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The Taotie

Thu 21 March 2024Tue 31 March 2026

The Taotie

After an 18-month residency at Compton Verney, Gayle Chong Kwan (b.1974) will present an exhibition of her new work alongside Compton Verney’s internationally renowned Chinese collection of bronze food and wine vessels from the Shang Dynasty (about 1500 – about 1050 BCE) to the Ming Dynasty (1369 – 1644 CE).

The artist, known for large scale installations of videos and photos, will reveal seven new photographic works, responding to the collection that have been created during her residency. They will be accompanied by ‘shrines’ made up of newly cast bronze offerings, and will incorporate references to Chinese, Taoist and Buddhist cultures, as well as focusing on ideas around food, soil and the body.

The title of the exhibition refers to a Chinese mythical creature that would commonly be emblazoned on Shang Dynasty bronzes. She has made her own personal three-dimensional taotie motifs, made from collaged images and photographs, all different shapes and sizes. Each work will refer to a different Chinese animal of the zodiac, as well as drawing upon the myths of the Hungry Ghost festival, common in East Asian countries in which spirits of deceased ancestors rise.

The ambitious show will explore sustenance, memory and rituals, while also directly highlighting the politics and provenance of collections and museums in the modern age.

Gayle Chong Kwan is undertaking an artist residency with Compton Verney as part of the 20/20 project, led by the UAL Decolonising Arts Institute and supported by funding from Arts Council England, the Freelands Foundation and University of the Arts London.

Image: Installation view, The Taotie by Gayle Chong Kwan. © Compton Verney, photo by Jamie Woodley.