Trance: Tianzhuo Chen Solo Exhibition





M WOODS is delighted to present Trance, a solo exhibition by artist Tianzhuo Chen in the museum’s location in 798 Art Zone. This exhibition will be Chen’s largest solo exhibition in China to date, and centers around a new 12-hour long performance of the same name. Presenting new work in conjunction with some of Chen’s most representative pieces, the exhibition will provide a comprehensive overview of the artist’s multidisciplinary practice that combines moments from previous exhibitions and performances from 2014 to the present.


Artists based in China that have grown up after the turn of the millennium are, in many ways, the country’s first generation of contemporary art creators with a diverse global vision. With cultural background and identity no longer isolated topics in need of clarification, these artists engage with a wide array of subjects within the framework of a broader social, political, and economic context. Having established a distinct voice in contemporary art, Tianzhuo Chen adopts an eclectic and multidisciplinary practice that includes performance, installation, video, photography, and work on paper, oftentimes skilfully merging all these elements in his complex and hypnotic all-encompassing performances that blur the boundaries between exhibition and theater.


Appearing within his work are fragmented pieces of information and symbols derived from sources such as electronic music, religion, club culture, cartoons, and Butoh, a form of Japanese dance theater. These wide-ranging and seemingly disparate sources are synthesized effortlessly by the artist to unpredictable and surprising chemistry. It is a process not unlike our own experiences surfing the web, where similarly, a vast array of information and material is available to be seen, used, and absorbed, all at the click of a mouse. Thus, although Chen’s work can be puzzling in its novelty and absurdity, it is not the artist’s intention to induce confusion, or to force viewers to unpack the meanings of each symbol and detail in order to understand his work. Rather, Chen seeks to create an alternative world, ambiguous in nature and situated somewhere between everyday reality and illusion, which demands the visitor’s visual, aural, and total physical sensory experience. Throughout Chen’s diverse and eclectic practice, what emerges as a constant is his intense – at times even overwhelmingly so – visual imagery, and their persistent reflection on the absurdity of life and death.


Over the course of three days, Chen’s artistic style and energy will be put to the stage in the brand-new performance piece Trance (2019), during the exhibition’s opening. With each performance lasting 12 hours and taking place once per day, this marathon-like performance project is the artist’s first trial after many years of preparation. Unbound by traditional genres of theatre, dance, or musical opera, Trance takes the entire museum as its stage, and presents six stories, all of which are related to human illusions, and previous artworks. Rather than adhering to established conventions of narrative, chronology, or delineation between work and the environment it is situated in, Chen immerses audiences in a spatially and temporally de-centralized performance, where visitors are free to wander for the entire 12-hour duration as if in an aimless stream of consciousness. Eventually, Chen expects viewers will cross a threshold, whereby they are no longer in control and enter a “state of trance” induced by their perceptions. After the first three days of live performances, a related video work will be created and exhibited in the central hall of the museum during the course of the exhibition. 


Taking Trance as the starting point, M WOODS invites audiences to immerse themselves in the world of Tianzhuo Chen: in his rebellion against cultural monotony and stereotypical interpretation, and in his persistent search for sincere, genuine modes of expression.



Tianzhuo Chen (b.1985) graduated from Central St. Martins, and Chelsea College of Arts, London. He currently lives and works in Beijing, China. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Kunsthalle Winterthur (2017); Long March Space, Beijing (2016); chi K11 art museum, Shanghai (2016); and Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015). Chen has participated in many international exhibitions including the Guangzhou Airport Biennale (2019); Athens Biennale (2018); Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (2018); Biennale of Contemporary Arts, Portugal (2017); and the Shanghai Biennale (2016). His performance works have been staged at the Broad Museum, Los Angeles; the Barbican Centre, London; Theater Der Welt, Hamburg; and the Tokyo Festival, amongst many others.

2019.8.30 - 2020.1.5

David Hockney: Works from the Tate Collection

30 August 2019 - 5 January 2020

M WOODS - Hutong


With a “big splash” at the heart of Beijing, M WOODS proudly announces both its most anticipated show of the year and the grand opening of its second location, M WOODS - Hutong. In partnership with Tate, M WOODS – Hutong presents as its inaugural exhibition “David Hockney: Works from the Tate Collection”, the artist’s first museum survey exhibition in China.


As one of the world’s most influential and popular artists, David Hockney holds the record for the highest auction price for a painting by a living artist. Born in Bradford, UK in 1937, Hockney attended Bradford School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, before going on to make some of the best-known images of the last 60 years. Since his first retrospective exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1970 when he was only 33, Hockney has continued to attract widespread critical and public attention.


Drawing on many different sources including popular imagery and the works of old and modern masters, Hockney’s subject matter concerns the traditional themes of art – still life, portraiture and landscape – and his principle obsession with representation and perspective. With nearly 100 works, the exhibition spans his career from the mid 1950s to the present, and demonstrates the range of possibilities in his work, not only within the traditional areas of painting, printmaking and drawing, but also in his more recent use of photography and digital technologies. Works are drawn primarily from the Tate’s collection in the UK and include some of Hockney’s most iconic paintings including A Bigger Splash (1967), Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy (1970-71), and My Parents (1977).


In accordance with M WOODS’ founding philosophy that all art should be F.A.T. (free, alchemical and timeless) this exhibition explores for the first time Hockney's relationship with China. Hockney first visited China in 1981 with Stephen Spender, a British poet, and the two collaborated on the book China Diary (1982) chronicling their journey. Hockney went on to explore his fascination with traditional Chinese scroll painting in the 1987 film A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China or: Surface Is Illusion But So Is Depth. In the film, Hockney examines the pinnacle of Qing dynasty court painting The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour painted by a group of artists led by the master Wang Hui, guiding viewers through the vastness and subtlety of the scroll and its dynamic lesson in time and space. The exhibition reveals how Chinese painting has continued to have a profound influence on Hockney's practice in terms of painting theory, technique and perspective. Presenting the rarely shown The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour (Scroll 6) alongside Hockney’s ‘Moving Focus’ series of prints and more recent works in paintings and photography, it follows Hockney’s remarkable journey through the myriad ways he has interrogated the nature of looking and representation, from his days as a promising student to his place as one of the finest artists working today.



M WOODS would like to express deep gratitude to Tate and its team, as well as the individual lenders who loaned their works to the exhibition. We would also like to sincerely thank Pace Gallery for its support, and David Hockney Inc. for its involvement – without which this exhibition would not have been possible. 


The presentation of David Hockney: Works from the Tate Collection is a collaboration between Tate and M Woods.