from June 14 2014 until September 21 2014
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen showed a selection of contemporary Chinese art from the collection of Henk and Victoria de Heus-Zomer in the summer of 2014. Two generations of Chinese artists were shown in the galleries around the Bodon Gallery. The exhibition provided a broad survey of developments in contemporary art in Beijing. The works were being publicly exhibited for the first time.
The exhibition ‘Focus Beijing’ features the work of two generations of prominent artists from Beijing. The first generation grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. They include Zhang Dali (Harbin, 1963), Zhang Xiaogang (Kunming, 1958), Hai Bo (Changchun, 1962) and Ai Weiwei (Beijing, 1957). Their work shows a strong sense of political engagement, referring to China’s traumatic history and the social and cultural revolutions of recent decades. The second generation grew up in the 1970s and 1980s: the period of China’s Open Door Policy. Artists such as Qiu Xiaofei (Hoerbin, 1977), Wang Guangle (Fujian, 1976) and Liang Yuanwei (Xi’an, 1977) were born in a period in which Chinese society became more oriented towards the West, a period of massive economic growth and new markets. Individuality and intuition are key to their artistic practice. They are informed better about international art developments than their Western counterparts are about current developments in Chinese art. The exhibition highlights the different standpoints of each artist, presenting a broad view of contemporary art developments in Beijing, with Shanghai, as the capital of Chinese Art.
The names Zhang Dali, Wang Guangle and Hai Bo might sound unfamiliar to the Western public, but these artists have star status in Beijing’s cultural circuit. Several of these artists have been invited to make works specially for the exhibition. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen gives you the opportunity to discover their (new) work.
Henk and Victoria de Heus-Zomer, who made their fortune in the cattle-food industry, began collecting art in 1989. They moved to a new home and started buying art “to fill the empty walls”. They acquired works by artists such as Zhang Xiaogang and Ai Weiwei long before the international art world took notice of them. After twenty-five years, the De Heus-Zomer Collection has grown into one of the largest contemporary art collections in the Netherlands, with art from all over the world.
For many years these works of art were hidden from public view at the De Heus-Zomer estate. Now the public can acquaint itself with this exclusive collection: last year the couple showed part of their collection of Dutch art at the Singer Museum in Laren and a selection of art on the theme of nature at Museum Belvédère in Heerenveen. ‘Focus Beijing: De Heus-Zomer Collection’ at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is the grande finale of this series of exhibitions.
The collection is based on the couple’s personal taste. Over the past few decades they have collected works by great names such as Marlene Dumas, Karel Appel and Ai Weiwei. The couple travels to China once or twice a year for business. During these trips they visit artists in their studios and search for new acquisitions for their collection.
On ARTtube you can watch a video about Henk de Heus and Victoria de Heus-Zomer traveling to China and visiting several artists that are on view in the exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.