Houston Community News >> Wang Wei Permanent Display at Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

9/4/2007 Houston —A unique and powerful photographic and sound installation by Chinese artist Wang Wei currently featured in RED HOT—Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has been given to the museum by the Chaney Family Collection, Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director, announced today.

The work, 1/30th of a Second Underwater, is a series of eight photographs of the artist and three friends submerged in water, their faces pressed against a Plexiglas barrier as if they are struggling to break the surface. The photographs are displayed in light boxes arranged into a 4-foot-wide walkway that stretches for 32 feet in the tunnel between the museum’s Audrey Jones Beck Building and the Visitors Center. For viewers, the effect of walking over the photographs is intensified by an accompanying soundtrack of running water and human voices. In its present location, Underwater becomes a counterpoint to The Light Inside, a neon light installation by American artist James Turrell in the tunnel between the museum’s Caroline Wiess Law and Audrey Jones Beck buildings.

“Wang Wei is among the brilliant young performance artists whose works are being shown in the RED HOT exhibition,” Marzio said. “The museum is in the process of bringing a new focus to Asian art, especially contemporary works, and so the Chaney family’s generosity in donating this piece is most fitting and is deeply appreciated.”

Underwater, first exhibited in the 1999 underground exhibition Post-Sense Sensibility: Alien Bodies and Delusion in Beijing, creates a psychological distance between viewers and the subjects below the surface. Viewers witness these anonymous bodies trapped in a suffocating environment, but are trapped in their own helpless condition as passive onlookers.

About Wang Wei
Born in 1972 in Beijing, Wang Wei graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and lives and works in Beijing. His installations often focus on placing the body in a precarious situation, and express ideas about the self in contemporary society.

His work has been shown in a number of important exhibitions, including Trap Platform China Beijing, 2005; Beyond: The Second Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, 2005; Playgrounds of Authorship, Hartnett Gallery University of Rochester, 2005; A Second Sight: International Biennale of Contemporary Art, National Gallery in Prague, 2005; China, The Body Everywhere, Museum of Contemporary Art , 2004; Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, International Center of Photography, 2004; and Temporary Space: An Experiment by Wang Wei, 25000 Cultural Transmission Center Beijing, 2003.

RED HOT—Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection, featuring over 100 works of contemporary art by 66 artists, is on view through October 21, 2007 in the museum’s premier Brown Foundation Galleries in the Beck Building. Additional installations of works by such celebrated artists as Takashi Murakami, Yue Minjun, Chiho Aoshima, and Atta Kim from the Chaney Family Collection are displayed in front of the Law Building, in the lobbies of the Law and Beck buildings, and on the lower level of the Beck Building. After the exhibition closes, Wang’s Underwater will remain in the Beck-Visitors Center tunnel.

MFAH Hours and Admission
The Audrey Jones Beck Building is at 5601 Main Street and the Caroline Wiess Law Building is at 1001 Bissonnet Street. Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:15–7 p.m. The museum is closed on Monday, except for holidays. Admission to this exhibition is included with general admission to the museum. General admission is $7 for adults and $3.50 for children 6-18, students, and senior adults (65+); admission is free for children 5 and under. Admission is free on Thursday, courtesy of Shell Oil Company Foundation. Admission is free every first Sunday of the month, courtesy of Target. Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday for children 18 and under with a Houston Public Library Power Card or any other library card.

MFAH Parking
The museum’s parking garage is in the MFAH Visitors Center, located at 5600 Fannin Street at Binz Street (entrance on Binz). Free parking is available in two lots on Main Street, at Bissonnet and at Oakdale.

Cafe Express-Museum
Cafe Express-Museum offers convenient dining in the Beck Building of the MFAH. Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

MFAH Collections
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the largest art museum in America south of Chicago, west of Washington, D.C., and east of Los Angeles. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers more than 56,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. Featured are the finest artistic examples of the major civilizations of Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Italian Renaissance paintings, French Impressionist works, photographs, American and European decorative arts, African and Pre-Columbian gold, American art, and European and American paintings and sculpture from post-1945 are particularly strong holdings. Recent additions to the collections include Rembrandt van Rijn’s Portrait of a Young Woman (1633), the Heiting Collection of Photography, a major suite of Gerhard Richter paintings, an array of important works by Jasper Johns, a rare, second-century Hellenistic bronze Head of Poseidon/Antigonos Doson, major canvases by 19th-century painters Gustave Courbet and J.M.W. Turner, distinguished work by the leading 20th and 21st century Latin American artists, and The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art.

MFAH Campus
The MFAH collections are presented in six locations that make up the institutional complex. Together, these facilities provide a total of 300,000 square feet of space dedicated to the display of art. The MFAH comprises:
Two major museum buildings: the Caroline Wiess Law Building, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo
Two facilities for the Glassell School of Art: one with studio spaces for children and another with studio spaces for adults
Two house museums that exhibit decorative arts: Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens features American works, Rienzi features European works
The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, created by Isamu Noguchi
Complementing the public exhibition spaces is a major on-site conservation center where artworks are conserved prior to presentation.

For information, the public may call 713-639-7300, or visit www.mfah.org. For information in Spanish, call 713-639-7379. TDD/TYY for the hearing impaired, call 713-639-7390. For membership information, call 713-639-7550 or email membership@mfah.org.