Brooklyn Artist Fred Tomaselli Visits China, Praises Ai Weiwei

09/09/2011 1:00 PM |

Fred Tomaselli, The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back (2011, detail).

  • Fred Tomaselli, “The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back” (2011, detail).

North Brooklyn-based artist Fred Tomaselli‘s work is featured in a group exhibition at his New York gallery James Cohan’s Shanghai outpost, Alchemy & Inquiry, which opens today. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal he spoke with great candor about his experience in China, and praised oft-censored Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Asked what surprised him most about China Tomaselli said:

I really feel like I’m watching the future unfold here, and as an American, I’m quite humbled by it. I’m seeing America not invest in its infrastructure, and China is doing just the opposite. They’ve completely jettisoned socialism, and so have we. The rich here are just zooming ahead of the poor, but people are more afraid of chaos and want than they are of freedom, so they’re very willing—it seems to me—to not have democracy in order to make money.

This, of course, is very similar to the type of statement that when made by Ai Weiwei has created many problems for the internationally renowned artist.

Tomaselli, visiting China for the first time, confessed that “I only have this very superficial relationship with contemporary Chinese art, and I’m not paying as much attention as I probably should.” Still, among the Chinese artists for whom he expresses fondness are Ai Weiwei and similarly critical Liu Xiaodong. Although Tomaselli, presumably, doesn’t run the same risk of being arrested and held without charges for expressing his opinion that Chinese artists do.

If you’re going to be in Shanghai this fall, Tomaselli’s work can be seen along with pieces by Philip Taaffe and Terry Winters at James Cohan Gallery‘s Yue Yang Road space until November 19.

(via Observer; image courtesy the artist, James Cohan Galler)