2021 Chengdu Biennale: Art, City and the Future

As one of the largest and most academic art biennales after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Chengdu Biennale was held on Tuesday with the theme of “Super Fusion”.

Fan Di’an, President of the China Artists Association and President of China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, is the chief curator of the Biennale, and Lü Peng, a Chinese art historian, is serving as the director of the academic committee. The exhibition consists of 8 themed exhibitions, 1 art museum director summit and 17 parallel exhibitions. A total of 272 artists from 35 countries and regions around the world were invited to participate the Biennale.

Since December 2021, the Chengdu Art Museum has launched numerous academic summits and public education activities focusing on the Biennale, making the Biennale a large-scale art event in the city.

On December 19, 2021, the Chengdu Biennale “Future Co-conception: Art Museum Directors Summit” was held in Chengdu Art Museum, where the directors from nearly 30 art institutions from both China and abroad shared their research and experience in undertaking the mission of knowledge production, aesthetic cultivation and cultural communication, through which art galleries build a platform for dialogue to enhance mutual understanding among audiences around the world.

In the panel featuring “Exhibition and Public – Chinese Practice”, Nie Rongqing, co-founder and director of the Contemporary Gallery Kunming, shared how local art museums in Kunming explored the potential of regional art and constructed urban images during its operation. Sun Li, director of the Chengdu Luxelakes·A4 Art Museum, focused on children’s education in the art museum, and discussed how to make the art museum a foundation for children to learn about themselves, their communities, society as a whole, as well as other cultures.

Art galleries in China have flourished in recent years and they are working through many of the challenges encountered along the way. Basic functions of the art galleries need to be improved, such as academic construction, collections, aesthetic education, management and sustainable operation. At the same time, as one of the key components of global culture and the art ecosystem as a whole, Chinese art museum insiders are also faced with new opportunities and challenges in the post-pandemic period along with their counterparts around the world.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Chengdu Biennale: Art Illuminates the City, Chengdu Embraces the World

On Tuesday morning, “Innovations: Art and the City – 2021 Chengdu Biennale Academic Symposium” was held at the Chengdu Art Museum. Fan Di’an, the Chief Curator for the 2021 Chengdu Biennale, proposed three major dimensions when explaining the concept of the Biennale: the relationship between the Biennale and the host city, the relationship between the Biennale and the local as well as global art.

Also worth noting is that the title of each exhibition section in the 2021 Chengdu Biennale has the Chinese character “共”, which means “common”. The character points out the consensus in different artistic creation practices, and also the symbiosis of things and life in different categories of the world. It is at the same time the biggest feature of this biennale to embody the concept of “integration” through the form of “共”. It even opens up the inner and outer space of the art museum, and makes the artworks integrate with the whole city.

The core element of the Biennale is its publicness, not only in the sense that it provides a large space open to the public, but also for the reason that the Biennale forms an intellectual public space for the public to engage in dialogues with artists. The discussions between scholars, artists and curators therefore allow contemporary art to reach a wider audience, merging art, the academia and the society at large to generate new artistic and cultural values.