Notes of the exhibition:
Art meets the censorship
This is the beautiful text, which comes from an unpublished foreword to the almanac, found in the estate of Gabriele Münter as well as in the estate of August Macke. The authors are Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc: “It is probably unnecessary to expressly emphasize that in our case, the principle of internationality is the only possible one. Nowadays – as must be noted, too – the individual nation is one of the creators of the whole and can never be viewed as a whole itself. The national factor, like the personal one, is automatically reflected in every great work. Yet in the final consequence, this is unimportant. The whole work, called art, knows no borders or nations, only humanity.”
Being present in Beijing is important to us. Nowhere else have we met an audience who appreciate what we are doing as much as our visitors here in Beijing. It inspires us to continue creating new shows. Censored by us. Only quality can hang on our walls. We don’t care if the cat is black or white as long it pushes the boundaries. As we get older, these boundaries become more and more difficult to push. The quality of an artwork, the quality alone is the censorship. We try to be consistent. Showing art is a privilege for us.
To present it to an audience requires censorship. In the same way that you have rules for how bad the food you serve can be, there must also be rules for how bad the art you present can be.
In all societies, however, censorship exists in other forms, based not on quality, but on political, religious or moral opinions. This exists in Denmark as well. However, these forms of censorship open the door for self-censorship.
When it comes to quality self-censorship, it is highly prioritised. A matter of fact the artists through their lives try to do it better. When it comes to censorship based on political and religious views or norms, subjective interpretation appears. There is no algorithm, which tells the artist or the censor whether an artwork is acceptable or not.
Throughout history we have seen censorship go hand in hand with fear: the fear of artists that they might end up in jail or the fear of the appointed censor that an artwork might give him problems from a higher ranking officer.
When we opened in Beijing, we knew that conditions were different and that we were subject to censorship. We knew that we were guests in a foreign country. We did not come to Beijing to campaign for any kind of political standpoint. We came simply to share our love of art of the highest quality and to use art as a medium to generate cultural exchange between the West and China. We have always been convinced that art can guide us towards a better understanding of the world. Artists can open our eyes. They see the world differently from most of us who grow up with a very narrow perspective. Artists’ insistence on challenging our normal scheme of things helps to develop our society beyond the laborious, monotonous growth strategies of technocrats. That is why we need to take care of our artists.
They bring us joy and challenge our intellect. They are our cultural growth hormone. Without them, our humanity dies and we turn into machines.
So how are we supposed to react, when faced with the hammer of censorship? From the outset, we chose to operate in a country, where the practice of censorship is not transparent, so may seem incomprehensible.
We will be criticised in the West for failing to stand up against censorship by not cancelling the exhibition, which is now after the hammer of censorship crippled, like a bird being shot in the wing. A bird that has been shot in the wing is not dead, and our Chinese art-loving friends must not miss out on an exhibition, which more than lives up to our own standards of quality. We have chosen to challenge the art instead of the censor. We have chosen to see whether Norbert Tadeusz in the afterlife could be present in something as distant from him as absent pictures, far away from the painting, which was his life-long occupation. Pictures that are here only in size, only as white canvases, as if they have been washed clean or simply virginal, ready to be filled with Norbert Tadeusz’s marvelous brush strokes and vehement colours. We dare to assert that the quality of the exhibition lives up to our high ambitions. The immediate impression is unusual, and the encounter between Norbert Tadeuzs and Christian Lemmerz has turned into an orgy of
white, in which we are uplifted by Lemmerz’s cavalier display of marble’s hidden images. Tadeusz’s total absence in the empty canvases imposes no restrictions on the images that emerge in the viewer’s brain. Maybe just the enjoyment of emptiness and the total tranquillity of minimalist nothingness.
Maybe a tear from heaven or hell, a shriek of joy from Norbert Tadeusz, who has finally been censored – all his paintings. Or we see his beautiful paintings scrolling across the canvas, because we encountered him at CAFA, where he was invited and respected in 2001, or we are helped on our way by the handful of sketches that slipped past the censors. In our opinion, the white canvases roar like Picasso’s Guernica. When we look back, it is always art of the highest quality that has been labeled “censored”. In Berlin, in 1892, Edvard Munch’s breakthrough exhibition was shut down – censored by his German colleagues who claimed that one could not paint like that. It doesn’t get more major than that. In Denmark, the most famous incident of recent times was in 1936, when the police confiscated Wilhelm Freddie’s superb sculpture, Sex Paralysis Appeal. It was not returned to the artist until the 1960s, after 26 years in Danish police custody. Today it is part of the permanent collection at the KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg.
Through the amputation the exhibition, has been pushed in a whole new and extraordinary way. Through its white, almost sacral atmosphere are the censored paintings even more present as a silent call to the arts superiority. Even censorship can be transformed to an artistic statement.
Another big dilemma facing us is that we totally underestimated the possibility that Norbert Tadeusz’s paintings would be subject to censorship.
We asked the artist’s wife, Petra Lemmerz if she would make Tadeusz’s paintings available for the encounter with Lemmerz. She generously loaned us a string of paintings, so we could create an exhibition about meat with a stunningly beautiful harmony in interaction with Christian Lemmerz’s sculptures: meat, which is dished up every day throughout the world. We promised her a beautiful catalogue and a strong presentation in some of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in Beijing and an encounter with a very committed Chinese audience. We had not warned her that Norbert Tadeusz’s pictures might not be to the censor’s taste. The catalogue has been printed. Only there can one see the original exhibition. And it is beautiful. Perhaps the most beautiful catalogue we have created. We believed it would be a superb exhibition that would please our large, faithful Chinese audience. But we were wrong in the assessment of the pictures.
According to the Chinese Cultural Bureau the paintings were too violent for the Chinese audience.
We do not want to disappoint Petra, who had been looking forward to seeing her husband’s pictures adorn the walls of China and come face to face with a Chinese audience. So we have decided to exhibit the pictures in a corner of China where the censor plays a different tune. So the exhibition, The Rejected Paintings will open on Sunday in Hong Kong. The pictures are of supreme quality, so the exhibition will not suffer from the absence of Lemmerz. They show a painter in his prime. We hope Hong Kong will welcome them and that some people from mainland China will make the effort and travel to Hong Kong to see Tadeusz’s powerful paintings. But enter with caution. This may be painting at its best. But for some maybe too violent.
We really hope that an institution in Germany, the homeland of the two artists, will take on the task of presenting Lemmerz Meat Tadeusz. We have the sculptures, we have the paintings, and we have the catalogue. It was not long ago that German art was marked Entartete Kunst. Now different winds are blowing across the German Empire. Meanwhile, about two thousand kilometres between Christian Lemmerz and Norbert Tadeusz, we can celebrate the fact that the art survived the challenge.
“It is probably unnecessary to expressly emphasise that in our case, the principle of internationality is the only possible one. Nowadays – as must be noted, too – the individual nation is one of the creators of the whole and can never be viewed as a whole itself. The national factor, like the personal one, is automatically reflected in every great work. Yet in the final consequence, this is unimportant. The whole work, called art, knows no borders or nations, only humanity.”
PRESS RELEASE for the exhibition “Meat”
Faurschou Foundation has been censored for the first time after a decade in Beijing
The Chinese Cultural Bureau has stamped the exhibition ‘Lemmerz MEAT Tadeusz’ as “too violent for Chinese audience”. Nevertheless, the exhibition by the two prominent German artists Norbert Tadeusz and Christian Lemmerz opened this weekend in Beijing.
The exhibition ‘Lemmerz MEAT Tadeusz’ has been censored despite its a-political, non-pornographic and non-religiously offensive content. Empty white canvases have now replaced all Tadeusz’s meat paintings in the Faurschou Foundation’s Beijing exhibition, and the canvases constitute a strong statement about censorship.
According to the Foundation “absolute emptiness is the ultimate result of censorship”, and by going through with the exhibition and replacing the rejected paintings with white canvases in identical sizes the Foundation makes a powerful statement against censorship.
Censorship adds a new narrative to the exhibition
“This exhibition reveals that even censorship can be transformed into a profound artistic statement. Through the amputation by the Chinese authorities the exhibition became an entirely new extraordinary experience. Through its white, almost sacral atmosphere the censored paintings in their absence are even more present as a silent call to the superiority of art. The emptiness provokes a profound resonance to Christian Lemmerz’ masterly carved white marble sculptures.” says Maurice Tuchman who more than anyone has felt the indirect American political censorship during his tenure as curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; he is also one of the contributors to the exhibition catalogue. He adds that the intended, non-censored exhibition can be seen in its whole only in the illustrated catalogue.
“It has always been art of the highest quality that has been labelled ‘censored’. In Berlin, in 1892, Edvard Munch’s entire breakthrough exhibition was shut down – censored by his German artist colleagues who declared that an artist could not paint like that. It doesn’t get more major than that.” states Jens Faurschou, the founder of Faurschou Foundation.
The censored paintings can be viewed at a pop-up show in Hong Kong
The Foundation has chosen to exhibit the rejected part of the originally planned exhibition – Norbert Tadeusz’s meat paintings – at a pop-up exhibition in a corner of China where censorship plays a different tune.
An exhibition called ‘The Rejected Paintings’ representing works from the major painter opened this Sunday in Hong Kong.
According to Jens Faurschou, the Foundation hopes Hong Kong will welcome and enjoy the paintings and that people from mainland China will make the effort and travel to Hong Kong to see Tadeusz’s powerful paintings in real life.
Jens Faurschou recalls Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, 1911: “The whole work, called art, knows no borders or nations, only humanity.” “As relevant today as 100 years ago,” notes Jens Faurschou.
About Faurschou Foundation
Faurschou Foundation is a privately owned art institution with a collection of contemporary art, and with exhibition venues in Copenhagen’s North Harbour as well as Beijing’s art neighbourhood 798. The Foundation’s collection is constantly developed and expanded.
Besides the current censored exhibition in Beijing and the pop-up exhibition in Hong Kong, Faurschou Foundation is currently showing a solo exhibition with Liu Xiaodong in Copenhagen.
Since its establishment in 2011, Faurschou Foundation has shown solo exhibitions with among other artists Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Louise Bourgeois, Shirin Neshat, Gabriel Orozco, Danh Vo, and Bill Viola.
For more information, please contact:
Madara Devko, PA of Jens Faurschou, Faurschou Foundation
Phone: +45 31 46 40 04
The exhibition information:
CHRISTIAN LEMMERZ & NORBERT TADEUSZ
Faurschou Foundation Beijing
798 Art District, NO2 Jiuxianqiao Road,
Chaoyang District Beijing
16.09.16 – 15.12.16
THE REJECTED PAINTINGS
Pop-up Hong Kong
Room 316, 3/F, Koon Wah Building,
No.2 Yuen Shun Circuit,
Yuen Chau Kok, Shatin, N.T.,
18.09.16 – 30.10.16