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Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection

14 September 2006 – 18 February 2007

© Sammlung Sigg

Since the post-Mao reform era began in 1979, China has seen the emergence of an extremely diverse and dynamic art scene, a development that has taken place within a short space of time and in spite of the continuing difficulties faced by those involved in independent art production. In recent years, contemporary art from China has also been attracting great interest in the West.

Chinese artists have quickly found their place in the international art scene, and skilfully employ media, techniques and forms of expression that were developed in the West. Nevertheless, their specifically Chinese roots – pre-modern tradition on the one hand, the requirements of the Socialist Realist style prescribed by the Communist Party until the late 1970s on the other – are evident in many of the artists’ works; in comparison to Western art, for example, greater emphasis is placed on figurative painting.

Some of these artists consciously address the issue of their national identity by adopting the techniques and formal language of traditional Chinese art and placing them in a new context. Another significant trend is to parody or reflect upon the art and art history of the West from a Chinese perspective. Above all, however, Chinese avant-garde art has to be viewed in the light of the tremendous social and economic upheavals that have taken place in recent decades; a large number of works specifically reflect the tension between the socialist ideals which are still officially valid and the wave of consumerism that has swept the country as a result of the capitalist reforms.

Swiss collector Uli Sigg, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ringier Group, has taken a keen interest in China and its culture since the late 1970s. Together with his wife Rita, he has been building a collection devoted exclusively to Chinese art since the mid-1990s, and can justly be regarded as a pioneer in this field. Having initially concentrated on the acquisition of new art, Sigg soon began to extend his collection to include ‘historic’ works of Chinese avant-garde art from the 1980s and early 90s. The result of this systematic approach is a collection of contemporary Chinese art that is unparalleled in its scope and quality. All the leading positions and important trends are represented here by major works, many of which have now achieved iconic status in the Chinese art world.

The exhibition in the Hamburger Kunsthalle gives the German public the opportunity to view a representative selection of works from the Sigg Collection. It provides an overview of a quarter of a century of Chinese avant-garde art (1979–2005) and surpasses all previous exhibitions on the topic in terms of its focus and quality.

A comprehensive catalogue is being published to accompany the exhibition; besides an interview with the collector, it includes essays by the curators, descriptions and analyses of the individual works, as well as a general introduction to sociopolitical and artistic developments in China over the past three decades.
The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Bern, where it was curated by Bernhard Fibicher and Ai Weiei.

The exhibition in Hamburg has been curated by Dr. Christoph Heinrich.


Wan Jin
Wan Jin
Fighting the Flood, 1994
Colour photo

Huang Yan
Huang Yan
Chinese Landscape: Tattoo, 1999
Colour photo

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei
Han Dynasty Urn with Coca Cola Logo, 1994
Gouache on clay,

Zhang Xiaogang

Zhang Xiaogang
Untitled (Bloodline Series, 1997

Geng Jianyi Geng Jianyi Geng Jianyi Geng Jianyi
Geng Jianyi
Der Zweite Zustand, 1987
Öl auf Leinwand je 170 x 132 cm


Sun Guoqi und Zhang


Liu Wei


Sun Yuan


Pak Yong Chol

Sun Guoqi und Zhang
Hongzhan, Divert Water
From the Milky Way Down, 1973/74,
Öl auf Leinwand,
180 x 310 cm

Liu Wei
Es sieht aus wie eine Landschaft, 2004,
digitale s/w Photographie

Sun Yuan
Honey, 1999,
Farbphotographie, 2-teilig,
je 90 x 126 cm
Pak Yong Chol
ohne Titel, 1994-2004,
Öl auf Leinwand, 157 x 298 cm,
Shi Guorui Lu Hao Weng Fen

Shi Guorui
Shanghai, China, 15.-16. Oktober 2004
2004, s/w Camera obscura-Photographie, 440 cm

Lu Hao
Volkspalast, 2001,
Plexiglas, 22 x 110 x 72 cm,
Weng Fen
Auf der Mauer – Guangzhou (II), 2002, Farbphotographie
126 x 171 cm

Wang Guangyi Yu Youhan Zhou Tiehai

Wang Xingwei

Wang Guangyi
ohne Titel, 1986
Öl auf Leinwand
150 x 130 cm
Yu Youhan
ohne Titel (Der Vorsitzende Mao), 1996,
Öl auf Leinwand
160 x 118 cm
Zhou Tiehai
Uli Sigg, 2002,
Airbrush auf Vlies
190 x 250 cm
Wang Xingwei
Thomas, 1998,
Öl auf Leinwand, 150 x 175 cm


The exhibition is supported by Hamburg Marketing GmbH and Hamburger Kulturbehörde.



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Hamburger Kunsthalle Glockengießerwall 20095 Hamburg
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