Dutch-born, Beijing-based curator, scholar, and dealer Hans van Dijk was a foundational influence on contemporary art in China, from his arrival in Nanjing in 1986 through his death in 2002. His myriad contributions include the New Amsterdam Art Consultancy, which connected Chinese artists with collectors and curators abroad; the China Art Archives and Warehouse, an experimental gallery and exhibition space; and the seminal 1993 exhibition “China Avant-Garde,” the first major show of Chinese contemporary art in Europe.
Based on extensive interviews and archival research, “Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names” considers his legacy as it looks at the major artists he championed and the scene they inhabited during the 1990s. The exhibition comprises three main elements. A vast collection of documentary material, including catalogues, personal correspondence, and photographs, records in depth van Dijk’s life and work within an emergent art scene. Complementing these documents are works by Chinese artists—some now iconic, others nearly forgotten—with whom van Dijk worked closely. Van Dijk’s contribution to the introduction of photography as contemporary art into the Chinese and international art world will be looked at closely, and several historical works by figures including Li Yongbin and the New Analysts (Xin Kedu), originally included in van Dijk’s exhibitions, will be recreated. The final element is van Dijk’s life’s work: a meticulously organized, staggeringly comprehensive archive of over 5000 Chinese artists born between 1880 and 1980, documenting the history of the country’s modern and contemporary art from the 1920s onward. Together, these documents and works offer an immersive look into the world of a critical figure whose legacy has only just begun to be unpacked, reopening not only the conversation surrounding van Dijk and his manifold contributions to Chinese contemporary art, but the history of the 1990s in Chinese art and culture more broadly.
This exhibition in two parts is curated by Marianne Brouwer and developed with Philip Tinari (Director, UCCA) and Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With), together with Venus Lau (Curator, UCCA), Samuel Saelemakers (Associate Curator, Witte de With), and Ian Yang (Curatorial Fellow, Witte de With). Curatorial assistance was provided by Andreas Schmid and Zhang Li. The exhibition is co-commissioned by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (24 May – 10 August, 2014) and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (4 September, 2014 – 4 January, 2015).
The UCCA presentation of “Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names” is sponsored by Dior and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beijing. Research support for Marianne Brouwer was provided by the Mondriaan Fund.
“Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names” includes artworks by Big Tail Elephant, Cang Xin, Chen Shaoxiong, Ding Yi, Duan Jianyu, Feng Mengbo, Thomas Fuesser, Geng Jianyi, Gu Dexin, Hai Bo, Han Lei, Hong Hao, Hong Lei, Li Yongbin, Lin Yilin, Liu Anping, Liu Ding, Liu Ye, Luo Yongjin, Mai Zhixiong, Meng Huang, New Analysts, Qiu Zhijie, Rong Rong, Shi Yong, Sun Kai, Hans van Dijk, Wang Shilong, Wang Xingwei, Wang Yin, Wu Shanzhuan, Xu Hongmin, Xu Tan, Xu Zhiwei, Yan Lei, Yu Youhan, Zhang Enli, Zhang Hai’er, Zhang Peili, Zhao Bandi, Zhao Liang, Zhao Shaoruo, Zheng Guogu, Zhou Tiehai, Zhu Fadong, Zhuang Hui, and others.