Jilin Province ~ China
Curator and critic, Li Xianting is a pillar of contemporary Chinese art. He is being honoured for his lifelong dedication to the development of contemporary art in China, for his meticulous and analytical way of thinking in difficult circumstances, and for championing individuality and freedom of spirit. Curator and critic Li Xianting is a pillar of modern Chinese art. A mover and shaker at a turning point in the country’s history, he recognised and encouraged emerging talent, promoted new trends, and organised ground-breaking exhibitions such as ‘China/Avant-Garde’ at the National Art Museum (1989). He edited Meishu (Fine Art) magazine and later the China Fine Art Newspaper, writing insightful reviews and important theoretical articles, and was instrumental in bringing contemporary Chinese artists to national and international attention. A catalyst in the development of new generations of avant-garde artists, Li Xianting challenged the authorities, opened up space for experimentation, fought for reform of the national arts system and was a lifeline for many independent artists. After the protests at Tiananmen Square (1989), he continued to lecture and curate international shows including ‘Mao Goes Pop’ (1993) and the China pavilion at the 45th Venice Biennale (1995). He is director of Songzhuang Art Museum where he curates stimulating exhibitions, organises conferences and promotes professional art criticism, as well as running a fund for independent filmmaking and research. Li Xianting is honoured for his lifetime dedication to the development of contemporary art in China, for his rigorous analytical thought in difficult circumstances, and for championing individuality and freedom of spirit.