CURRENT Phase Three set for Shanghai

The next instalment of the biggest showcase of Scottish contemporary art to ever take place in China, led by the University of Dundee’s Cooper Gallery, opens later this month.

Phase Three of ‘CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland’ opens at Shanghai Himalayas Museum on Saturday, 22nd September. It comprises solo exhibitions from leading Scottish artists Bruce McLean and Ross Sinclair that illuminate how different experiences of ‘the contemporary’ are constituted in time.

CURRENT comprises exhibitions and other events featuring more than 50 artists over four phases and is co-curated by Sophia Hao, of Cooper Gallery, and Wang Nanming, Director of Shanghai Himalayas Museum.

“‘The contemporary’ is measured in gesture and pose. It is an impulse, a setting into motion,” said Sophia Hao. “Phase Three of CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland declares the contemporary to be the only imperative to action. Always here and now, the duration and conditions of ‘the contemporary’ define its reality. The exhibitions focus on the elusive details, the nuances of gesture and pose that give the contemporary its concrete ‘real life’.”

For almost five decades, Bruce McLean’s subversive sculptural work has embodied a playful and critical stance on formalities and hierarchies. His Shanghai exhibition, I Want My Crown, features film and photography spanning the breadth of his career. From ‘Pose Work for Plinths’ (1971) to the title work ‘I Want My Crown’ (2013), McLean’s exhibition is a timely rebuttal to the spectacle of ‘the contemporary’.

Ross Sinclair’s Real Life Is Dead/Long Live Real Life heralds a new phase in an ongoing project that critiques the experience of the ‘real’. Initiated in 1994 with the phrase ‘Real Life’ tattooed on his back, he developed Real Life as a series of exhibitions, performances and installations that summon a determination for individual and collective ‘realifers’ to stand as the multiplicity and reality of ‘the contemporary’.

As part of the Spirit of Youth programme, Sinclair will also be participating in two-week artist residency working with young people, musicians and artists in Shanghai to create The Scottish-Chinese Real Life Orchestra.

This programme sees the continuation of the artists’ collaboration with Cooper Gallery, both of whom exhibited as part of Two Night Stands, co-curated with esteemed curator and art historian Lynda Morris, earlier this year. McLean also collaborated with Cooper Gallery for A Cut A Scratch A Score: A Comic Opera in Three Parts in 2011, and was the keynote speaker for Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference hosted by University of Dundee in 2013. 

Playing off its Chinese translation of ‘untimely’, CURRENT questions the political, social and economic discourses that contest this present moment and its apparition as culture. The artists brought together in CURRENT illustrate the oppositions, contradictions and paradoxes that give contemporary art and culture in Scotland such experimental energy.

It is the first showcase of Scottish contemporary art of this scale to take place in China, and is produced by Cooper Gallery in collaboration with Shanghai Himalayas Museum in partnership with British Council. The project is funded and supported by British Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government, and is one of the programmes in the Spirit of Youth campaign brought by the UK government including British Council and Visit Britain. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously visited the exhibitions in Shanghai and praised Cooper Gallery for enhancing Scotland’s standing in the world of contemporary art and helping create cultural exchanges with China.

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