Maurizio Cattelan: The Last Judgment 20 November 2021–20 February 2022 UCCA 798 Art District No 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu Chaoyang District 100015, Beijing China
Adopting its title from Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment is an overview of Maurizo Cattelan’s long career as one of the most popular controversial artists in contemporary art. Taking a rarefied approach offers the opportunity to pause and reflect on the artist’s vision and the philosophy that underpins his output.
The exhibition is curated by Francesco Bonami and organised by Liu Kaiyun, Edward Guan, Shi Yao, Anna Yang, and Yvonne Lin and is the artist’s first exhibition in China.
Approximately 30 installation, sculpture, performance, and site-specific works from throughout the artist’s career are on view within the open space of UCCA’s Great Hall, including the artist’s first notable work Lessico Familiare (1989) and the well-known Catttelan (1994), Bidibidobidiboo (1996), Novecento (1997), and Comedian (2019), along with a suite of animal taxidermy works.
Site-specific works—such as Zhang San (2021), a sculpture outfitted as a homeless person in Beijing, and a performance piece based on the figure of Picasso that also alludes to UCCA’s 2019 exhibition Picasso – Birth of a Genius—at this exhibition prompt viewers to participate in Cattelan’s artistic exploits within the contradictions of contemporary society, along with his interrogation of the culture and stereotypes of his birthplace, the mores of today’s globalised society, and the contexts surrounding such reflections.
Works drawn from the artist’s biography, identity as an artist, and ostensibly self-centred persona paradoxically open up into a multitude of identities and questions confronting the motifs of death and mortality, particularly the artist’s own: The kneeling figure with a paper bag over his head in No (2021) pronouncing the condition of destiny unknown; a grave moment in Untitled (1997) in the form of a pile of dirt and a hole in the ground the size of the artist’s body; the act of closure in Mother (2021), reprised here as a mural based on a photograph of the original 1999 performance.
Other works simultaneously mock and pay homage to pop culture references and symbolic figures in Italian art history, such as Lucio Fontana’s slashed canvas in Untitled (1999) and the shrunken, miniature Sistine Chapel its frescoes in Untitled (2018). The manipulation of scale is echoed in works reflecting his artistic philosophy, such as the small but functioning elevators in Untitled (2001). Working is a bad job (1993). The artist’s irreverent solution to the labour and struggle of art-making returns here in a billboard allotted to be leased out to commercial advertisements.
As befitting Maurizio Cattelan’s unconventional artistic practice, on the occasion of The Last Judgment, UCCA is publishing a unique catalogue. In lieu of photographs of the artworks, original paintings by illustrator Wang Buke relocate the pieces to locations around Beijing. The catalogue contains:
A foreword by UCCA Director Philip Tinari.
A conversation between the artist and Francesco Bonami.
An essay by Central Academy of Fine Art associate professor Zhang Chen.
Extensive annotations on each exhibited artwork.
The catalogue is published by Zhejiang Photography Press and designed by 26 Studio (Yang Shaozhun and Leng Jing).