April 18 - June 12, 2009
NAVIN RAWANCHAIKUL : Super China!
UCCA Nave & Auditorium
Curated by David Spalding
For his solo exhibition Super China!, Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul transforms UCCA’s Nave into a playful zone where visitors become active participants in the dynamic story of contemporary Chinese art.
"With Super China, UCCA initiates a new series of exhibitions with some of the major contemporary creators from Asia. We are glad to share Navin’s especially created pieces and his exuberant perspective on China with our audience,” says Jerome Sans, UCCA Director.
Bringing together new and recent sculptures, installation, paintings and works on paper, the show’s centerpiece is the Super China Survival Art Corp Game (2009), an interactive board game where visitors can choose from a number of roles and win in the high-stakes field of contemporary art. Medals and trophies will be awarded to the winners at the end of the show. The game is complimented by Super China (2009), a large-scale painting that humorously portrays the icons and superstars of Chinese art in a sprawling scene painted in the style of a Bollywood movie poster.
A colorful cast of characters and fiction stories await visitors to Super China!; each plays a role in the fantastical stories that surround Navin’s multi-disciplinary art practice, told in the artist’s comic books, which can be found in UCCA’s Super Ganbei’s Le Bar.
Taximan (2008) is a one-meter high extraterrestrial superhero from Taxi planet who traveled to earth.
Curatorman and Old Navin (2002), portrays the artist as an old man, his career faded, arguing with a cynical curator who is promoting art’s total commercialization and “Biennial Franchising.”
Fly with Me to Another World (To be Continued), 2008 takes as its point of departure the story of Thai artist Inson Wongsam, who drove a Lambretta scooter from Thailand to Europe during the early 1960s, using his woodcut prints to barter for lodging. His trip became legendary among the Thai art community and served as the inspiration for Navin’s multi-part work, initiated in 1999.
Another selection of works in the show uses the visual language of socialist propaganda—including porcelain busts, little red books, a painting and a woodcut print—to illustrate the fictitious Navin’s Party, an international network united by Navinism: simply stated, party members all share the name Navin, or are sympathetic to the cause. These works underscore how even arbitrary global networks can serve as a cause for unity.
“The universe that Navin has constructed, though fanciful at first glace, is one we all share,” remarks UCCA Curator David Spalding. “In fact, it is this possibility of sharing and collaborating—of engaging with and listening to one another, of looking and laughing at ourselves—that underscores all of the works in the exhibition.”
Navin Rawanchaikul (b. 1971, Changmai, Thailand; lives and works in Fukuoka, Japan and Changmai) is a Thai citizen with permanent resident status in Japan whose ancestral roots are from the Hindu-Punjabi communities of present day Pakistan. As an artist, Navin has developed a unique and vast body of works that rely heavily on team spirit and collaboration, and are most often produced under the banner of Navin Production.
His artistic development began with works deeply rooted in local communities and everyday life experiences. In 1995, he initiated the landmark project Navin Gallery Bangkok, in which an ordinary Bangkok taxicab was transformed into a mobile art space. Its great success prompted several versions of the Taxi Gallery around the world. Embarking upon more international presentations of his work, Navin started to engage in a process of exploring the negotiation between local circumstances and trends of globalization. Following this path, the artist has become renowned for dynamic art works which involve direct community interventions, social commentary, and an innovative style of integrating community or individual experiences into eccentric fictional tales featuring recurring characters. His oeuvre has grown to encompass a broad array of media, including installation, film, performance, billboards, comics, games and community-based art practice.
Navin has held solo shows at prestigious institutions including New York’s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (2001), the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2002), Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok (2006), and Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing and Bangkok (2007), as well as being included in many international exhibitions, including the Shanghai Biennial (2002); Busan Biennial (2002); Sao Paulo Biennial (2004), Liverpool Biennial (2004) and the Yokohama Triennial (2005), among others. The first artist’s retrospective exhibition was organized in 2008 at Bangkok’s The River Promenade, held in conjunction with the launch of the much anticipated collaborative monograph, Navin’s Sala.
UCCA thanks Tang Gallery, Beijing / Bangkok / Hong Kong for their generous support in realizing Super China!
Education and Public Programs
Navin Rawanchaikul will discuss the development of his art practice and the ideas that have informed the works on view. (date TBC).
Daily Film Screenings
Navins of Bollywood, 2006
Feeling isolated, Navin searches his name on-line and immediately gets thousands of hits; a complex fantasy that mimics the excesses of Bollywood cinema follows. First shown as part of TheatreWorks’ Diaspora, a cultural program prepared for the 2006 IMF-World Bank meeting in Singapore, this short musical film asks what identity means in our globalized world.
Quotations From Comrade Navin, 2008
Hundreds of Navins and Friends of the Navin Party gathered in Beijing for the Navin Party’s Congress. Encouraged by their presence, Chairman Navin went personally into the city’s streets and distributed the party’s new compendium of Navinist thought, Quotations from Comrade Navin.
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) is a non-profit, comprehensive art center founded in Beijing by collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens in November 2007. UCCA presents exhibitions of established and emerging artists and acts as a trusted platform to share knowledge through education, exchange and research.