Make us your home page

This art critic just can't wait to gush about young Chinese art exhibit

I didn't want to leave.

That's how I felt this week when I previewed "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists" opening Saturday at the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. That's why I spent six hours looking and looking again at the art. That's why I'm writing this short column now in advance of a complete review coming soon. I just couldn't wait.

The vast range in styles and sensibilities of the 27 artists, all in their 20s and 30s, is held together by themes broader than China's borders: the soul-crushing effects of urbanization and displacement, questions about spirituality, individuality, family ties and other personal relationships.

But if you're not interested in delving deeper, you'll find lots of visual dazzle, the museum equivalent of Chinese fireworks with lots of color and explosive vitality.

Many media are represented among the 100-plus works: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and installations. I found the eight videos divided between the two museums especially riveting, offering a full emotional menu of humor, angst, anger, poignancy and passion. One is also quite provocative (and funny), but it's given its own separate space with a warning posted before you enter.

The quality and scope of the art are the major factors in making "My Generation" an important show. Its uniqueness derives from the artists themselves, the first generation in many decades to work without the constant fear of censorship, harassment, even incarceration. Nor do they feel a responsibility, as older Chinese artists have felt, to create a form of political manifesto as art. There's still plenty of government control and artists are still censored and harassed, but these younger ones are more interested in exploring social and personal issues and seem to coexist within the political framework rather than protest it.

I plan to return several times. Hope to see you there.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.

Artist Jin Shan unpacks and installs his work "No Man's City" at the Tampa Museum of Art for "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists."

Artist Jin Shan unpacks and installs his work "No Man's City" at the Tampa Museum of Art for "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists."

. If You Go

My Generation: Young Chinese Artists

The exhibition is at the Tampa Museum of Art, 120 Gasparilla Plaza, and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, 255 Beach Drive NE, through Sept. 28.

Admission to TMA is $10 adults, $7.50 seniors and military (plus one guest), $5 students with ID and free for children 6 and younger. Pay what you will from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday. (813) 274-8130 or

Admission to MFA is $17 adults, $15 seniors and military with ID, $10 students with ID and children 7 to 18. All admission after 5 p.m. Thursday is $5. or (727) 896-2667.

A special $20 combination ticket is available at both museums and on their websites. Free admission to both museums as a member of either.

This art critic just can't wait to gush about young Chinese art exhibit 06/06/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 10:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'


    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  2. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  3. A scene from "Epiphany."
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22


    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21


    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media