A Focus on Materiality in Contemporary Chinese Art
What is materiality, and why is it important? How has the materiality of art shifted across time and culture?
All art is made up of materials. To focus on the materiality of an artwork, however, is to emphasise the material qualities that it consists of. In contemporary art, materials are often the foundation of the work; not just used as a tool to convey an idea or emotion but embodying the subject matter of the work itself. Materials can evoke social class and cultural traditions, and can even be intangible and abstract, as is the case with sound—and the removal of it.
Below, Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator, Visual Art, analyses the materiality of three works in the Sigg Prize 2019 Exhibition: from bamboo scaffolding, to sound, to raw silk.