Introduction to the STARS Art Movement
Founded in late 1970s, the STARS group was founded by Ma Desheng and Huang Rui. Members included Wang Keping, Qu Leilei, Ah Cheng, Ai Weiwei, and Li Shuang (the only woman artist). Mostly self-trained, the STARS artists championed individualism and freedom of expression both in their work and public activities. Taking personal experience and social issues as their subject matter, they pointedly diverged from state-sanctioned Socialist Realism.
In September 1979, the STARS artists staged an unauthorised exhibition on the gates of the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. The exhibition was deemed ‘illegal’, and was subsequently taken down. In November of the same year, a second exhibition was staged in huafangzhai, the space of the Beijing Artists’ Association. As a continuation of the first exhibition, it attracted approximately 33,000 visitors. A third exhibition was held in August 2020 in the National Art Museum of China in Beijing once again. The presentation was important as it was held in a museum, which gave the artists and their art a certain credibility.
The STARS group was a voice that needed to be heard. After 1983, the group disbanded, partly due to their members going into exile under political pressure, but their spirit lived and lives on. Since then, they have come to be recognised as players in a significant and historical art movement, with members who have gone on to make a name for themselves in the contemporary art world.
About Katie de Tilly
Katie de Tilly arrived in Hong Kong in 1994 when Chinese and Asian contemporary art had yet to come into international focus. With a particular interest in the rich historical, social and cultural context of China and the development in Asia of its contemporary art scene, she founded 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in 2001, expanding it in 2006 and 2008 with warehouse project spaces in Chai Wan.
Katie holds degrees in Biology, Chemistry and Comparative Literature from the US as well as a Diploma in Clinical Acupuncture from Hong Kong University. She contributed a monthly column called Artspy for Baccarat Magazine from 2007-2015. She spearheaded the Chai Wan art and design community, and co-organised Chai Wan Mei, a yearly art and design festival from 2013-2015. She has been on the board of the Tate Modern Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee (APAC), as well as the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) of RMIT University School of Art / Hong Kong Art School. Katie is also a founding member and former Co-President of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association (HKAGA), as well as a Founding Patron of the M+ Patrons. She also heads the HKAGA HK Artists Residency Abroad Funding Scheme.
Katie de Tilly’s Recommendations
‘HUANG RUI: The Stars Period 1977-1984’
By Wu Hung, Lü Peng, Shu Yang, Cees Hendrikse, Bérénice Angremy, Huang Rui
Published by Asia One Books, 2012
By Ma Desheng and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Published by 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, 2019
Edited by Li Xianting and Huang Rui
Published by The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2020
By Wang Keping and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Published by Vibrant Life, 2008