On one wall, there's a series of photographs showing dilapidated apartment towers built into the sides of hills, a giant superimposed panda bear sits atop one of the housing projects, a mournful-looking brown monkey crouches in the middle of another -- monster-sized images of a natural world displaced in a chaotic, urbanized culture.
An almost silent black-and-white film flashes bleak animated images of crows clinging to black telephone wires and giant mosquitos latched onto a globe next to faceless businessmen in top hats.
Almost none of this hits on western expectations of Chinese culture or art -- multicolored dragons, serene landscapes or communist propaganda cartoons depicting healthy, smiling people.
"We have this stereotype of the Chinese just kind of being in lockstep and that they don't really have any political satire, that they've been brainwashed to the point where all they care about is material things. That's the way I think corporations want us to see them," said
Cappellini spent more than an hour transfixed by films of political satire and multimedia pastiche of global commercial culture where beer labels are pasted on top of historic landscapes.
Saturday marked the opening of "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists," a two-part exhibition spanning both sides of
The photos, paintings, videos and mixed-media represent 27 young Chinese artists in a country where two-thirds of the population is younger than 35.
Their works will be on display through
Wednesday marked the 15-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, a violent government suppression of student protest in
The works at the
But the freedom to express these critical sentiments also shows an openness that a western audience might find surprising.
"Since the Cultural Revolution back then, all that was banned and you'd only see healthy young people with strong teeth depicted and so on," said
"But now, evidentially, it's more OK. The younger generation is asserting itself."
That freedom of expression still extends only so far, as in sidestepping direct critique of those in power, and artists like
His "Constellation" series includes a giant mirror and glass window, both cracked and riddled with bullet holes shot up with a pistol -- which, the museum notes, is very difficult to obtain in
"It takes you off guard," Matievich said of the exhibition.
(c)2014 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)
Visit the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.) at www.tampatrib.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services