The M+ Sigg Collection: Chinese Art from the 1970s to Now
1 July – 20 September 2015
Free to all
The Whitworth hosts the UK's only showing of one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese contemporary art.
Swiss national Uli Sigg has been vital in establishing contemporary art in China. Founder of the Contemporary Chinese Art Awards – the only competition to encourage and promote new artists in the country – he has been a passionate champion of the nation's best, including Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Weng Fen and Zhang Huan.
Sigg began collecting in the 1980s – a time when the contemporary art scene in China was still very much in its infancy. For him it wasn't a financial investment, but a personal passion. He said: 'I want to document history through the works I have collected'. Today it is recognised as one of the most comprehensive collections of Chinese contemporary art in existence.
In 2012 Sigg announced he planned to donate 1463 works to the new M+ museum for visual culture in Hong Kong. Ahead of the opening in 2019, 80 works have been selected for display at the Whitworth. Shown together they provide an incredible record of the emergence of contemporary art in China.
Zhang Huan is one of the most influential and provocative artists in China today. His photographic work, Family Tree, is the result of a single day’s performance where nine calligraphy painters took turns to write lyrics on his face, gradually obscuring his features with a mass of ink.
Other highlights include Cao Fei’s film exploring the secret dreams of workers in a regimented light bulb factory, while Ai Weiwei’s Still Life installation sees thousands of ancient Stone Age axe heads threatened by an act of iconoclasm.