A Fairy Tale in Red Times: works from the White Rabbit Collection

Shi Yong, A Bunch of Happy Fantasies, 2009Presenting works by 26 Chinese artists, including a number of key works never before seen in Australia, and the first dedicated museum exhibition showcasing works from the collection of White Rabbit Gallery the National Gallery of Victoria presents A Fairy Tale in Red Times: Works from the White Rabbit Collection on display from 3 May 2019.

A Fairy Tale in Red Times introduces audiences to artists who engage with questions of identity and explore personal and cultural memories. These artists look back to the past that formed them but also examine today’s world with a penetrating gaze as they adapt materials infused with cultural meaning and together tell the story of today’s China.

Major works never before seen in Australia include Zhu Jinshi’s large scale immersive installation The Ship of Time (2018) made from 14,000 sheets of xuan paper, 1800 pieces of fine bamboo and 2000 cotton threads; Mao Tongqiang’s Order (2015), a stainless-steel installation shot repeatedly with bullets; and Yang Jiechang’s expansive 14 paneled ink on silk work titled Tale of the 11th Day (2012 – 14).

The exhibition will also debut the collection’s newest acquisition, a large-scale oil painting titled Bathtub (2017) by acclaimed artist Zhang Xiaogang and Constellations (2017), a three-metre silk embroidery depicting bullet holes in glass by artist Zhao Zhao in collaboration with his mother.

Other key works include Shi Yong’s acclaimed installation, A Bunch of Happy Fantasies (2009), made of upside down calligraphy characters in the form of neon lights and Fairy Tales in Red Times (2003-07), a series of large scale and vividly coloured photographs which gives the exhibition its title, by husband and wife artists Shao Yinong and Muchen.

“This exhibition by the NGV is an enormous achievement presenting recent movements in design and art in China, and I am so pleased that White Rabbit Gallery has been able to be a part of it,” Dr Judith Neilson AM, Founder White Rabbit Gallery. “As a collector of Chinese contemporary art, I have been a regular traveller to China since 1999 and I hope that the work of these Chinese artists and designers will provide a glimpse of the creative energy and passion that I find each time I visit the country.”

White Rabbit Collection is the largest private collection of contemporary Chinese art internationally, containing more than 2500 works by more than 700 artists. More than an art collection, the art works – the majority of which created this century – represent a social document that reveals dramatic generational change in Chinese society, culture and contemporary art in the twenty-first century.

Since 2009, exhibitions of works from the collection at White Rabbit Gallery have become an accessible point of first contact with contemporary art from China for Australian residents and international visitors alike.

A Fairy Tale in Red Times reveals the creative energy, technical virtuosity and conceptual richness of artists, based in mainland China and Taiwan, from two generations: the first post-Mao generation that enthralled Neilson in the early days of building the collection, and the exciting innovations and global reach of a younger generation for whom the Cultural Revolution is ancient history.

“The NGV is delighted to collaborate with Judith Neilson and the White Rabbit Gallery to present this exhibition, providing important insights in to the concerns and methods of contemporary artists from the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director NGV.

The exhibition coincides with the release of a new NGV publication The Centre: On Art and Urbanism in China which features works of Chinese art and design from the NGV and White Rabbit collections.

The Centre: On Art and Urbanism in China is a collection of newly commissioned texts that examine modes of creative production, exhibition, curating, collecting and urban transformation, against a backdrop of critical perspectives on the historical moment and speculative futures.

A Fairy Tale in Red Times: works from the White Rabbit Collection
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 3 May – 6 October 2019
Free admission

For more information, visit: ngv.melbourne for details.

Image: Shi Yong, A Bunch of Happy Fantasies, 2009, neon lights, acrylic stands, dimensions variable.