Heading over to the MFAH to catch the last day of the Brazilian Constructivist show, I had to divert to take a picture of the big red dinosaur out front. Like a lot of the exotic foreign art we like best, it's a mirror of ourselves: "Jurassic Age" by Chinese artist Sui Jianguo summarizes the current craze for Chinese art with such an unexpectedly astute awareness of American perceptions of China and Chinese art, it makes me wonder if the artist was educated here, or lived here, or has simply hired a topnotch US market research team. That box isn't just a cage; it's a shipping crate- plates of steel attached to the bronze dinosaur's feet are to facilitate mounting the piece in a sculpture garden. It's chin and tail rest on padded foam inserts. It's a portrait of a piece of art fresh off the boat. It's a satirical portrait of the cheap, garish toys that define Americans perception of Chinese imports. Silly but menacing, it evokes and ridicules our xenophobic fears: if it gets loose, this dinosaur is going to take over the museum. And of course, being from China, it's hastily sprayed a bright Communist red.
also by Bill Davenport
- Lego My Art! - January 30th, 2016
- Archive: Painting on My Planet/The Top Ten Painters in Houston - January 1st, 2016
- Archive: Tire Iron 0: Cropduster: Hills Snyder/Chris Sauter - December 28th, 2015
- DMA Crane Flip Video - April 26th, 2015
- Helmreich New Dean of Fine Arts at TCU - April 25th, 2015