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February 26, 2010

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The best of contemporary British art over 30 years

A major show featuring three decades of contemporary British art and big names is underway at the Minsheng Art Museum. It includes works of Damien Hirst, Steve McQueen and Mona Hatoum and 37 other artists.

The exhibition of 90 works is an overview of painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, film and installation art over the past 30 years. It runs through March 21.

"These artworks are as valuable as Rolls-Royce cars, and like multi-purpose off-road vehicles, they carry the achievements of British art to different places around the world," says Andrea Rose, director of visual arts at the British Council.

"Visual art has been flourishing in Britain since World War II and there has been a passionate need to see these artworks around the world," Rose says. "Thanks to the British Council Collection, we are able to present innovative British ideas and achievements to the world in a fast and accessible way."

The exhibition is titled "The Future Demands Your Participation: Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection." The title is that of a light box work by Mark Tichner.

It is presented in cooperation with the Shanghai International Culture Association, Minsheng Art Museum, and the cultural and education section of the British Consulate in Shanghai.

The British Council Collection is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive holdings of modern and contemporary British art in the world, including 8,500 works by more than 1,650 artists.

Among the 40 participating artists, 12 have won the prestigious UK Turner Prize for contemporary art; another 21 artists have been nominated.

"Damien Hirst is not only the highlight," says Zhou Tiehai, vice director of the Minsheng Art Museum. "The exhibition will unveil a cluster of 'big shots' to the local public."

Ghosts are ever-present in the work of Martin Boyce, just like his installation "Mobile (Being with you is like the new past)." The work of painted steel, chain, wire and the altered Jacobsen 3107 chairs hover above the ground.

Appreciation of many pieces requires knowledge of these artists and their background.

"Prey," a rhythmic, deeply poetic film work by McQueen, is elusive yet compelling. The act of eluding and evading is a device central to the film.

It begins with a close-up of a reel-to-reel tape recorder with two large spools, one red and one green, lying in tall summer grass. The sound of tap dancing is played.

Suddenly, the tape recorder appears to move along in the grass and then takes off and disappears - it's attached to a small weather balloon. Then the recorder reappears, drifting back to earth in a parachute and again lying in the grass.

Date: through March 21 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Address: Minsheng Art Museum, Bldg F, 570 Huaihai Rd W.

Tel: 6282-8729


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