Art Galleries, Creativity

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery

We were fortunate on more than one account with our time spent in Dunedin.  One of those moments was having the opportunity to visit the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.  It was time well spent with good friends.

The Art Gallery’s latest exhibitions draw together 23 works from New Zealand and Australian collections by major Chinese artists, including Xu Bing, Ai Weiwei and Yang Fudong.

Two artists stole our attention.

Viewing the Artifical Wonderland

The first incredible exhibition was “Artifical Wonderland” by contemporary Chinese artist Yang Yongliang,

With a background training in calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting, Yang has used digital technologies to explore the intersection between these conventional art forms and his contemporary position.

Yang Yongliang’s Artificial Wonderland 2

For those of you that are familiar with Chinese classical art will know that it’s world-renowned for the most stunning landscape paintings. They represent rejoicing in nature and especially for how the natural world is experienced, with the slightest of brushstrokes.

At first sight, they seem to follow the path and styles of the old masters.

Lean in and have a closer look and you will realise that all is not as it first seems. Yang’s works, on the other hand, lead us to experience this through a critical re-thinking of contemporary reality.

Yang Yongliang’s Artificial Wonderland

For a start, the paintings were produced on an inkjet printer.  With the usage of photography and video, Artificial Wonderland creates a space to examine urbanisation, globalisation and the contemporary relationship to the landscape.  As a way of exposing the idea that competitive capitalism and environmental exploitation have destroyed so much of the uniquely beautiful Chinese scenery.

A bonus is that Artificial Wonderland includes Yang’s most recent video series, Views of Water (2018), constructed out of footage of the ocean, rivers and lake shot during his time in Dunedin during March 2018 as part of the DPAG International Visiting Artist Programme.

You do need to check out this artwork exhibition in Dunedin or other locations around the world. The Dunedin exhibition is supported by the Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa International Visiting Artist project.

If digital art does not appeal, perhaps a considerable amount of high-quality Italian leather in the form of a military tank may tickle your fancy?

The Second Artist

He Xiangyu Tank project commenced in late 2011 and was completed in early 2013. The sculpture is a prototype of the tank, specifically a T34, based on one that was found near a regimen positioned between North Korea and China. The T34 model was used by China’s armed forces and the same model that was used during specific infamous incidents in China’s recent history.

T34 military tank recreated in luxury Italian leather

How did He Xiangyu create this fantastic piece of art? 

He Xiangyu and his team of workers risked their freedom if not more to sneak into an army base during the night to gain real-life measurements.  The reason why it had to be completed by hand was large-scale measuring tools were not available to them.

Determining the measurements took four months. The plans based on these dimensions were detailed and painstakingly thorough, so thorough that Xiangyu could reproduce an actual tank.

The artist used high-grade vegetable tanned leather as his primary material for his tank and created the “outer-coat” by using the dimensions and proportions from the measurements scaled with a very insignificant magnification. Xiangyu together with 35 workers, completed the Tank Project in about two years, using over 250 full-scale leather hides and 50,000 meters of wax string. The finished piece weighs over 4000 pounds.

These two contemporary Chinese artists I believe reflect the complexities of post-1980’s China in their differing art forms.

For more information on New Networks, Contemporary Chinese Art

check out the following websites.

YANG YONGLIANG Artificial Wonderland – Video

Dunedin Public Art Gallery

He Xiangyu

The Dunedin public Art Gallery


26 thoughts on “The Dunedin Public Art Gallery”

  1. Wow, these are brilliant works of art Suz, especially that landscape and I appreciate your comments and descriptions on how it was produced. Very special! Hoping it comes to Aus but in the meantime thanks for the info 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen a similar type of digital art in a studio at Fyansford outside Geelong earlier this year. It’s truly stunning isn’t it and really makes you look twice, and closer, at the intricate details. Such amazing artwork you’ve shared here in this exhibition. Thanks Suzanne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure 😊 I can understand why it is one of your favourites. I will certainly return. There was another on a wide range of paintings from around the world. What’s amazing is that the Art Gallery’s entry is by donation and not a set fee.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think most public art galleries in NZ still rely on koha, although lots do charge for special exhibitions. I became a Friend of Auckland Gallery at one point because it was the cheapest way to see the highlight exhibitions of the year.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, you are right, as I just remembered that the Tauranga Art Gallery relies on koha too. Good idea regarding becoming a friend of an Art Gallery. Might do that with the Tauranga one.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, that was my reaction when I first saw this artwork, especially the digital one where I could see people in the windows, cars moving, lights turning off and on. It was incredible, different and certainly highlighted the issues our modern world is doing to the environment.


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