Cheng Xi

The Meaning of Being in Time

No one can choose the time in which to live. Some eras go by without a trace, while others leave indelible marks on people’s heart and mind.

The people in the exhibitions are from that unforgettable era—the 1970s. And what is to be told here is no grand historical narrative of the 1970s, but a gang of rebels and the dissidents of the 1970s who searched for the glory of humanity and the meaning of life in a time when humanity was lost, and when idealists were doomed to fail.

In an age of self-destruction, they still searched for the significance of life. They wrote poems, drew paintings, listened to radio broadcast considered hostile to China, read banned books, and made friends …… Seeking art and literature was not only their way of self-expression, but also evidence of their existence. Their “art” was not for the sake of “art”, but for the sake of keeping oneself alive. In the time of collective absurdity and mass insanity, their own reality was precious, and even heroic!

Their sincerity has struck a chord with the soul of man as well as the spirit of art. It has enlightened the modern and contemporary Chinese art without self-knowledge, and part of their work shall become an important legacy of contemporary literature and art.

So, what is the time in which we live today?

Wealth and affluence have not eradicated or cancelled out the emptiness in our hearts, nor enabled us to go beyond the absurd. We are still confronted with the difficulties of human existence and feeling lost spiritually. People are still searching for life’s meaning, just like they did in the 1970s!

A man can represent an “era”, but an era cannot replace the individual, because the meaning of a “being human” transcends politics, national boundaries, skin color, and even time.

Curator, artist and the founder of CHENG Xi Center for Contemporary Art, he worked on experimental ink paintings and oil paintings in earlier years, and later turned his focus on researches in modern and contemporary art theories. He advocates discussing the contemporary art in the trend of literary thoughts and advancing the contemporary art from the historical and social perspectives. He has been devoted to discovering untapped art and artists for a long time, as well as collecting and reorganizing an unofficial folk contemporary art history, with an attempt to advance literature, art and history as an integral and to restore the contemporary humanistic spirit.


He has successfully curated a poet series exhibition “Voyage across a bridge of sadness——Solo exhibition of ZHANG Liaoliao”, which takes the personal soul course of the poet as a case study and exhibits the personal and national fates in special ages. He has co-curated with SHUANG Zi “Photo Exhibition in 1970s”, exhibiting the literary thoughts between 1960s and 1970s from six parts, namely Baiyangdian Poetry community, Beijing Cultural Salon, Untitled Art Association, Star Art Exhibition, Today and Age of Intelligent Youth, which has a wide range of impact and is referred to as the most important retrospective exhibition in 2016. He has curated the exhibition"Surely I am coming soon: Saintism Wash Ink Painting by Dao Zi", which is a powerful exhibition and demonstrates the compassion of the artist beyond the reality.

Art Education

Art education and character nurturing are the basic issues of literary developments. To this end, CHENG Xi has investigated the current situations of artistic and humanistic educations in the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, etc. He has visited New York Academy of Arts, School of Arts of New York University, Parsons Academy of Arts of New York, New York School of Visual Arts, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Tokyo Zokei University, National Taiwan University of Arts, Taipei National University of the Arts, and other galleries and art institutions, in search of the differences and consensus of contemporary culture and art. Furthermore, he has successively held several academic exhibitions such as “Research Exhibition of Contemporary Academic Art”, “Experiment Field – Asian Academic Art Exhibition”, “Image dimension—CAFA Experimental Art Exhibition”, “Confession” in collaboration with China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, and other domestic art institutes.