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Exhibition presents Dalí masterpieces in dialogue with China's most established and emerging artists
Study for the backdrop of Mad Tristan (Act II) 1944 Oil on Canvas by Salvador Dalí © K11 Art Foundation.

SHANGHAI.- The K11 Art Foundation, which supports the development of Chinese contemporary art from Greater China, opened Media – Dalí, a surrealist exhibition running from 5 November 2015 - 15 February 2016. The exhibition includes over 240 items, made up of Dalí’s masterpieces and media works. As an artist, Dalí's demeanour made him stand out from other mainstream artists. Whether in painting or sculpture, Dalí's irrational themes were presented with stunning skill that never fails to leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

“Surrealism is destructive but it destroys only what it considers to be the shackles limiting our vision.” Salvador Dalí

The exhibition is in dialogue with two Chinese artists’ shows, focusing on the historical influence of surrealism in China in the 1990s and the enduring presence of the movement in the emerging scene, each exemplifying the legacy of surrealism within contemporary China.

As part of its mission, the K11 Art Foundation seeks to raise the appreciation and understanding of surrealism and its role in influencing contemporary art in Chinese society, as well as providing a revitalised source of inspiration for contemporary practitioners. This survey of surrealism follows the 2014 success Master of Impressionism, Claude Monet, which attracted 350,000 visitors.

Adrian Cheng, Founder and Honorary Chairman of the K11 Art Foundation, says: “We are proud to open this wonderful exhibition today. We have been promoting the development of China’s contemporary art, and working hard towards this mission. Today, viewed from a current perspective, we can see that elements of Chinese contemporary art are influenced by surrealism. The surrealist elements within the artworks of our emerging artists will form a comparison with the artists who gained fame during the 85' New Wave. We believe this exhibition will be a totally new experience for visitors. In this show we can see the imaginative spirit of Dalí stimulating Chinese artists to experiment and create their own artistic movements.”

The exhibition was co-curated and co-produced by KAF and the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. Works were carefully selected from over 4,000 artworks and archives in Figueres, Spain. Media—Dalí includes over 200 media works, which explore Dalí’s relationship with the media throughout his life and in his work; including channels such as films, magazines and newspapers. Not only did Dalí write articles, but he also designed covers and advertisements, and illustrated both his own and other author’s writings. These works demonstrate how he used the press both as a medium and as a source of inspiration. Providing a survey of Dalí’s oeuvre, the exhibition includes a selection of works, including 14 masterpieces. Featured pieces are two of Dalí’s most important works - Napoleon’s nose, transformed into a pregnant woman, strolling his shadow with melancholia amongst original ruins, 1945 and Dematerialization Near the Nose of Nero, 1947 – a fine example of Dalí’s “nuclear mystical” period. Finally, the tools behind Dalí’s creations can be seen, from his artist palette to magnifying glasses, each item once used by the artist, allowing the viewer to get a step closer to the maker.

The first show, Shanghai Gesture includes three of China’s most mature and wide-ranging contemporary painters; Wang Xingwei, Zhou Tiehai, and Zhang Enli. Internationally shown and critically acclaimed, these artists have been invited to draw on their intimate connections to Shanghai to create a surreal world of their own imagination. The exhibition takes its name from the 1941 American film noir movie, directed by Josef von Sternberg.

Surrealism was an important movement in western art and thinking. It significantly influenced Chinese art during the '85 New Wave, an expression coined by the curator and critic Gao Minglu. It defined a nationwide avant-garde movement that emerged in China in this period. The historical influence of surrealism may have faded, but it still remains an important touchstone and source of debate for several generations of Chinese artists.

The second show Our Real, Your Surreal presents a selection of emerging Chinese artists hosting a cross-genre exhibition. The show includes installations by Wang Xin, Zhang Ding, video pieces by Lu Yang and Ye Funa and works by painters Geng Yini and Wang Buke. These younger artists work on the edge of the real and surreal, using mediums across paint, photography, performance and new media. The artists explore the aesthetics of virtual reality and illogical imagery, while capturing dialogues and scenarios from real life that can originate in the surreal. The display signifies a soft revolution in Chinese contemporary art.

Curator Robin Peckham, appointed by KAF, added, “Youth culture in China walks a line between indulgent fantasy and a rough and ready dedication to reality, a fracture that is reflected in the current culture from popular film and independent music to contemporary art. Unlike the now-established artists of the generation just above them, these young players do not dwell on the fact that China’s urban reality is at times surreal; instead, they intervene directly in the surreal as a plastic and symbolic space.”

The K11 Art Foundation is committed to the appreciation of and education in contemporary art in China and overseas. During the exhibition period, KAF will host a number of educational activities including lectures, academic seminars, screening of Dali films, workshops for art teachers and students, and art activities for children.

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