The Grand Opening and Inaugural Exhibition of He Art Museum was announced in Shanghai

TEXT:Zhang Yizhi and edited by Sue    PICTURES:The Organizer    TIME: 2020.1.3

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Tadao Ando is well-known for his masterpieces including Rokko Housing, Church of Light, FABRICA, Pulitzer Art Foundation, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and so on. Although he rarely makes round buildings or so-called super large round complex structure, his new contribution of He Art Museum has broken through his previous experience as the architecture is presented in various types of "circles", ranging from its overall design to the details of its craftsmanship , which convey his extraordinary aesthetic characteristics.

After five years of preparation, He Art Museum will be open to the public on March 21, 2020. Located in Shunde, Guangdong Province, He Art Museum is a privately-owned art institution. It has invited the acclaimed Japanese architect and winner of the Pritzker Architectural Prize,

Tadao Ando to design its premise. He, represents the notion of harmony, is the central philosophy and style the architecture embodies. The architectural design highlights Tadao Ando’s challenge on “dynamic geometry”, where the dual-spiral staircase and the courtyard done in cast-finish concrete will be unveiled for the first time, capturing the attention of the world. The architecture is presented in various types of "circles", ranging from its overall design to the details of its craftsmanship. These "non-concentric circles" stacked together expand outwards provide tension and rhythm to the architecture, hence, achieve a dynamic equilibrium in this stable structure.

The “Harmony” of Architecture: Integration of Multiple Elements

Upon completion, the He Art Museum’s premise will be comprised of a total area of 16000 square meters, of which 8000 will be used as exhibition spaces. Its permanent collection will be shown in galleries dedicated to exhibiting modern Chinese art and contemporary international art. For which, the institution has adopted a unique approach in presenting the most esteemed collection of 20th Century Chinese Art and a comprehensive collection of international contemporary art, as well as several curated programs.

With the grand opening of the museum premise, the inaugural exhibition, “From the Mundane World: Inaugural Exhibition of the He Art Museum”, chaired by the museum founder, He Jianfeng, and headed by curator Feng Boyi, and his team of curators including Hu Bin, Wang Xiaosong, Liu Gang, and Shao Shuren, will also be open to the public. This thematic exhibition, “From the Mundane World” refers to myriads of things in the world, where the coming together of human wisdom and natural beings impact the state of the world. At the same time, it also points to the two protagonists - art and the world - where art does not only represent and addresses the subjects of the world, at the same time, serves as its measure.

The Inaugural Exhibition Featuring “Diversified Collections”

He Jianfeng, the He Art Museum director states, “The family is rooted in Shunde, and Lingnan culture runs in our blood. He Art Museum is dedicated to the research of local history, modern Chinese painting with a focus on the Lingnan School, thus far, constitutes the most important section of the museum collection. The museum would like to take advantage of being geographically located in the Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macau Greater Bay Area, to build up a hub that will connect the local to the world. While we hope to integrate art into local communities, we would also like to have our unique voices heard internationally. We are delighted to collaborate with the various outstanding curators and artists. The mission of the He Art Museum will focus on building the collection, research, exhibition, art education, and dissemination. A new chapter will begin in March next year, and we look forward to our visitors.”

The inaugural exhibition is comprised of two parts, an exhibition of its permanent collection and a curated thematic exhibition. The former presents an academically chronicled theme drawn from the collection to highlight its historical values while shares the wisdom of visual culture encapsulated in these works of art over the last century. The latter brings this theme for an investigation into the contemporary global scope.

The He Art Museum's permanent collection comprises more than 400 works of art. Based on its diversity and broad scope of subject matters, the permanent exhibition consists of two units, "Milieu in Change: Chinese Modern Art Exhibition" and "On the Rise: Contemporary Art Exhibition”. The former adopts the new perspective of material culture to string together the self-reforms and responses to global transformations in the historical context where the clashes between China and the West took place and the vicissitudes of the world in the modern period. Taking the theme of the exhibition, the state of the collection and the exhibition space into consideration, the works on display will span from the Lingnan School of painting to the overview of modern Chinese art and the masterpieces of contemporary artists from around the world. Its progression with time and expansion into the physical space both reflect the transformative vision of the family collection and the direction towards which the museum has been working since its establishment.

If the permanent collection were a vertical expansion towards the contemporary world through historical clues, then the artists invited to participate in the thematic exhibition are the ones who thrive at the forefront of contemporary art from various countries and regions. Their works embody the uniqueness and depth of current artistic thoughts while enhancing their meanings today from the perspective of global contemporary art. The thematic exhibition consists of three units, “Experience all things”, "' Solely' developing from Materialism”, and “Wordly canteen”, “Experience all things” emphasizes on the contemporary art practices that take materials as the medium, and through establishing a dialogue with all things, where the human's efforts, in transcending limited knowledge, understanding and expression of the world, are revealed; on this basis, "' Solely' developing materialism" expands the discussion towards the subjects of an individual’s contemporary condition, exploring various contexts such as the modern society, consumption society, and the society of the spectacle, to address the intellectual and ideological issues embedded in everyday lifestyle driven by people’s materialistic desires; and lastly, the necessities of life in the everyday becomes the conduit for the "Worldly canteen" unit. On the one hand, it extends from the notion of the material of the thematic exhibition and returns to the everyday artistic practice, on the other hand, it connects to the local culture of Shunde where the art museum is located. As far as the curator is concerned, this will be the first attempt to address "food" as an independent discussion in a large-scale exhibition. The artists invited for this unit have primarily adopted "food" (approach, tools, material) as the subject of their practice, who integrate contemporary artworks with global variations, community identity, and conscious action through the common instinctive necessity of human beings.

Moreover, the curatorial team will select some of the artists based on the characteristics of their practice for workshops where they will present their work to various types of viewers, and the designated participants will become part of the artworks. We hope to adopt this open approach to clarify the ambiguity and isolation of art theory into the liveliness of the mundane world. Based on the artists' proposals, the call for the workshops will be released in due time through the museum and other media's online platforms.

Over the exhibition period, He Art Museum will present a series of talks and forums for various types of visitors. At the same time, the museum includes spaces for public programs, café, museum shop, and bookstore. With an advantage in geographical location, neighboring Guangzhou South Station and many international airports, making access to Shenzhen, Hong Kong and other cities in the vicinity very convenient.

In the construction of current people’s lifestyles, the role of art museums in urban cultural functions and aesthetic education guidance has been gradually emphasized. From the architectural concept of Tadao Ando to the upcoming Inaugural Exhibition of the He Art Museum “From the Mundane World”, He Art Museum is based in the new center of Lingnan culture and even the world, and it will trigger huge effects. As Tadao Ando said, it was also a venue to gather people and nurture a “harmonious” relationship. He Art Museum is such a diversified and rich art field that it entrusts the beautiful blessings of hometown while activating the “local nature”, from traditional collection to the gathering of contemporary art.

Text by Zhang Yizhi and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

Photo Courtesy of the Organizer

For further information on the museum’s grand opening and inaugural exhibition, please visit