Short Cuts: Artists in China

Rosa Maria Falva, Editor, Jean Loh, Text by (Art/Photo Books), Shen Qilan, Text by (Art/Photo Books), Lorenz Heibling, Text by (Art/Photo Books), Lorenz Helbling, Text by (Art/Photo Books), Thomas Fuesser, Photographer
Thomas Fuesser. Skira (Rizzoli, dist.), $75 (528p) ISBN 978-88-572-1486-3
Reviewed on: 04/01/2013
Release date: 04/30/2013
In this stylishly designed book of photographs, German photographer Fuesser documents his interactions with Chinese artists since he first began photographing them in the 1990s, when the now-successful subjects of these 17 portraits were unknown. As art dealer Lorenz Helbling notes in one of the four introductory essays, back then “the country was stirring with reforms and the unprecedented atmosphere was the catalyst for a select group of artists to fly well above the cultural clouds.” From Ding Yi painting his textural, transcendent canvasses of multiple crosses, to the media frenzy around Cai Guo-Quiang’s lettering sprawled across buildings, to the litter of discarded lamp boxes below Zhang Ding’s light installation, to Madein Collective members balanced on stools painting their lush, referential collages, Fuesser incorporates and transcends both conventional portraiture and art documentation. The journey through these photographs is thrilling. The minimal text—which, in addition to introductory essays by curators and critics, includes artists interviewing and commenting on another—is strikingly idiosyncratic and sometimes perhaps tellingly obtuse. Although female artists are underrepresented, the journey through these photographs is revelatory. 418 color illus. (Apr.)