Synopses & Reviews
In words and images, Stairway to Heaven explores contemporary urban space through the eyes of eighteen cutting-edge Chinese artists. Lavishly illustrated and full of insight, this gorgeous volume analyzes the unprecedented transformation of China's cities.
Stairway to Heaven offers a unique opportunity and context within which to consider the great resurgence of art and culture in China. Today, Chinese culture bridges a range of emotions and conditions that are both complementary and contradictory, providing new generations with obstacles and opportunities stemming from newfound wealth, poverty, alienation, competition, and confusion. Inviting challenging questions and provocative insights, this book presents multiple artistic voices, strategies, and techniques as well as a subtext that explores an art world in which artists are digesting and processing an overload of cultural, philosophical, and technological changes.
In their accompanying essays -- included in both English and Chinese -- professors Gan Xu and Gu Zheng, both born during the Maoist period, mine the conflict, tragedy, and hypocrisy of mourning and celebrating, which seem to be common themes among the photographs included here. Curators of the Stairway to Heaven museum exhibit, Mark H. C. Bessire and Raechell Smith frame the project with expert observations about the role of Chinese art and artists, suggesting that today's Chinese art will be recognized for its immense creativity, following after an incredibly controlled and fallow era of art making under Mao. After years of isolation, Chinese artists have emerged with the energy and creativity to place Chinese art at the forefront of a global art world in less than a generation.
Artists Included: Ai Weiwei, Chen Shaoxiong, Gu Wenda, Gu Zheng, Hong Lei, Liang Weiping, Liu Bolin, Lu Yuanmin, Luo Yongjin, Ma Liuming, Wang Jing, Weng Fen, Xing Danwen, Yang Yongliang, Yening, Zhang Dali, and Zhu Feng.
Contemporary Chinese photographers confront urban space in a changing China