Women Artists in Contemporary China

During her time as post-doctoral researcher with Tate Research Centre: Asia in 2013–14, Dr Monica Merlin conducted a series of interviews with Chinese women artists. Building on her extensive background in Chinese art history, Monica’s current research focuses on contemporary Chinese art and visual culture, with a special interest in the practice of women artists in mainland China, and gender as a method for art history. We are proud to publish a number of these interviews here, and will be adding further interviews over the coming weeks.

  • Xiang Jing 向京

    Xiang Jing (born 1968) works primarily with fibreglass sculpture to express her investigation of the ‘internality’ of human nature. Her representations of nude women convey the reality of the female form in all its imperfection while highlighting its philosophical nature.

  • Yu Hong 喻红

    Graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1988, Yu Hong (born 1966) is one of the most representative artists of New Realist Painting in China. Her work focuses on the value of the individual within history, society and everyday life.

  • Cai Jin 蔡锦

    Cai Jin (born 1965) works with oil paint in vibrant colours. Her most celebrated work is the Banana Plant series, for which she painted over 400 stylised depictions of banana plants on canvas and found materials to explore the concepts of beauty, fertility and sexuality.

  • Chen Qiulin 陈秋林

    Chen Qiulin (born 1975) works primarily with the moving image but also performance, photography and installation. Interested in reality for ‘ordinary’ people living in China today, in her practice she explores notions of memory, social injustice, rapid development and displacement while capturing a sense of nostalgia, confusion and hope.

  • Fang Lu 方璐

    Working in moving image, Fang Lu (born 1981) is inspired by popular culture and daily life experience. Her work reveals a deep analysis of political, societal and gender constructs, while exploring the multiple relationships between life and spectacle.

  • Gao Ling 高灵

    Gao Ling (born 1980) has an interdisciplinary approach, encompassing installation, photography and performance. Within her works Gao challenges the relationship of the individual and the norms dictated by society, often re-interpreting and re-appropriating them in a humorous fashion. Her practice engages with issues related to women’s rights and the environment in mainland China.

  • Han Yajuan 韩娅娟

    As part of the post-1978 generation, Han Yajuan (born 1980) is concerned with China’s socio-cultural transformations and new materialistic trends. Her works mostly employ a cartoon style based on Japanese anime, and explore the multi-dimensions of women’s lives.

  • He Chengyao 何成瑶

    Through a combination of performance, video and photography, He Chengyao (born 1964) explores gender, mental illness and the body as well as her own mother-daughter relationship. Her most recent work is inspired by philosophical reflections on time and space.

  • Hu Xiaoyuan 胡晓媛

    Hu Xiaoyuan (born 1977) employs a variety of media within her works, including video, performance and installations. She uses mixed materials such as hair, old cloth wood and insects, to re-examine the relationship between subject and form, time and space.

  • Lin Jingjing 林菁菁

    Lin Jingjing (born 1970) employs varied media including video, photography and performance to explore notions of social and personal identity in the context of modern society. Her works often concern the nature of paradox and depart from a philosophical interest in the human experience.

  • Lin Tianmiao 林天苗

    In the early 1990s Lin Tianmiao (born 1961) returned to Beijing after several years in New York, and established herself within the experimental scene of the capital. Her work mostly employs mixed media installation and with the use of threads, textiles and stereotypically ‘female’ crafts, she challenges normative ideas of womanhood, beauty and motherhood.

  • Tao Aimin 陶艾民

    Tao Aimin (born 1974) works across media often combining installation with oil painting and video. Tao has worked on several projects which employ an anthropological perspective and aim to explore the personal histories and daily lives of women in rural China.

  • Xiao Lu 肖鲁

    Xiao Lu (born 1962) works with performance, installation and video. She gained fame by shooting her own installation, Dialogue, at the opening of the China Avant-garde exhibition in 1989. After a period of silence, Xiao returned to Beijing in 2003 and since then has produced works with highly personal as well as strong socio-political messages.

  • Xing Danwen 邢丹文

    Xing Danwen (born 1967) is best known for her photographic work documenting the underground cultural and artistic activities in mid-to-late 1990s Beijing and was one of the earliest artists in China to employ photography as an art form. She works with mixed media, video and multimedia installations as well as photography to address various issues around Chinese society, gender, globalisation and consumption.

  • Yin Xiuzhen 尹秀珍

    Yin Xiuzhen (born 1963) works primarily in installation, but also painting and other media. As one of the most established experimental artists in China since the 1990s, her work explores issues of globalisation and cultural identity, interrogating the role of the local, the individual and the environment while exploring the connections between the ‘individual’ and the ‘collective’.