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My Dear Art

A Film Review

My Dear Art
Directed by Hsu Hao-hsuan
Produced Yao Chien
Journeyman Pictures, 2018
Mandarin Chinese and English with subtitles
106 minutes in duration

Available on Amazon and iTunes.  
Trailer available on YouTube.

In keeping with the theme of the 2019 winter issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, this month’s film review features a documentary about the arts.

My Dear Art is a fascinating documentary that broadly surveys the upper echelon of the Chinese contemporary art scene today. “Chinese,” in this case, is not limited to mainland China but includes Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora around the world. As one can imagine, it is not possible for any film to cover the “entire art scene,” and in certain moments, even the filmmaker may have been a little overwhelmed with all that could be said.

Despite the over-cramming of content into the under-two-hours documentary, I appreciated that this film included conversations with different voices and roles in the art ecosystem—from artists and collectors to curators and industry experts. I also appreciated the effort to show how Chinese contemporary art is participating in the global art scene as well as how the Chinese art scene is able to attract global interest to its home turf. The dynamic of this exchange is incredibly important and has much to say, not just about art but, about the world we’re living in today.

Other important topics covered include:

  • Censorship of Chinese art around Asia
  • Definition of success as a Chinese artist
  • The art-collecting community’s perception of Chinese art

A few memorable quotes from the film:

I think there should be a difference between Easterners and Westerners. But now the Western world is dominant. I have seen many excellent young artists who paint really well but they follow Western methods. They even paint better than Westerners. But the works are not their own works. . . . I hope that even if I am not a great painter, I want my works to represent the old things I have learned from China and the new things from the Western world.

 Ji Da Chun, Chinese artist

I used to wonder why Chinese would do oil paintings. Later I figured out that the materials I use are not that important. The important thing is that I paint as a Chinese. I have a strong sense of identity. If I create installation art or videos, I create them as a Chinese.

 Xue Rouzhe, Chinese artist

I think now is the era of Asia. Westerners have always dominated the history of art. But now it’s finally Asia’s turn. We’re able to review art history from an Asian perspective. Then we can reassess these different views and the importance of different artists.

Evelyn Lin, art expert

All in all, a worthy watch for anyone interested in understanding more about Chinese contemporary art.

For those who are interested in Chinese contemporary art, be sure to read the 2019 winter issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, “A Song in the Night: Chinese Christian Art as Sower, Sustainer, and Disseminator of a Faith Immured.”

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Hannah Lau

Hannah Lau

Hannah Lau was born and raised in Canada. Growing up with immigrant parents from Hong Kong gave her a rich perspective on both Eastern and Western cultures. She has spent her adult life in Asia, beginning in China serving through work in the marketplace. With a colorful and hard-earned career in …View Full Bio

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