Phenomenology is the new black

Today Art Museum, Beijing

image of Yue Mingin's sculptures

Yue Mingin’s incredible sculptures outside the amazing Today Art Museum, Beijing


Wow! This is what greets you when walking down Baiziwan  Lu, (road)  Chaoyang District – I made it here after a morning of wonderful viewing at LDTX Beijing Dance.  The location of this gallery is very interesting – smack bang in the midst of a huge development of luxury apartments with a railway line running parallel plus old hutongs in the throes of demolition and across the railway tracks are endless 20 storey apartment blocks of dubious quality. Like much of Beijing it is bursting with hypocrisy. For a second you could be in the centre of Paris or Barcelona, it is so modern so western so unexpected. T.A.M. as it is affectionately known is one of the few privately owned art “museums” in Beijing. According to  Insiders guide to Beijing 2010

TAM focuses on high-quality contemporary art, as well as calligraphy and other traditional media.

The museum consists of 3 separate buildings each wonderful in its own way. The curators have chosen great pieces and thankfully it is presented in an uncluttered way and invites the viewer instead of bashing them in the face with a proliferation of art-works!

image of installation TAM

Discovery by Lou Zhenggang  –  Installation TAM

My first view is of a beautiful installation Discovery by Lou Zhenggang an incredible lady artist most noted for her calligraphy and paintings from the 1970s & 80s. She has resided in Japan since the mid 1980s and has exhibited in Japan, USA and China and is widely collected by museums and private collectors.  This is a huge installation which one walks through on this beautiful bamboo stairway/path – very Japanese inspired – stunning and very emotive piece.

image of installation TAM L/Z

Lou Zhenggang’s installation TAM Beijing


Yonggang Liu’s paintings “Line and Phenomenon” were also fantastic. He hails from inner Mongolia and graduated from CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) Beijing. He lives and works in Beijing and Berlin – nice!  His exhibition encompasses huge canvasses that  delve into his fascination and connection with lines, strokes and traditional Chinese calligraphy.  Here the line signifies spirit and the phenomenon part represents outlook. The chinese have a fascination with using monochrome, so much of these extraordinary works use limited colour but the overall effect I found mesmerizing and the commercial part of my brain wondered how high a price these artworks would command – his bronzes too assumed the one stroke element and were quite striking – though if I had to choose what to cram into my Samsonite the large paintings would be my wish!

image of Yonggang Liu's work

Yonggang Liu’s wondrous exhibition Line and Phenomenon oil on canvas



image of Yonggang Liu TAM Beijing

More of Yonggang Liu’s beautiful work at T.A.M. Beijing approx 300 x 175cm oil on canvas



image of sculptures Yonggang Liu

brushstoke bronzes     Yonggang Liu      TAM Beijing and the author!!


image of skeleton made of small coins

Damien Hirst appropriation? made of tiny silver coins


detail of skeleton

Fabulous piece which included a large copy of Das Kapital below also made from coins – a swipe at the mass consumerism and new money being made here!

image of Bronze pigs TAM Beijing

Installation of Bronze pigs at dinner – TAM Beijing

Huge installation of pigs at the dining table exhausted after a ‘pig-out’ very amusing and the detailing in the work is incredible – how long would this whole piece take to cast, clean-up then patinate??? Oh yes! it’s China, no time at all and unlimited hands to do the job – many hands make light work!! The detail of the pigs alone is superb not to mention their food and of course the bones are contentious with them of course being porcine! Boy! Do they have a great sense of humour here!!

image detail of the pigs

detail of Bronze pigs – whats not to love?  Guessing life size on a massive dining table also of bronze


And yes!   there is more!!

rear view of Chen Wenling's work

rear view of the “farting Bull” or “What you see is not necessarily true”
Chen Wenling 1100 x 600 x 500cm mixed materials 2009

This is a wonderful piece – huge – and demands attention – as the windy bull pinions the fat American man to the wall – beware!! It is such a humorous sculpture but do not be complacent it really does mean so much more – loved it for all the wrong reasons!

image of Yue Minjun You are so Manet

Yue Minjun     You are so Manet      Silkscreen Print 19/60 2000


image of China Portrait by Feng Zhengjie

China Portrait by Feng Zhengjie          Silkcreen Print 33/88 56 x 76cm 2007


image of 1993.5 by Fang Li jun

1993.5       Fang Li jun            Silkscreen Print     33/88 56 x 76cm 2007

The imagery on this silkscreen is incredible – the layering is something I have never seen before in such detail – each colour is not just ‘squeed-jeed’ once but numerous times to create almost a 3D effect with paint – this must have been a very time-consuming exercise and the effect is stunning. You cannot fault the standard of work anywhere their craftsmanship is exemplary.

If you are in Beijing put this museum on your “to do list”

There is also a stunning art bookshop attached to the museum and don’t miss an opportunity to pop in – i did!! Purchased a Chinese copy of Walter Benjamin’s classic:

A Short History of Photogaphy: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

image of sculpture Yue Mingin

Stainless steel sculpture Yue Mingin

well you would – wouldn’t you!!









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  1. Posted August 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    No comments! Wonderful write up.

  2. dolorescupcake
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    this Today Art Museum looks incredible!

  3. Warren Maynard
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    wow. Looks pretty amazing. First thing I think of as I write is the Brush Strokes, good to see the combining of 2D &3D then the Pigs at Dinner reminds of the Japanese movie an animation, I’m thinking Spirited away where the parents turn into pigs. Is the laughing man in pink reminding me of an impressionist work with the girl at the bar. Are they coins in the skeleton? Looks like they have a statue of the world famous sculptor Sonia York-Pryce. They must be up to date with their collection. 🙂

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