The man who knew everyone in the Chinese contemporary art world

The title of the exhibition, “5,000 Names”, is born of a mystery. It alludes to the unfinished project of Hans van Dijk, a Dutchman who arrived at Nanjing University in 1986 to study Chinese, and went on to become a key figure in contemporary art in China until his death in 2002. His legacy is a rich archive of photographs, letters, books, catalogues and magazines recording his life and work within an emergent art scene. He also devoted his energies to compiling an index of Chinese artists born between 1880 and 1980—more than 5,000 of them.