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Contemporary Art In China: “Anxiety Of Influence” And The Creative Triumph Of Cai Guo-Qiang

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Chapter Summary

One inhibitory factor resides in the history of Western influence on art in China and the controversy it has inspired - and continues to inspire - over the degree to which artists should accept and assimilate Western art media and practices. The other factor lies within the country itself, namely, the changing political environment and varying degrees of repression against freedom of expression. These two aspects of Chinese culture have created a form of what is now Harold Bloom's proverbial - and oedipal - 'anxiety of influence'. Western influence, notably the Portuguese, began to infiltrate China around the sixteenth century and increased through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with Britain's opium exports. Cai Guo-Qiang challenges tradition in a new way, and to a great extent he has been able to elude the inhibitory effects of the changeable repressions of government authority in China. His four primary types of artworks are gunpowder drawings, installations, explosions and social projects.

Keywords: anxiety of influence; Cai Guo-Qiang; China; Chinese culture; contemporary art



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