A studio visit to an artist in Beijing is often like 10 studio visits in Brooklyn. In China, you don’t find a painter, and a sculptor, and a video artist, but rather one artist who is working on painting, sculpture, photography, video and (why not?) performance all at the same time. When I visited Liu Wei in Beijing to select works for my show in Turin, he offered me not only beautiful cityscape paintings but also architectural models of famous buildings, like St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building, made from the same rubber used to make fake dog bones. (I chose a painting.) In Europe, an artist that looks for inspiration in both a pet shop and the early work of Gerhard Richter would most likely be dismissed as lacking a consistent point of view. But in China the same criteria do not apply.
European artists often develop different bodies of work. Many Chinese artists seem to develop different bodies for each work. A great chaos under the sky was supposedly an excellent sign for Chairman Mao Zedong, and the same may be true for today’s Chinese artists. Complexity and change is part of Chinese philosophy. To favor one medium over the others would be to impose a silly constraint. If all is possible in contemporary art, why limit yourself?