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space was not, as No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series had been, readily accessible to a passing public audience. As Song recalls, others outside the Pond Association were invited to see it, including, perhaps, students from the Zhejiang Academy, but only in limited numbers. We actually did bring some people to see it. I think we still had some sort of conversation with people. At that time, we called upon a group of people and let them walk around. I can’t remember – students – perhaps art students? I’m not sure. I think it was students – actually only four or five. It was a kind of beginning of installation in China.32

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The making and public installation of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series and No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space may be interpreted as attempts to develop new artistic languages within the context of the PRC during the mid-1980s and to confirm the legitimacy of those languages by building wider audiences for their reception. Because of the perhaps embarrassing failure of No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series to engage meaningfully with the public, the initial viewing of No. 2– Strollers in the Green Space was limited to a specialist audience only. Success in building an audience for the work may have seemed more feasible under those restricted circumstances. In spite of restrictions placed on its initial viewing, the significance of No. 2– Strollers in the Green Space also remains open to the effects of cultural parallax. Like No. 1–Yang Style Tai Chi Series, it is possible to interpret No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space from the point of view of poststructuralist postmodernism as deconstructive. At the same time, it is also possible to interpret the same work, in light of its installation in nature and the quasi-Buddhist/Daoist aesthetic vision projected by the Pond Association’s declaration, as a revisiting of the idea of qiyun shengdong (vital-energy resonance) supposedly characteristic of literati shan-shui hua and, moreover, of the moral-epistemological outlook traditionally ascribed to neo-Confucian aesthetics. The idea of vital-energy resonance coincides with that of ‘tracklessness’ expounded in chapter 27 of the Daodejing. In the Daodejing, tracklessness signifies the idea that perceptions of ‘reality’ are abstractions involving a dynamic and constantly unfolding reciprocity between subjectivity and objectivity (the limitless and the limited) consistent with yin-yang, where neither body nor mind are dominant, and that knowledge is, therefore, gained through indeterminate subjective/objective experience rather than objective observation and rational interpretation alone.33 A perceived relationship between tracklessness and qiyun shengdong is central to the syncretic neo-Confucian tradition. From a neoConfucian standpoint, resonant aesthetic experience is considered conditional upon ethical propriety – a relationship embodied by the literatus, whose achievement of artistic excellence is to be seen as indexical of a moral authority to govern the imperial Chinese state in harmonious accord with nature/heaven. The insertion into nature of No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space in particular and the Pond Association’s stated desire to achieve enlightenment through immersive non-rationalist aesthetic experience more generally can thus be interpreted as taking place in relation to an ethical imperative traditionally incumbent upon Chinese artists. When asked if this was a possible interpretation for the work, Song responded, ‘Yes. You could probably explain it in that way. Yes, it’s a sort of

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Chinese landscape painting. You put yourself into the painting; you are involved in it.’34 To which might be added an observation that the restricting of the initial viewing of No. 2–Strollers in the Green Space to a small specialist audience is resonant with the intimist circumstances of the yaji traditional to the reception of literati painting and poetry in China. Of further significance in this regard are conflicting reports of the Pond Association’s relationship to the authority of the CCP. The critic Hans van Dijk, who was present in Hangzhou during the mid-1980s, claimed that the Pond Association were engaged in direct confrontation with the Chinese government and its established institutions.35 There is, however, no substantive evidence that this was in fact the case. Van Dijk’s reporting is most likely an instance of international artworld hyperbole intended to establish the critical credentials of the Pond Association for western(ized) audiences in readily digestible postEnlightenment terms and to promote the author’s own standing as an aficionado of contemporary Chinese art. Zhang provides a less sensationalist account of the Pond Association’s relationship with CCP authority. He acknowledges that ‘maybe the declaration of the Pond Association was a little bit weird’ and that the authorities ‘seemed not to understand it’. He also reports that ‘the Hangzhou branch of the National Security Bureau (Guojia anquan ju) investigated the declaration and contacted art academies and art colleges to ask what the Pond Association was. Someone told me that they had investigated us and that we should be careful. I said that we had done nothing wrong or anything that was against the government.’36 Contrary to van Dijk’s assertion, the Pond Association did not choose to adopt an explicitly oppositional stance towards authority. None of the Pond Association’s members were approached directly by government authorities as a result of their activities. Open artistic opposition to the CCP, as Ai Weiwei’s story attests, invites suppressive intervention by the Chinese state. The Pond Association’s nonconfrontational stance can therefore be seen as an entirely pragmatic one in its relationship to the authority of the CCP that enabled the group to sustain a critical divergence from artistic and ideological orthodoxy in plain sight while evading political censure. This non-confrontational stance is commensurate with the critical obliqueness of literati culture. Both recognize the practicality and sustainability of an elusive critical relationship to authority in the context of authoritarian political systems that brook no direct opposition. A situation that contrasts with Euro-American and other liberal-democratic contexts where, by the mid-1980s, an oppositional resistance to power had become

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institutionalized and where such opposition ran relatively little risk of violent suppression. The activities of the Pond Association were never brought to a formal conclusion. The already loosely convened group simply drifted apart sometime after 1986. Zhang and Geng went on to enjoy successful careers as professional artists and teachers at the CAFA in Hangzhou. Geng received a prestigious ‘lifetime achievement award’ for his work as an artist at the 5th Awards of Art China in 2010. Wang Qiang has been less prominent as an artist within the PRC since the 1980s but has also pursued a successful career as a teacher at Hangzhou’s China National Academy. All of which testifies to the long-term efficacy of the critical stance adopted by the group. Song Ling emigrated to Australia in the late 1980s where he developed a career as an artist and a Chinese furniture importer. Song was, like Zhang and Geng, invited to contribute to the ‘China/Avant-garde’ exhibition in Beijing in 1989 but did not do so because of the demands of his relocation to Australia. Song maintained contact with Zhang and Geng and during the early 2000s began to re-establish an artistic career within the PRC. This resulted in a major survey exhibition of Song’s work at the Today Art Museum in Beijing in 2014, titled ‘Ghosts in the Mirror – Song Ling 1985–2013’.37 Information about Bao Jianfei, the Pond Association’s sole female member, is scant. Bao lost touch with other members of the group during the late 1980s after reportedly relocating to southwest China to pursue a career in real estate. After the effective dissolution of the Pond Association, Cao Xuelei continued to work on the railways around Hangzhou.38 Cao also lost touch with other members of the Pond Association. Contact between him and other members of the group was resumed in 2016. Following the Pond Association’s effective dissolution, Zhang and Geng continued to produce artworks obliquely critical of established society and culture. These include Zhang’s video work 30×30 (Figure 4), widely recognized as the first video artwork in China, which in its full unedited version shows Zhang repeatedly smashing and repairing a mirror for three hours (the duration of the Betamax tape used to record the video), and Document on ‘Hygiene’ No. 3 (Figure 5), a video installation which shows Zhang repeatedly washing a live cockerel for almost thirty minutes. The former has been interpreted as a response to the increased prevalence of mass media in the PRC during the 1980s; its ‘aesthetics of boredom’ mocking the use of television as a medium of popular infotainment and its establishment of a passive spectatorship.39 The latter is redolent of government public information films used to promote health and social order within the PRC. As such, it can be interpreted as a metaphor indicative

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Figure 4 30×30 (1988). Single-channel video (PAL), sound/colour 32’09”. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

Figure 5 Document on ‘Hygiene’ No.3 (Guanyu weisheng 3 hao de wenjian) (1991). Single-channel video (PAL), silent/colour 24’45”. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

of the disciplining intent of government propaganda – the effects of continued washing on the cockerel are clearly pacifying. It is also open to interpretation as marking a shift away from the disciplinarian collectivism of the time of Mao towards an increasingly pervasive spectacular and panoptical control within the PRC accompanying Reform and Opening-up (the Han-opticon). These are, however, by no means definitively contextualized readings. As Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell indicates, in seeking to interpret the implacable resistance of Zhang’s work to authority we should not fall into the Durkheimian error of upholding reflective relationships between text and context. While it is possible to interpret works such as Document on ‘Hygiene’ No. 3 in negative relation to dominant reform-era political discourses within the PRC, as Zhu-Nowell argues,

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their insistent open-ended polysemy can also be read as exceeding ‘conventional’ political perspectives.40 This is not to deny the former outright in favour of the latter – to do so would be to overlook the undeniably disciplining effects of discourse – but instead to acknowledge that any settled interpretation of Zhang’s work is constantly deferred with regard to its relative positioning to multiple and shifting spatio-temporal contexts, including in relation to its definition in terms of a specifically Chinese national cultural/political identity.41 In short, the significance of Zhang’s work is situated uncertainly somewhere between its reflection of constraining political circumstances and romantic notions of illimitability. Zhang’s use of video is consonant with similarly defamiliarizing artistic uses of the medium within Euro-American and westernized contexts since the 1960s that can also be understood to criticize the social impact of mass media – for example, artworks produced by James Coleman42 and Nam June Paik43. Zhang’s video artworks can be understood by association as deconstructive in their critical effects. Such a reading is most obviously applicable to a series of so-called ‘appropriation’ videos produced by Zhang during the early 2000s, including the artworks Actors’ Lines, Last Words and Happiness. In each of these video artworks, excerpts from revolutionary films produced within the PRC during the time of the Cultural Revolution – in the case of Actors’ Lines (Figure 6a and b), fragments of dialogue between two actors, in Last Words (Figure 7a–d), the final words spoken by characters before dying, and in Happiness (Figure 8a–d) audiences clapping and smiling enthusiastically in response to political speeches – are montaged into endless loops dislocated from the filmic narratives of which they were originally a part.

Figure 6 Actors’ Lines (Taici) (2002). Single-channel video (PAL), sound/colour, 6’21”. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

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Figure 7 Last Words (Zuihou dehau) (2003). Single-channel video (PAL), sound/ colour, 20’27”. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

The openness of this series of appropriation videos to interpretation in accordance with the deconstructivist outlook of poststructuralist postmodernism is confirmed by texts published in a catalogue accompanying a major retrospective of Zhang’s work staged at the Chicago Institute of Art in 2017 titled Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat. In the introduction to that catalogue, Actors’ Lines, Last Words and Happiness are described as deconstructive of cinematic tropes and their relationship to individual and collective memory as part of mass media and popular culture. What results from that deconstruction, it is observed, is either a heightening or an emptying of meaning and feeling dependant on generational viewpoint, whereby a ‘jarring contrast’ is revealed between the intended significances of the revolutionary films concerned and their reception in relation to changed circumstances of time and place. Zhang can thus be understood to question the disparity between ‘what is seen and the “constructed” scene of the film’.44

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Figure 8 Happiness (Xingfu) (2006). Two-channel video (PAL), sound/colour, 6’39”. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

In the same introduction, the deconstructive effects of Zhang’s appropriation videos are identified as extending beyond the textuality of cinematic constructions of meaning to the relationship of that textuality to power. Here, it is averred that the ‘sly subversions’ deployed by Zhang are ‘precisely about deconstructing the power relations that mediate between art, the everyday, and political and cultural expression’.45 Although not stated explicitly, clearly implied is a reading of Zhang’s work as a critical intervention specifically in the authority of the CCP during the time of the Cultural Revolution and beyond. As the author indicates, this reading of Zhang’s appropriation videos as loci of deconstructive action can be extended persuasively to the artist’s wider oeuvre. While such a reading is convincing in its attention to the relationship between the textuality of Zhang’s work and the sociopolitical contexts to which that textuality relates, it is by no means definitive on its own terms. When asked in a 2008 interview whether his work could be interpreted in accordance with various aspects of poststructuralist theory Zhang remained typically evasive, replying,

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I often think that the way in which my works have been interpreted has nothing to do with me. All interpretations, no matter what kinds of theories have been used, are reasonable. I don’t care how my works are interpreted. … When the works are interpreted from different perspectives by each individual, all these interpretations can be thought of as reasonable if they are based on the information provided by the works themselves.46

Here Zhang reminds us that interpretation of artworks while dependent upon an attention to their textuality (signifying form) is entirely subject to neither the authorial intentions of artists nor particular sociocultural perspectives. Zhang’s appropriation-translation of defamiliarization techniques associated with poststructuralist postmodernism within the localized sociocultural and political context of the PRC interrupts any straightforward alignment of those techniques simply with established poststructuralist postmodernist discourses. Earlier in the same interview, Zhang also comments, It appears that art has the capacity to communicate something. But actually, I don’t think I have expressed anything in particular. I don’t think language has a reconstructive function. I’m not sure what it is I’d like to express, and I’m not sure of the function of language either. My attitude toward language is highly ambiguous.47

When asked if he had a persistent sense of doubt about the critical significance of art, Zhang responded further, ‘I’m not even sure of the word “doubt” because doubt is indicative of a certain attitude.’ Later in the interview, Zhang comments once more on the theme of doubt by stating, in an apparent volte-face, I don’t believe in outright scepticism. If I did there’s nothing to be done. I think one can feel happiness even in damaged life circumstances. It’s human nature to pursue the illusion of a good life.48

Such comments suggest, if not a conscious alignment, then an unconscious tendency on the part of Zhang towards the pervasively unsettling implications of Derridean theory and practice, including against universalizing assumptions of the critical authority of deconstruction and by extension an abstract slide into outright relativism. A Gust of Wind (Figure 9) was produced and installed at the Boers-Li Gallery in 2008. The production of A Gust of Wind began with the construction of an elaborate set representing a well-furnished modern domestic interior containing plush sofas, well-stocked bookshelves, and a fish tank with large windows opening out onto garden foliage in life-size scale after the manner of those used

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Figure 9 A Gust of Wind (Zeng feng) (2008). Five-Channel/five-screen video projection (PAL), silent/colour, 13’14” with objects preserved from the film set destroyed during shooting, dimensions variable. © Boers-Li Gallery, Beijing. Courtesy of the artist and Boers-Li Gallery.

as part of commercial film and television programme production. Videos of the set were taken simultaneously from multiple viewpoints. The verisimilitude of the scene represented by the videos is striking. Initially, the interior appears to be actual rather than a set constructed specially for filming. The videos show the destruction of the interior by the ostensible impact upon it of a powerful gust of wind, perhaps as part of a typhoon or hurricane (the geographical location of the interior is not specified). The interior is thus revealed by degrees to be a set and the means of its destruction a special effect. The installation of A Gust of Wind

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comprised two related elements: a silent five-channel colour video (PAL) lasting 13’14” projecting the videos produced as part of the making of the work onto five screens brought together as a large curving cinematic panorama, and in front of that panorama various objects preserved from the set destroyed during the artwork’s filming. The installation occupied a large high-ceilinged hanger-like space at the Boers-Li Gallery within which viewers were free to move at will. Objects contained by the set destroyed during its making were scattered across the floor of the space in no obvious order. The ruined shell of the set, two of its walls still standing between remains of the set’s collapsed ceiling, occupied a spot-lit position in the centre of the space. The remainder of the space was darkened to heighten the contrast of the projected videos. The video was shown as a loop. Viewers were able to enter the space at any point during its projection. No contextualizing information about the making of the installation or its intended significance was provided within the exhibition space. Viewers were left to construct their own understanding of how the projected video related to the objects displayed. The absence of a soundtrack to the video heightened the visual impact and eventual revealing of the artificiality the work. Like Zhang’s earlier appropriation videos, it is possible to interpret A Gust of Wind in poststructuralist postmodernist terms. Its filmic representation of the apparent destruction of a domestic interior from multiple viewpoints and the juxtaposition of the resulting multi-channel video with the actual ruins of the interior set up what might be seen as a disjunctive interpretative feedback loop. While the initially convincing filmic representation of the interior is eventually revealed through its destruction as having been staged, the gallery installation of that representation takes place alongside actual objects which serve both as representatives of themselves and as indexes of the physical making of the work. This is in conjunction with the apparent objectivity of the video, whose several lines of sight suggest both panoptical surveillance (from multiple viewpoints) as well as the status of video as an indexical form of photographic representation (as a signifier with an existential as well as an iconic relationship to its referents) and, therefore, as a seemingly objective means of recording. Viewing of the work consequently shuttles between a remembered sense of the projected reality of the destroyed space as an actual domestic interior and what is revealed eventually as the patent artificiality of that projection. As Zhang himself comments, ‘In A Gust of Wind, the house was destroyed; the remains – both actual and on video – act as a focus for memory. Instinctively, human beings reconstruct the house to seek a good life.’ Although staged, the

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physical destruction of the set used during filming is also registered as real in and of itself through the indexical standing of the actual remnants of the production process. Thereby suspended is any clear distinction between what might be considered as objectively real or subjectively artificial, given that both are exposed as being in an indistinctly interactive relationship with regard to the production of A Gust of Wind. The openness of A Gust of Wind to this semiotic reading can be understood to resonate both with postmodernist artistic defamiliarization and Jean Baudrillard’s related assertion that reality is a simulacrum resulting from linguistic representation.49 A Gust of Wind can, therefore, be viewed as an extension of Zhang’s existing critical intervention on media representation as described in the book accompanying his 2017 Chicago Institute exhibition, with regard to which actual/represented destruction is revealed as deconstructive in its impact. It is also possible to extend the alignment of A Gust of Wind with poststructuralist postmodernism to Lyotard’s conception of the postmodern sublime. Here A Gust of Wind may be interpreted as a representation of the un-representable, in the sense that its reception involves a continual slippage between the work as an agglomeration of iconic/indexical signifiers (there is no soundtrack other than the ambient soundscape of the gallery space) and the overwhelming power (dynamic sublimity) of the reality signified by that agglomeration. As previously indicated, Zhang rejects such readings of his work as definitive. A Gust of Wind can be interpreted by association with other works by Zhang still further as an allegorical critique of governmental authority in the PRC and in particular contemporary neo-Confucian assertions of the desirability of social cohesion and stability in support of Reform and Opening-Up. Again, Zhang remains evasive, persistently deflecting such a reading,50 no doubt in part because of continuing restrictions on artistic criticism of governmental authority within the PRC. In light of statements by Zhang and the declaration issued by the Pond Association, A Gust of Wind may also be interpreted with respect to artistic thinking and practice traditional to China. A conspicuous resonance in this regard is between Zhang’s persistent assertions of uncertainty, including any clear distinction between reality and representation, and the kõan-like form and content of the Pond Association’s declaration. As previously discussed, Buddhism’s use of kõan’s as a focus for instruction towards enlightenment involves performative demonstrations of the uncertainty of cognition as a consequence of dynamic interaction between readers and texts. In relation to

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Zhang’s statements and the declaration of the Pond Association, A Gust of Wind may be interpreted as kõan-like in its particular demonstration of cognitive uncertainty in relation to contemporary media. Another identifiable resonance is between the scenario set up by A Gust of Wind – as a postulated sequence or development of events – and Daoist cosmology. In Daoist cosmology, resonances between opposites, as signified by the pairing yin-yang, are understood to involve cyclical movements away from and towards a harmonious reciprocity embodied by the Dao or way of nature – an understanding signified by the term fan. A Gust of Wind presents a metaphorically consonant scenario wherein an orderly domestic interior, significant of contemporary ideas of social harmony, is disrupted by an overwhelming (super)natural force. The public presentation of A Gust of Wind is not, however, narratively linear in this respect. Not only were viewers free to enter the video installation at any point, but the looping of the video sequences also complicated any clear sense of beginnings and endings. In short, A Gust of Wind can be understood as having engendered an aesthetic experience resonant with the supposedly cyclical and ineffable cosmic interaction between yin and yang. The orientation of which is ultimately metaphysical rather than deconstructive as Zhang himself attests in the following comments related to the staging of A Gust of Wind: I’ve always believed that people live in an illusion and that there is some kind of hidden force or ‘superpower’ behind this illusion. This superpower is not controlled by human beings and is not subject to perception. What we perceive or discover is not the superpower. … What I felt during the early stages of my development as an artist was that there is a kind of underlying force or power. Sudden changes or disasters, which have been caused either by nature or by human beings, made me realize that people live in an illusion, and this feeling has become stronger as my career as an artist has developed. All these beautiful and supposedly stable states are so fragile. They are just illusions. Changeable and destructive states are inevitable. They are the realities.51

In relation to Zhang’s particular life horizons, it is impossible not to make associations between these comments and the disastrous events of the PRC’s Maoist period, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. They might also be understood to reflect on consequent uncertainties with regard to projections of social stability and progress by the CCP in relation to Reform and Opening-up, not least in the aftermath of Tiananmen. The comments cited earlier frame a refusal by Zhang to address directly the political significances of his work. An instance of deferred action with regard to Zhang’s childhood

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exposure to the physical and psychological trauma of illness both personally and that of others giving rise to a personal/subjective bodily sense of precarity may well also be in play. A further identifiable resonance (there may be others) is between the evident sublimity of A Gust of Wind and the Confucian conception of da. Unlike the Kantian sublime, upon which Lyotard draws to frame his conception of the postmodern sublime, da posits a moral supplication to authority in the face of overwhelming vastness and/or power. To this extent, da may be seen as closer in outlook to the Burkian sublime, which unlike the Kantian sublime conceives of no moral overcoming of power as a consequence of a human ability to intuit the illimitable in spite of linguistic slippages between perception and cognitive understanding. Although A Gust of Wind may be interpreted convincingly as a manifestation of the postmodern sublime in relation to Zhang’s comments about the persistence of an awesome and ineffable ‘superpower’, it is also possible to view the work in distinctly Confucian terms. When asked if these particular readings are relevant to an understanding of his work, Zhang remained consistent in his scepticism, refusing definitive readings of his work from the point of view of either Western or Chinese intellectual standpoints or indeed any straightforward hybridizing of the two. I’m not a specialist in Chinese culture or philosophy. I’m not a specialist in Western culture and philosophy either. Comparatively, I think Chinese philosophy is more stable – not like western philosophy, which has evolved and changed radically over time. Also, Chinese philosophy emphasizes harmony and contentment. Though it seems Western philosophy and Chinese philosophy share certain similarities after postmodernism, Western philosophy still places far greater emphasis on logic, reasoning and analysis, whereas Chinese philosophy emphasizes feeling, experience and meditation. As a result, we have different views towards many things. … I haven’t thought consciously about my relationship to Chinese and Western cultures and philosophies, or how to find a connecting point between them. I sometimes try to avoid this question – whether I belong to Western or Chinese culture. I don’t think it’s necessary to draw a clear cultural boundary. … I think my works have both Western and Chinese elements. And I don’t like to be restricted purely as a Chinese and limited by my cultural characteristic. The best thing is to be natural and to be oneself. I think others have the right to judge my works from different cultural perspectives, but it’s not something I myself should think about too much.52

Here Zhang’s response maintains a characteristic motility with regard to matters of interpretation, rejecting any definitive intracultural or indeed transcultural

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reading of his work while denying the reasonable possibilities of none. There is, though, once more in Zhang’s comment that his thoughts and actions should remain natural and that he should not ponder too much on judgements of his work a discernible leaning towards a felt Daoist/Buddhist non-rationalist outlook. The resonance of the positions adopted by Zhang and the Pond Association with the felt non-rationalist outlooks of Buddhism and Daoism suggests an orientation towards the critical as well as moral-epistemological aspects of neoConfucianism. While Daoism and Buddhism have traditionally supported the continuity of syncretic neo-Confucianism, they have also provided an intellectual basis for a non-rationalist resistance to the latter’s rationalist authority. The indeterminacy of critical positioning adopted by Zhang and Geng and the Pond Association could be said to do much the same in relation to present-day neoConfucian-inflected authority within the PRC. Artworks by Zhang and Geng and the Pond Association do not oppose the authority of the CCP directly. They do, however, obliquely subvert CCP-supported cultural and political orthodoxy. That obliquely subversive approach has enabled Zhang and other members of the Pond Association to sustain productive and highly influential careers within the localized artworld of the PRC contributing to progressive cultural change. This contrasts with Ai Weiwei’s open opposition to the authority of the CCP, which has resulted in an effective commuting of his activities as a critical artist within the PRC. As such, it may be interpreted as a parole indexical of a more general critical langue prevailing within the PRC, with regard to which the work of Ai Weiwei is, in some respects at least, a conspicuous exception. None of this is, of course, acceptable from a western(ized) post-Enlightenment standpoint. The idea that a critical aesthetic might be fundamentally bound up with while still being resistant to authority is anathema in that context, including in relation to institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism and its residual upholding of a modernist sense of critical distancing. If, as poststructuralist postmodernism has also indicated, modernism’s assumption of critical distancing is in actuality fictive, then the reading of Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association presented here is not of an aberrant but perhaps eminently justifiable means of critical engagement with authority. One whose lessons can be extended beyond the particular circumstances of the PRC to act retroactively on the entirety of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. Opened up by that deferred action in relation to the trauma brought about by the intervention of deconstructivism on post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity and glossed over by institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism is the possibility of a dynamically critical – transhistorical and trans-/intra- cultural – rather than critically deadlocked contemporaneity.

Conclusion

Towards a critical contemporaneity The first three chapters of this book present a genealogical mapping of appropriations-translations and resonances between the artworlds of China and Euro-America. It has been shown that these appropriations-translations and resonances did not come about simply as a result of the colonialist-imperialist metastasizing of the latter in relation to the former – although the global spreading of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity has been and remains a significant factor both practically and ideologically – but instead through a process of mutually constitutive, albeit contesting, intersectionality. It has also been shown that these mutually formative appropriationstranslations and resonances have not resulted in straightforward transactions of thinking and practice between one artworld and the other. Without exception, they can be understood to involve refractions/diffractions of meaning and behaviour in relation to the effects of cultural parallax, both major and minor as well as particular and accumulative. Resulting from which are localized shifts in artistic thinking and practice that have only indirect resemblances to their appropriated-translated and resonant sources. This includes appropriationstranslations and resonances within as well as between the artworlds in question involving engagement with historical/traditional thinking and practice as instances of intracultural deferred action. Viewed in this light, it therefore becomes possible to interpret historical encounters/intersections between the western(ized) post-Enlightenment artworld and that of China in Derridean terms as indicative of the persistent actions of différance, whereby the differing identities and locally operative sovereignties of each are constituted in constant deferral to the other and where, consequently, each carries the mutable traces of, while never being made wholly identical with its counterpart or indeed intraculturally with itself. With respect to which it is possible to interpret the same relationship in terms of the traditional Chinese conception of yin-yang and the related conception of fan as a locus of persistent dynamic reciprocity.

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Although there is a discernible structural resonance between the nonrationalism of différance and yin-yang/fan, the two are by no means identical in their interpretative outlooks. While the former may be understood to suspend notions of absolute difference and totality, from the point of view of a Chinese neo-Confucian cultural habitus the latter also suspends absolute differences but towards a desired state of metaphysical reciprocity. The demonstrably imbricating but non-identical interrelationship between the western(ized) postEnlightenment artworld and that of China thus extends to its immediately related means of interpretation, which also resonantly differ from while deferring to one another. A propensity for choosing one interpretative perspective over the other, or indeed not doing so is, yet again, subject to the effects of discursive parallax. Essentializing differences between the western(ized) post-Enlightenment artworld and that of China have been raised, for example, in Gao’s culturally partial conception of Total Modernity, but are made problematic by the demonstrably indeterminate and shifting relations conditional on the constructions of both. Brought sous-rature as a consequence is any conception of aesthetic modernity straightforwardly on western(ized) post-Enlightenment or localized Chinese culturally essentializing terms. As western(ized) poststructuralist postmodernism has shown, the idea of a transformative and progressive aesthetical breaking with tradition cannot be sustained convincingly in light of the demonstrably deconstructive actions of différance; nor can western(ized) rationalist conceptions of agency, teleology and hermeneutic depth conventionally associated with that interpretive outlook. An attention to the mutually formative interrelationships between the western(ized) post-Enlightenment artworld and that of China gives further confirmation of such a view. Rendered problematic as a result, in addition to the idea of a progressive modernity, is any definitive sense, strictly speaking, of an alternative Chinese aesthetic modernity. This is not to say that the modern artworld of republican China does not constitute a significant transformational shift from that of imperial China, to suggest such a thing would be patently absurd. Instead it is to recognize that the former is marked, as a matter of deferred action, indelibly by durable if shifting traces of the latter as well as by its formative interrelationships with western(ized) aesthetic modernity, which renders Chinese aesthetic modernity, as Gao has argued, in a sense coterminous with a pre-modern Chinese conception of history as a sequence of unfolding ‘presents’. Also suspended as a consequence is any simple mapping of Chinese aesthetic modernity, such as it is, onto western(ized) conceptions of postmodernity, since contingent upon each are differing discursive and practical conditions as well as economic and sociopolitical developmental trajectories.

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The final chapter of this book brings the insights of the preceding three to bear on a focused case study of the work of the contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Peili and the Hangzhou-based art group, the Pond Association. Through that case study it has been shown that Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association is not only an outcome of durable historical interrelationships between the western(ized) post-Enlightenment artworld and the localized artworld of China but also as such draws its critical significances from an openness to interpretation from the differing, locally operative perspectives of each. Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association is technically commensurate with the critically defamiliarizing actions of the Euro-American avant-gardes and post-avant-gardes. This makes it possible to interpret Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association persuasively as a locus of deconstructive action. However, it is also possible to interpret Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association from the point of view of historically durable discourses whose traces are still locally operative within China, in particular, those of Chan Buddhism and Daoism historically inherent to a syncretic neo-Confucian aesthetics. In this regard, Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association are revealed as loci of insistent and illimitable polysemy. This does not amount to a relentlessly nihilistic repudiation of all meaning (a condition also mistakenly ascribed to deconstruction); rather, it is an insistence on the fecundity of signification as demonstrated by Buddhist and Daoist invocations of irresolvable paradox in resistant excess of supposed authority. A reading of this sort may, of course, be viewed as entirely commensurate with deconstructivist interpretations of différance. However, such a reading is made problematic with regard to statements by Zhang that can be interpreted as resonant, intentionally or otherwise, with Daoist and Buddhist metaphysics. Differing deconstructivist and Daoist/Buddhist interpretative perspectives on the critical significances of Zhang’s work and that of the Pond Association may be seen to coincide with one another structurally but ultimately diverge in their respective counter-metaphysical and metaphysical orientations. There is, therefore, an ineluctable slippage between the two that problematizes any straightforward mapping of one over/onto the other – a mutual (de-)positioning supported by Zhang’s unswerving resistance to any definitive hermeneutics. To this, we might add an observation of further resonances with Nietzsche’s in part Daoist/Buddhist-inflected advocacy of perspectivism and the possibility of eternal return. Such resonances are problematic to imperialistic assertions of both western(ized) and Chinese cultural outlooks. They also point beyond the critical impasse seemingly posed by contemporaneity towards a historically immanent and serially incomplete state of negative-productive transcultural reciprocity without identifiable origin or end.

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What then arises are further questions as to how the culturally and historically focused study presented here relates to and might impact on wider conceptions of artistic criticality as part of a now evident though, it might be argued, always already historically ambient contemporaneity obscured since the advent of post-Enlightenment modernity by the exclusory limits of Western colonialismimperialism. An initial response to which is that the particular observations of cultural resonance and of appropriation-translation showcased here will not be directly translatable onto other instances of transcultural interaction – not just between the West and its perceived others but internally within Western and non-Western cultures. The non-identical resonant relationship between Derridean différance and Daoist/Buddhist non-rationality alighted on as a crucial aspect of the present study does not apply to other cultural instances where differing discourses and practices prevail. This includes Japan where aesthetic modernity can be understood to have drawn on western(ized) thinking and practice as well as an extended historical relationship to Chinese aesthetics – for example, in relation to the Daoist-inflected aesthetic of Wabi-sabi1 – refractive of both. The study set out here while specific in its own terms is therefore of only generalizing application more widely. That having been said, a working through of the implications of the present study in relation to other contexts promises to open up an even more complex and differentiated understanding of artistic criticality and its relationship to the idea of aesthetic modernity. Crucial to which is a pragmatic relativist acceptance of the localized operative significances of cultural production without any single overarching set of principles. Such an acceptance is profoundly problematic to still internationally dominant western(ized) artistic discourses which, in spite of the intervention of poststructuralist postcolonialism and seemingly endless institutionalized protestations of difference, persist in upholding post-Enlightenment conceptions of critical distancing historically inimical to other cultures, including that of China. Rationalizing conceptions of synchronic opposition and diachronic disaffinity are, as has been demonstrated here, by no means universal as a basis for artistic criticality. This is not to argue that neo-Confucian notions of critical obliqueness and withdrawal should be accepted simply in place of those rationalizing conceptions. It is, though, to say that something of the latter can be shown to have impinged historically on the development of the former and as such remains, as a matter of trace-structure, a problematizing supplement. If a critical contemporaneity is to be developed then it is not in relation to abstract notions of difference, nor indeed simply différance, but a granular attention to differing modes of artistic criticality, some irretrievably distasteful from the point of view of post-Enlightenment discourses.

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Problematic in this regard is the circularity of post-Enlightenment conceptions of artistic criticality, which as has been shown, have continued to shuttle inconclusively between rationalist and non-rationalist outlooks as well as between related conceptions of the operative critical proximity or distancing of art from society and established tradition. It might be observed in this regard that postEnlightenment claims of art’s critical impact on society are by no means proven. Claims made for the social-critical function of art in relation to post-Enlightenment discourses have often been vaulting in their ambition. Presently, for example, aspects of the so-called ‘social turn’ are aligned explicitly – in resistance to the perceived prevarications of institutionalized postmodernism – with nothing less than an evental overthrowing of neo-liberal capitalism; an alignment that reprises and spectacularly amplifies the refusenik logic and revolutionary aims of earlier politicized modernist avant-gardes. Systematic research assessing the validity of such claims – both the precise nature and, crucially, verifiable impact of particular cases – is however largely absent from the academic record, being limited almost wholly to the fields of education and therapy.2 What proliferates instead is a vast and ever-growing body of scholarly and more popular artworld writing that seeks to assert the critical impact of art on society without the support of substantive evidence beyond that related to context and circumstance. This includes analysis of contemporary art implicated in the ‘social turn’ which, as Grant Kester3 has acknowledged, stands in need of ‘a new, transdisciplinary approach that moves beyond the traditions of existing art theory and criticism and opens out to other disciplines, including those which possess a more robust model of field research and a greater sensitivity to the complex function of social interaction at both the micro- and macro-political level’. In the absence of substantive evidence, it, therefore, becomes necessary to maintain significant doubts with regard to claims of art’s direct critical impact on society. Such doubts will undoubtedly be seen as lacking in political commitment given the continuing alignment of critical thinking and practice in the contemporary international artworld with progressive politics on the left. However, they also uphold the continuing possibility of criticality by addressing what is an undeniably conspicuous gap in the academic record between largely unsupported artworld opinion and probabilistic proof. That gap is arguably the product of continuing post-Enlightenment assumptions of critical distancing. While such assumptions remain foundational to post-Enlightenment discourses, including those upheld by institutionalized postmodernism, they also support what is in practice a continuing detachment of the western(ized) artworld from society and state. Although claims of art’s critical engagement with society are now commonplace,

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in practice the western(ized) artworld remains self-consciously aloof from the everyday workings of society including the quotidian practicalities of political governance. The vast majority of artistic criticism is consequently gestural and without readily quantifiable social impact. Even where artists do engage directly with communities, as in the case of art associated with Relational Aesthetics, any direct and measurable impact on the social fabric remains limited in scope and duration – the wider implications of which can only at present be guessed at. The western(ized) artworld nevertheless continues to assert its critical relevance as a matter of indubitable fact. This is not to dismiss outright the possibility that art does indeed have a critical impact on society. Rather, it is to recognize that any critical relationship between the two does not proceed through readily discernible chains of causes and effcects and that such a relationship may not, therefore, be automatically assumed. It is important to recognize in this that existing art-historical research and art theory has done much to elucidate the specialized workings of the western(ized) artworld – in particular, self-reflexive developments in sensibility, style and technique – alongside the impact of wider socioeconomic circumstances on artistic practice, such as changing technologies on visuality.4 As Kester suggests, still absent is a systematic study of art’s critical impact on society beyond the glib assumptions of the established western(ized) artworld. Whether such a systematic study can be mounted successfully remains very much open to question however, given the elusive and, as the present meditation has shown, culturally diversified and indeterminate status of the critically aesthetic. It may be observed in this regard that the meditation presented here resonates self-consciously somewhere (and nowhere) between the systematic and non-systematic. The meditation presented here is intended in part as an intervention on the assumptions and unsupported claims of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. That intervention is unlikely to be welcomed by either adherents to institutionalized poststructuralist postmodernism or a presently resurgent Marxian dialectics. For both, there will be concerns of a complicity with authority seen as characteristic of Chinese art – traditional, modern or contemporary – as highlighted by the readily digestible oppositional stance adopted by Ai Weiwei. As has been shown, the historical enmeshing of high art with authority in China does not however automatically foreclose on criticality. While literati culture was undeniably elitist, patriarchal and corrupt, it nevertheless supported a mode of artistic criticality that did not seek to rely on rationalist assumptions of categorical separation. Indeed, it might be argued that the reciprocity

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between the aesthetic and social governance embodied by the Literati indicates a potentially immanent critical relationship between art and society constantly deflected by the latent rationalism of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. What therefore pertains is the possibility of a reworking of neo-Confucian aesthetics along less masculinist-elitist lines commensurate with contemporary notions of a progressive democracy (in the wider political sense). In contemporary China, there are continuing claims of fundamental differences between the artworlds of China and Euro-America based on an identification with literati aesthetics. Those claims are made problematic, however, by the impact of post-Enlightenment artistic thinking and practice on the localized artworld of China as an aspect of contemporaneity. Indeed, today high art in China has adopted something of the poised detachment of its Western post-Enlightenment counterpart. Divisions of labour and of social class within China after the ending of dynastic imperial rule by design no longer support a politically functioning literati class. Instead, artists have become in part symbolic, discursively permitted representatives of literati culture in support of both their own specialist standing within society and assertions of resistant anti-imperialist Chinese identity. That relative separation notwithstanding, what persists in the context of a still authoritarian Chinese society is the discursive facticity of a close entanglement between art and the sociopolitical fabric, made paradoxically more conspicuous by Xi Jinping’s recent call to re-engage artists in the service of the CCP. Sustainable critical resistance in that context, as has been shown with regard to the work of Zhang Peili and the Pond Association, remains, as it did historically under a dynastic imperial rule in China, necessarily oblique. The alternatives to which are Ai Weiwei’s readily commutable westernized bombast or, instead of that, an abject supplication to power. In Euro-American contexts there is, by contrast, a continuing belief in the critical autonomy of art. The complicity of art with authority in those contexts is, however, now increasingly conspicuous, making absolutist claims of critical distancing hollow. Although necessarily effaced by the international western(ized) artworld, there is a nakedly circular relationship between the conferring of critical value on artworks – in particular claims of art’s resistance to and impact on capitalist society and its attendant evils such as patriarchy and colonialism-imperialism – and attributions of financial value on the international art market. An admission of the paradoxical status of which would be tantamount to issuing a mass redundancy notice to all of those who depend upon the continuity of the artworld for their livelihoods. Installed in practice within the international western(ized) artworld is a barely disguised complicity with capitalist authority sustained as part of what might be

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described as a now global artistic-industrial complex, linking commercial galleries and art fairs to the public realm of museums and other cultural institutions. As an aspect of which are significant restrictions on curatorial and artistic practice imposed by the infrastructure of the international western(ized) artworld, namely, its global proliferation of the White Cube as well as an increasing use of portable media. In short, the international western(ized) artworld’s claims of critical autonomy, including institutionalized postmodernist subversion, are revealed as illusory. The relationship between dominant discourses and artistic practices in western(ized) contexts is on the face of it, given the nature of neo-liberaldemocratic politics, neither so tightly nor explicitly organized as is currently the case in China. However, while there is no official, centralized and openly stated political directive in western(ized) neo-liberal democratic contexts requiring artists to conform to the aims and values of capitalism – namely, the sustained maximization of profits against the background of increasing transnational competition, precarity of labour and social mobility – dominant sociopolitical and economic discourses in those contexts nevertheless foster a pervasive and more or less inescapable complicity with the spectacular workings of the marketplace that invariably compromises any categorical critical distancing of art from dominant social praxis5 even as it facilitates the production and public showing of the former. Contemporary art in western(ized) liberal-democractic contexts could thus be said to occupy a position of problematic entanglement with established political authority effectively similar, if differently ‘grounded’, to that occupied by contemporary art in the PRC. Indeed, one might reinforce this outlook by drawing attention to the increasingly conspicuous anti-democratic nature of neo-liberal politics in western(ized) contexts, as indicated by the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. In the face of an increasingly authoritarian politics worldwide and the growing global power of a resurgent China, non-rationalist criticality in relation to the particularity of localized circumstances may come to be seen as more of a transnational norm rather than as a localized aberration, albeit one taking differing as well as shifting forms in relation to unfolding differences in prevailing discursive conditions. Under such circumstances, artistic criticality does not so much differ from as deconstructively differ from while deferring to the circumstances of the Other. The international western(ized) artworld and that of the PRC, while constructed differently in relation to differing discursively constructed realities, can thus be understood to share in a general complicity with authority, both specialist and political. With regard to which, concerns over critical distancing

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can be viewed as a residual aspect of the rationalist basis of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. Within Chinese cultural contexts concerns of this sort have been persistently suspended by Daoist/Buddhist conceptions of nonrationalist reciprocity. In observing the condition of critical art within the PRC it, therefore, becomes possible to see reflected back (through a glass darkly, so to speak) something of the effaced condition of post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity. The value of the critical meditation presented here lies, therefore, not just in its suspension of the assumed authorities of a western(ized) post-Enlightenment aesthetic modernity and Chinese claims of cultural exceptionalism but additionally in its attention to the conditions of artistic contemporaneity projected historically. Although readily dismissed from a still dominant western(ized) post-Enlightenment perspective, operative forms of artistic criticality within the PRC may be considered, in light of that attention, as both eminently viable and as something of a historically durable – if discursively variegated and shifting – ‘norm’.

Notes Introduction 1 Osborne, Peter (2013), Anywhere or Not at All: The Philosophy of Contemporary Art, London: Verso. 2 See, Danto, Arthur C. (1964), ‘The Artworld’, Journal of Philosophy, 61, No. 19, 571–84. 3 See Bhabha, Homi K. (1994), The Location of Culture, London: Routledge. 4 Consider, for example, a reading list of purportedly seminal books on critical aesthetics issued by Verso in 2017, which comprises little or no reference to aesthetics beyond those associated with western(ized) post-Enlightenment discourses (https://www.versobooks.com/lists/3377-art-and-aesthetics-versostudent-reading; accessed 2 April 2018). 5 Clark, John (2009), Asian Modernities: Chinese and Thai Art Compared, 1980 to 1999, Sydney: Power Publications. 6 For example, as outlined in the lecture ‘Translating the Natural World: the circulation of Arabo-Persian knowledge in late-Imperial China’, presented by Dror Weil, post-doctoral fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin at the University of Sydney on 15 April 2019. 7 See Sullivan, Michael (1997) [1989], The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 8 Also see in this regard, Broinowski, Alison (1992), The Yellow Lady: Australian Impressions of Asia, Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 9 See, for example, Jullien, Francois (2004), In Praise of Blandness: Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics, New York, NY: Zone Books; Jullien, Francois (2012), The Great Image Has No Form, or On the Non-object Through Painting, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press and Jullien, Francois (2015), This Strange Idea of the Beautiful, Kolkata: Seagull Books. 10 Billeter, Jean-François (2006), Contre François Jullien, Paris: Éditions Allia. 11 As posited by Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio (2000), Empire, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 12 Derrida, Jacques (1993), Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, London: Routledge. 13 Verhofstadt, Guy (2009), Een New Age of Empires (A New Age of Empires), Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij. Also see Stevenson, Chris (2018) ‘Trump Attacks

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14 15 16

17 18 19

Notes Macron’s Call for an EU Army to Defend against US as “very insulting”’, The Independent online, 10 October 2018 (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/ americas/us-politics/eu-army-trump-macron-france-europe-military-us-russia-chi na-defence-a8627176.html; accessed 16 October 2018). As indicated in Chan, Koonchung (2009), Prosperous Age: China in the Year 2013 (aka The Fat Years), Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 2. For a critical appraisal of Osborne’s thesis, see Stejskal, Jakub (2014), ‘Review of Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All’, Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics, LI/VII, No. 1, 158. Gülerce, Aydan (2007), ‘Agendas for Multicultural Research’, in Shi-xu ed., Discourse as Cultural Struggle, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 29–45. Cao, Qing (2007), ‘Western Representations of the Other’, in Shi-xu ed., Discourse as Cultural Struggle, 105–122. Some readers will rightly find amidst that witnessing refracted traces of the controversial Sinologist and literary scholar Simon Leys’ (aka Pierre Ryckmans) persistently caustic doubts with regard to both Chinese authoritarianism and Western colonialism-imperialism. See Childs, Martin (2014), ‘Professor Pierre Ryckmans: Sinologist and One of the First to Reveal the Shocking Reality behind China’s Cultural Revolution’, Independent online (https://www.independent.co.uk/ news/people/professor-pierre-ryckmans-sinologist-and-one-of-the-first-to-reveal -the-shocking-reality-behind-9785676.html; accessed 23 March 2018).

Prolegomenon 1 Kant, Immanuel (2007) [1781, rev. 1787], The Critique of Pure Reason, London: Penguin Classics; Kant, Immanuel (2004) [1788], The Critique of Practical Reason, Mineola, NY: Dover Publishing and Kant, Immanuel (2009) [1790], The Critique of Judgement, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2 Williams, Robert (2004), Art Theory: An Historical Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell, 92–118. See also, Barrell, John (1986), The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 3 Habermas, Jürgen (1981), ‘Modernity versus Postmodernity’, New German Critique, 22, winter 1981, 3–14. 4 Bourdieu, Pierre (1984) [1979], Distinction, London: Routledge. 5 Nochlin, Linda (1968), ‘The Invention of the Avant-Garde: France, 1830–1880’, ARTnews Annual 34, 10–19 (http://www.artnews.com/2017/11/03/archives-lindanochlin-invention-19th-century-french-avant-garde-1968/; accessed 1 December 2017).

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6 Blake, Nigel and Frascina, Francis (1993), ‘Modern Practices of Art and Modernity’, in Frascina, Francis, Blake, Nigel, Fer, Briony, Garb, Tamar, Harrison, Charles eds., Modernity and Modernism: French Painting in the Nineteenth Century, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 50–140. 7 Calloway, Stephen and Orr, Lynn Federic eds. (2011), The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum. 8 Batchelor, David (1993), ‘“This Liberty and This Order”: Art in France after the First World War’, in Fer, Briony, Batchelor, David and Wood, Paul eds., Realism, rationalism, Surrealism: Art between the Wars, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 30–47. Also see, Richter, Hans (2016) [1965], Dada: Art and Anti-art, 2nd revised ed., London Thames and Hudson. 9 Benjamin, Walter (1973) [1936], ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Benjamin, Walter, Zohn, Harry trans., Illuminations, London: Fontana Press, 211–44. 10 See, for example, Greenberg, Clement (1965), ‘Modernist Painting’, in Art and Literature 4, spring 193–201. 11 Sontag, Susan (1961), Against Interpretation and Other Essays, New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 12 Voss, Julia (2013), ‘The First Abstract Artist? (And It's Not Kandinsky)’, Tate Etc 27, Spring 2013 (http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/first-abstractartist-and-its-not-kandinsky; first accessed 5 December 2017); Kandinsky, Wassily (2000) [1910], Concerning the Spiritual in Art, revised ed. Mineola, NY: Dover Publishing. 13 Bürger, Peter (1984) [1974), Theory of the Avant-garde, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 14 See, Ford, Charles Henri (1991), View: Parade of the Avant-Garde, 1940-1947, New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press. 15 Foster, Hal (1996), The Return of the Real: Art and Theory at the End of the Century, New York, NY: October Books. 16 As cited in Van Norden, Bryan W. (2017), ‘Western Philosophy Is Racist’, Aeon online (https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-western-philosophical-canon-is-xenopho bic-and-racist; accessed 21 January 2018). 17 In Derrida’s case that assertion may be interpreted as a confirmation of cultural differences between Western philosophy and China’s own comparably sophisticated intellectual tradition rather than any deliberate upholding of an orientalist différend. 18 Norden, ‘Western Philosophy Is Racist’. 19 See, for example, Jameson, Fredric (1991), Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, London: Verso and Bhabha, The Location of Culture. 20 See, for example, Smith, Terry, Enwezor, Okwui, Condee, and Nancy eds. (2008), Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press.

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21 See, for example, Lu Shi-gang (2002) ‘Realism and Modern Chinese Painting’, Journal of Hainan University 2002-03. 22 Bhabha, The Location of Culture. 23 See Smith, Terry (2008), ‘Introduction: The Contemporaneity Question’, in Smith, Terry, Enwezor, Okwui, Condee, and Nancy eds., Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1–19. The dedication of Antinomies of Art and Culture is to ‘Jacques Derrida, 1930–2004, In Memoriam’. 24 Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 25. 25 Weibel, Peter ed. (2014), Global Activism: Art and Conflict in the 21st Century, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 26 See, for example, Wark, McKenzie (2004), A Hacker Manifesto, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 27 Butler, Judith (2015). Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 28 Vermeulen, Timotheus and van den Akker, Robin (2010), ‘Notes on Metamodernism’, Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, 2(1), 1–14. 29 See Harman, Graham (2018a), Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything, London: Penguin. 30 See Harman, Graham (2018b), Speculative Realism: An Introduction, London: John Wiley and Sons. 31 See Herbrechter, Stefan (2013) Post-Humanism: A Critical Analysis, London: Bloomsbury. 32 Mao, Zedong (1980) [1942], ‘“Talks at theYan’an Conference on Literature and Art”: A translation of the 1942 Text with Commentary’, McDougal, Bonnie S. trans., Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 3, ix–112. 33 For photographic reportage of events across the PRC during the Cultural Revolution alongside first-hand commentary, see Li, Zhensheng (2003), Pledge, Robert ed., Red-Color News Soldier: A Chinese Photographer’s Odyssey through the Cultural Revolution, London: Phaidon. 34 Artworks were produced outside state control by members of the No Name Group (Wuming huahui) from the 1960s onwards. See, Gao, Minglu (2007), The No Name: A History of a Self-Exiled Avant-garde, Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press. 35 Strickland, Carol (2016), ‘From Exile to Acclaim, the Unlikely Story of Mu Xin, and China’s Reformation’, Momus: A Return to Art Criticism website (http://momus.c a/from-exile-to-acclaim-the-unlikely-story-of-mu-xin-and-chinas-reformation/; accessed 17 March 2018). 36 Clarke, David (2008), ‘Revolutions in Vision: Chinese Art and the Experience of Modernity’, in Louie, Kam ed., The Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 285–7.

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37 See Gladston, Paul (2013), Avant-garde Art Groups in China, 1979-1989, Bristol: Intellect and Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 39–81. 38 Li, Xianting (2010) [1980], ‘About the Stars Art Exhibition’, in Wu, Hung with Peggy wang eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 11–13. 39 See Gao, Minglu ed. (1989), China/Avant-Garde Exhibition, exhibition catalogue Nanning: Guangxi People Publishing House. 40 Artprice.com’s ‘Contemporary Art Market Report 2016’, ranks the contemporary art segment of the art market in the PRC as third internationally ‘with 24% [of global market share] behind New York and London (together 65%) and the rest of the world accounting for just 11%’ (https://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-con temporary-art-market-report-2016/contemporary-art-market-2016; accessed 10 December 2017). 41 Wu, Hung (2008), ‘A Case of Being “Contemporary”: Conditions Spheres and Narratives of Contemporary Chinese Art’, in Smith, Terry, Enwezor, Okwui and Condee, Nancy eds., Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. 42 See ShanghArt’s website (http://www.shanghartgallery.com/galleryarchive/; accessed 27 January 2018) and the Boers-Li gallery’s website (http://www. boersligallery.com/; accessed 27 January 2018). 43 Anonymous (2005), Chinese government press release, ‘China Pavilion at 51st Biennale di Venezia: Virgin Garden: Emersion [sic]’ (http://universes-in-universe. de/car/venezia/bien51/eng/chn/text-1.htm; accessed 7 December 2017). 44 See, for example, the Pace Gallery website (http://www.pacegallery.com/; accessed 7 December 2017). 45 Anonymous (1979), ‘Eroding Mao’s Legacy’, Newsweek, 15 October 1979. 46 See Martin, Jean-Hubert (1989), Magiciens de la Terre, exhibition catalogue, Paris: Editions du Centre Pompidou. 47 See Doran, Valerie C. ed. (1993), China’s New Art, Post-1989: With a Retrospective from 1979-1989, exhibition catalogue, Hong Kong: Hanart TZ Gallery. 48 See Li, Xianting (1993), ‘Major Trends in the Development of Contemporary Chinese Art’, in Doran, Valerie C. ed., China’s New Art, Post-1989: With a Retrospective from 1979-1989, x–xxii. 49 See Gladston, Paul (2014), Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History, London: Reaktion, 15-20. 50 See Noth, Jochen, Pöhlmann, Wolfger, and Reschke, Kai (1994), China Avant-garde: Counter-currents in Art and Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press and Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt. 51 As the Artprice.com ‘Contemporary Art Market report 2017’ indicates, contemporary Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi’s ‘Mask Series 1996 No. 6 fetched $13.5

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Notes million on 3 April 2017 at Poly Auction in Hong Kong. The painting had sold for $9.6 million on 24 May 2008 at Christie’s in the same city. It therefore gained 40% in value over 9 years’ (https://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-contemporaryart-market-report-2017/renewed-growth; accessed 10 December 2017) See Si, Han ed. (2012), Secret Love, exhibition catalogue, Stockholm: The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. Pes, Javier (2017), ‘Ai Weiwei Harnesses His Celebrity to Show Global Scale of Refugee Crisis’, Artnet (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/ai-weiwei-harnesshis-celebrity-to-tell-refugees-stories-from-around-the-world-1169267; accessed 5 December 2017). See, for example, Gladston, Paul (2013), ‘The Cult of Ai: A Critical Response to Ai Weiwei’s Comments on the Exhibition Art of Change: New Directions from China’, Broadsheet: Contemporary Visual Art+Culture 42, No. 1, 241–9. Rosenthal, Stephanie ed. (2012), Art of Change: New Directions from China, London: Hayward Gallery Publishing. Anonymous (2017), ‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’, Guggenheim Museum New York website (https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/art-and-chi na-after-1989-theater-of-the-world; accessed 29 November 2017). See Anonymous (2017), ‘Statement Regarding Works in “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World”’, Guggenheim Museum New York website (https://www.gu ggenheim.org/press-release/works-in-art-and-china-after-1989-theater-of-the -world; accessed 29 November 2017) and Ai, Weiwei (2012), ‘Ai Weiwei: “China's art world does not exist”’, The Guardian, 10 September (https://www.theguardian. com/artanddesign/2012/sep/10/ai-weiwei-china-art-world; accessed 10 September 2012). See University of Chicago, The Center for East Asian Studies website (https://ceas. uchicago.edu/news/art-historys-wu-hung-named-caas-2018-distinguished-scholar; accessed 7 December 2017). See, for example, Wu, Hung (2014), Contemporary Chinese Art, London: Thames and Hudson, 2014), Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History, Lü, Peng (2013) Fragmented Reality: Contemporary Art in 21st Century China, Milan: Charta and (2010) A History of Art in 20th Century China, Milan: Charta, and Julia F. Andrews and Kuiyi Shen (1998), A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth-century China, New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Clunas, Craig (1999), ‘What about Chinese Art?’ in King, Catherine ed., Views of Difference: Different Views of Art, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 134–5. Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 135. Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 136–7. See, for example, Fei, Dawei (2010) [1991/2003], ‘Does a Culture in Exile Necessarily Wither? – A Letter to Li Xianting’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds.,

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Contemporary Chinese Art Primary Documents, New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 252–4. Dorment, Richard (2008), ‘Review: The Revolution Continues: New Art from China at the Saatchi Gallery’, The Telegraph, 7 October 2008 (http://www.telegrap h.co.uk/culture/art/3561773/Review-The-Revolution-Continues-New-Art-Fr om-China-at-the-Saatchi-Gallery.html; accessed 7 June 2017). Perl, Jed (2013), ‘Noble and Ignoble - Ai Weiwei: Wonderful Dissident, Terrible Artist’, New Republic, 1 February 2013 (https://newrepublic.com/article/112218/ ai-wei-wei-wonderful-dissident-terrible-artist; accessed 7 May 2017). Köppel-Yang, Martina (2004), Semiotic Warfare: The Chinese Avant-Garde 19791989: A Semiotic Analysis, Hong Kong: Timezone 8. Jantjes, Gavin (1999), ‘Mapping Difference’, in King, Catherine ed., Views of Difference: Different Views of Art, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 33. Huang, Yongping (1986), ‘Xiamen Dada—yizhong hou xiandai?’ (‘Xiamen Dada—a Kind of Post-Modernism?’), Zhongguo meishu bao (Fine Arts in China), 46, 1 and (1989), ‘Wanquan kong de nengzhi’ (‘A Completely Empty Signifier’), Meishu zazhi (Art), 3, 30–32 and 72. Clark, John (1993), ‘Introduction: Open and Closed Discourses of Modernity in Asian Art’, in Clark, John ed., Modernity in Asian Art, Sydney: Wild Peony, 1–17. Clark, Asian Modernities, 21. Clark, Asian Modernities, 228. In a response supplied on 31 October 2018 to questions posed by the present author, Clark comments, ‘I only took up Derrida because I noticed his intelligent exploration of the issue of mono-linguality and cosmopolitanism, both of which phenomena you may expect I have a personal interest in. … I am a user of theory but very eclectically and have passed through several intellectual paradigm changes in my academic life: US pragmatic power realism [Morgenthau], structuralism [Levi-Strauss], Frankfurt school disenchantment [Adorno], postmodernism [Hal Foster], semiotic universalism [Eco] and so on and so on. As someone practising an interest in Modernity and the Contemporary I have been more concerned over time with the empirical realities than the theoretical precisions.’ For example, the exhibition A Dialogue on Female Chinese Contemporary Artists staged at the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art in Manchester, UK, in 2018, which sought to explore ‘how the diversity of current female artistic practice [in/ from the PRC] transcends notions of gender difference to offer hybrid perspectives on their socio-political environment’ (http://www.cfcca.org.uk/now/; accessed 10 February 2018) and the exhibition Secret Love staged at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Östasiatiska Museet) in Stockholm in 2012 and the Museum of World Culture in Göteborg in 2013, which showcased art by mainland Chinese artists related to LGBTQ identities (http://www.femininemoments.dk/blog/secret-lovechinese-homosexual-artists-exhibit-in-sweden/; accessed 10 February 2018).

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73 See, for example, Koskentola, Kristiina ed. (2018), Soils, Séances, Sciences and Politics: On the Posthuman and New Materialism, Beijing: Institute for Provocation and Shanghai: Randian. 74 For example, Wang, Chunchen (2010), Art Intervenes in Society: A New Artistic Relationship, Beijing: Chinese Contemporary Art Awards and Timezone 8. 75 Yiyang, Shao (2013), ‘The International Identity of Chinese Art: Theoretical Debates on Chinese Contemporary Art in the 1990s’, in Kuo, Jason C. ed., Contemporary Chinese Art and Film: Theory Applied and Resisted, Washington DC: New Academia Publishing, 67–88. 76 See Smith, Terry (2013), ‘Background Stories: Modern and Contemporary Art, World Currents, China’, The Research House for Asia website (http://www.xzine.org/ rhaa/?p=752; accessed 2 February 2018). 77 Wu, ‘A Case of being “Contemporary”’. 78 As reported by Johnston Laing, Ellen (1993), ‘Is There Post-Modern Art in the People’s Republic of China?’ in Clark, John ed., Modernity in Asian Art, Sydney: Wild Peony, 2017–221. Shao, Dazhen (1985), ‘Cong xiandaizhuyi dao hou xiandaizhuyi’ (From Modernism to Postmodernism), Waigou meixue (Foreign Art), 1, no page numbers given. Subsequently abstracted in Zhonggguo meishu bao (China Art Newspaper), 11 (1986), 4. Also see, Wang, Feng-hsin, ‘Third-World Writers in the Era of Postmodernism’, New Literary History 28, 1 (Winter 1997), 45–55 and ‘Mapping the Globalization of Chinese Culture’, Ariel 32, 2 (April 2001), 145–62, and Arac, Jonathon, ‘Postmodernism and Postmodernity in China: An Agenda for Inquiry’, New Literary History. Special Issue on ‘Cultural Studies: China and the West’, 28, 1, 135–47. 79 Gao, Minglu (2008), ‘“Particular Time, Specific Place, My Truth”: Total Modernity in Chinese Contemporary Art’, in Smith, Terry, Enwezor, Okwui, and Condee, Nancy eds., Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 133–64. 80 Gao, Minglu (2012), ‘Changing Motivations of Chinese Contemporary Art since the Mid-1990s’, Gladston, Paul and Hill, Katie guest eds., Journal of Visual Art Practice 11, 2 and 3, special issue ‘Contemporary Chinese Art and Criticality’, 209–19 and (2009) ‘Interview with Gao Minglu in [sic] the Exhibition Yi Pai: Thinking of the Century: Questioning Dichotomous Perspective in Art Theory’, Gao Minglu Contemporary Art Center website (http://www.artresearchcenter.org/NewsDetails English.asp?ID=26; accessed 4 November 2017). 81 Gao, Minglu (2011) Total Modernity and the Avant-Garde in Twentieth-Century Chinese Art, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 82 Gao, Minglu (2012), ‘Changing Motivations of Chinese Contemporary Art since the Mid-1990s’, 216. 83 Gladston, Paul (2012), ‘Traces of Empire: Deconstructing Hou Hanru’s “Postcolonialist” Reading of Contemporary Chinese Art’, in Kuo, Jason C. ed.,

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Contemporary Chinese Art and Film: Theory Applied and Resisted, Washington DC: New Academia, 13–36. See Huang, Cary (2016), ‘Why China is Cosying Up to Latin America’, South China Morning Post online, 11 December 2016 (http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/ article/2053391/why-china-cosying-latin-america; accessed 2 February 2018). See University of Nebraska-Lincoln website, ‘Confucius institutes Around the Globe’ (https://confuciusinstitute.unl.edu/institutes.shtml; accessed 2 February 2018). See, for example, Dafoe, Taylor (2017), ‘Gallerist Pearl Lam on Why the West’s Expansion into Asia’s Art Scene Might not Be Entirely Healthy’, Artnet News online, 18 December 2017 (https://news.artnet.com/partner-content/gallerist-pearl-lam -on-the-rapid-growth-of-asian-art-world-and-how-western-theories-have-disto rted-our-perception-of-it#; accessed 23 December 2017). Gan, Nectar (2018), ‘In Ending Presidential Term Limits, “Xi Jinping is thinking global and acting local”’, South China Morning Post, 27 February 2018 (http://www. scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2134811/ending-presidential-term -limits-xi-thinking-global-and; accessed 18 March 2018) Consider, for example, the work of the contemporary US-born, now-PRC resident artist Michael Cherney, which includes topographic comparisons of scenes depicted in historical shan-shui ink-and-brush paintings with present-day photographic representations of their actual, sometimes significantly altered, locations. See the self-published albums related to Cherney’s work, The Sun is Not so Central, Map of Mountains and Seas and From 2 arises 3. Gladston, Paul (2014), ‘Somewhere (and Nowhere) between Modernity and Tradition: Towards a Polylogue between Differing International and Indigenous Perspectives on the Significance of Contemporary Chinese Art’, Tate Papers 21 (Spring 2014). Wu, ‘A Case of Being “Contemporary”’, 290-306. Beam, Christopher (2015), ‘Beyond Ai Weiwei: How China’s Artists Handle Politics (or Avoid Them)’, The New Yorker, 27 March 2015 (https://www.newyorker.com/ news/news-desk/ai-weiwei-problem-political-art-china; accessed 23 March 2018). Assertions of this sort are made, for example, in gallery captions supporting a major exhibition of the artist Sun Xun at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in 2018. Also see Davis, Anna ed. (2018), Sun Xun, Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Pollack, Barbara (2018), Brand New Art from China: A Generation on the Rise, London: IB Tauris. A press release accompanying this book states: ‘Renowned critic Barbara Pollack presents the first book to tell the story of how … Chinese millennials, fast becoming global art super-stars, negotiate their cultural heritage, and what this means for China’s impact on the future of global culture. Many young Chinese artists have declared they are “not Chinese, but global” – Pollack investigates just what that means for China, the art market, and the world.’

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94 See, for example, Gao, ‘“Particular Time, Specific Place, My Truth”: Total Modernity in Chinese Contemporary Art’, 133–64. Also see a press release for ‘Everyday Miracles’, an exhibition of four women artists at the Chinese Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2007 curated by Hou Hanru which states: ‘It is no surprise that the presence of woman artists, with their particular modalities of imagination, expression and action, is largely marginalised. However, without simply falling into the cliché of feminism, a significant number of woman artists have been creating some of the most sensitive, profound and innovative works, although they are often discreet and somehow marginalised.’ (http://universes-in-universe.de/car/ venezia/eng/2007/tour/chn/press-01.pdf; accessed 3 January 2019). 95 Indexical of this tension are writings by the ‘feminist’ academic Li Xiaojiang. See Theodore de Bary, William and Lufrano, Richard eds. (2000), ‘Li Xiaojiang: “Awakening of Women’s Consciousness”’, Sources of Chinese Tradition, Volume II, New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 517–20. 96 Williams, Art Theory, 120. 97 Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas posits the idea of a moral imperative towards care for the Other predicated on the epiphany of a face-to-face encounter. For Levinas, the unknowable alterity of the Other, encountered in close proximity, is a productive confirmation rather than a negation of oneself. See, for example, Levinas, Emmanuel (1999) [1961], Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press. 98 With regard, for example, to circumstances surrounding the detention of Ai Weiwei. Further indicators of government suppression of public criticism in the PRC include the imprisonment of human rights and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, Uyghur economist and supporter of regional autonomy laws Ilham Tohti and the democracy and human rights lawyer Xia Lin. 99 Tsien, Jennifer, Voltaire and China (http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/soundingchina/Tsi en.html; accessed 12 October 2018). 100 Tsien, Voltaire and China. 101 As discussed in Raud, Rein (2016), Meaning in Action: Outline of an Integral Theory of Culture, London: Polity. 102 Derrida, Jacques (1984) [1972], Margins of Philosophy, Bass, Alan trans., Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1–27. 103 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (1976), ‘Translator’s Preface’, in Derrida, Jacques, Of Grammatology, Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty trans., Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press, xvii. 104 See, for example, Derrida, Jacques (2001) [1967], Writing and Difference,2nd ed., London: Routledge and (1976) [1967], Of Grammatology, Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty trans., Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press. 105 See, for example, Norris, Christopher (2002), Deconstruction: Theory and Practice, 3rd ed., London: Routledge.

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106 Foucault, Michel (1980), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, Gordon, Colin ed., Gordon, Colin, Marshall Leo, and Soper, Kate trans., New York, NY: Pantheon. 107 Foster, Hal (1996), Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 108 Foster, Return of the Real, xii. 109 Foster, Return of the Real, xii. 110 Foster, Return of the Real, xii. 111 Foster, Return of the Real, xii–xiii. 112 Davis, Ben (2018) ‘“I Drank the Apocalyptic Kool-Aid”: Art Historian Hal Foster on Why He Has Developed an Unromantic View of the Avant-Garde’, Artnet News online, 26 March 2018 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/hal-foster-1251083?u tm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaig n=Morning%20Newsletter%203.26&utm_term=New%20US%20Newsletter%20Li st; accessed 1 April 2018). 113 Spivak, ‘Translator’s Preface’, ix–lxxxvii. 114 See Zhang Dainian (2002), Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press and Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 118–25. 115 Zhang, Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, 119. 116 Hussain, Mazhar and Wilkinson, Robert, The Pursuit of Comparative Aesthetics: an Interface between the East and West, Aldershot: Ashgate and Jullien, Francois, In Praise of Blandness; Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics, Varsano, Paula M. trans., New York, NY: Zone Books. 117 For a critical intervention on the conflation of deconstructivist and Daoist discourses and on the extent of the relevance of the former, see Wesling, Donald (1980), ‘Methodological Implications of the Philosophy of Jacques Derrida for Comparative Literature: The Opposition East-West and Several Other Observations’, in Deeney, John J. ed., Chinese-western Comparative Literature: Theory and Strategy, Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. 118 Han, Byung-Chui (2017), Shanzai: Deconstruction in Chinese, Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Chapter 1 1 2 3

Imperial China was also defeated by the Japanese in the First Sino-Japanese War (1895). Mencius (2004) [c.300 BCE], Mencius, London: Penguin Classics. During the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasties imperial rites of symbolic sacrifice were conducted seasonally across nine sites in Beijing including the iconic Temple of Heaven (Tiantian) (constructed 1406–20).

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4 Laozi (2004) [c. fourth century BCE], Daodejing, Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 5 For a definition of Dao and an account of its historical development as a concept, see Zhang, Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, 11–25. 6 For a definition of Qi and an account of its historical development as a concept, see Zhang, Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, 45–63. 7 For a definition of Yin-yang and an account of its historical development as a concept, see Zhang, Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, 83–94. 8 For a discussion of the concept of Wu wei, see Loy, David (1985), ‘Wei-wu-wei: Non-Dual Action’, Philosophy East and West 35, No. 1, 73–87. 9 For a definition of ziran and an account of its historical development as a concept, see Zhang, Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, 162–9. 10 As first introduced by the intellectual Zhou Duyi in his text the Taijitu shou during the Song dynasty. 11 Billioud, Sébastien and Thoraval, Jöel (2009), ‘Lijiao: The Return of Ceremonies Honouring Confucius in Mainland China’, special edition, ‘The Contemporary Revival of Confucianism’, China Perspectives, 4. 12 Zhuangzi (2003) [c. fourth-third centuries BCE], Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, Watson, Burton trans., New York City, NY: Columbia University Press. 13 The Confucian idea that original truthful meanings supposedly signified by language should be restored to avoid linguistic uncertainty and polysemy. 14 Rapp, John A. (2012), Daoism and Anarchy: Critiques of State Autonomy in Ancient and Modern China, London: Continuum. 15 Addiss, Stephen (1989), The Art of Zen: Paintings and Calligraphy by Japanese Monks, 1600-1925, New York City, NY: Harry N. Abrams inc. 16 Yee, Craig (2017), ‘Zheng Chongbin: The Classical Origins of Contemporary Abstraction’, Randian-online (http://www.randian-online.com/np_blog/the-classic al-origins-of-contemporary-abstraction/; accessed 20 July 2017). 17 Lao-tzu (1989) [c. fourth century BCE], Te-tao Ching, Henricks, Robert G. trans., New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 54. 18 The term xie-yi is sometimes conflated with the term shui-mo. Although the term shui-mo is used traditionally in China to signify a form of xie-yi, it more properly represents the use of ink as a material in combination with water. Shui-mo is consequently better compared to a technique than a style or genre. 19 Clunas, Craig (1999), ‘What about Chinese Art?’ in King, Catherine ed., Views of Difference: Different Views of Art, New Haven CN and London: Yale University Press, 125. 20 Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 134. 21 Yee, ‘Zheng Chongbin’. 22 See, for example, Cahill, James (1978) [1960], Chinese Painting, New York City, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, Li, Zehou (1999), The Path of Beauty: A Study

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38 39 40 41 42 43

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of Chinese Aesthetics, Gong, Lizheng trans., Beijing: Morning Glory Publishers and Wang, Yao-ting (1996) [1995], Looking at Chinese Painting: A Comprehensive Guide to the Philosophy, Technique and History of Chinese Painting, Tokyo: Nigensha Publishing. For a discussion of the ways in which painterly representations of clouds can be understood to exceed perspectival geometry, see Damisch, Hubert (2002), A Theory of Cloud: Toward a History of Painting, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Wang, Looking at Chinese Painting, 13–17. Yee, ‘Zheng Chongbin’. Yee, ‘Zheng Chongbin’. Kuo, Jason C. (2016), ‘Emptiness-Substance: Xushi’, in Powers, Martin J. and Tsiang, Katherine R. eds., A Companion to Chinese Art, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 329. Kuo, ‘Emptiness-Substance: Xushi’, 329. Lin, Yutang (1967), The Chinese Theory of Art, New York, NY: G.P. Putnam and Sons, 140. Li, The Path of Beauty, 217–24. Silbergeld, Jerome (2016), ‘On the Origins of Literati Painting’, in Powers, Martin J. and Tsiang, Katherine R. eds., A Companion to Chinese Art, Oxford: WileyBlackwell, 474–90. Guo, Hui (2011), ‘From Japan to Europe: Teng Gu’s Internalization of Western Art Historical Ideas’, in Questioning Oriental Aesthetics and Thinking: Conflicting Visions of “Asia” under the Colonial Empires, special edition of the Journal of the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, 38, 165–82. Clunas, Craig (2017), Chinese Painting and Its Audiences, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 178. Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 132. Cited in Yee, ‘Zheng Chongbin’. Silbergeld, ‘On the Origins of Literati Painting’, 481–3. Russell, Donald (1986), ‘The Arts of Prose: The Early Empire’, in Boardman, John, Griffin, Jasper, and Murray, Oswyn eds., The Oxford History of the Classical World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 653–6. Plato (2012) [c. 380 BCE], Republic, London: Penguin. Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 121–2. Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 127. Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 54. Clunas, ‘What about Chinese Art?’ 126. For a more detailed account of the hybridizing of Chinese visual culture in conjunction with that of Europe during the period from the beginning of the seventeenth to the end of the eighteenth century, see Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 41–87. Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 83–85.

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45 Vigneron, Frank (2010), Académiciens et Lettrés: Analyse comparative de la théorie picturale 18e siècle en Chine et en Europe (Academicians and Literati: A Comparative Analysis of 18th Century Painting Theory in China and Europe), Paris: Éditions You Feng, 445. Vigneron’s analysis provides a detailed exposition of artistic theory that usefully supplements the analysis presented here. 46 Vigneron, Académiciens et Lettrés, 445. 47 Anonymous, ‘Gothic Art’, New World Encyclopedia online (http://www.new worldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gothic_Art; accessed 2 December 2017). Also see, Anonymous, (c.1144–48), Abbot Suger: On What Was Done in His Administration (http://www.learn.columbia.edu/ma/htm/ms/ma_ms_gloss_abbot_sugar.htm; accessed 1 December 2017) 48 Vasari Giorgio (1987) [1550], Lives of the Artists, vols. 1 and 2, London: Penguin. 49 Winckelmann, Johann Joachim (2017) [1764], The History of Ancient Art: Among the Greeks, London: Forgotten Books. 50 Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb (1758), Aesthetica (https://archive.org/details/b ub_gb_lYpKAAAAcAAJ; accessed 16 June 2016). 51 For a detailed discussion of Walpole’s redevelopment of Strawberry Hill House, see Iddon, John (2011), Strawberry Hill: Essential Guide, London: Scala. 52 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang (1921) [1773], ‘On German Architecture’, in Spingarn, J. E. ed., Goethe’s Literary Essays: a Selection in English, New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company. 53 Kant, Immanuel (2004) [1764], Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, 2nd rev. ed., Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 54 Burke, Edmund (2015) [1757], A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press. 55 Russell, ‘The Arts of Prose: The Early Empire’, 657. 56 Novak, Barbara (1981), Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 34–44. 57 Williams, Robert (2003), Art Theory: An Historical Introduction, Oxford: WileyBlackwell, 106. 58 Williams, Art Theory, 106. 59 Williams, Art Theory, 115. 60 Schiller, Friedrich (2016) [1794], On the Aesthetic Education of Man, London: Penguin. 61 Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph (1993) [1800], System of Transcendental Idealism, Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. 62 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim (1984) [1766], Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry, Baltimore, MA, Johns Hopkins University Press. 63 Polo, Marco (2004) [c. 1300], The Travels, London: Penguin. 64 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 41–42.

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65 Schrader, Stephanie (2018), ‘Rembrandt and the Mughal Line: Artistic Inspiration in the Global City of Amsterdam’ in Schrader, Stephanie ed., Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India, Los Angeles, CA: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 5–27. 66 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 98–101. 67 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 102–103. 68 Chippendale, Thomas (2000) [1754], The Gentleman and Cabinet-Makers’ Director, 3rd rev. ed., Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. 69 Kircher, Athanasius (1667), China Illustrata, Amsterdam: Apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge and Elizeum Weyerstraet, Van Tuyl, Charles D. trans. (https://htext.stanford.edu/content/kircher/china/kircher.pdf; accessed 24 December 2017). 70 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 95. 71 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 103–105. 72 von Sandrart, Joachim (1675–80), Teutsche Academie der edlen Bau- Bild- und Mahlerey Künste, Nürnberg: J. von Sandrart; Frankfurt: M. Meriam. This is the first encyclopedic art history in German. (http://ta.sandrart.net/en/; accessed 24 December 2017). Also see Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 93. 73 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 93. 74 See Voltaire (1755), L'Orphelin de la Chine (The Orphan of China) and (1756) Essai sur les mœurs et l'esprit des nations (An Essay on Universal History: The Manners and Spirit of Nations). 75 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (2002) [1751], La Nouvelle Héloïse, Paris: Le Livre de Poche. 76 Beevers, David (2009), Chinese Whispers: Chinoiserie in Britain, 1650–1930. Brighton: Royal Pavilion & Museums, 19. 77 Williams, Art Theory, 116. 78 Chambers, William (1757), Designs of Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils, London: various (https://warburg.sas.ac.uk/pdf/cmh182b22 12613.pdf; accessed 24 December 2017). 79 For a detailed discussion of Chinese cultural influences on European literature and garden design during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, see Hsia, Adrian ed. (1998), The Vision of China in the English Literature of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. 80 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 110. 81 Liu, Yuanyuan (2006), ‘Kongzi de “da” he “zhunagmei” yu xifang “chonggao” meixue de yitong’ (The Differences and Similarities between Confucian ‘Giant’ and ‘Magnificence’ and the Western ‘Sublime’), Lilun jianshe (Theory Research), ix, 69–70. 82 Chambers, William (1772), A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, London: W. Griffin. 83 Chambers cited in Dixon-Hunt, John and Willis, Peter eds. (1975), The Genius of the Place: The English Landscape Garden 1620-1820, London: Paul Elek Ltd., 320.

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84 For example, with regard to the latter, Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau’s design of Gardens at Wōrlitz (near present-day Dessau in Germany), which incorporated simulation of an erupting Vesuvius. See Anderton, Stephen (2016), Lives of the Great Gardeners, London: Thames and Hudson, 42–46. 85 Sieveking, Albert Forbes ed. (1908), Sir William Temple upon the Gardens of Epicurus, with other XVIIth century garden essays, London: Chatto and Windus. 86 Iddon, Strawberry Hill, 6. 87 Anderton, Lives of the Great Gardeners, 16–22. 88 Anderton, Lives of the Great Gardeners, 23–27. 89 Sloboda, Stacey (2014), Chinoiserie: Commerce and Critical Ornament in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 29 and 33.

Chapter 2 1 The idea of a dialectical method through which opposing states of thesis and antithesis are raised up continually into a higher synthetic order is misattributed to Hegel. Fichte popularized the idea elaborating on a similar schema presented by Kant. See Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (2018), The Phenomenology of Spirit (Cambridge Hegel Translations), Pinkard, Terry trans., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1993) [compiled 1835], Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics, London: Penguin. 3 Schopenhauer, Arthur (2015) [1818] The World as Will and Representation, North Charleston SC: CreateSpace publishing. 4 Treuherz, Julian (1993), Victorian Painting, London: Thames and Hudson, 17–21. 5 Baudelaire, Charles (1995) [1863], ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, Mayne Jonathan ed. and trans., London: Phaidon Press. 6 Marx, Karl (1990 and 1992) [1867–83], Capital: Critique of Political Economy, vols. 1, 2 and 3, Fowkes, Ben, and Fernbach, David trans., London: Penguin. 7 Trotsky, Leon (1972), Art and Revolution, Writings on Literature, Politics and Culture, Atlanta, GA: Pathfinder Press. 8 See Mahon, Alyce (2005), Surrealism and the Politics of Eros, London: Thames and Hudson. 9 Nietzsche, Friedrich (2003) [1886], Beyond Good and Evil, Hollingdale, R. J. trans., London: Penguin. 10 Nietzsche, Friedrich (2017) [1901], The Will to Power, Scarpitti, Michael A. trans., London: Penguin. 11 Nietzsche, Friedrich (1974) [1891], Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Hollingdale, R. J. trans., London: Penguin.

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12 Rodrigues, Benjamin Olinde [1825], ‘L’artiste, le savant et l’industriel’ (The Artist, the Scientist and the Industrialist), as cited in Calinescu, Matei (1987), The Five faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 84–5. 13 Blake, Nigel and Frascina, Francis (1993) ‘Courbet: Representing the Country to the Town’, in Frascina, Francis, Blake, Nigel, Fer, Briony, Garb, Tamar, and Harrison, Charles, Modernity and Modernism: French Painting in the Nineteenth Century, London and New Haven, CT: Yale university Press, 68–80. 14 Baudelaire states:‘By modernity I mean the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent which make up one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immutable.’ or Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, 13. 15 Lambourne, Lionel (2011), The Aesthetic Movement, London: Phaidon. 16 Greenberg, Clement (1939), ‘Avant-garde and Kitsch’, Partisan Review, 6, No. 5, 34–9. 17 See Adorno, Theodor W. (1991), The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture, London: Routledge. 18 Greenberg, ‘Modernist Painting’, 193–201. 19 Bürger, Peter (1984) [1974], Theory of the Avant-garde, Shaw, Michael trans., Manchester: Manchester University Press and Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 20 Richter, Hans (2016) [1964], Dada: Art and Anti-art, London: Thames and Hudson. 21 See Livingstone, Marco (1990), Pop Art: A Continuing History, London: Thames and Hudson; Friedman, Ken ed. (1998), A Fluxus Reader, Oxford: Willey-Blackwell; Home, Stewart ed. (1996), What Is Situationism? A Reader, Chico, CA: AK Press; Wilson, Andrew ed. (2016), Conceptual Art in Britain, 1964-1979, London: Tate Publishing. 22 See Greene, Vivien (2014), Italian Futurism 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe, New York City, NY: Guggenheim Museum Publications. 23 See Reifenstahl, Leni (1994), Olympia, New York City, NY: St Martin’s Press. 24 As discussed critically in Jameson, Fredric (1992), Postmodernism: Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, London: Verso. 25 Bürger, Theory of the Avant-garde. 26 Shi-xu ed., Discourse as Cultural Struggle. 27 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 229–40. 28 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 240–43. 29 See, ‘Similarities between philosophies of Zhuangzi (Daoism) and Friedrich Nietzsche’, Philosophy: StackExchange.com (https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/ questions/10159/similarities-between-philosophies-of-zhuangzi-daoism-and-frie drich-nietzsche; accessed 11 October 2018); van der Braak, Andre (2011), Nietzsche and Zen: Self-Overcoming Without a Self, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books; Chen, Guying (1996), ‘Zhuang Zi and Nietzsche: plays of perspectives’, in Parkes, Graham

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34 35

36

37

38

39 40 41

42 43

Notes ed., Nietzsche and Asian Thought, Chicago PA: University of Chicago Press, 115–29; and Ames, Roger T. (1996), ‘Nietzsche’s “Will to Power” and Chinese “Virtuality” (de): A Comparative Study’, in Parkes, Graham ed., Nietzsche and Asian Thought, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 130–50. See Nietzsche, Friedrich (2018) [1882], The Joyous Science, Hill, Kevin R. trans., London: Penguin. See Zhang, Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, 118–25 and 197–207. See Nelson, Eric S. (2017), Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early TwentiethCentury German Thought, London: Bloomsbury. Dow, Arthur Wesley (1998) [1899], Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Students and Teachers, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Richter, Peter-Cornell (2001), Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Munich, London and New York: Prestel Publishing, 40–42. Also see among many publications by Suzuki, Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro (2002) [1957], Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist, London: Routledge; (1994) [1935], Manual of Zen Buddhism, New York City, NY: Grove Press; (1994) [1934] An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, New York City, NY: Grove Press; and (1994) [1927, 1933 and 1934], Essays in Zen Buddhism, New York City, NY: Grove Press. See ‘Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated): Art from 1951 to the Present’ (http ://pastexhibitions.guggenheim.org/singular_forms/highlights_1a.html; accessed 10 October 2017). Also see Cage, John (1961) [1969], ‘On Robert Rauschenberg, Artist, and His Work’, in Cage, John, Silence, Cambridge, MA, 98–107. Pijnappel, Johan (1990) ‘Interview with John Cage’, in Papadakis, Andreas C. ed. Art and Design Profile 45, ‘Art Meets Science and Spirituality’, London: Academy Group, 49–53. Dewey, John (2004) [1916], Democracy and Education, Mineola, NY; Dover Publications and (1997) [1938], Experience and Education, New York City, NY: Touchstone. Morris, Frances and Bell, Tiffany eds. (2015), Agnes Martin, London: Tate Publishing, 230. Dewey’s major work on aesthetics is Dewey, John (1980) [1934], Art as Experience, London and New York City, NY: Penguin. See Camfield, William A. (1989), ‘Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain: Its History and Aesthetics in the Context of 1917’, in Kuenzli, Rudolf E. and Naumann, Francis M. eds., Marcel Duchamp: Artist of the Century, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 64–94. See in particular Wood, Beatrice (1917), ‘Buddha of the Bathroom’, The Blind Man, 2 (5 May), 5–6. Choucha, Nadia (1991), Surrealism and the Occult, Oxford: Mandrake Press, 39. Baas, Jacquelynn and Jacob, Mary Jane (2004), Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 129.

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44 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 244–7. 45 See Jones, Peter ed. (2001), Imagist Poetry, London: Penguin. 46 Lewis, Wyndham ed. (2009) [1914], Blast 1, London: Thames and Hudson. In addition to discussions of the idea of the 'vortex' by Lewis, Pound and Brzeska and imagist poems by Pound, Blast 1 contains references to Chinese culture: most notably Lewis's note, 'Feng Shui and Contemporary Form', 138. Blast 1's typographically inconsistent layout resonates with that of later Situationist publications as well as the related 'punk' graphics of Jamie Reid 47 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 49. 48 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 252–3 and 261–9. 49 Sullivan, The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, 253. 50 Vigneron, Frank (2014), ‘Conservative Nativist Chinese Art in Hong Kong and Mainland China’, in Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 1, 1. 51 Seitz, William C. (1962), Mark Tobey, exhibition catalogue, New York City, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 47. 52 Seitz, Mark Tobey, 50. 53 Seitz, Mark Tobey, 47. 54 Morris and Bell eds. (2015), Agnes Martin, 230. 55 Morris and Bell eds. (2015), Agnes Martin, 232. 56 See Garrels, Gary ed. (2006), Plane Image: A Brice Marden Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, New York City, NY: The Museum of Modern Art. 57 Chang, Alexandra (2008), Envisioning Diaspora: Asian American Visual Arts Collectives from Godzilla, Godzookie to the Barnstormers, Beijing: Timezone 8. 58 See Chasin, Helen ed. (1989), Like and Likeness: Selected paintings of Qi Baishi, Beijing: Foreign Languages Press. 59 Sullivan, Michael (1996), Art and Artists of Twentieth-century China, Berkeley: University of California Press, 28. 60 See Lü, Peng (2013), A History of Art in 20th-Century China, Paris: Somogy éditions, 130. 61 Lü, A History of Art in 20th-Century China, 136–47. 62 Waara, Carrie (2007), ‘The Bare Truth: Nudes, Sex, and the Modernization Project in Shanghai Pictorials’, in Kuo, Jason C. ed., Visual Culture in Shanghai, 1850s-1930s, Washington DC: New Academia Publishing, 163–203. 63 See Croizier, Ralph (2013), ‘Post-Impressionists in Pre-War Shanghai: The Juelanshe (Storm Society) and the fate of Modernism in Republican China’, in O’Brien, Elaine, Nicodemus, Everlyn, Chiu, Melissa, Genocchio, Benjamin, Coffey, Mary K., and Tejada, Roberto eds., Modern Art in Africa, Asia, and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 254–71. 64 See Minick, Scott and Ping, Jiao (2010), Chinese Graphic Design in the Twentieth Century, London: Thames and Hudson. 65 See Johnston, Tess and Erh, Deke (1993) A Last Look: Western Architecture in Shanghai, Hong Kong: Old China Hand Press.

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66 See Liu, Lydia H., Karl, Rebecca E. and Ko, Dorothy (2013), The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory, New York, NY: Columbia University Press. 67 Ying, Hu (2000), Tales of Translation: Composing the New Woman in China, 18991918, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 4. 68 Pan, Lynn (2008), Shanghai Style: Art and Design Between the Wars, Hong Kong: Joint Publishing, 78. 69 Pan, Shanghai Style, 78–80 and Teo, Phyllis (2016), Rewriting Modernism: Three Women Artists in Twentieth-Century China, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 33–105. 70 Lee, Anthony W. (2006), ‘A Brief History of Painting in Chinese America to 1945’, in Davidson, Susan ed., Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation, exhibition catalogue, London: Merrell and New York, NY: Guggenheim Museum Publications, 234–41. 71 Roberts, Claire (2010), Friendship in Art: Fou Lei and Huang Binhong, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. 72 Dikötter, Frank (2008), The Age of Openness: China before Mao, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. 73 See Wang, Chunchen (2010), Art Intervenes in Society: A New Artistic Relationship, and Lü, A History of Art in 20th-Century China, 204–21. 74 See Tang, Xiaobing (2007), Origins of the Chinese Avant-garde: The Modern Woodcut Movement, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 75 See Lü, A History of Art in 20th-Century China, 201. 76 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 63. 77 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 64. 78 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 66. 79 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 87. 80 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 89. 81 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 90. 82 Köppel-Yang, Semiotic Warfare, 94–95. 83 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 91. 84 Li, Xianting (1980), ‘About the Stars Exhibition’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York City, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 11–13. 85 Berghuis, Thomas (2006), Performance Art in China, Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 47–48. 86 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 107. 87 Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art, 108. 88 Köppel-Yang, Semiotic Warfare, 23. 89 Gladston, Paul (2017), ‘(Bad) Faith in Painting(?): Critically Re-evaluating the Significance of Yu Youhan’s Political Pop Series’, Journal of Contemporary Painting 3, 1 and 2, 137–56. 90 Köppel-Yang, Semiotic Warfare, 22–3.

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91 See Gao, Minglu (2005), The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art, Buffalo: Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Beijing: Millenium Art Museum, 43–8; and Zhai, Zhenming and Gladston, Paul (2011) ‘Answering the Question: What Is the Chinese Avant-Garde? – Zhai Zhenming in Conversation with Paul Gladston’, in Eyeline: Contemporary Visual Arts 78/79, Brisbane: Eyeline Publishing-University of Queensland.

Chapter 3 1 See, Venturi, Robert, Scott-Brown, Denise and Izenour, Steven (1972), Learning from Las Vegas, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press and Jencks, Charles (1977), The Language of Post-modern Architecture, New York City, NY: Rizzoli. 2 See Rosenthal, Norman (1981), A New Spirit in Painting, exhibition catalogue, London: Royal Academy. 3 Foster, Hal, Krauss, Rosalind E., Buchloh, Benjamin H. D., and Bois, Yves-Alain (2004), Art Since 1900: Modernism, Anti-modernism, Postmodernism, London: Thames and Hudson, 597. 4 Papadakis, Andreas C. (1988), Art and Design Profile - The Classical Sensibility in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, London: Academy Editions. 5 See Jencks, Charles (2003), The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, London: Frances Lincoln. 6 Greenberg, Modernist Painting. 7 See, for example, Owens, Craig (1980), The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism, Pt. 1, 12 October, 67–86, and Pt. 2, 13 October, 58–80. 8 Ulmer, G. L. (1985), ‘The Object of Post-Criticism’, in Foster, H. ed., Postmodern Culture, London: Pluto Press, 83–110. 9 See Serota, Nicholas and Skipwith, Joanna eds., Julian Schabel: Paintings 1975-1987, exhibition catalogue, London: Whitechapel Gallery. 10 See Bürger (1984) [1974], Theory of the Avant-garde, Gablik, Suzi (1984), Has Modernism Failed? London: Thames and Hudson, and Krauss, Rosalind E. (1986), The Originality of the Avant-garde and other Modernist Myths, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 11 See Foster, Krauss, Buchloh, and Bois, Art Since 1900, 598. 12 See Foster, Krauss, Buchloh, and Bois, Art Since 1900, 598. 13 Danto, Arthur C. (1992) Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-historical Perspective, Berkeley: University of California Press. 14 Crimp, Douglas (1981), ‘The End of Painting’, 16 October, 69–86. 15 Foster, Hal (1996), Return of the Real. 16 Jameson (1991), Postmodernism.

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17 Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. 18 Harvey, David (1991), The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 19 Lyotard, Jean-François (1984), The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Bennington, Geoff and Massumi, Brian trans., Manchester: Manchester University Press, 71–82. 20 Chow, Rey (1993) [1986], ‘Rereading Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies: A Response to the ‘Postmodern’ Condition’, in Docherty, Thomas ed. Postmodernism: A Reader, 473. 21 Chow, ‘Rereading Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies’, 474. 22 Chow, ‘Rereading Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies’, 481–2. 23 Chow, ‘Rereading Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies’, 482–3. 24 Chow, Rey (2018), ‘Where Do We Go from Here? The Global Visual Economy — The Power of Visibility: On Postcolonial Seeing and Being Seen’, Frieze online, 31 October 2018 (https://frieze.com/tags/rey-chow; accessed 4 November 2018). 25 See Ulmer, ‘The Object of Post-Criticism’. 26 See McEvilley, Thomas (1995), Art and Otherness: Crisis in Cultural Identity, Kingston, NY: McPherson, and McEvilley, Thomas (2001), The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, New York, NY: Allworth Press. 27 See Francis, Richard ed. (1991), A Cabinet of Signs: Contemporary Art from Postmodern Japan, Liverpool: Tate. 28 See, for example, Foucault, Michel (1970) [1966], The Order of Things, London: Tavistock Books. 29 Adorno, Theodor W. and Horkheimer, Max (2002) [1947], Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, Jephcott Edmund trans., Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 30 See, Oliver, Kelly (1993), ‘Julia Kristeva’s Feminist Revolutions’, Hypatia 8, No. 3, 94–114. 31 See Barthes, Roland (2103), Travels in China, London: Polity. 32 See Lacan, Jacques (1977), Écrits: A Selection, Sheridan, Alan trans., New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, Said, Edward (1978), Orientalism, New York City, NY: Pantheon, Butler, Judith (1990), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, London: Routledge, and Bhabha, The Location of Culture. 33 Foster, Krauss, Buchloh, and Bois, Art since 1900, 599. 34 See Foster, Krauss, Buchloh and Bois, Art since 1900, 599. 35 Spivak, Gayatri Chakaravorty (2009) [1998], ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ In Morris, Rosalind ed., Can the subaltern Speak: Reflections on the history of an Idea, 21–80. 36 Gilroy (1995), The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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37 Kwame, Anthony Appiah (1995), ‘Philosophy and Necessary Questions’, in Kwame, Safro ed., Readings in African Philosophy: An Akan Collection, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1–22. 38 Badiou, Alain (2005), Handbook of Inaesthetics, Toscano, Alberto trans. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 39 Anonymous (2016), ‘Alain Badiou: Mao Thinks in an Almost Infinite Way’ (https:// www.versobooks.com/blogs/2033-alain-badiou-mao-thinks-in-an-almost-infiniteway; accessed 2 October 2017). 40 Anonymous (2014), ‘Facing the Real: Alain Badiou (not) in China’ (https://stalin smoustache.org/2014/07/08/facing-the-real-alain-badiou-not-in-china/; accessed 2 October 2017). 41 See Jansen, Gregor, Hübner, Matthias, Bieber, Alain, Alonzo, Pedro, and Klanten, Robert (2011), Art and Agenda: Political Art and Activism, Berlin: Die Gestatlten Verlag, and Weibl, Peter (2015), Global Activism, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 42 Smith, Terry (2008), ‘Introduction’, in Smith, Terry, Enwezor, Okwui, and Condee, Nancy eds., Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 1–19. 43 Gao, Minglu (2008), ‘“Particular Time, Specific Place, My Truth”: Total Modernity in Chinese Contemporary Art’, 133–64. 44 See Bryan-Wilson, Julia (2003) A Curriculum of Institutional Critique, in Ekeberg, Jonas ed., New Institutionalism, Oslo: OCA/verksted, 89–109. 45 Bishop, Claire (2004), ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’, October 110, 51–79. 46 Laclau, Ernesto and Mouffe, Chantal (1985), Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, London: Verso. 47 See Gladston, Paul (2015), ‘Farewell to Post-Colonialism’, Journal of Curatorial Studies 4, 1, special edition, China: Curating, Exhibitions and Display Culture, 6–32. 48 Zhu, Ye (2010) [1985], ‘Beijing Theorists’ Reactions to the Art of Robert Rauschenberg’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York City, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 42–45. 49 Huang, Yongping (1986), ‘Xiamen Dada—yizhong hou xiandai?’ (‘Xiamen Dada—a Kind of Post-Modernism?’), 1, and ‘Wanquan kong de nengzhi’ (‘A Completely Empty Signifier’), 30–2 and 72. 50 Hou, Hanru (2002), On the Mid-ground: Hou Hanru, Selected Texts, Yu, Hsaio-Hwei ed., Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 62. 51 See Shu, Qun (1985), ‘Beifang yishu qunti de jingshen’ (The Spirit of the Northern Art Group), Zhonguo meishu bao (Fine Arts in China), XVIII, No. 1, Shu, Qun (1987), ‘Wei “Beifang yishu qunti” chanshi’ (‘An Explanation of the Northern Art Group), Meishu sichao (The Trend of Art Thought), I, 36–9 and Wang, Guangyi (1986), ‘Women – “’85 meishu yundong” de canyuzhe’ (We – Participants of the “’85 Art Movement”), Zhongguo meishu bao, XXXVI, 1.

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52 Liu, Yuanyuan (2006), ‘Kongzi de “da” he “zhunagmei” yu xifang “chonggao” meixue de yitong’ (The Differences and Similarities between Confucian “Giant” and “Magnificence” and the Western “Sublime”’), Lilun jianshe (Theory Research), IX (2006), 69–70. 53 Huang, Zhuan (2010) [2008], ‘The Misread Great Criticism (Da pipan)’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York City, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 167–71. 54 Li, Xianting (2010) [1992], ‘Apathy and Deconstruction in Post ’89 Art: Analysing the Trends of “Cynical Realism” and “Political Pop”’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York City, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 157–66. 55 Fei, Dawei (2010) [1991], ‘Does Culture in Exile Necessarily Wither? – A Letter to Li Xianting’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York City, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 252–4. 56 See Gladston, Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History, 172. 57 Ai, Weiwei and Feng, Boyi, eds. (2000), Fuck Off, exhibition catalogue, Shanghai: Eastlink Gallery. 58 See Gladston, Paul (2009), ‘Bloody Animals! - Reinterpreting Acts of Sacrificial Violence against Animals as Part of Contemporary Chinese Artistic Practice’, in Krajewski, Sabine and Hernandez, Lili eds., Crossing Cultural Boundaries: Taboo, Bodies and Identities, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 92–104. 59 See Gladston, ‘Bloody Animals!’ 60 Shao, ‘The International Identity of Chinese Art: Theoretical debates on Chinese Contemporary Art in the 1990s’, 87–8. 61 Wah Man, Eva Kit (2015), Issues of Contemporary Art and Aesthetics in Chinese Context, Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2. 62 Rapp, John A. (2012), Daoism and Anarchism: Critiques of State Autonomy in Ancient and Modern China, London: Continuum. 63 Wang, Meiqin (2012), ‘The Art World of Post-Deng China: Market Globalization, and Cultural Nationalism’, in Kuo, Jason C. ed., Contemporary Chinese Art and Film: Theory Applied and Resisted, Washington DC: New Academia Publishing, 55. 64 Dirlik, Arif and Zhang Xudong (1997), ‘Introduction: Postmodernism and China’, Boundary 2 24, 2, 1–18. 65 Jameson, Fredric (1987), Postmodernism and Cultural Theories (Houxiandaizhuyi yuwenhua lilun) Tang, Xiaobing trans. Xi’an: Shaanxi Normal University Press. 66 Davies, Gloria (2007), Worrying about China: The Language of Chinese Critical Enquiry, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 15–57. 67 Hui, Wang (2003), ‘Introduction: Minds of the Nineties’, in Wang, Chaohua ed., One China, Many Paths, London: Verso, 9–37. 68 Davies, Worrying about China, 175.

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69 Anderson, Benedict (1983), Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso. 70 Jorgensen, Darren, account supplied to the present author by via e-mail on 16 October 2018. 71 Jorgensen, Darren, account supplied to the present author by via e-mail on 16 October 2018. 72 Jorgensen, Darren, account supplied to the present author by via e-mail on 16 October 2018. 73 Jiang, Zemin (2001), Speech given at the Seventh National Congress of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and at the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Writers Association on 18 December 2001, released by the Xinhua News Agency, 18 December 2001( http://www.people.com.cn/GB/shizheng/20011218 /629941.html; accessed 1 December 2014). 74 Jiang, Zemin (2001), Speech given at the Seventh National Congress of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and at the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Writers Association on 18 December 2001, released by the Xinhua News Agency, 18 December 2001( http://www.people.com.cn/GB/shizheng/20011218 /629941.html; accessed 1 December 2014). 75 Hu, Jintao (2011), ‘Speech at the 6th Plenum of the 17th Central Committee of CPC, 18 October 2011’, released by the Xinhua News Agency, 24 October 2011 (www.news.xinhuanet.com; accessed 2 April 2013). 76 Smith, Graeme (2017) ‘The Han-opticon: The Hazards of China Research in the Xi Era’, The Interpreter, (https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/han-opticon-h azards-china-research-xi-era; accessed 1 May 2018). 77 Economy, Elizabeth C. (2018) ‘The Great Firewall: Xi Jinping’s Internet Shutdown’, The Guardian online (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/29/the-great -firewall-of-china-xi-jinpings-internet-shutdown; accessed 30 June 2018). 78 See Barber, Benjamin (1996), Jihad vs McWorld: Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy, New York, NY: Ballantine Books. 79 Since the 1990s the CCP has made increasingly explicit references to Confucian notions of social order as a means of projecting the idea of a harmonious society in the face of significant social and economic upheavals brought about by Reform and Opening Up. This appropriation of Confucianism is a cornerstone of Xi Jinping’s presidency and includes rehabilitation into CCP thinking of Han Fei, the ‘legalistic’ Confucian philosopher of the third century BCE. At an academic conference in Shandong, the birthplace of Confucius, in 2014, Xi is quoted as saying that the CCP had been ‘the loyal inheritor and promoter of China's outstanding traditional culture’; see Buckley, Chris (2014), ‘Leader Taps into Chinese Classics in Seeking to Cement Power’, New York Times, 11 October (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/ 10/12/world/leader-taps-into-chinese-classics-in-seeking-to-cement-power.html; accessed 2 December 2017).

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80 See, Anonymous (2014), ‘Xi Jinping’s Talks at the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art’, Rogier Creemers ed., China Copyright and Media: The Law and Policy of Media in China website, posted 16 October 2014 (https://chinacopyrightandmedi a.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/xi-jinpings-talks-at-the-beijing-forum-on-literatureand-art/; accessed 14 December 2017). At the Yan’an Forum of 1942, Mao Zedong called for art and literature that would take the view of the masses and serve the revolutionary aims of the CCP. This call would later form the basis of a party directive handed down shortly after the founding of New China in 1949. See, Mao, Zedong (1942), ‘Yan’an Talks on Art and literature’, Marxist Internet Archive (http s://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_08 .htm; accessed 8 December 2017). That directive currently remains in place within the PRC. 81 Gao, Shiming (2008), ‘Observations and Presentiments “After Post-Colonialism”’, in Maharaj, Sarat, Chang, Tsong-Zung, and Gao, Shiming, Farewell to PostColonialism: The Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong, Guangdong Museum of Art, 34–51. 82 Zheng, Bo (2017), ‘SeaChina – Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China’ (MOOC) (http://seachina.net/seachina-intro.htm; accessed 1 March 2017). 83 Holmes, Ros (2017) ‘MOOC “Discovering Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China”’, The Mediated Image: Visual culture and Digital Dissent in Contemporary China’ (https://themediatedimage.com/2017/02/18/mooc-discovering-socially-eng aged-art-in-contemporary-china/; accessed 2 March 2017). 84 Statement provided to the present author by Zheng Bo via e-mail 11 November 2017. 85 Document provided to the present author by Zheng Bo via e-mail 12 November 2018. 86 Wang, Chunchen (2010), Art Intervenes in Society: A New Artistic Relationship. 87 Chang, Tan (2016) ‘Landscape without Nature: Ecological Reflections in Contemporary Chinese Art’, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 3, No. 3, 223. 88 Chang, ‘Landscape without Nature’, 223. 89 Lu, Carol Yinghua (2010), ‘Back to Contemporary: One Contemporary Ambition, Many Worlds’, Aranda, Julieta, Kuan, Brian, and Vidokle, Anton eds., E-Flux Journal: What is Contemporary Art? New York, NY: Sternberg Press, 166–83.

Chapter 4 1 See Boers-Li Gallery press release, ‘Zhang Peili: Now That’ (https://ocula.com/a rt-galleries/boers-li-gallery/exhibitions/now-that/; accessed 1 December 2018).

Notes

207

2 Zhuan, Huang (2011), ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual: On Zhang Peili’, in Peckham, Robin, and Lau, Venus eds. (2011), Zhang Peili: Certain Pleasures exhibition catalogue, Hong Kong: Blue Kingfisher, 16–17. 3 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual: On Zhang Peili’. 4 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual: On Zhang Peili’. 5 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual: On Zhang Peili’. 6 Conversation with Shu Qun in Gladston, Paul (2013), ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 1979-1989, Bristol: Intellect and University of Chicago Press, 111. 7 Köppel-Yang, Semiotic Warfare, 61. 8 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual’, 16. 9 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 106. 10 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual’, 16. 11 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual’, 16. 12 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual’, 15. 13 Zhuan, ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual’, 16. 14 See, for example, Shi, Jiu (1987), ‘On New Space and the Pond Association’ (Gunyu xin kongjian he ‘Chi she’), in Meishu sichao (The Trend of Art Thought) 1, 16–21. 15 During the 1980s fragmentary information about Euro-American installation art was circulated within the PRC by domestic art magazines and journals. A full translation into Mandarin Chinese of a book by the art historian and critic Heiner Stachelhaus on the work of Joseph Beuys was published in Taiwan in 1991. The book was widely distributed unofficially within the PRC soon after. 16 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 63–69. 17 Although Geng Jianyi was interviewed by the present author on a number of occasions, none of the results of those interviews have been published, either because of poor recording quality or resistance to questioning on the part of the artist. 18 Geng, Jianyi (2012), Wu Zhi – Geng Jianyi’s Works: 1985-2008, Shanghai: Mingsheng Art Museum. 19 Reps, Paul (2009), Writings from the Zen Masters, London: Penguin, 49. 20 Köppel-Yang, Semiotic Warfare, 61. 21 Ni, Yide, Pang, Xunqin et al. (2013) [1932], ‘The Storm Society Manifesto’, in O’Brien, Nicodemus, Chiu, Genocchio, Coffey, and Tejada, eds., Modern Art in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 279–80. 22 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 143. 23 Debord, Guy ed. (1958), Internationale situationiste 1, 13. 24 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 155. 25 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 154. 26 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 155. 27 Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 160.

208 28 29 30 31 32 33

34 35 36 37 38

39 40

41

42 43 44

45 46

47

Notes Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 161. Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 161. Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 161. Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 162. Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 162. Mainusch, Herbert (2006), ‘The Importance of Chinese Philosophy for Western Aesthetics’, in Hussain, Mazhar and Wilkinson, Robert eds., The Pursuit of Comparative Aesthetics: An Interface Between the East and West, Aldershot: Ashgate, 141–2. Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 163. Berghuis, Thomas (2006), Performance Art in China, Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 50. Gladston, ‘Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 133–4. Xia, Jifeng ed. (2014), Ghosts in the Mirror – Song Ling, 1985-2013, Beijing: Today Art Museum. Cao was interviewed by the present author along with all the other members of Chi she, except Bao Jianfei, at Geng Jianyi’s studio-residence in Hangzhou in September 2016 in preparation for this book. Peckham, Robin and Lau, Venus eds. (2011), Zhang Peili: Certain Pleasures exhibition catalogue, Hong Kong: Blue Kingfisher, 122. Zhu-Nowell, Xiaorui (2017), ‘Exploring Artist Zhang Peili’s Document on ‘Hygiene’ No. 3’, Guggenheim.org website (https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/checklist/ exploring-artist-zhang-peilis-document-on-hygiene-no-3; accessed 3 January 2019). In this blog Zhu-Nowell upbraids me and other ‘scholars’ for what she sees as our reflectivist view of contemporary Chinese art. I welcome the opportunity here to correct that misapprehension and, in doing so, to challenge any simplistic substitution of romantic illimitability for deterministic constraint. See Cacchione, Orianna (2018), ‘Related Rhythms: Situating Zhang Peili I and Contemporary Chinese Video Art in the Globalizing Art World’, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, 5, No. 1, 93–106. Baker, George (2003), James Coleman, October Files 5, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Kellein, Thomas ed. (1993), Nam June Paik: Video Time, Video Space, New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams. Cacchionne, Orianna (2017), ‘Mechanisms of Restraint: Zhang Peili’s Subversions of Art and Video’, in Orianna, Cacchione ed., Zhang Peili: Record, Repeat, Chicago, PA: Chicago Institute of Art, 21. Cacchionne, ‘Mechanisms of Restraint’, 22. Gladston, Paul (2011), ‘Low Resolution: Towards an Uncertain Reading of the Art of Zhang Peili’ Peckham, Robin and Lau, Venus eds. (2011), Zhang Peili: Certain Pleasures exhibition catalogue, Hong Kong: Blue Kingfisher, 40. Gladston, ‘Low Resolution’, 40.

Notes 48 49 50 51 52

209

Gladston, ‘Low Resolution’, 41. Gladston, ‘Low Resolution’, 40. Gladston, ‘Low Resolution’, 39. Gladston, ‘Low Resolution’, 39. Gladston, ‘Low Resolution’, 41.

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Winckelmann, Johann Joachim (2017) [1764], The History of Ancient Art: Among the Greeks, Lonson: Forgotten Books. Wood, Beatrice (1917), ‘Buddha of the Bathroom’, The Blind Man 2 (5 May), 5–6. Wu, Hung (2008), ‘A Case of Being “Contemporary”: Conditions Spheres and Narratives of Contemporary Chinese Art’, in Smith, Terry, Enwezor, Okwui and Condee, Nancy eds., Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 290–306. Wu, Hung (2014), Contemporary Chinese Art, London: Thames and Hudson Xia, Jifeng ed. (2014), Ghosts in the Mirror – Song Ling, 1985-2013, Beijing: Today Art Museum. Yee, Craig (2017), ‘Zheng Chongbin: The Classical Origins of Contemporary Abstraction’, Randian-online (http://www.randian-online.com/np_blog/the-classic al-origins-of-contemporary-abstraction/; first accessed 20 July 2017). Ying, Hu (2000), Tales of Translation: Composing the New Woman in China, 18991918, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 4. Yiyang, Shao (2013), ‘The International Identity of Chinese Art: Theoretical Debates on Chinese Contemporary Art in the 1990s’, in Kuo, Jason C. ed., Contemporary Chinese Art and Film: Theory Applied and Resisted, Washington DC: New Academia Publishing, 67–88. Zhai, Zhenming and Gladston, Paul (2011), ‘Answering the Question: What Is the Chinese Avant-Garde? – Zhai Zhenming in Conversation with Paul Gladston’, in Eyeline: Contemporary Visual Arts 78/79, Brisbane: Eyeline Publishing-University of Queensland. Zhang, Dainian (2002), Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy, New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press and Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 118–25. Zheng, Bo (2017a), ‘SeaChina – Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China’ (MOOC) (http://seachina.net/seachina-intro.htm; accessed 1 March 2017). Zheng, Bo (2017b), Statement provided to the present author by via e-mail 11 November 2017. Zheng, Bo (2018), document provided to the present author by via e-mail 12 November 2018. Zhu, Ye (2010) [1985], ‘Beijing Theorists’ Reactions to the Art of Robert Rauschenberg’, in Wu, Hung with Wang, Peggy eds., Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents, New York City, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 42–5. Zhuan, Huang (2011), ‘An Antithesis to the Conceptual: On Zhang Peili’, in Peckham, Robin and Lau, Venus eds. (2011), Zhang Peili: Certain Pleasures exh cat., Hong Kong: Blue Kingfisher, 16–17. Zhuangzi (2003) [C4th-3rd BCE], Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, Watson, Burton trans., New York City, NY: Columbia University Press. Zhu-Nowell, Xiaorui (2017), ‘Exploring Artist Zhang Peili’s Document on ‘Hygiene’ No. 3’, Guggenheim.org website (https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/checklist/explor ing-artist-zhang-peilis-document-on-hygiene-no-3; accessed 3 January 2019).

Index Abbot Suger 51 absolutism 3 Abstract Expressionism 86, 88, 108 abstraction(s) 5, 13, 26, 50, 52, 73, 81–2, 86, 90–1, 93, 95, 104, 106–7, 109, 115, 119, 142, 157 Absurd Trends 122 Accelerationism 117 actor-network theory 118 Addison, Joseph 72 Adorno, Theodor 81 aesthesis 115 aesthetic fever (meixue re) 98 aestheticism 12, 13, 124 anti- 35 counter- 35 aesthetic modernity 1–5, 8, 11–15, 18, 21, 23, 26, 30–2, 34, 39, 57, 78, 80, 95, 97, 103–4, 107, 111, 118–19, 121, 123, 135, 171–2, 174, 176–9 Aesthetic Movement, the 12 Ai Weiwei 21, 23, 28, 137, 158, 170, 176–7 Albers, Josef 84 Alexander, William 72 Alt-right, the 117 Analects, the 44, 70 Anderson, Benedict 129 Anthropocene, the 25, 117, 134 anthropological positivism 8 anti-art 81 anti-spiritual pollution campaign (Qingchu jingshen wuran), the 18, 119 Antonioni, Michelangelo 113 Apartment Art 123, 124 appropriation-translation 3, 9, 29, 30, 37, 67, 84, 86, 89, 93, 103, 111, 126, 164, 174 argument by design 68 Aristotelean 62

‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’[exhibition] 21, 125 ‘Art of Change: New Directions from China’ [exhibition] 21 artworld(s) 1–3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 19, 21–5, 28–9, 31, 33, 35, 38, 40–1, 59, 65, 74, 101–2, 104–5, 107, 111, 113, 115, 117–18, 120, 122–3, 126–8, 130–1, 133, 140, 149, 152, 154–5, 158, 170–3, 177–8 Association of Chinese Artists, the 91 autotelic 80 avant-garde(s) 12, 13, 18, 23, 37–8, 79–82, 88, 93, 97, 101–6, 112, 120, 124–5, 153, 173, 175 historical 81–2, 108 neo- 35, 38, 82 political 109 unromantic 38 Awards of Art China, the 137, 159 Badiou, Alain 115–16 Baha’i World Faith 87 Ban, Zhao 55 Bao, Jianfei 143, 159 Barnstormers, the [art group] 89 baroque, the 60 Barthes, Roland 113 Baudelaire, Charles 78, 80 Baudrillard, Jean 167 Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb 60 beauty 49, 53, 60, 61–2, 64, 66, 72–3, 76–8, 99 without order 72–3 Beijing Forum on Literature and Art 132 Beijing Spring 18 Benedict XIV [Pope] 68 Beuys, Joseph 144 Bhabha, Homi 113–14 big character posters (dazibao) 97, 152–3 Bishop, Claire 118 Black Atlantic, the 115

Index Black Lives Matter 116 Black Mountain College 84–5, 87 Boers-Li [gallery] 20, 137, 164, 166 Boucher, François 66 Bourriaud, Nicolas 118 Brexit 16 Brown, Lancelot ‘Capability’, 70 Buddhism 9, 35, 40, 45, 47, 52, 83, 85, 88, 120, 127, 167, 170 Chan 23, 34, 39–40, 47, 53, 84, 88, 120, 138, 149–50, 173 Indian 47 Zen 48, 84, 88 Bürger, Peter 81, 108–9 Büring, Johann Gottfried 72 Burke, Edmund 61–3, 70 Butler, Judith 113 CAFAM Future Exhibition 131 Cage, John 84–5, 88, 112, 120 Cahill, James 50 Cai, Guo-Qiang 123 Cai, Yuanpei 92–4, 137 Camus, Albert 119 Cao, Xuelei 143, 159 capitalism 78, 109, 116–17, 178 commodity 12 free-market 81 industrial 12 late 128 market 129 multinational 121 neo-liberal 116–17, 175 Capitalocene, the 117 Carpenter Cui 139 Carus, Paul 85, 88 Castiglione, Giuseppe (Lang ShihNing) 58 Catholic 58, 67–8 Central Committee of the CCP, the 98, 131 Chambers, Sir William 69–73, 111 Chang, Tan 134 Chen, Danqing 99 Cheng-Zhu School 45 Chicago, Judy 82 Chicago Institute of Art, the 138, 162, 167 China Academy in Beijing, the 96 ‘China/Avant-garde’ (Xiandai meishu dazhan) [exhibition] 19, 159

229

China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, the 126, 131 China National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou 20, 124, 137, 159 China Pavilion, the [Venice Biennale] 20, 131 ‘China’s New Art, Post-1989’ [exhibition] 20 Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the 6–7, 17–20, 25–8, 96–102, 113, 122–34, 138, 142–3, 150, 156, 158, 163, 168, 170, 177 Chinese Modern Woodcut Movement, the 96, 100 Chinnery, George 59 Chinoiserie 67, 73, 83 Chippendale, Thomas 67 Chiswick House 61 Chow, Rey 110–11 Chuang, Ze 88 civilization-specific 1, 4, 27, 92 Cixi, Dowager Empress 55 Clark, John 23–4, 26, 29–31 classicism 11, 12, 59–60, 63, 65–6, 73, 75–8, 103, 106, 142 neo- 11, 56, 60 Close, Chuck 99 Clunas, Craig 22, 49, 54, 56 Cold War, the 6 Coleman, James 161 collage-montage 12, 81–2, 97, 120 collectivism 20, 115, 127, 138, 142 disciplinarian 160 Maoist 128–9, 139 repressive 20, 102 colonialist-imperialist 4, 6, 12, 14, 28–9, 83, 92, 11, 113, 126, 133 neo- 123 conceptual art(works) 64, 106, 119, 120 post- 7 Conceptualism 81, 87, 106 Confucian(ism) 4, 7, 26, 29, 34–5, 44–50, 52, 54–7, 68–70, 72–3, 89, 91–2, 94, 121, 127, 132, 138, 140, 157, 169–70 Daoist- 54, 94, 121 neo- 1–2, 4–7, 9, 26, 32, 35, 38–9, 40, 45, 47–9, 52, 55–7, 70, 73, 98, 124,

230 127, 133–4, 157, 167, 170, 173–4, 177 Confucius (Kong fu zi) 44–7, 68–70 Confucius Institutes 6, 27 Constant, Benjamin 80 Constructivism 12 contemporaneity 1–3, 6–9, 11, 15–16, 24, 31, 34–5, 37–9, 41, 105, 107, 109, 117, 119, 173–4, 177, 179 cosmology 168 Courbet, Gustave 77–8, 80, 103, 142 Cousin, Victor 80 Cowell, Henry 84 Crimp, Douglas 108 Cubism 93 cultural myopia 23 Cultural Revolution, the 18, 98, 100, 104, 113, 116, 121, 133–4, 139, 142, 152–4, 161, 163, 168 Cunningham, Merce 84 Cynical Realism (Wanshi xianshi zhuyi) 20 da (vastness or magnificence) 70, 121, 169 Dada(ist) 12, 81, 85, 93, 101, 106, 120 Xiamen 101 Dalí, Salvador 140 Danto, Arthur C. 3, 108–9 Dao, the 46–7, 52, 168 Daodejing, the 46, 88, 157 Daoism 9, 34–5, 39, 40, 45–8, 69, 83–8, 126–7, 138, 170, 173 Daoist 4, 7, 26, 40, 45, 47, 48–9, 52, 53, 69, 83, 85, 87–8, 92, 111, 121, 151, 168, 173–4 metaphysical concept of ‘One’, 119 neo- 50 Daoist/Buddhist 1–2, 51–2, 149, 157, 170, 173–4, 179 Dartington Hall 87 Darwinism social 92 David, Jacques-Louis 60, 66, 77 Davies, Gloria 128 Declaration of the Pond Association 147–50, 157–8, 167–8 decolonization 6

Index deconstruction 15, 25–6, 28, 36, 39–40, 103, 108, 112, 123, 125–6, 129, 133, 148, 162, 164, 167 deconstructivism 39–41, 106, 115, 170 defamiliarization 3, 9, 13, 35, 81–2, 104, 106–7, 112–13, 164, 167 deferred action (nachträglichkeit) 37–8, 90, 104, 110–11, 1155, 168, 170–2 De Gournay, Jacques Claude Marie Vincent 69 Deism 35, 68 Delacroix, Eugène 77 delicious terror 63 De Monte Corvino, Jean 57 Deng, Xiaoping 18–19, 98, 122 Deren, Maya 84 Derrida, Jacques 6, 14, 24, 36, 39, 101, 106 Dewey, John 85, 87–8 Dharma 47, 52 diachronic 31, 155, 174 dialectical(ly) 24, 94, 102, 105, 109, 112, 114, 116, 127–8, 130 critical- 13 -materialist 16, 35, 79 rationalism 37 rationalist- 11, 24, 27, 109–10, 115, 117–18, 122, 143 -reciprocal 34 recuperation 108 struggle 12, 79 dialectical monism 47 Diderot, Denis 65–6, 78 différance 2, 8, 36–7, 39–40, 171–4 différend 4, 111 differing/deferring 36 Ding, Yi 119 discourse(s) 3, 5, 6–8, 12–13, 15, 17, 24, 26, 29, 32, 35, 56, 61, 126, 128, 161, 173–4, 178 artworld 28, 33 colonialist-imperialist 4 dialectical-materialist 16 Enlightenment 61 feminist 26, 29 Foucauldian 37 Global 135 identarian 3, 15 Marxian-Hegelian 16, 35, 112, 115, 129

Index materialist 16 modernist 16 neo-imperialist 8 philosophical 33 political 160 postcolonialist postmodernist 113 post-Enlightenment 1–2, 5, 7, 11, 14–15, 26, 32–3, 36, 57, 90, 116, 174–5 postmodernist 16, 23–4, 129, 164 rationalist-dialectical 122 Dong, Qichang 50, 52 Dorment, Richard 23 Dow, Arthur Wesley 84 Dreier, Katherine 86 Duchamp, Marcel 85–6, 106, 154 Duchampian post- 7, 23 ready-made 107 Durkheimian error 160 East India Company, the British 57 Dutch 57 Swedish 70 Edo period, the 72 eight-legged essay (baguwen) 43 ’85 New Wave (’85 meishu yundong), the 18–19, 25, 101–2, 119–20, 122–4, 128, 132 Embodied Media Studio, the 20, 137 endist [arguments] 108–9 enlightenment 147–9 cultural 98 meditative 72 non-desiring 47, 121 spiritual 45 transcendental 76 wu 52 Enlightenment, the 35, 61, 63, 90, 157, 167 discourses 61 pre- 63 epistemological blindness 59 Erdmannsdorf, Friedrich Wilhelm 63 Ernst, Max 86 eternal return 83, 173 Euro-America(n) 1, 2, 5, 9, 11–16, 18, 22–6, 31, 34–5, 38, 41, 43, 50, 57,

231

59, 75, 80–3, 85–7, 89, 90, 102–7, 110–12, 118–21, 125, 127–8, 133–4, 148, 152–5, 158, 161, 171 European Union, the 6 evangelical right, the 16 exceptionalism Chinese 26, 133 cultural 4, 179 national-cultural 19, 27 existentialist 102, 119, 143 Exposition Universelle, the 77, 78 Expressionism 93 Extinction Rebellion 117 fa (regularity) 52 fan (return) 40, 168, 171–2 Fauvism 93 Fei, Dawei 122–3 Fenollosa, Ernest F. 84 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb 64, 75–6 filial piety 44 First National Congress of Literature and Art Workers, the 96 Five Classics, the 44 flâneur 78 Fluxus 81 Forsyth, Frederick 144 Foster, Hal 37–8, 109 Foucauldian 7, 59 Four Arts, the 48 Freud, Sigmund 37 Friedrich, Caspar David 63 Fu, Baoshi 17 Fu, Lei 95 ‘Fuck Off ’ [exhibition] 125 Fuseli, John Henry 63 Futurists 82 Gablik, Suzi 108 Gabo, Naum 86 ganxing (aesthetic experience) 126 Gao, Jianfu 91 Gao, Minglu 26, 123, 140 Gao, Shiming 133 Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri 86 Gautier, Théophile 80 genealogy 1, 9 generational disaffinity 11, 13, 16 Geng, Jianyi 138–40, 143–4, 151

232

Index

Géricault, Théodore 76–7 Gilroy, Paul 115 global financial downturn, the 16, 36, 115 globalization 6, 8, 116, 127, 129, 132 gloomth 63 Godard, Jean-Luc 113 Godzilla [art group] 89 Godzookie [art group] 89 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang 61 Goldsmith, Oliver 72 Gombrich, Ernst 120 gong-bi 49–50, 52–5, 91 Gothic, the 59–61, 63, 67, 73 Goya, Francisco 63 Great Firewall, the 132 Great Leap Forward, the 17, 116, 138, 168 Greenberg, Clement 81, 48 Gu, Wenda 20, 123 Guangzhou Triennial, the 118, 133 guo hua (national painting) 90, 93, 104, 131 Han, Byung-Chui 40 Han dynasty, the 43, 44–5, 47, 55 Han-opticon, the 132, 160 He, Duoling 99 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 75–6, 79, 109, 120 hegemony 7 Heidegger, Martin 14, 83 Hellenistic period, the 75 He-Yin, Zhen 94 hipster subcultures 16 Hirschfeld, Christian Cay Lorenz 71 Holocaust, the 30 Holzer, Jenny 107 Horace 56 Hou, Hanru 120, 122 Hu, Jintao 130 Huang, Xinbo 96 Huang, Yongping 20, 23, 120, 122 Huang, Zhuan 122, 142 Hudson River School, the 63 Hui, Neng 88 Hulsenbeck, Richard 85, 120 Humanist Enthusiasm (Renwen reqing) 102

Hundred Schools of Thought, the 45 Huxley, Aldous 87 hybrid 3–4, 15, 23, 114, 119 hybridity 15, 16, 25 hybridization 21 hybridizing 15, 24, 25, 169 Ibn, Battuta 67 I Ching, the 44, 84, 112, 120 ideal forms (eidos) 56 idealism 12, 75, 78 Platonic 115 radical 3, 13, 59, 64, 73, 75, 148 transcendental 65, 75 identarian 3, 15, 23, 29, 35, 57 ideological superstructure 79 ideology 25 capitalist 79, 152 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 123, 126, 128, 130, 138, 142, 150 Imagisme 86 imperialist(ic) 8, 27, 29, 173 anti- 127, 177 neo- 8 inaesthetics 115 Industrial Revolution, the 12 Inforcetta, Prospero 68 inner reality (zhen) 52 Internet, the 16, 115, 132 Islamic fundamentalism 16 Jameson, Fredric 109–11, 128–30 Jantjes, Gavin 23, 25 Jencks, Charles 106 Jesuits 57–8, 68 Jiang, Feng 99 Jiang, Zemin 130 Jiang, Zhaoke 93 Jin dynasty 45 Jorgensen, Darren 129 Jullien, François 5, 8 Juvenal 56 Kandinsky, Wassily 85–6 Kang Youwei 91–2 Kant, Immanuel 11, 14, 61–5, 68, 75–6, 79, 81, 110 Kantian 70, 92, 110, 118

Index disinterestedness 69 neo- 93 post- 11 sublime 111, 169 Kaprow, Allan 82 Kester, Grant 175–6 Kircher, Anthanasius 67 Kitsch 81, 97 Klee, Paul 86 Klein, Yves 86 kõans 149–50, 167–8 Kollwitz, Käthe 100 Köppel-Yang, Martina 23 Krauss, Rosalind 108 Kristeva, Julia 113 Kruger, Barbara 107 Kuhn, Thomas 120 Kuo, Jason 51 Kuomintang (KMT), the 96 Kwame, Anthony Appiah 115 Lacan, Jacques 113 Laclau, Ernesto 118 Lamqua 59 Land, Nick 117 langue 9, 170 Laozi 46 l’art pour l’art (art for art’s sake) 80 Lawler, Louise 107 LBGTQI+, 16 Lechner, Johan Baptist 72 Legalism 45 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim 66 Levinasian 32 Levine, Sherrie 107 Lewis, Wyndham 86 li 47 Li, Xianting 122–3 Li, Yuan-Chia 89 Li, Zehou 50 liberal(ism) American 108 bourgeois- 81 neo- 6, 115 Li-jiao 47 Lin, Fengmian 93, 97 Lingnan School 91 literati aesthetics 43, 52, 111–12, 177

233

art 32, 34, 43, 52, 56, 95 culture 4, 121, 124, 134, 137, 158, 176–7 garden design 72 painting 50–1, 52–6, 89–91, 157–8 poetry 55, 158 preoccupations 100 scholar 57 tradition 56, 90, 93 values 119 Literati (Shi), the 43–59, 177 Liu, Shaohui 99 Liu, Yuanyuan 70 Longinus 62 Longo, Robert 107 Lord Burlington 61 Louis XIV [King] 67 Louis XV [King] 58 Lü, Peng 101 Lu, Xinghua 116 Lu, Xun 96 Academy 96 Lucilius 56 Luminism 64 Luo, Zhongli 99 Lyotard, Jean François 110, 167, 169 Macartney, Earl of 72 McIvelley, Thomas 112 ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ [exhibition] 20, 114, 122 Magritte, René 142 Mandate of Heaven, the 46 Mao, Zedong 17, 96, 98 ‘Mao Goes Pop: China Post-1989’ [exhibition] 20 Maoist collectivism 128–9, 139 communism 100, 113 era 20 group 113 -oriented 128 post- 32, 119, 129 principles 113 revolutionary period 17, 98, 100, 102, 103–4, 121, 124, 142, 168 revolutionary thinking 97, 116, 121 socialist realism 17–18, 99–100, 102, 119

234

Index

thought Marden, Brice 86, 88–9 Martin, Agnes 86–7 Marx, Karl 78–9 Marxian 117, 126, 127, 129 dialectical thinking 128 dialectics 176 neo- 117 teleological view of history 129 world-view 128 Marxism postmodern 129 revolutionary 82 May Fourth Movement, the (Wusi yundong) 91 Melancholy Youth Painting 99, 140 Mencius 44 Merton, Thomas 88 metamodernism 3, 17, 36 #Metoo movement 116 Michaux, Henri 86 migration of souls 83 millennials 29, 189 n.93 Ming Dynasty 43, 53, 55 modernism(s) 1–3, 9, 14, 17, 63, 81, 90, 97, 105–10, 117, 170 artistic 12, 34, 95–6 Chinese 103 Euro-American 15, 22, 26, 38, 85, 89–90, 93, 95, 99, 102, 111, 118 high- 14, 82, 105, 108, 114 rationalist 16 revitalized 16 western(ized) 102 modernist(s) 3, 5, 13, 15, 16, 18, 24, 36, 84, 86, 92, 101, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 123 abstraction 13, 81, 104, 106–7, 109, 119 art 13, 19, 89, 93, 95, 102, 104, 108 avant-garde(s) 13, 104–5, 108, 175 Chinese 55, 100 critical distancing 14, 57, 170 Euro-American 18, 89, 93, 99, 100, 118 (Greenbergian) high- 97, 105, 106, 118 idioms 94 international style 105 late 35

master-narrative(s) 82, 105, 108–9, 148 opposition 13, 108, 118, 130 precepts 82 progressive specialization 106 rationalist-dialectical clarity 110 romantic- 17 styles 13, 93, 94–5 thinking and practice 13–14, 109 modernité [Baudelaire] 80 modernity 1, 14, 15, 31, 33, 38–9, 92, 95, 104, 117, 126, 127 artistic 24, 117 in China 97 Chinese 111 critical 81 Euro-American 25, 29, 91, 95 industrial 78 post-Enlightenment 5, 6, 36, 61, 112, 174 post-West 15 total modernity (Gao Minglu) 26, 172 urban 78 western(ized) 91 Mondrian, Piet 85 MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) 133–4 Moore, George [architect] 106 Moore, George Edward [philosopher] 14 morphology discursive 36 stylistic 5, 30 Motherwell, Robert 84 Mouffe, Chantal 118 Mu, Xin 17 Muromachi period, the 72 Nabis, the 83 Nam, June Paik 161 Nannü (man/woman) 94 National Art Museum, Beijing, the 119 National Congress, the of the CCP 130 of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles 130 of Literature and Art Workers 96 National Painting (Guo hua) 90, 93, 104, 131 Native Soil Art 99

Index neo-classicism 11, 56, 60 neo-liberal 6 neo-liberal(ism) 115 capitalism 116–17 democratic politics 178 neo-Palladian 60–1 Neue Sachlichkeit 96 New China 44 New Culture Movement, the (Xin wenhua yundong) 85, 91, 96 New Eden 64 New Left, the 132 New Literati Art Games 122 ‘New Spirit in Painting’, a [exhibition] 105 New Woman, the (xin nuxing, xi nuxing) 94 Ni, Yide 93, 97 Nietszche, Friedrich 65, 78–81, 80–1, 83, 120–1, 173 Nietszchean 92, 140 nihilism 173 nihilism (xuwu zhuyi) 150 ‘1985 New Space’ (Bawu xin kongjian 1985), the [exhibition] 143 Noland, Kenneth 84 No Name Group, the (Wuming huahui) [art group] 17, 100 Northern and Southern Schools 53 Northern Art Group, the (Beifang yishu qunti) 120–1, 140–3 Northern Culture 120, 141, 143 Northern Song dynasty, the 53 Object-oriented Ontology 17 Occupy movement, the 116 O’Keeffe, Georgia 84 One Belt, One Road [development strategy] 6 Opium War, the First 43, 90 Second 43, 82, 90 opus modernum (modern work) 59 orientalism 113, 116 self- 135 orientalizing 4, 8, 22, 73 Osborne, Peter 7 Pan, Gongkai

131

235

Pan, Yuliang 55, 94–5 Pang, Xunqin 17, 93, 97 parallax 2, 37–8 cultural 103–4, 153, 155, 157, 171 discursive 172 Paris Commune, the 78 parody 15 parole 9, 170 patriarchal 15, 47, 55, 82, 94, 113, 176 aristocratic- 57 masculinist- 108 patriarchy 14, 94, 177 Pavilion of Realism, the 77–8 Peili, Zhang 9, 137–78 Peking (Beijing) 58, 72, 92 University 128, 155 Peng, Yu 125 People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the 96 People’s Republic of China (PRC), the 2, 4, 6–9, 17–22, 24–33, 95–103, 113–14, 116, 119–35, 137–40, 142–4, 147, 150–2, 154, 157, 159–61, 167–8, 170, 178–9 perspectivist 2, 79 Picasso, Pablo 100 Plato 56, 60 Platonic 56, 64 idealism 115 pluriversal 6, 15 Political Pop (Zhengzhi bopu) 20 Pollock, Jackson 86 Polo, Marco 67 polylogue 6 Pond Association (Chi she), the 9, 40, 137–70, 173, 177 Pop Art 81 postcolonialism 28, 126 poststructuralist 3, 174 Third Space 122 postcultural 8 post-historical 108–9 posthuman(ism) 25, 118 post-Impressionism 93 post-Impressionist 83 postmodern 29, 38 sublime 111, 148, 169 postmodern condition 107, 110, 114

236 postmodernism(s) 1–5, 8–9, 17, 22, 34, 38, 63, 102, 110–11, 114, 117, 122, 128–30 institutionalized 36, 175 Jamesonian 129 neo-conservative 105–6, 108 postcolonialist 109, 113–14 poststructuralist 14–16, 22–6, 30, 33, 35, 103, 105–10, 112–17, 122–3, 126, 138, 148–9, 152, 155, 157, 162, 164, 167, 170, 172, 176 postmodernist 1–5, 16, 35, 57, 118, 129 art 18–19, 23–4, 101–2, 109 critical turn 118 defamiliarization 107 Euro-American 154 Institutionalized 178 post- 24 poststructuralist 30, 117–18, 128, 154, 166 sensibilities 81, 111 styles 102 subversion 13, 178 uncertainty 16, 110, 118 postmodernity 8, 26, 30, 34, 114, 128–30, 172 aesthetic 25 post-West global society 133 modernity 15 Pound, Ezra 86 pragmatism American 92 Ethical 68 proletariat 12, 96 pure gaze 11 pure model 17, 97, 142 Qi, Baishi 91 qi (breath) 39–40, 46–7, 49, 51 Qianlong Emperor, the 58 qianwei (avant-garde) 18–19, 23, 102–3 Qin dynasty, the 44–5 Qing dynasty, the 43, 55, 82 Qiu, Jin 94 Qiu, Zhijie 124 qiyun shengdong (vital-energy resonance) 49, 51–2, 56, 157 queer 21

Index Quesnay, François

69, 73

radical democracy 118 rationalism dialectical 37 latent 177 neo-Confucian 35 non- 120, 140, 148, 172 scientific 12 secular 63 rationalist-dialectical 11, 24, 27, 109–10, 115, 117–18, 122, 143 Rational Painting 137–8, 140–3 Rauschenberg, Robert 82, 84–5, 103, 119 Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Initiative (ROCI), the 103, 119 Red Guards (Hongwei bing), the 97 reflexivity 8 exclusory 32 self- 11, 17, 39, 83 Reform and Opening-Up (Gaige kaifeng) 18–19, 21, 98, 102, 120, 122, 127–9, 131–3, 139, 141, 152, 160, 167–8 refraction(s) [diffraction(s)] 24, 38, 114, 128, 171 Reinhardt, Ad 86, 88–9 relational aesthetics 118, 133, 176 relativism 24, 83, 110, 164 Renaissance, the 59–60, 64, 106 resonance(s) 1, 3, 5, 9, 31, 37, 39, 40, 49, 51, 83, 86, 111, 112, 135, 148, 150, 152, 157, 167–74 revolutionary 12, 13, 17, 64, 77–80, 92, 94–7, 102, 104, 112, 116, 117, 127, 129, 175 art 121 communism 113, 116 films 161–2 machine 96 Maoist 116, 121, 124, 142 Marxism 82 types 140, 143 Revolutionary Realism 97 Revolutionary Romanticism 97 ‘The Revolution Continues: New Art from China’ [exhibition] 23 Ricci, Matteo 50, 58, 68

Index Richter, Hans 81 Riefenstahl, Leni 82 Rites Controversy, the 68 Rococo, the 58, 60, 66–7 Rodrigues, Benjamin Olinde 80 Romanesque, the 59 romanticism 3, 13, 63, 73, 75, 78, 80, 104, 148 East-facing 112 Euro-American 110 post-Enlightenment 111 Rosa, Salvator 71 Rosler, Martha 82 Rousseau, Jean Jacques 69 Rural Realism 99, 140 Said, Edward 113 Saint-Denis [the church of] 59 Saint-Simonian 80 Sanyu (Chang Yu) 95 satire 56 Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph 64–5, 75–6 Schiller, Friedrich 64 Schlegel(s), Karl Wilhelm Friedrich and August Wilhelm 64–5, 69, 76, 83, 85, 112 Schnabel, Julian 107 Schopenhauer, Arthur 69, 76, 79 scopophiliac 78 self-cultivation (wenhua) 44, 48, 121, 134 Self-strengthening Movement (Yangwu yundong) 43, 90 semiotics 36 sensus communis 61 798 Art District (Dashanzi), the 20 Seven Intellectuals of the Bamboo Grove 45, 48 Shanghai Biennale, the 130 ShanghArt [gallery] 20 shan-shui hua (mountains and water painting) 49–51, 53, 55, 72, 91, 95, 134, 157 Shanzai 40 Shao, Dazhen 25 Sharawadji (sharadge) 72–3 Sheeler, Charles 84 Sherman, Cindy 107

237

Shi (Literati), the 43 Shitao 52, 55 Shonibare, Yinka 113 Shu, Qun 121, 140 Sichuan School, the 99 Silbergeld, Jerome 54–5 Silk Route, the 66 Sino-Japanese War, the First 90 Situationism 81 Six Dynasties, the 47, 50 Six Principles of Painting (Huihua liufa) [Xie He] 49–50 Smith, Terry 117 socialism 128 with Chinese characteristics 28, 129 state 26 socialist(s) 96, 129 Marxian- 27 modernization 130 post- 2 realist 17, 79, 93, 97, 98, 103, 142, 156 revolutionary change 95 socialist realism 17–18, 81, 97, 99, 100, 102–4, 119–21, 138, 140, 142–3, 155 social media 16, 115, 132 socioeconomic base 13, 79, 110 Socrates 60 Song, Dong 123 Song, Ling 143, 151, 154–5, 159 Song dynasty, the 45, 53, 55 Soulages, Pierre 86 sous-rature 3, 34, 41, 172 South China Sea 6 Soviet Union, the 79, 96–7, 104, 116, 123 spectrum identities 21 speculative realism 17, 25, 118, 134 spieltrich (play drive) 64 spirit (geist) 75–6 spiritual harmony (hexie) 7 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty 39, 115 Spring and Autumn Period, the 44 Stalinist 96–7, 112 Stars (Xingxing), the [art group] 18, 20, 100 Storm Society (Juelanshe), the [art group] 93, 97, 150–1 The Storm Society Manifesto 150 strategic essentialism 114–15, 133

238

Index

Strawberry Hill House 60, 63, 72 sublation (aufhebung) 75, 103 sublime, the 61–5, 70–1, 78, 110, 111 Burkian 63, 70, 111, 169 Kantian 110, 111, 169 Lyotardian 111 romantic 79 sublimity 49, 61–2, 64, 70–1, 75, 77, 110, 121, 167, 169 subversion 77, 116, 163 postmodernist 13, 178 Sui dynasty, the 43 Sullivan, Michael 5 Sun, Yat-Sen 94 Sun, Yuan 125 superpower 168–9 Supreme Ultimate, the (taiji) 48 surrealism 12, 119, 121, 140 Suzuki, D. T. 84–5, 88 syncretic 4 neo-Confucian(ism) 39, 47, 52, 170 neo-Confucian(ist) aesthetics 1–2, 7, 9, 31–2, 173 neo-Confucian tradition 157 revival 45 synoptical 131 synthetic(al) 141 -formalist 84 overcoming 26 proximity 13 quasi- 36 Tagore, Rabindranath 121 tai-chi 151 taijitu 47 Tang dynasty, the 45, 52–3, 55, 86 Tel Quel 113 Temple, Sir William 72 Teng, Gu 54 Teng, Kuei 87 Theosophical Society, the 85, 92 Third Space [Homi Bhabha] 1–4, 15, 114, 122 third space (Yi-pai) [Gao Minglu] 26 Thoreau, Henry David 85 three prominences, the 51 Tiananmen 19, 122, 168 post- 123–4 tianxia 7, 27, 29, 46

Tobey, Mark 86–9 trace-structure 36–7, 106, 174 transcultural 2–5, 7–9, 23–5, 30, 32, 35–8, 40, 50, 104, 120, 140, 169, 170, 173–4, 179 Trans-realism 119 Treaty of Versailles, the 91 Trotskyism 79 Trump, Donald 16, 178 Tsien, Jennifer 34 Übermensch 121 Uighurs 6 Ulmer, Gregory L. 112 United States, the 6, 16, 20, 29, 83–4, 86–9, 91–2, 104, 112 Van Dijk, Hans 158 Van Rijn, Rembrandt 67 Vasari, Giorgio 60–1 Venice Biennale, the 20, 131 Vigneron, Frank 59 visual music 84 Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) 34–5, 69, 73, 83 Von Sandrart, Joachim 68 Vorticism 86 Wabi-sabi 174 Wagner, Richard 79 Walpole, Horace 60, 63, 72, 73 Wang, Bi (Ink Wang) 50 Wang, Chunchen 134 Wang, Gaungyi 121, 140, 142 Wang, Hui 132 Wang, Meqin 127 Wang, Qiang 143, 151–2, 159 Wang, Yao-ting 51 Warhol, Andy 113 Warring States Period, the 44, 47 Watteau, Antoine 67 Wei, Guangqing 119 Wen, Zheming 72 White Cube, the 7, 178 wills to power 79 Wolff, Christian (C18th) 69 Wolff, Christian (C20th) 84 Wolff, Kurt 84 Wörlitz 63 worrying [about China] 128, 130

Index Wright, Joseph 71 wu (enlightenment) 52 Wu, Hung 22, 25 Wu, Zetian 55 Wumen 149 wu wei 46–7, 69 Wyeth, Andrew 99 Xi, Jinping 7, 131–2, 177 Xiamen Dada 101 xie-yi 49–55, 86 Xi hua (new ‘westernized’ art) 93 xing (pictorial form) 52 Xu, Beihong 93 xushi (absence-presence) 40, 51–2, 111–12 yaji 62, 166 Yan’an forum, the 17, 96 Yang, Jiechang 20 Yao [Emperor] 70 Yee, Craig 48, 50–1

239

Yi, Dan 101 yi-ching (idea realm) 51 Yinghua Lu, Carol 135 Yi-pai 26 yin-yang 2, 39–40, 46–8, 157, 168, 171–2 Yiyang, Shao 126 Yu, Youhan 119 Yuan dynasty, the 4, 50, 53 Zenga [painting] 48 Zhao, Wuji (Zao Wou-ki) 95 Zhaungzi 40, 47–8, 127 Zhejiang Youth Creation Group (Zhejiang qingnian chaungzuo she), the [art group] 143 Zheng, Bo 133–4 Zhou dynasty, the 44 Zhu, Xi 45 Zhu-Nowell, Xiaorui 160–1 Zinnemann, Fred 144 ziran 46–7, 52