About: Qingnian Tang

唐慶年一九五六年生於北京。一九八四年畢業於中央工藝美術學院。曾為中國的美術雜誌《美術》編輯部副主任,美術評論家。八十年代中期中國新潮美術剛剛露出端倪,他就是最早的推動者。一九八九年北京行的中國現代藝術展,他是組織委員會成員和展覽組織者之一。一九九一年移居美國後,繼續從事他的藝術實踐。現在在南加州最大的亞裔廣告公司之一擔任藝術顧問。 Qingnian Tang was born in 1956 in Beijing, where he graduated from the Central Academy of Art and Design before serving as art critic and vice director of the editorial department for the art magazine Meishu (Art Monthly). Among the first artists to promote China’s seminal “New Wave” art movement in the mid-1980s, Tang was a primary exhibition coordinator for the 1989 China/Avant-garde exhibition held in Beijing. In 1991 he moved to the United States, where he has continued his art practice. He currently works as an artistic advisor at one of the largest Asian American advertising agencies in Southern California.

Posts by Qingnian

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

Writing Verse for “Brush & Shutter”

Diulian at the entrance to the GRI exhibition Brush & Shutter

Greeting you at the entrance to Brush & Shutter: Early Photography in China is a duilian, two lines of Chinese poetry that situate the exhibition. The author of that duilian here describes the process of its creation, which was spurred… More»

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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