Friday, 5 June 2009

William Andersen


China has many historical icons and the most recent one, on june 4th 1989, was the Tiananmen square image: a man defying tanks. The army was unleashed to tame a democratic movement where hundreds of students, workers and ordinary citizens died.
"Soaked in sweat, his heart racing, Chen Guang descended the steps of China’s Great Hall of the People and aimed his automatic rifle at the sea of student protesters occupying Tiananmen square.(...) Now an artist and a bit of a provocateur living on the outskirts of Beijing, Mr. Chen said he spent the next 20 years suppressing memories of that day" International Herald Tribune June 4th 2009, by Andrew Jacobs. (IHT article).
Memories cannot be erased from people's mind whatever the state wishes to do. It is a question of time.
William Andersen, professor of art at American University of Kuwait, was in China before landing in the Arab world. He had worked as an artist and was intrigued by the same incident and its effects on the west. He was also surprised to see how Chinese could not relate to the matter, he organized in the most secretive way a covert street art assault. With the help of his family, he found a kitschy wall paper in the US, representing "Chinoiserie" an idea of China installed only in the western mind. With the blue background, he imprinted the tank v/s man image as history superimposed. He then went to the streets fo Beijing and put his art on walls.
"My prints, installed guerrilla style without permission, not only engendered much discussion with local residents but surprisingly stayed up for more than a week before all traces were removed. The prints conflated two divergent images of China. On top of highly romanticized images of China from anachronistic chinoiserie wallpaper, I silk screened photographic images tof the "Tank Man," an image banned in China" William writes.
(unauthorized art exhibition at gallery RFD, in Georgia, USA (link)

Radical political opinion has no room with both these artists. Art could be interpreted as progressive and dangerous but it is often a way to explore the past, visions and interpretations. As Mr Chen insisted in his interview, "paintings are just artistic depiction of history not expression of right or wrong"

william's works: blog + works

2 comments:

William Andersen said...

It is a strange coincidence that I just happen to meet Chen Guang in the summer of 2007 (on the same trip that I installed my guerrilla artworks) at an art exhibit in Beijing... I just mentioned this on my blog also in relation to the 20th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square Massacre:
http://williamjandersen.blogspot.com

I will also be posting more images of my own art project in Beijing... or you can see more of my work here: http://williamandersen.spaces.live.com

thanks!

William Andersen

sarah said...

You are right, it is quite strange to see Chen Guang's art work in a earlier catalog. Quite violent and outrageous. Now that is a recognized artist in the field, he might tone down his voice and allow a better communicative process in his art.