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“The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China”

Art, Contemporary art Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) , Miracle Mile Until Sunday January 5 2020
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Time Out says

Materials like plastic, wood, hair and gunpowder factor into the premiere of this traveling exhibition.

Exhibition organizer Wu Hung, of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum, has categorized the creators at the center of “The Allure of Matter” as “material artists,” and, well, that’s a pretty to-the-point description: The 21 featured artists all employ unconventional materials to create their works (each installation includes photo documentation of the piece’s construction), like Zhang Huan’s use of temple incense ash to form a landscape of field workers or Wang Jin’s imperial robes made from PVC. But the use of materials goes beyond aesthetics and instead engages with China’s extreme economic changes, history of artmaking and government censorship.

The unconventional material choices lead to some sublime surprises: Gu Wenda’s rainbow, tent-like United Nations: American Code is no Insta backdrop, but rather a symbol of international tolerance made entirely of strands and braids of human and synthetic hair. Most memorably, Xu Bing’s floor-covering 1st Class looks just like a massive tiger rug, but is in fact made of half a million loosely positioned cigarettes (the smell of tobacco is unmistakable). Make sure to peek at that one from both sides: The orange-and-white design changes to brown and white depending on where you stand.


Venue name: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles
Price: Included in museum admission

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