Painting China Now_Museum of Modern Art - Rio de Janeiro [MAM Rio] by Ondrej Brody & Kristofer Paetau

Painting China Now

[MAM Rio] Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro
Foyer
Opens December 7, 2013, 3 pm
Ends February 9, 2014
Curator Luiz Camillo Osorio
Organized by MAM Rio
MAM supporters: Petrobras, Light and Techint Group

The Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras, Light, and the Techint Group present, from December 7, 2013 to February 9, 2014 the exhibition “Painting China Now” by Czech and Finnish artists Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Paetau. The exhibition will take place at the Foyer of the Museum as a collection of thirty oil paintings rendered from photographs of religious movement Falun Gong practitioners, depicting instances of violence inflicted by the Chinese government upon their own citizens. Although this is the first time in Brazil, the installation premiered in Belgium in 2007, followed by the Netherlands (2008), Poland (2010), and Germany (2011).

“Painting China Now” tackles an inconvenient but necessary topic: political persecution and torture. The problem is how to turn these images into something other than mere whistleblowing. Not that it means it is unnecessary, but adding critical layers to it provides the artistic strategy with important complexity and intensity, said curator Luiz Camillo Osorio.

The artists commissioned Chinese “painting shops” to make the 30 x 40 cm paintings included in the installation, based on existing photographs. They report having contacted 20 of such companies, that are common in China, but only two took their order. According to the artists, this kind of image is censored in China.
We hear of Chinese studios where painters make copies of paintings of the Western canon. Faithful and sweetened reproduction by these copyists has always been a place of consensus. They now switch sides and take on the discomfort of what must not be seen. Our salutary difficulty to see the terrible scourge is raised up to its utmost degree. Kitsch at the service of dissent. The discomfort, the unpalatable, presented as commonplace, emphasizes Mr. Osorio.

The Falun Gong movement has attracted around seventy million practitioners since its creation in the early 1990s, and has been persecuted in China for its spiritual practices and rapid growth, says the curator. Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Paetau found the photographs in an American website.

The curator says that the artists were motivated by three major goals with this project:
1. Denouncing political crimes in the arts field that use and abuse of the existing means of production of oil paintings in China, resorting to using the language of freedom and visual arts so that the works of art can speak for themselves;
2. Challenging the Chinese oil painting companies (capitalism vs. the communist ideology); and
3. Criticizing the art world that has been euphoric about the Chinese market and the exoticism around and the desire of gallery owners to win over the growing Chinese collectors base.

According to the artists, the work simulates the very thing that it intends to call into question and to criticize – drawing the attention of the public to issues in politics, power, economics, traditional practices and prejudice. The work shows the hypocrisy of the Western world before a country that is at the same time totalitarian and ubiquitous in trade and commerce. Our “issue” with China is far from being solved and the Western art world is not exempt from this problem either.

This is the third time the artists are in Brazil, having exhibited solo at Centro Cultural Sergio Porto in 2012, and participated in a group show at MAC Niterói in 2007. Their works can be seen in collections at the major museums in Brazil, such as MAC Niterói and Museu da República; and abroad, at Museo Tambo Quirquincho, in Bolivia; Kunsthallen Nikolaj, in Denmark; MoCa Museum of Contemporary Art in South Africa, among others.

Exhibition: Painting China Now
Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro
Opens December 7, 2013, 3 pm
Ends February 9, 2014
Organized by MAM Rio
Tuesday – Friday, 12 pm – 6 pm
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, 12 pm – 7 pm
Adult: R$ 12.00
Student (12+): R$ 6.00
Senior (60+): R$ 6.00
MAM member and youth (12 and under): free admission
Wednesdays (3 – 6 pm): free admission
Sunday Family Pass (up to 5 persons): R$ 12.00
Address: Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 85
Parque do Flamengo – Rio de Janeiro – RJ 20021-140
Telephone: +55 (21) 3883-5600
www.mamrio.org.br

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