Oil on linen, Xiao-yang Li

Line of Flight:
Emerging Chinese Artists in Europe
London (TBC)


The line of flight, a term by Deleuze in an attempt to designate the elusive moment in which a small matter escapes from its previously inhibited place and thus, like the flighted line, leaving its ‘native’ lineage, exploring a different trajectory and transforming into something new.

The exhibition takes on this concept and brings together small works by a group of emerging Chinese artists who made their own choice of flight westward and are flourishing on European soil. Presented in the exhibition will include works in different mediums with a diverse range of artistic concerns.

Historically, diaspora artists have played a significant role in their adopted country of residence. Some of them spring to mind: El Greco, the Greek whose works influenced an illustrious lineage of Spanish paintings; Kandinsky and Picasso of the 20th century Parisian milieu; pre-war Chinese painters such as Zao Wou-ki (1921-2013, Paris) and Sanyu (1901-1944, Paris) are examples of artists who employed the combined energy of Chinese calligraphy techniques and European painting traditions; more recently, the New York-based Chinese artist Cai-Guo Qiang achieved worldwide reputation with his signature gunpowder works.

During 1980-90s, the wave of Chinese diaspora artists who emigrated to the West presents us their struggled relation with the political regime specific to that time and their complex reflection on identity and Chinese culture. Brought together in this show is a new generation of Chinese artists based in Europe with the majority of them living and working in the UK. They either witnessed or have been under the influence of the tremendous economic development in China since the 1990s. For reasons artistic or personal other than involuntarily, they made the conscious choice of living in Europe. Despite the various relations with their host country, they are perhaps more suitable for the term ‘line of flight’ because they do not only bring with them a sense of the East, they are also better travelled, thus having a wider range of artistic choices and visions in an increasingly globalised society. The overall picture displays a tendency different from their older contemporaries in a way that their works do not entirely and explicitly concern with the most typical Chinese political issues. Instead, a sense of strong individualism and a much diverse range of artistic language are more prevalent.  

List of artists: TBC