China Rising

There's no art more cutting-edge than the astonishing landslide of contemporary works coming from China. Fueled by the nation's political segue out of the Cultural Revolution and into a contemporary climate of industrialization and free trade, China's artists are documenting, protesting and commenting on rapid change in unique ways that could only originate in a culture with powerful, deep and ancient roots. Not unlike China's great cities, the works they create are often angrily splashed with commercial icons, juxtaposed with historical ones: Jiao Xingtao's busts of Mao draped in fiberglass gum wrappers, for instance, or the posters from the Luo brothers, brightly lacquer-painted with traditional fat babies and modern Coca-Cola cans, easily evoke 21st-century China's fast-moving cultural dilemmas.

It's no wonder that Denver's Robischon Gallery, buoyed by the success of its Under the Radar exhibition last January, will once again start the year off with an Asiatic roar: Face East, an all-new contemporary Chinese art exhibit featuring a little of the same along with some new names, opens there today with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Along with the aforementioned, the many-faceted, fifteen-artist show includes such trendsetting works as Chen Wenling's monumental red lacquer figure hoisting a pig, Zhang Xiaogang's beautiful stylized portraits — even a bit of sophisticated Sino-graffiti art by Zhang Dali, who spray-paints, chisels out and photographs heads on the sides of Beijing buildings scheduled for demolition.

Let's hope the gallery makes this type of show a lasting tradition. Robischon is at 1740 Wazee Street; Face East continues through March 1. Log on to or call 303-298-7788 for details.
Jan. 10-March 1, 2008

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd