Rose Mary Gorman: (615) 744-3332, ”
Ellen Jones Pryor: (615) 243-1311, ”, ”

ON VIEW JUNE 22–OCT. 7, 2007

NASHVILLE, TENN.—(June 4, 2007)—The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open Whispering Wind: Recent Chinese Photography Friday, June 22, 2007. Featuring works by 20 contemporary artists from China, some of whom live in the West, the exhibition was organized by Mark Scala, chief curator at the Frist Center. On view through Oct. 7, 2007, Whispering Wind and the concurrent exhibition, Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection, will be the first exhibitions of Chinese art shown at the Frist Center.

Whispering Wind includes landscapes, urban scenes, and narrative works by photographers who have achieved international renown for their aesthetic experimentation and expressions of deep humanism. Combining beauty and technical virtuosity, these images document and symbolically convey the impact of the massive cultural, political, and technological changes that have been radically transforming China since the mid-1990s.

“Experimental Chinese artists have garnered great attention internationally, showing in museums, biennials, and art fairs around Europe, Asia, and the United States,” says Scala. “Their work is often the audience’s first exposure to changes in China’s culture, the enormity of which is only beginning to be understood in the West.”

The photographs in the exhibition stand in stark contrast to the mainstream art produced in China over the past half-century, which has often either supported the official position of the Communist Party or followed academic traditions. The willingness to break new expressive ground has come as a result of the Chinese government’s program of modernization, intended to transform the nation from an agrarian to an industrial society. This period has seen an increased tolerance for individualism and the importation of foreign influences, inspiring new generations of Chinese artists to use their work to explore tensions between past and present, tradition and technology, agriculture and industry, and individualism and communal ideology. Although rooted in Chinese experience, these discourses are of consequence to people around the world whose cultures are similarly undergoing an accelerated rate of change.

Whispering Wind is arranged into three thematic groupings: The first section relates most directly to Chinese art traditions, particularly those that involve the landscape, as it can be seen in the concurrent exhibition, Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection. Romanticized views of nature by Hong Lei, Hai Bo, Chen Changfen, DoDo Jin Ming, and Yin Xiuzhen suggest millennia-old painting styles, emphasizing the haunting beauty of China’s artistic traditions, in which humanity is wholly integrated with the vitality of the cosmos.

The second group of works explores the impact of the state-sponsored demolition and reconstruction of the urban environment that is today occurring throughout China. Xing Danwen, Zhang Dali, Li Shan, Meng Jin, Miao Xiaochun, Sze Tsung Leong, Weng Fen, Yuan Shun, and Li Tianyuan depict the emotional affects of these programs of modernization, which have required the sacrifice of much of China’s cultural heritage.

The last section focuses on the human body as the site at which artists explore tensions between the self and society. Artists in this section include Zhang Huan, Rong Rong, Maleonn, Wang Gongxin and Lin Tianmiao, and Sheng Qi, whose photographs link performance art with Chinese narrative traditions to make subtle political commentaries.

As China continues to transform itself into an economic powerhouse, its government has allowed its artists to have greater freedom of expression than they had during most of communist China’s history. While Chinese artists still experience censorship, the relaxation of government restrictions has enabled them to employ contemporary idioms to explore themes that intrigue postmodern artists around the world, particularly relating to the intersections of self-identity, locale, and the forces of globalism. Today, artists openly explore a wide range of ideas and personal obsessions in their works. Like a whispering wind, their works quietly signal changes taking place in Chinese
society today.

Community Response to Whispering Wind exhibition

In collaboration with Belmont University’s department of Asian Studies, several Chinese-American community members were invited to an interpretation workshop to respond to selected works in the Whispering Wind exhibition. Chief Curator Mark Scala offered an overview of the exhibition and invited each person to provide a written response to a work from the exhibition. The responses, which vary from personal interpretations related to religious or philosophical ideas, or commentaries about cultural history or identity, will be posted on the Frist Center Web site.

Special Programs

Thursday, August 16 Gallery Talk
7:00 p.m.
Included with gallery admission

Join Frist Center chief curator Mark Scala as he discusses the exhibition Whispering Wind: Recent Chinese Photography.

Friday, September 21 ARTini
7:00 p.m.
Meet in Frist Center Grand Lobby
Included with gallery admission

Julie Roberts, Frist Center public programs manager, will lead a fun, informal conversation about the Whispering Wind: Recent Chinese Photography exhibition. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

Community Exhibitions

In conjunction with Whispering Wind: Recent Chinese Photography and Lyrical Traditions: Four Centuries of Chinese Painting from the Papp Collection, Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Public Library each will feature exhibitions with work by Chinese artists this summer. Beauty and Power: Chinese Art from the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Collection will open at Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery Thursday, June 21 and continue through Sept. 22, 2007. A Moment of Eternity: The Art and Expression of Chinese Poetry Calligraphy, featuring the artwork of master calligrapher and poet Huang Xiang, will open at the Nashville Public Library’s Fine Art Gallery Saturday, June 23 and continue through Oct. 14, 2007.

Sponsors and Organizer

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts gratefully acknowledges the following exhibition sponsors:

• 2007 Platinum Sponsor: The HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA and the TriStar Family of Hospitals

• 2007 Gold Sponsor: First Tennessee

About the Frist Center
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features over 30 interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and under and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and military, and $6.50 for college students with ID. Thursday evenings, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m., admission is free for college students with a valid college ID. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3246. The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our Web site at

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