Gao Brothers Opens In Kansas City

If you like  art to be more than simply home decor then find your way to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art pronto. Like art with an edge? Desire art with some intellectual, political, and personal substance? Well the Gao Brothers deliver the goods in their own way from a naked life-size Mao standing atop a television set to  the bronze  Execution of Christ which depicts a nearly naked Christ on the muzzle end of the rifles of seven figures of Mao. It’s an intense work in 3D. My other favorites are the photographs of their parents–both 1 & 2 and The Forever Unfinished Building which presents hundreds of images of people, places and events traversing the core of a huge multi-level building. Even Tank Man is represented in this Escher-like collage of issue raising via images rather than words.  While the huge sculptures like Miss  Mao Trying to Balance Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head are big statement making attention magnets I found more satisfaction in the photographic works. The Interview presents a terrifying gathering of nine ‘men’ –Stalin to Hitler with a smiling Pol Pot and other like-minded fellows.  Most representational of the lives of ordinary individuals is Outer Space Project–Map of China. A close up image of a beehive has been enlarged to offer spaces for images all sorts of people going about their daily lives inside the confines of the hive–including a few who ‘dive’ off into the surrounding black background.  It’s a beautiful work in black and white with minute detail in abundance.  There are huge works in oil depicting Mao, Mother Theresa, the Dali Lama, Hitler and Saddam Hussein covering the walls of the main exhibition room. It’s an intriguing exercise in perspective to move from one location to another.  This is art that takes on  the Chinese Cultural Revolution without pulling any punches.

Gao Brothers: Grandeur and Catharsis exhibition runs September 17, 2010 to January 2, 2011. It’s free at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

What’s inside your mind?

Miss Mao No.3–Mao as mother to the people.

Btw, this is the Brothers’ first museum exhibition in the USA.


  1. artistatexit0 said,

    September 23, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Thanks for the heads up on the Gao Brothers. Their work seems very western to me. It will be interesting to see what other contemporary art comes out of China. Recently read an article about this subject and it described new millionaire artists setting up vast warehouse studios employing lots of artisans to do all the fabricating.

    • December 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm

      Hey, Al! How did I miss your tracks here I don’t know. But–I didn’t get a feeling of westernized art so much as modern art–in contrast to all the wonderful art scrolls and screens on exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Musuem just a block away. The modern feel is emphazied in the digitalized photo collages and in how a series of large paintings of Mao were painted with repetitive dots and squares. I’ve returned to the exhibit several times with friends in tow and alone. Each time I discover something ‘new’ in The Forever Unfinished Building and ‘beehive of humans’ piece. It’s interesting. I do not know if the Gao brothers are members of this warehouse artist group or not. But–I will ask the staff on my next visit. Cheers!

  2. slpmartin said,

    September 19, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Well that an art show I wish I could see…sounds very thought provoking.

    • September 19, 2010 at 11:54 pm

      Hi slpmartin. Yes, it is a thought provoking exhibition for some many areas–history, politics, ethics, the role of art in a culture. Lots to consider. If you ever wander into KC from now until 2011 it will be available. Thanks for checking it out. I find it stimulating to see how other artists express their ideas.

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