Text by Yi Mei
Since he’s lived in China, AustralianGarrie Maguire has beenfrequently asked what his life islike. As a visual communicationadviser for Red Gate Gallery as well as anartist himself, Garrie Maguire decided toanswer the question the best way he knowshow: an exhibition, China: Chinese, whichexplores a variety of themes related toChinese culture.
“I want to start a conversation aboutlife in China,” explains Maguire. He believessome works could jar foreign pointsof view as well as some of the exhibition’sjuxtaposition of imagery. “Art is born ofculture,” he continues. “One accepts theculture they grow up in, unless their personalexperience conflicts with it, or theyenter another culture and that culture influencesthem.” He admits that when he firstcame to China, he discovered that he hadto reconstruct his entire method of imaginingthe world and that his Western logicdid not work here. “We see the world verydifferently. Things we take for granted inour own culture make no sense in China.Also, visual art is more important herethan performing arts; in ‘foreign’ countriesit’s the opposite.”
Maguire selected works that connecthistory and culture to the present daybecause he believes perhaps the biggestenigma on the Chinese mainland since1911 has been how traditional culture andmodernity can co-exist. “Much of the Chineseart I’ve included is trying to reconcilemodernity with history or at least find alink,” Maguire adds. “It is impossible towipe clean a people’s sense of history; it ispossible to change it to something else. Thefabric of each city still retains a memory ofwhat has gone before. I can see signs, scarsand beauty from all the Chinese periodsdating back a thousand years here in Beijing.I cannot see ‘all’ of Chinese culture,I’m still discovering after three years ofliving here. But art gives us a window tosee, to discuss with others.”
Tan Ping, Untitled
This is a work about texture. Most of TanPing’s work focuses on lines, particularlyjoined lines. Colors in China are muted– even the gold on the palace is not intense– the reds of doors, are dark ratherthan bright. Of all the elements of design,texture stands out. In this work, color andshape are de-emphasized and texture isbrought to the fore.