Stars-1979: The Beginnings of Chinese Contemporary Art

Why We Recommend it

Hear first-hand accounts of a pivotal turning point in China’s Contemporary Art history—The Stars Exhibition—as well as contemporary observations on the event, and its impact on future generations of Chinese artists.


On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the famed 1979 Stars Exhibition, the Stars Art Foundation and Asia Society Hong Kong co-present a panel discussion between artist Huang Rui (b. 1952, Beijing), artist Ma Desheng (b. 1952, Beijing), art critic and curator Li Xianting (b. 1949, Jiling), as well as writer and curator Pi Li.

Huang is well known for his influential role as the founder and one of the main leaders of the Stars Group 1979-1983 and the early art avant-garde, as well as a founder of the 798 Art’s District in 2002. During the late 1970s his figurative paintings showed the everyday sentiments and strife of his generation. In the early 1980s Huang Rui moved away from his earlier figurative painting style and took a radical artistic position of abstraction derived from Chinese concepts.

Ma is one of the most captivating artists and a published poet from China. His early Stars Period (星星) woodblock prints of 1979-1981 publicly confronted and challenged the system. Ma left China for Europe in 1985, and then moved to the US where he was tragically involved in a car accident paralysing him from the waist down. He moved back to France and began to paint in acrylic on canvas. One of Ma’s subjects, since the Stars years in China, has been his Rock painting series.

Li was the editor of Fine Art Magazine until 1983. From 1985 to 1989 he was the editor of the authoritative China Fine Art Newspaper, and was active as independent critic and curator based in Beijing henceforth. In the late seventies and eighties, Li Xianting was involved in advocating and introducing the avant-garde art form in China. He organised the “Stars exhibition” in 1979, and coined the terms “Cynical Realism” and “Political Pop”. He also lectured and curated international shows, including the China Pavilion at the 45th Venice Biennale (1995). He is now the director of Songzhuang Art Museum and Li Xianting’s Film Fund.

The discussion is moderated by Anthony Yung, AAA’s Senior Researcher specialising in Greater China.

Please note that registration is required for the free public event.


When: 6 Jun 2019 - 6 Jun 2019 Where: Asia Society Hong Kong Center – 9 Justice Drive – Admiralty