Date: Feb 28th 2014 1:40p.m.
Contributed by: laurafitch

Contemporary art is often a serious affair, with artists creating works meant to criticize, challenge, explore or otherwise deal with issues in the world they inhabit. But while humor, when wielded well, is a sharp stick with which to poke a viewer's consciousness, it's rare we see an exhibition that is wryly amusing, much less one that makes us more than chuckle. But we found works in not one, but two exhibitions at UCCA that had us dissolving into giggles first and left us pondering the point afterwards.

Artists Ji Dachun and Xu Zhen both display senses of humor so sharp they could slice through the most pretentious of critical commentaries. The majority of Ji's abstract paintings are explorations of texture and tone, but a handful deal with more political ideas in which Ji uses absurdity and visual contrast to make his point.

Go Through the Motions, an anatomically correct painting of the inner workings of male sexual organs with an index finger inserted in the anus made us smirk, but Katsushika Hokusai's The Great Wave at Kanagawa contained in a Western-style bathtub in the center of an otherwise empty frame titled News made us laugh out loud.

Xu Zhen's extensive exhibition in UCCA's Great Hall is a cornucopia of the bizarre, surreal and the satirically funny. There is so much going on visually and audially that it takes a moment for a viewer to process it and find a starting point. With the front section of the hall divided in half in which the works on both the left and right mirror each other, what at first appears to be chaotic lack of order is soon revealed to have its own logical structure.

Live volunteers lie down on metal structures that make them ...


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