Cui Guotai

Anshan Steel Factory, China, 2006

Acrylic on linen, 180x240 cm

Courtesy of Alexander Ochs Galleries Berlin/Beijin

The ruins of the prosperous steel factories and the desolate environment of Shenyang’s industrial areas are the central focus of Cui Guotai’s art. His large oil paintings document the immense industrial plants which were the source of China’s pride at the end of the 20th century and now are deserted and humbled. No one remains to populate the giant factories that stand intact like huge tombstones, and no one is left to operate the machinery that was abandoned overnight.

The new China rushes to achieve new heights every day. Each day a new record is broken. Its industrial economy has left the anachronistic factories and yesterday’s workforce behind. The country is now invested in educating a new generation of robots that serve assembly lines for the production of technologies, which cannot keep up with the rate of demand. China is in a hurry…not to treat its citizens according to human standards or to create a framework of social benefits to protect its human resources. China is in a rush, hurrying to cope with its dizzying success, running a race against time, and anything that is not in service of these new aspirations is deemed insignificant.

But Cui Guotai insists on documenting history, the recent past. His brushstrokes and bold paint scrawls are expressive of a sincere statement.

Guotai does not let the new China off the hook. His paintings contain sorrow, desolation, and neglect. The landscapes are full of tension, with an apocalyptic sense of finality. Buildings, abandoned objects, things unwanted. A stifled silence in an unpeopled landscape.