Chinese Whispers: A unique look at Uli Sigg's collection of contemporary Chinese art

He Xiangyu, The Death of Marat, 2011 Fiberglass, silica gel Courtesy Sigg Collection © He Xiangyu

Legendary pioneer and art collector Uli Sigg has been following the development of contemporary art in China since the late 1970s, collecting many artworks along the way. Now you can see more than 100 of these works in a new exhibition at MAK in Vienna, featuring prominent artists such as Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Duan Jianyu, Feng Mengbo, and He Xiangyu.

Chinese Whispers: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection will focus on objects from Uli Sigg’s Swiss private collection, which he has continuously expanded. With techniques such as calligraphy, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, and video, the presented objects open up a wide spectrum of works ranging from traditional analog to digital production.

The title refers to the eponymous children’s game in which messages are whispered secretly from one person to the next and distorted in content and meaning by the permanent repetition. This idea of communication, of reproduction and distortion regarding his exchange with China reflects the atmosphere of the show.

"Chinese contemporary art is a phenomenon without parallel. Even after the Cultural Revolution, the effects of Socialist Realism and restrictions due to censorship remain noticeable," explains the Gallery. "Nonetheless, contemporary art in China has experienced a drastic change of direction since the increasing political openness in the 1980s. During that time, a new generation of Chinese artists have picked up modern trends from the West. The contents can often be seen as a reaction towards the politics and social change."

Chinese Whispers: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection will run from 30 January – 26 May 2019 at MAK in Vienna.

Ai Weiwei, Descending Light with A Missing Circle, 2017 © Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, Descending Light with A Missing Circle, 2017 © Ai Weiwei

Shi Jinsong, Lack Pine Tree, 2011 Wood Courtesy Sigg Collection © Shi Jinsong

Shi Jinsong, Lack Pine Tree, 2011 Wood Courtesy Sigg Collection © Shi Jinsong

Gao Weigang, Superstition, 2012–2013 White marble Courtesy Sigg Collection © GAO Weigang

Gao Weigang, Superstition, 2012–2013 White marble Courtesy Sigg Collection © GAO Weigang

Wang Xingwei, My Beautiful Life, 1993–1995 Oil on canvas Courtesy Sigg Collection © Wang Xingwei

Wang Xingwei, My Beautiful Life, 1993–1995 Oil on canvas Courtesy Sigg Collection © Wang Xingwei