The exhibition’s advertising slogan—“Witness the Creation of History”—brings to light the sense in which this exhibition echoes history and cultural innovation. At the same time, this equally signals a breakthrough and a leap forward in the artist’s career. It may appear as a matter of course that history is considered a symbol of the past, an exemplar of culture, and a cipher of tradition, and yet Xu Zhen continually breaks down this predetermined mode of thought, deploying everything from within the farrago of global culture. He inherits history and is broadly nourished by tradition; taking up a stance replete with cultural self-confidence and a high degree of cultural reflexivity, he lives for the contemporary.
With his characteristic humor, Xu Zhen intervenes in all manners of subject matter concerning global culture. With a taut expressiveness, he ingeniously integrates a Western spirit with Eastern culture—a new culture which transcends traditional schemas is hereby born. The all-new creation European Thousand-Hand Classical Sculpture assembles 19 different Western classical sculptures of various forms; borrowing from the shape of the Thousand-Hand Guanyin (Bodhisattva) in Buddhist iconography, the work deals with both the sense of form and spirituality, thereby manifesting a vigorous vitality which dumbfounds the audience’s visual perception. Eternity grafts the dignified and serene Buddhist statues of the East together with elegant and exquisite Greek statues, thus cutting across vast expanses of space and time; its references to an awe-inspiring scale of art history points to the capaciousness of Eastern wisdom. Eternity—The Soldier of Marathon Announcing Victory, A Wounded Galatian joins two Western sculptural works; its absurd and yet stunning visual effect perfectly showcases the balance of force and belief. MadeIn Curved Vase turns the necks of ancient Chinese classics of ceramics by 90 degrees and accomplishes the greatest act in ceramic history. Physique of Consciousness Museum, by incorporating social, religious, and traditional forms as elements, invents a calisthenics for the mind and spirit—a first in the world. Metal Language collects words frompolitical caricatures and spells out independent and yet vivid phrases with metal chains, thereby fully developing the tactility of thought. In the newly launched Black Light series of Under Heaven, meanwhile, a sweeping and cavernous forest of black “cream” exudes an intense air of mystery, spouting forth a fearless and dauntless force.
The exhibition furthermore presents a series of Xu Zhen’s earlier representative individual works. These include the video Shouting, created in 1998, where on the crowded streets of Shanghai, Xu Zhen suddenly bursts out screaming—the fright and bewilderment in the crowd’s faces, turned backwards, were fully captured. In Rainbow, a man’s back is beaten until it burns red, and yet the hand doing the beating is abstracted; an intuitive sense of the body and of life is hence clearly seen. This work, moreover, made him the youngest Chinese artist ever to have participated in the main thematic exhibition of the Venice Biennale. The installation ShanghART Supermarket recreates a convenience store on-site: the shelves are crammed full of empty products, while the items, sold at their ordinarily marked prices, only have the external shells of their packaging. The emptiness and the lack of content hit the nail on the head—the dialectical relationship between art and commodity is challenged anew.
In the globalized post-Internet contemporary, Xu Zhen has continually pioneered forms of artistic creation. As an artist, he also tackles the roles of the curator, entrepreneur, and gallerist. Amid these interchanging identities, he nevertheless ensures that the creation maintains a high degree of consistency and leads MadeIn Company to expand comprehensively in cultural fields—developing curatorial production, research and publications, from galleries to limited-edition artworks. By initiating each of these, he practices what he preaches: the core concept of “producing creativity”. The exhibition will coincide with the launch of an exhibition catalogue that brings independent product catalogues together into a box set, perfectly forging the brand-new artistic aesthetics of the MadeIn Company product catalogue.
About the exhibition
Duration: Mar 28, 2015 – May 24, 2015
Opening: Mar 28, 2015, 17:00, Saturday
Venue: Long Museum
Courtesy of the artist and Long Museum, for further information please visit www.thelongmuseum.org.