I’ve been working quietly on my “Art and Smog” documentary project since returning from China this summer. I had an amazing nine months reconnecting with my main characters from 25 years ago. The societal pursuit of material advantages and profit, and the competition for survival, has overshadowed their earlier ideals of an honest and caring humanity. Their art reveals the confusions, pressures, fears, and need for refuge that they feel. Their words and images speak not only to their felt experience in China but also to the pains many people in the world experience today, even in the United States.
Last month I visited Nanjing and spent an afternoon with painter Guan Ce. He was active in the 1985 avant-garde art movement in China and recently exhibited in London’s Saatchi Gallery in a show curated by Gary Xu. Thanks to Gary for making the introduction for me and to Guan Ce for meeting me on short notice.
Guan Ce’s studio was on the 2nd floor of an automobile parts factory not far from the newly developed residential district where he lives and teaches. He showed me some mixed media paintings on paper that he had recently finished….he kept them casually in a large cardboard folder on the floor. He opened the folder for me and then went to get water to make tea.