CHIMERAS (Mika Mattila)
The most impressive of the films I was able to preview, the visually stunning and intellectually stimulating Chimeras explores the parallel lives of two Chinese artists. Wang Guangyi, who was involved in China’s avant-garde art movement of the 1980’s, is now a contemporary art-world star, whose canvases sell for millions of dollars apiece. Despite this success, Wang is now going through an anxiety-of-influence artistic crisis, feeling increasingly conflicted over the growing Westernization of Chinese art and culture. Meanwhile, up-and-coming photography artist Liu Gang is getting his first taste of recognition with a major gallery show, featuring warped images of Western pop culture. However, this is complicated by his fiancé’s pressures on him concerning marriage, and a proposed project about China’s one-child policy that others tell him may be politically dangerous.
Chimeras presents a China filled with pervasive Western influences, and Mattila has an unerring eye for capturing images that perceptively illustrate this, from people doing tai chi in front of a looming Cartier storefront, to Beijing’s imitations of Paris and London. Through its portraits of artists, Chimeras brilliantly portrays an unsettled China, constantly in artistic and political flux.
(October 19, 3:30pm)