EXHIBITIONS

  • XU ZHEN®: ETERNITY VS EVOLUTION

    2020.03.14-2020.09.13
    National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia

    International contemporary artist XU ZHEN® – famous for his large-scale works exploring the collision of cultures – will present his first major solo Australian exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in March.

     

    Curated by the National Gallery of Australia in partnership with the White Rabbit Collection, Sydney, XU ZHEN®: ETERNITY VS EVOLUTION showcases the artist’s work from early videos to more recent monumental sculptures. The exhibition will also celebrate the international debut of “Hello” 2018-19 – a Corinthian column-like snake that watches and follows visitors as they move through the gallery.

     

    Opening on 14 March, the exhibition will be made up of 14 works, as well as a series of performances of In Just a Blink of an Eye 2005/2020 in August. A leader among China’s younger generation of artists, XU ZHEN®’s eclectic works examines the role of art and culture in the distribution of global power.

     

    “A leading artist of his generation, XU ZHEN® grapples with the implications of globalisation, not just in China, but around the world. He deftly combines cultural forms with equal parts provocation and humour, exposing the fault lines between cultures and suggesting new ways of living together,” National Gallery of Australia Director Nick Mitzevich said.

     

    Co-ordinating curator Peter Johnson, from the National Gallery of Australia, said the artist was interested in how globalisation intersected with ideas around the body, alienation, trade, control and the commodification of culture, which saw him establish the MadeIn Company, a factory-like cultural production corporation, in 2009.

     

    “In 2013, MadeIn Company launched the brand XU ZHEN®, skewering the romantic notion of artistic genius and exploring new possibilities for expression through the combination of art and business,” Mr Johnson said.

     

    XU ZHEN® said people in China were anxious about the relationship between art and business but he felt it created new possibilities. “Most things are a business nowadays so the fact of creating a company, in a way, solves the conflict between art and business. The company itself brings together these aspects in a magical way,” he said.

     

    In his latest work, “Hello”, being exhibited outside of China for the first time, XU ZHEN ® turns the spotlight on twisted perceptions that emerge with the meeting of different cultures.

     

    “I’ve used a traditional thing and renewed it in some way,” he said. “It’s interesting because, in the west, such columns would be used in official buildings such as courthouses and banks, whereas they most often appear in front of public baths in China, or places where you can sing karaoke.”

     

    The scale of his homeland, XU ZHEN® says, is one of the inspirations for his colossal works, such as the European Thousand-Armed Classical Sculpture 2014, which has the familiarity of classical European sculptures overlaid with eastern religious imagery of a multi-armed deity. “I’m drawn to such things because of what they say about power and what is valued in different societies,” he said.

  • XU ZHEN®: “Hello”

    2019.11.06-2019.12.31
    MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai, China

    On November 6, 2019, MadeIn Gallery will launch XU ZHEN®’s solo exhibition “Hello”, marking the second show of the artist’s brand in the gallery after “XU ZHEN Store” was presented in 2016. The exhibition will showcase a monumental kinetic sculpture and a set of newly created two-dimensional works. “Hello” pursues XU ZHEN®’s continuous focus on civilization iteration, fusion, collision as well as the constant exploration of the diversity of creative media, and adheres to the new development and acuteness of visual creation within the context of the post-global era.

     

    “Hello” is a large-scale kinetic sculpture especially created for this exhibition, its form is elaborated from ancient Greek architecture pillars. As viewers stepped into the gallery they will see this large Greek pillar occupying the space such as a magnified and mutated snake, observing its surrounding as if nodding to the visitors. The Greek column symbolizes the origin and cornerstone of Western civilization. The work fuses together the classical Greek column shape and the snake’s aggressive biological attitude to stimulate viewers’ perception and experience on classic civilization. The moment the public’s eyes come across the vivacious Corinthian capital also represents a confrontation with the depth of history and civilization, gazing at each other, evoking Friedrich Nietzsche’s saying “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”. Nowadays, with the increasingly frequent blending and impacts among global civilizations, the work constitutes a reality and metaphor on the encounter between civilizations of different time and space.

     

    “Hello” involves the combination of art and technology at the border between illusion and reality. It proposes a new vision imbued with Western classical aesthetics and cutting-edge robotics, expanding the concept of traditional sculpture.

     

    Also displayed in the exhibition is a group of XU ZHEN®’s latest two-dimensional works “Communication”, consisting of multiple cartoon characters merged into a relief surface. These cartoon characters issued from classic mainstream animations include Mickey Mouse, Angry Birds, Mario Bros., Pikachu, Gingerbread Man, Smurf, Brown Bear, etc. They shape the younger generation’s visual aesthetics. The computer program simulates the fall of each form to the ground, amalgamating them together to compose a superposition of irregular color blocks with a sense of volume, and with a variety of rich, vivid tones and shapes. Using these familiar figurative cartoon images as abstract elements, the works subtlety plays and explores the boundaries between figuration and abstraction, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, popular culture and conceptual art. The highly saturated color and visual stimuli of the cartoons show through the precise and logical calculation of the computer program the visual trend for wild and rational symbiosis, which also is a characteristic of the digital era.

  • XU ZHEN: IN JUST A BLINK OF AN EYE

    19.07.27
    MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Los Angeles, USA

    The Museum of Contemporary Art has acquired a performance piece titled In Just a Blink of an Eye by Chinese artist Xu Zhen. As the museum’s second performance piece in the collection, In Just a Blink of an Eye features a group of performers floating mysteriously in mid-air, defying the constraints of physics as if frozen in time and space.

     

    The work engages notions of the body as material, and in turn the materiality of the body, testing the limits of physical and cognitive possibilities as the viewer tries to comprehend what we see. A prolific and experimental artist, Zhen’s conceptually-driven practice encompasses a vast range of media and often employs humor, irony, and sophisticated trickery. As the audience waits for movement, for the performer to stand up, or for them to continue to follow the rules of gravity, they instead experience time and stillness as moments extend and are stretched out on through these living sculptures. Xu Zhen explores fragility and balance, literally and metaphorically, spatially and temporally.

     

    Installation view of Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, July 27–September 1, 2019 at MOCA Grand Avenue.

    Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Photo by Myles Pettengill.

  • The Glorious

    2019.03.25-2019.05.03
    Galerie Perrotin, HongKong, China

    Perrotin Hong Kong is pleased to present the solo exhibition The Glorious by XU ZHEN® from March 25, 2019. It is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, following Civilization Iteration at Perrotin Paris and a subsequent installment at Perrotin Seoul. This show features three of the artist’s signature work series: Under Heaven, Eternity, and Evolution, showcasing a variety of installations, paintings, and sculptures.

  • Alien, Xu Zhen solo exhibition

    2018.05.26-2018.07.26
    ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai, China

     

    “Art is alien.” (XU ZHEN®)

     

    ShanghART Gallery is pleased to present XU ZHEN®’s solo exhibition: “Alien” in May 2018. This exhibition will present the large-scale installations XU ZHEN® made especially for the ShanghART Gallery space, along with his recent paintings and sculptures. This exhibition extends XU ZHEN®’s persistent interest in subjects such as transforming, iterating and evolving the civilisation within the context of post-globalisation. As “Alien” is constructing an impression of the thrilling and the unknown, this exhibition will inspire the viewers’ imagination about future and primitivity.

     

    As the founder of XU ZHEN®, Xu Zhen has made a career in art for twenty years since 1998. Initially expressing the intimacy and emotion of individuals, then shifting to social issues, Xu Zhen is recently focusing on the difference and creativity among human beings. While his artistic strategies have undergone several changes, it is always moving towards the dynamics of culture. XU ZHEN®’s art has reached issues such as how art deals with the passage of time, and how to create new possibilities while discovering new experience. The three main themes in globalisation, “trade and capital”, “conflict and war”, “evolution and variation” are gradually becoming sharp focused in Xu Zhen’s works. Accordingly, the collision among three topics results in the figures of “extreme alienation” and “super variant” in his works. For Xu Zhen, “Alien” is not only a representation of the real world, but also an allegory of the future community.

     

    This exhibition will truly reflect the core of Xu Zhen’s art through exhibiting how he deals with cultural subjects and their contexts, as well as the new associations and plans he came up with under these circumstances. As the most representative art brand of the period, XU ZHEN® is running the one and only MadeIn Company. Established after the economic crisis in 2008, MadeIn Company is representing a kind of possibility by internalising current circumstances into ideas, and speeding up the art making process in the form of a company, in response to the “symptom of globalisaiton”.

     

    The two pieces of sculptures, Alien 1 and Alien 2, can be traced back to the “Eternity” series of 2013, which combines classical figures of Eastern and Western cultures in a conflicting and integrating way. The aesthetic symbols of eternity and spirituality from the East and West has developed through rich metaphors of colonial history, international configurations, and the future of globalisation in the process of collision. Alien 2 in the same vein of Eternity-(Buddha in Nirvana) juxtaposes two sculpture figures: an “hermaphrodite” from Greek mythology and a servant figure from the Han Dynasty. Moreover, Alien 1 is decoding and recombining the cultural elements to its extreme by recolouring those sculptures, thus the ‘aliens’ and the terrifying power therein are released intensely. By these means XU ZHEN® created a spiritually interactive installation, directing the viewers to a sensitive historic moment; the pressure brought on by those ideological symbols will situate the viewers in conditions that force them to make a choice and a statement. The other section of the exhibition includes several paintings used by XU ZHEN® as installing elements. The “Evolution” series which started in 2007 combines the cultural elements from Dunhuang Mogao Cave paintings and African masks. By painting the ancient civilisation and primitivity still remaining in modern society on the canvas at the same time, this series of paintings create the beauty of harmonious blending across time. The “Fortune” series started from the same period of the “Evolution” series; these painting series, which reconstructs the Neolithic ceremonial jades, opens a path for XU ZHEN® towards abstract expressionism.

     

    As “Civilisation Iteration” (solo exhibition in 2017) declares, XU ZHEN® is fulfilling his visions in a progress of repeated feedback. The corporate-typed art production will finally result in a leak in the reality – the unknown condition of getting away from logic and language. The aliens hidden in the exhibition will present infinite possibilities.

  • XU ZHEN®

    2018.05.10-2019.07.08
    Galerie Perrotin, Seoul, Korea

    Perrotin Seoul is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Chinese artist Xu Zhen, featuring major works spanning the development of his flagship art brand, XU ZHEN®, since 2013.

     

    Using both conceptual and pop strategies, Xu Zhen’s practice mounts incongruous clashes between iconographies pertaining to distant cultures, civilizations and ages to question the loss of context induced by globalization. Ironically mirroring post-Mao China’s journey into consumerism, Xu transforms himself into a brand with the creation of his art corporation “MadeIn Company” in 2009 as a behavioral – and almost performative – study of the symmetries between ideas, art and business.

     

    On display is his signature Under Heaven series, which was featured in the 2014 Armory Show in New York to serve the commercial campaign for the fair. Florae of vibrant colors are skillfully figured using cream piping bags filled with oil colors, evoking the luscious icing on a birthday cake. Fragrant and fragile, joyful and decadent, this subconscious blur of decipherable imagery and extraneous elements alludes to economic growth as a sumptuous, moveable feast – a metaphor for the globalized hedonism in China. Conversely, Xu also sees his pop-like “cake painting” as a collective representation of childhood revelries and excess, a visual referent capable of conjuring each individual’s inner experience. Considered thus, Under Heaven reveals the duality of a sign system at the threshold between principled art and superficial beauty; one which, as Barthes would say, “draws attention to its own arbitrariness – which does not try to palm itself off as “natural” but which, in the very moment of conveying a meaning, communicates something of its own relative, artificial status as well.”[1] This harks back to Xu’s work from the 90’s, a time of ambiguities and conceit amidst political recovery and economic boom. Here, Xu reiterates his interrogation of art – its authority, competence and limitations – vis-à-vis his consciousness of the world in the spirit of Deng Xiaoping’s apocryphal exhortation, “To become rich is glorious”.

     

    Eternity is a series of sculptural installations that amalgamate archetypes of art history and great civilizations. The collision between cultural symbols allows Xu to subtly touch upon the various power struggles in human history, a leitmotif that continues with his more recent canvas series titled Evolution. Embodying the violent nature of cultural hybridization, the pairings of traditional African and Chinese motifs further problematize the loss of meaning and context induced by the precipitation of globalization in the digital era. Here we return to the idea of an arbitrary “sign” – ever elusive to the museum or gallery visitor – which hints at the great divide we are so accustomed to in the age of post-truth and post-Internet where nothing is quite as it seems.

     

    A similar concern with appearance and truth underlies the Metal Language series, wherein phrases from political cartoons are presented in an intensive manner using metal chains applied to a mirroring surface. The graffiti-like composition seemingly celebrates the radical political language it concerns, at the same time as it is betrayed by the extravagance of the metallic gloss. This contradiction plunges the work into a suspended state, halfway between meaningfulness and meaninglessness.

    [1] Terry Eagleton. Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008). p. 117

  • Movement Field: Xu Zhen Solo Exhibition

    2018.03.03-2018.04.08
    James Cohan Gallery, New York, USA

    James Cohan will present Movement Field, an exhibition of work by XU ZHEN®️ at the gallery’s Lower East Side location from Saturday, March 3 through Sunday, April 22, 2018. The exhibition will present new sculptures and wall-works alongside the immersive installation Movement Field. This is the fourth solo exhibition of work by XU ZHEN®️ at James Cohan. The gallery will host an opening reception on Saturday, March 3 from 6-8 PM.

     

    Movement Field is a series of installations initiated in 2013 by XU ZHEN® that act as an ongoing exploration of protest and popular expression. XU ZHEN®️ creates the installations using white pebbles and green grass to create a network of criss-crossing but delineated paths, which diagram the route of several protests throughout the globe. In this exhibition, pathways and sod-covered ramps transform the entire gallery space. The intersecting trails are visually appealing but do not indicate a single way of moving through the space. There is no logical end point. The aesthetic confusion of the trails reflects the frenetic energy – and frequent frustration – of large or small protests. Although the paths are inspired by actual marches, the artist insists that the demonstrations remain unidentified so that no iteration of the project is privileged by its historical antecedent.

     

    XU ZHEN® uses installations of Movement Field as a platform to present other related artworks. I Believe the Sun is the Center of the Universe is made from mirror-finished stainless steel and metal chains. The metal chains spell out various phrases pulled from political cartoons such as, “Stop Privacy Invasion!” or “I’m not allowed to answer that.” The saturated composition of I Believe the Sun is the Center of the Universe reflects the rapid sharing and consumption of the digital age, yet the work demonstrates how small, seemingly incongruous, pieces of information blend into a larger, more holistic pictures. The exhibition also features works from the Eternity series by XU ZHEN®, which are sculptural amalgamations of Eastern and Western art. These works bridge cultures and time to create striking new forms. Eternity – Painted Terracotta Statue of Heavenly Guardian, Sleeping Muse combines an ancient Chinese statue with Constantin Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse. Three variations of this sculptures appear in different sizes throughout the gallery. The conscious reproducibility in work by XU ZHEN® is both a cynical critique of art’s commodification and an optimistic step towards its democratization.

  • XUZHEN Supermarket, China 2185

    2017.09.21-2017.11.05
    Sadie Coles HQ, London, UK

    Sadie Coles HQ and Victor Wang are proud to present Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen’s XUZHEN Supermarket (2007/2017) for the first time in the United Kingdom. The project runs in tandem with Zhongguo 2185, an exhibition of ten artists from China.

     

    Xu Zhen (b. 1977) is known for his wry and provocative appropriations of the tropes of advertising, distribution, and consumerism.This project, which has previously been presented in Shanghai, Singapore, New York and Miami, takes the form of a functioning supermarket. Visitors to the store, located in the ground-floor ‘Shop’ space at Sadie Coles HQ, are invited to buy from continually-restocked rows of packaged goods from China – all of them completely authentic, and all completely empty.

     

    Playing out the artist’s interest in capitalist products and processes, XUZHEN Supermarket occupies an unlikely space between installation art and commercial food production. Inviting viewers to invest in empty shells – containers bereft of substance or use value – the venture offers a critique of the often-destructive nature of global capitalism – its relentless cycles of supply and demand, brute logistics and mass consumption, and the aesthetic guises it assumes through branding and packaging. There is also a satirical metaphor, in the hollow vessels, for the international art market and its arbitrary ascriptions of value.

     

    Initiated in 2007, the project embodies many of the characteristics that artist Richard Hamilton identified as defining Pop Art: popular (designed for a mass audience), transient (short-term), expendable (easily forgotten) and low-cost (mass-produced). The stacked, identical commodities of Xu’s supermarket invite numerous parallels with Pop Art’s mergers of art and life, while also implicating viewers as participants – placing them in the role of active consumers.

     

    XUZHEN Supermarket in this way constructs a space which accelerates and parodies the consumerism prevalent in China – a phenomenon which has frequently eclipsed historical and cultural contexts and traditions. The original food markets of Shanghai, for example, were public spaces for social interaction and entertainment, often visited by families once a day for fresh produce. In recent decades, these traditional markets have been transformed into supermarkets and fast-food dining outlets (first introduced in China in the 1980s to cater for foreigners) – and drained of their historical significance. The customs of community, diet and trade which were ingrained in these social spaces have been exchanged for the mass commoditisation and ‘international aesthetic’ of global chains and franchises. The empty simulacra of Xu Zhen’s store – available for purchase, if not for consumption – express a comic yet mordant critique of this evacuation of history.

  • Fortune: New Works 2017

    2017.05.27
    Xu Zhen Store, Shanghai, China

    “Fortune” generally refers to the notion of opportunity, driven by purposeless and unpredictable force. This kind of chance was considered by French biochemist Jacques Monod as the only cause of natural processes. In the East, “Fortune” also refers to the essence of materials and the natural order of life movements.

    A new series of paintings and a sculpture created by Xu Zhen brand in 2017 deciphering the human cultural codes as well as humorous re-creation will be presented. The jade bracelets appearing in Fortune paintings date back to the oriental stone tools from 10,000 BC, and allude to halos as often seen in Icons of Christian Saints. Similar symbols can also be found in ancient Egyptian paintings depicting the god of sun–Horus or in Longmen Grottoes statues of Wei Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties.

    Eternity – Nixian Sphinx, Sleeping Muse is the latest creation from Xu Zhen’s well known series “Eternity”. The combination of the ancient mythical creature Sphinx with the simple abstract classic oval head by Modernist sculptor Brancusi, superposes time and space forming a surreal cultural metaphor and a new visual image.

    In a period of cultural instability with technological innovation and cognitive changes, Xu Zhen brand continuously explores and investigates clues in contingency through the use of humorous visual expression, in order to explore the origin of cultural consciousness, and re-connect different human civilizations. From the jades of the Neolithic period, ancient Greek statues and mythology to modernist sculptures of the twentieth century, the genes of human civilizations have been constantly extracted, reconstructed and regenerated in the creation of Xu Zhen brand, and will release new energies in the present context.

  • Xu Zhen: Civilization Iteration

    2017.05.20-2017.07.29
    Perrotin, Paris, France

    Perrotin, Paris, is proud to present Civilization Iteration, the first solo exhibition of Chinese artist Xu Zhen with the gallery, which will showcase Xu’s important series of works since 2013 when he started a brand in his own name. “Iteration” refers to the way of achieving a desired result through repeated feedback. The exhibited series will show how an artist, amidst increasing globalization and networking of art, can approach the future of art with his own formula.

     

    As early as 2001, Xu participated in the 49th Venice Biennale, then the youngest Chinese artist to exhibit works at this international art event. Having made a name at 20 as an artist, he has since created a large number of works based on his own consciousness. The passage from one century to the next brought with it not only socio-economic but also cultural changes, the latter deeply influencing Xu as an artist. The great divide of his career came in 2009 when he established the art creation enterprise MadeIn Company in Shanghai. Since then his works have been produced in a corporate fashion and his “artist” identity has been plunged into the center of controversy.  Meanwhile, Xu’s creative focus has begun to shift to the relationship between art and business.

     

    Monika Szewczyk, a curator of this year’s Kassel Documenta, once said, “To be sure, Xu Zhen is not the first artist to transform himself into a company, and countless others incorporate more quietly to maximize their income and maneuverability. But MadeIn may be special in at least one respect: The company’s production could be understood increasingly to contemplate the notion of heaven – not offering up a clear picture the way religious authorities might, yet keeping this abstraction in focus as a question.”[1] The title of the Under Heaven series echoes heaven as a metaphor. The paintings appeared in the 2014 Armory Show in New York to serve the commercial campaign for the fair itself. Layers and layers of oil paint form an ornate “landscape”, and with the skillful depiction and figuration of a cream piping bag (not a paint brush!), they make up an enticing visual banquet. The series manages to transcend the opposition between art and business, which exemplifies Xu’s creative strategy: rather than addressing the big spectacle issue head on, one might as well turn it into a positive account by creating a new approach of one’s own.

     

    This way of thinking explains why Xu is so fluent in using visual symbols from popular culture.  In the Metal Language series, phrases from political cartoons are presented in an intensive manner on a mirror-finished metal surface. The graffiti-like composition seemingly agrees with the radical stance of the political language but is in fact betrayed by the extravagance of the metallic gloss. This inner contradiction throws the works (and even their producer) into a suspended state of meaningfulness.

     

    Because of their metallic and creamy landscapes, Xu’s works have been classified as pop art, even though the label apparently can apply only to some of his works. In terms of creative logic and cultural appropriation, Xu has no doubt gone beyond pop art. For instance, his series Eternity and Evolution all reference a far more expansive, long-lasting civilized world than the consumer society. Ancient art pieces, Dunhuang frescoes from the Silk Road’s heyday, representative modernist sculptures of the West…when we see these cultural symbols repeatedly change shape or re-combined in new ways, we cannot help but feel an implosion of meaning set off by the accumulated spiritual force of culture.

     

    This force comes not only from the cultural symbols being used; it is in a way more the cultural changes induced by the globalizing Internet. In a modern context, we tend to identify Greek sculptures solely by their greyish white plaster, forgetting that they were originally divine statues with colors. The truth behind cultural relics is ever elusive to the museum visitor.  People even turn to the Net, using search engines to make up their own pictures of the origins of civilization. Between the colorful Greek statues and the modern white plaster versions, and the Acropolis in Athens and sculpture photos on electronic screens, is the loss of a common context. And it is because we are so accustomed to this cultural reality that the two contrasting series Eternity and Evolution appear all the more harmonious and splendid to us.

     

    From the “individual artist period” when he concerned himself with the consciousness of identity, to “Xu Zhen brand”, Xu has moved on to repeatedly examine the current culture. The transition is nothing less than a reflection of the tremendous changes in human history over the past decades. Admittedly, the extension of consciousness unleashed by the Internet has eliminated temporal and spatial disparity. Yet, in the process, cultural learning in the traditional sense has been destroyed by information overload, giving way to recurrent cultural stagnation and dysfunctional standards. The information highway makes one feel unreal, so much so that the boundaries between meaning, values and reality gradually blur. Living in this “post-truth” age, one begins to see why Xu should uphold “iteration” as an effective way of responding to a postmodern society. For in the course of time, after endless destruction and reconstruction, the boundless reformulations are sure to open up a new paradigm for civilization in the present.

    [1] Monika Szewczyk, “MadeIn Heaven”, Parkett, Vol. 96, 2015, 20.

  • Xu Zhen Store

    MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai, China

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  • Xu Zhen Solo Exhibition

    2016.09.08-2016.10.08
    James Cohan Gallery, New York, USA

    James Cohan is pleased to present a solo exhibition by the multi-disciplinary Chinese artist Xu Zhen. This will be the third exhibition of work by Xu Zhen at James Cohan and the largest presentation of his art in New York since 2009. The show will be on view from September 8 to October 8, 2016 with an opening reception from 6-8 PM on Thursday, September 8.

     

    In 2009 Xu Zhen subsumed his individual artistic identity and transformed into MadeIn – an “art creation company.” Subsequently in 2013, MadeIn launched a brand – Xu Zhen, redundantly making Xu a product of his own corporation.  Xu works within many different media and thematic structures, making him an enigmatic yet groundbreaking figure in Chinese contemporary art – a role that he gleefully accepts. Of his work, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, director of the Serpentine Galleries, London, writes, “Xu’s sociopolitical appraisals distance him from the herd of contemporary Chinese artists. And the breadth of his practice, in all its seeming spontaneity and surprising inflections and turns, only complicates the attempt to pin him down to any single position within his country’s art scene—or, indeed, within cultural production at large.”  The works in this exhibition examine the human experience of pain, pleasure and desire as well as the aesthetic manipulation of consumers in late capitalist societies.

    The exhibition will present a large-scale sculpture from the Eternity series, Xu’s 1998 film Rainbow,  selections from his Under Heaven paintings and a new wall installation, Corporate – (Erected), produced this year. Xu’s oeuvre questions the validity of an East-West dichotomy with great skepticism.  Xu’s Eternity sculptures are a mash-up of Hellenistic and Buddhist statuary, creating three-dimensional, transcultural exquisite corpses. The result is a deftly composed work that carries the weight of history, yet acts as a sly statement about global similarities and differences. Eternity allows the sacred and the profane to exist in the same space, denying neither an ultimate importance.

     

    In Rainbow, which premiered at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, a bare back fills the screen and is repeatedly slapped until the skin turns an alarming shade of red. Although the slapping is audible, the hands themselves were removed through editing. The result is a visceral, aestheticized portrait of pain and endurance.

     

    In contrast to Rainbow, the paintings from Xu’s ongoing Under Heaven series are a voluptuary dream. He applies a thick layer of oil paint to a canvas and then forms delicate petals and flowers using a cake decorator. The resulting impasto creates a striking relief, tempting the viewer to touch or even taste. The expansive title, Under Heaven, is a literal translation of a Chinese word meaning “the whole world.” The sumptuous surfaces as well as the allusive title make the works an intense sensual experience.

     

    Corporate – (Erected) is a large-scale wall sculpture incorporating ready-made S&M paraphernalia. From afar, the work appears to be an exercise in gothic formalism; however, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that it is an assemblage of leather accessories and erotic toys. Xu intends the viewer to project his or her own cultural associations onto the sculpture and experience its meaning and associations in a very subjective way. Rarefying these salacious objects in a fine art evokes the idea of sexual pleasure – perhaps to an uncomfortable extent.

     

    The works in this exhibition, united in their lush, eye-catching aesthetics, are representative of three primal human sensations –pain, pleasure and desire –and reveal how these emotions are consistently manipulated by the images that surround us.

  • From Dada to Pop: Xu Zhen and MadeIn Company

    2016.09.27-2016.10.10
    CAEA Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing, China

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  • Xu Zhen Solo Exhibition

    2015.03.28-2015.05.25
    Long Museum, Shanghai China

    On the occasion of the first anniversary of its inauguration, the Long Museum West Bund will host the grand opening of Xu Zhen Solo Exhibition on March 28, 2015. Xu Zhen is an iconic, leading figure within the realm of contemporary Chinese art, and moreover he is the most sought-after international contemporary artist currently. Surveying art ancient and new, the artist marshals Chinese and Western cultures and fuses the quintessence of both. Through his meticulous treatment and distinctive integration of global knowledge and information, he generates an infinite degree of creativity.

     

    Xu Zhen (born in 1977 in Shanghai, China) engages in an artistic practice that takes in numerous forms of mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography and performance, among others. Within the 30 000-odd sqm space of Long Museum West Bund, this exhibition will showcase over a hundred works, which include not only his earlier representative individual works from the late-1990s but also a series of new works produced after Xu Zhen’s MadeIn Company launched the “Xu Zhen” brand in 2013. Highlights include European Thousand-Hand Classical Sculpture, Artworks Set-Arrogance, the new works The Soldier of Marathon Announcing Victory, A Wounded Galatian and Northern Qi Standing Buddha, Amazon and Barbarian from the Eternityseries, as well as the series MadeIn Curved Vase, Metal Languageand Corporate.

     

    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. Artworks Set is a compilation of selected creations according to specific topics. Displayed in a box, as a curated exhibition, the composition constitutes a reflection celebration. 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 Vaseturns 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 will furthermore present 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”.

  • Corporate

    2015.09.26-2016.01.10
    Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria

    Xu Zhen has been seen for some years as one of the most critical and at the same time most virtuosic of the leading figures of a younger generation of Chinese artists. He has already twice participated in group exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Graz: China Welcomes You (2007) and Life? Biomorphic Forms in Sculpture (2008). His solo show – as his first larger exhibition project adapted for the locality in Europe – is the result of an ongoing engagement with artistic output. His artistic strategies are thus a mirror of a rapidly evolving Chinese art scene. They employ an ‘art of conforming’, veering between a partial use of conceptual art up to Re-enactment, with an ironic critique of the system and a craftsman’s precision. The often theatrical, highly provocative sculptures, pictures, performances and films confront contemporary China with social-political and cultural taboos, and more besides. In Graz, too, the works on show, which can be produced serially in his ‘MadeIn Company’, comment on a short-lived, globe-spanning consumerist society. They ask where our behaviour will lead in future and create possible systems offering cultural and spiritual reconciliation.

     

    The exhibited works cross boundaries, moving through levels that are not only political and cultural, but institutional, too. Sculptures that are amalgamations and copies are presented as new creations of a global culture, revealing the market and its regulations as the determining receptacle of artistic endeavour. To this Xu Zhen reacts brilliantly with his ‘MadeIn Company’. The term ‘MadeIn’ refers to the commonly found label ‘Made in China’ and in Chinese (没顶公司 ) includes the word ‘company’.

     

    The significant work ‘Arrogance‘ Set (2015) shows, among other things, a presumably bronze Poseidon, who has been settled on by pigeons reminiscent of Peking ducks. The sculpture Eternity – The Soldier of Marathon Announcing Victory, A Wounded Galatian (2014) unites beyond time and place an ancient Greek sculpture of the dying Athenian with the injured Galatian, beyond political and stylistic borders to a marble, gleaming sculpture, thus becoming an eternal witness – not only figuratively pointing towards the sky – of a history of mankind marked by conquest.

     

    The exhibition is presented as a quasi-military positioning of serial objects in Space01 at the Kunsthaus Graz, yet it also contains very funny, cheeky and at the same more muted tones: one sculpture that is part of the Eternity series and thus linking cultures marries in a headstand the eternal beauties of a bodhisattva of the Chinese Sui dynasty with the Venus de Vienne from the Louvre in Paris.

     

    The four video works Shouting (1998), Rainbow (1998), Physique of Consciousness (2011) and Twenty (2015), which, like the sculptures, are given the status of objects and when reproduced multiply preserve their position in the room, are references to Xu Zhen’s provocative and at the same time performative approach, taking as their theme our interaction with the series, but also those with the forgery or fake in both the west and the east. The ShanghART Supermarket (2007/2015) can also be interpreted in the same way – which as an introduction to the exhibition not only abducts the public into a stereotypical China of trade, but also in the context of art makes use of such models as Warhol’s serial Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) or Damien Hirst’s Installation Pharmacy (1992), thereby mercilessly exaggerating the populist call for consumable, contemporary art by turning the platform of the institution into the marketplace for the goods on offer.

     

    Corporate is an exhibition about prejudice and norms, about definitions of identity in connection with our cultural capital, about cultural heritage and its reworking under conditions of a conforming, global and above all consumer-based society. There is more on show than just an ironic engagement with images of west and east.

     

    As a cunning form of self-marketing and annexation all in one, Corporate is to some extent a triumphant invasion of Europe by what is ‘Chinese’. Xu Zhen’s production firm ‘MadeIn Company’, which produces in all genres with the greatest precision and perfection, thus operates in the style of the ‘new generation’ of Asian artist producers. While Xu Zhen beguiles the public with the persuasive power of stereotypes, he toys with artistic colonialism, tongue-in-cheek.

     

    A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with texts by Philip Tinari, Chris Moore, Petra Pölzl, an interview between Xu Zhen and Katrin Bucher Trantow and an introduction by Peter Pakesch.

  • 15 Rooms

    2015.09.25-2015.11.08
    Long Museum, Shanghai, China

    15 Rooms, is a major live-art exhibition curated by Klaus Biesenbach— Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at The Museum of Modern Art—and Hans Ulrich Obrist—co-director of the Serpentine Gallery—the exhibition features performative works by artists spanning different generations and continents.

    For the 2015 edition, one more work than the previous edition at Art Basel will be presented in the architectural environment conceived by Herzog & de Meuron.

    For the 2015 edition, curators will invite 15 international and Chinese artists to activate a room each, exploring the relationship between space, time and physicality with an artwork which uses human beings as ‘material’. Giving visitors an insight into a more performative and interactive practice, visitors encounter a new situation inside each of the 15 rooms, engaging in a diverse series of immersive and intimate experiences.

    By bringing to Shanghai this singular project, the Long Museum West Bound reflects on the blurring of the line between audience and artwork, while embracing the belief that visual artists can just as well create their artworks by working with human beings as by deploying bronze, canvas, inkjet, oil paints, video or any other method of physical production.

    As the curators declared, the concept for the show developed from the idea that live art can also be sculpture and have a duration similar to that of a physical object; that is, last from morning to night, throughout the opening hours of the museum. But when the last visitors leave, when the gallery closes its doors for the evening, the sculpture will all walk out as well.

    15 Rooms also reflects on how performative art can create the possibility of an exhibition that might be restaged later, of something that can be reproduced endlessly. Art can travel over time not just through objects and not just through documentation. Paintings have always been a lasting, valued art form. Instructional art creates a valid possibility for art to travel and last. 15 Rooms is like this: from the basic text it can be restaged in different places all over the world and it can also take place again in 50 years’ time, or when we will all be dead in 100 years time.

    Slowness it is not only important for the curatorial process but also for the experience of the 15 Rooms exhibition. The experience of 15 Rooms creates the opposite of the acceleration that

    characterise the way in which visitors pass through exhibition: it is a deceleration. Movement is slowed down by the fact that you have to open the door—it’s like entering into somebody house.
    It is an intimate encounter.

    Herzog & de Meuron’s purpose built architecture plays a crucial role in shaping the exhibition, serving as the interstitial structure tying together a series of intimate experiences in the space of the Museum. The idea is not only focused on what happens in the exhibition, but also on what occurs around an exhibition. What interested the curators and the architects was the idea of opening up towards the outside, the creation of public spaces, and how it is possible to create such spaces.

    First presented as 11 Rooms in July 2011 as part of Manchester International Festival, the exhibition was originally commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the International Arts Festival RUHRTRIENNALE 2012-2014 and Manchester Art Gallery. The project was then shown as ‘12 Rooms’ at the International Arts Festival RUHRTRIENNALE 2012-2014, as ‘13 Rooms’ by Kaldor Public Art Projects at Pier 2/3 in Sydney’s Walsh Bay in April 2013, and as ‘14 Rooms’ by Art Basel in June 2014. For each edition, the artists list partially changed.

  • Movement Field

    2015.09.11-2015.11.07
    Walburger Wouters Gallery, Brussels Belgium

    Waldburger Wouters is pleased to announce Movement Field, a solo show with Xu Zhen (produced by MadeIn Company). The show opens on the weekend of September 11 – 13 and will be on view until November 7, 2015.

    Movement Field, initiated in 2013 by Xu Zhen, is a long-term art creation and research project. It consists of a garden elaborated from a maze of paths of different sizes. Each path within the garden is the replica – enlarged or reduced – of a protest route collected from the internet. The ideological composition of these socio-political demonstrations that occurred in various places around the world throughout history imposes to the artwork the character of a memorial. A seemingly peaceful garden invites visitors to follow the paths of predecessors and to symbolically reenact these marches.

    Movement Field at Waldburger Wouters is set up as a large scale installation with an indoor miniature-garden covering the gallery floor and an interwoven presentation of 10 Movement  paintings. The Movement Field garden as well as the Movement paintings have been specifically created for the exhibition at Waldburger Wouters.

  • Don’t Shoot the Painter, UBS Art Collection Exhibition

    Villa Reale’s Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan, Italy

  • In the Light of 25 Years

    2015.07.14-2015.08.16
    Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands

    For One of Us Is On the Wrong Side of History!, Xu Zhen (1977, China) focuses on the visual identity of Witte de With’s past exhibitions as well as its archive of posters. As such, this work brings to light not the artworks shown at Witte de With during the past twenty-five years, but rather the wording and design, which mediated them. The archive is read and revealed as a sprawling visual poem made up of fragments and traces of voices past. In the vein of his Metal Language series, Xu Zhen extracts fonts and layouts from their original contexts and reproduces them using metal chains.

    On the floor, these chains sculpturally represent select titles and logos of Witte de With programs. Shimmering like jewels but weighing down on the physical foundation of the institution, the choice of metal shackles reflects the ambiguity of history itself: it is a treasure and a burden. The display, on the other hand, shows images taken from the Metal Language series (2012) and shows select sentences from political caricatures. The “bling” of the chains along with the many exclamation marks evoke the chaos of wall tagging and protest-graffiti, where many individual statements are embedded into one larger image.

    In Light Of 25 Years
    Presented as part of In Light Of 25 Years, this project celebrates Witte de With’s 25th anniversary. For In Light Of 25 Years, ten artists and curators each create an image-based work that analyzes certain sediments of contemporary art history, departing from Witte de With’s archive.

  • China 8

    2015.05.15-2015.09.13
    Kunstmuseum Mulheim an der Ruhr, Germany

    The exhibition “Works in Progress” in the Museum Folkwang furnishes an extensive overview of current Chinese photography in real-time. On show are brand-new works by twenty-four Chinese photographers and artists, which are also being simultaneously exhibited in museums and art galleries in China. This distinguishes the show from all previous surveys of contemporary Chinese photography.

     

    Over the past 10 years, the international art world has been observing the explosive energy unleashed in the field of Chinese art photography. This development has been characterised by vibrant experimentation, new funding structures and expertise, growing public interest and a new generation of students who are keen to engage with the international scene.

     

    With works by:
    Adou, Alfred Ko, Aspartime, Cai Dongdong, Chen Shaoxiong, Chen Wei, Du Yanfang, Eason Tsang Ka Wai, Jiang Pengyi, Li Zhengde, Liang Weizhou, Lin Ke, MA DAHA, Ma Qiusha, Mo Yi, Shan Feiming, Shao Wenhuan, South Ho Siu Nam, Wang Ningde, Wang Qingsong, Wang Youshen, Xiao Xiao, Zhuang Hui, Zong Ning

  • “Twenty” A Solo Exhibition by Xu Zhen

    2015.03.11-2015.03.18
    PMQ, Hong Kong, China

    HONG KONG. – Adrian Cheng, David Chau and MadeIn Company are pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Xu Zhen in Hong Kong, taking place at PMQ from 11 – 18 March, 2015. Organised by William Zhao, the exhibition of new media and paintings from the artist’s “TWENTY” series, presenting a cornucopia of visual delights, a spectacular exposition of colliding colours that seek to enthrall viewers in an irresistible feast of stimulation. Continuing to explore the concept of “art as commodity”, Xu Zhen exposes the layered issues within contemporary cultural production and consumption.

     

    As the commissioned artist for the Armory Show (New York) 2014, Xu Zhen presented the “Under Heaven” series to critical acclaim. The temptingly delicious paintings are evocative of confectionary, constructed from thick and creamy pigments, applied using the implements of a pastry chef. The rich surfaces and decorative swirls of impasto mold together into a jungle of intricate Baroque carvings, offering up a dense and fiery feast for the eyes. Simultaneous pleasure and fanaticism are inherent properties of “sensationalism”, and in the artworks of Xu Zhen, together they produce a surprising and stimulating experience.

    Following the “Under Heaven” series, the concept behind the “TWENTY” originates from a curious investigation into the notion of love formed when one is 20 years old. Xu Zhen’s methodology is to collect perceptions, colours that signify the love of a 20-year-old. Communicating vitality and love; bright pastels, lemon chiffon, violet and vermillion transform into flowing shadows on the canvas, forming fragile blossoms on the picture surface. The spirit of youth, passion, and energy resonates with the viewers, instigating a sea of memories that likely provokes an uninhibited exclamation “Oh yes, back when I was 20!”

     

    Liberated from the ideology of the white cube, “TWENTY” introduces art works using the frameworks and visual language of the luxury commodity market. MadeIn Company has adopted the vernacular of contemporary advertising, developing a marketing campaign for the artworks. Xu Zhen’s quiet humour underlies this critique on the commodification of art, the art market and its consumers.

     

    Love at 20 is a spirited blend of touching, exuberant, sweet and intimate. The nuances of madness and fantasy in between are exposed in Xu Zhen’s “TWENTY” series, debuting on March 11, 2015 to all who share in the journey of life.

  • XU Zhen – Produced by MadeIn Company: “Blissful As Gods” 

    2014.11.11-2014.12.26
    ShanghART main space & ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai, China

    My work is to find a new perspective on different cultures.  When you, as a human being, are confident enough to look at these ready-mades, what you need to do is to constantly break the notion of stereotypes and achieve a new ego..”

    • XU Zhen

     

    XU Zhen: Blissful As Gods produced by MadeIn Company will open on November 11th at ShanghART in Shanghai. This solo exhibition will bring XU Zhen’s latest works including installations, sculptures and two-dimensional works.

     

    XU Zhen’s practice incorporates a wide range of media, such as painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography and performance, often within a single piece. He possesses a strong thirst for knowledge and distinctive integration ability towards the extremely multifarious global information network, out of which, he creates multi-media and cross-platform works.

     

    For example, in XU Zhen’s early video work Shouting (1998), a moving crowd faces away from the camera until startled by screams, passers-by all turn around almost in unison (a reaction that elicits laughs from whomever is behind the camera). This work, together with another early video work Rainbow (1998), marked XU Zhen’s name as the youngest Chinese artist to participate in the Venice Biennale (2005 and 2007).

     

    In 2007, XU Zhen’s installation project ShanghART SUPERMARKET (2007) consisted in a 1:1 scale replica of a typical Chinese convenient store at Art Basel Miami Beach. This store was filled with packages and wrappings containing, literally, nothing. The false appearance of the shop, or of the ghostly merchandise as such, triggered an extensive debate over the illusory booming phenomenon of the art market.

     

    Eternity is another essential series created by XU Zhen in 2014. It consists of sculptural compositions from reproductions of Western and Asian headless statues displayed in museums throughout the world, grafted and assembled together. This is undoubtedly the most accurate cliché about the enormous amount of Chinese art.

     

    Along with its celestial nature, XU Zhen: Blissful as Gods will further challenge the concept of “recombination”, it will reconstruct commonly known traditional Buddhist statues, using materials beyond all expectations according to a hidden logic. A new visual perception will be born and quaintly coincide with the world around, thus initiating a dialogue with each other. This dialogue between one ideology and another, will involve culture, history, art, religion, tradition, political space… Through this re-composition, all the materials’ inherent tradition and meaning will be rejected, presenting an intense estrangement and irritation. All these works will be gathered in one exhibition space. Subversions of cultural clashes will create a great impact on viewers. The effrontery and provocation that emanate from MadeIn/Xu Zhen’s art creation as a response to reality will all contribute to the abrupt and chaotic atmosphere of this exhibition.

  • Prey-Xu Zhen,Produced by MadeIn Company

    2014.05.14-2014.07.25
    Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France

    The series on poor people’s home “Prey”, that uses traditional classic oil painting techniques, is realized after photographs taken by a team sent to Shanghai suburbs and Guizhou province by MadeIn Company. Each painting’s caption consists in a map with the exact address of the home. These artworks combine passion for “old damaged things” with ethic principles, disturbing moral awareness and beauty appreciation, and ironizing aesthetic relation between art and misery.

  • Xu Zhen-Produced by MadeIn Company

    2014.04.04-2014.04.18
    ShanghART Singapore, Singapore

    ShanghART Singapore has the honour of announcing the exhibition SHANGHART SUPERMARKET | XU Zhen – produced by MadeIn Company will be opened on 4th April 2014 through 18th May 2014.

     

    XU Zhen (B.1977) is an internationally renowned artist who founded MadeIn Company – a contemporary art creation company in 2009. Last year, MadeIn Company produced the brand “XU Zhen”. Currently, Xu Zhen is experiencing three identity phases: from an individual entity to MadeIn Company’s entrepreneur, to a brand introduced by MadeIn Company. He declared that he would not use his individual identity and instead operates under the MadeIn Company, which is devoted to the endless realms of contemporary culture.

     

    It is disclosed by Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) that Xu Zhen has a voracious appetite for global information and a unique ability to produce work across multiple platforms and media. Xu Zhen’s oeuvre reflects the lingering concerns of an artist participating in the international art world while remaining deeply skeptical of it and its conventions, most immediately the label “Chinese contemporary art.” Xu Zhen’s artworks probe the various mediations that corrupt the viewer’s experience of an artwork, particularly in observing a culture that is not one’s own.

     

    Named as the “chameleon of concept”, XU Zhen has been commissioned by The Armory Show 2014 in New York; at the same time, presenting a major mid-career survey exhibition “XU Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production” in UCCA, Beijing. As a leading conceptual artist in the world, Xu Zhen has exhibited extensively across the globe such as Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) New York, Tate Liverpool and The 49th Venice Biennale.

     

    Meticulously created and previously exhibited at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2007, the SHANGHART SUPERMARKET was the highlight of the show. The installation began as a fully stocked and functioned store, but by the last day of the show, the shelves were almost depleted. In this project, the rules of the game for both art and the global market are seemingly collapsed. In 2008, the installation was re-created and collected by Queensland Art Gallery. Similarly, Xu Zhen effectively transforms ShanghART Singapore into a full-scale replica of a typical Chinese convenience store, which is effectively promoted and encouraged as a tool to specifically resist the establishment of their foreign counterparts, while the genealogy and aesthetic of such store is inherently Western in aspiration. Xu Zhen cleverly manipulates and invents upon a delicate matrix of power relations in SHANGHART SUPERMARKET, while the ambiguous and paradoxical significance of the supermarket acts like a metaphor of the local identity in heartlands of Singapore.

     

    Upon entering the installation, shelves of basic daily necessities greet us with much familiarity; however the trick inside indicates there is much more at stake than the obvious critique of exchange value. It recalls Guy Debord’s classic formulation, “Is capital accumulated to the point where it becomes images?” The ambiguous status of the supermarket, which has been stripped of all its defining qualities, seems to indicate that consumption is essential, but also destroys.

     

    This interactive mixed media installation invites visitors to purchase any product in SHANGHART SUPERMARKET; a receipt will be issued upon a transaction made. Of this process, what are you really buying, a piece of art work or an object of critical play with witty parody? Or perhaps…

  • Xu Zhen-A MadeIn Company Production

    2014.01.18-2014.04.20
    Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China

    A major mid-career retrospective explores the protean Shanghai artist’s interest in geopolitical subjectivity and the conditions of (Chinese) contemporary art

     

    UCCA is proud to announce a major mid-career survey of mercurial Chinese artist Xu Zhen (b. 1977, Shanghai), one of the most interesting and promising artists working in China today. A daring artist with a voracious appetite for global information and a unique ability to produce work across multiple platforms and media, Xu Zhen is a key figure in the Shanghai art scene and a foundational figure for the generations of Chinese artists born since 1980. The exhibition is curated by UCCA Director Philip Tinari and UCCA Chief Curator Paula Tsai.

     

    Xu Zhen’s practice incorporates a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, mechanical installation, video, photography, and performance, often within a single piece. “Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production” comprises a similarly diverse set of works, with over 30 installation pieces, 10 videos, 20 painting works, and several performances, filling UCCA’s signature Great Hall. The exhibition spans Xu Zhen’s early works made in his own name beginning in 1997, works made under the moniker MadeIn Company between 2009 and 2013, as well as significant new pieces produced specially for this exhibition under MadeIn Company’s “Xu Zhen” brand.

     

    The title “Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production” acknowledges the longstanding relationship between the artist’s individual practice and his sprawling involvement with the Shanghai contemporary art scene. In 2009, Xu Zhen dissolved his art practice into the “contemporary art creation company” MadeIn Company. Acting as the group’s CEO, Xu Zhen continues to undertake creative projects, artworks, and exhibitions under this revised mantle. MadeIn encapsulates Xu Zhen’s unique conflation of art practice, curatorial work, and art promotion that has defined his multifarious career in the Shanghai art scene. The artist’s withdrawal from his own name marks a rejection of the persona-driven contemporary art world while acknowledging that, since he first began working with art in 1997, Xu Zhen’s artwork has always been a collaborative effort.

     

    Says Tinari, “Since the early 2000s, Xu Zhen, with his unique combination of skepticism and action, contemplation and involvement, has produced some of the most compelling and self-knowing art contemporary China has ever seen. We look forward to presenting his considerable output to audiences who might not yet be familiar with the arc of his career.”

     

    A prankster provocateur in the vein of Yves Klein, Xu Zhen engages a variety issues with his characteristic wryness, from the politics of intercultural and international viewing in Lonely Miracle: Middle East Contemporary Art (a “group show” of works by fictional Middle Eastern artists), to voyeurism and ethical anxiety in depictions of race and suffering in The Starving of Sudan (an in-gallery tableau recreating Kevin Carter’s iconic 1994 photograph of a starving infant), to satire of de rigeur contemporary art practices in 8848-1.86 (wherein the artist “removes” a chunk of Mount Everest equivalent to his own height from the summit and brings it back for display in the museum).  Presented together, Xu Zhen’s oeuvre reflects the lingering concerns of an artist participating in the international art world while remaining deeply skeptical of it and its conventions, most immediately the label “Chinese contemporary art.” Xu Zhen’s artworks probe the various mediations that corrupt the viewer’s experience of an artwork, particularly in observing a culture that is not one’s own.

     

    “Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production” includes a number of Xu Zhen’s landmark works. His 2001 video Scream, in which the artist lets out pained shouts on crowded city streets, only to capture the sequential shock and dismissal of hundreds of passers-by, made him the youngest Chinese artist to date to be included in the Venice Biennale. His 2007 installation Shanghart Supermarket, which takes the shape of a Shanghai convenience store fully stocked with packaging that has been emptied of content, sold for the price of the putative objects, was widely debated when it debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach at the height of the last art-market bubble. In Physique of Consciousness Museum, Xu Zhen uses a set of formal criteria to array archaeological and ethnographic artifacts—actually just mounted photographs of the same—without respect to place or time of origin.

     

    In a major new commission for the lobby, Xu Zhen literally and winkingly juxtaposes East and West—that operative cliché of so much art in China—by mounting replicas of key Hellenistic and Buddhist sculptures head to head.

     

    The UCCA exhibition is realized in collaboration with MadeIn Company and with the support of [XU ZHEN SPONSOR INFORMATION HERE]. It is accompanied by an eponymous catalogue which will mark the first comprehensive monograph on the artist’s work, with essays by Philip Tinari and Lu Mingjun. The exhibition will coincide with The Armory Show 2014 (March 5-9), for which Xu Zhen has been appointed the Commissioned Artist as part of the “Armory Focus: China” section which Tinari has curated.

  • The Most Important Thing Is Not the Contract

    2013.12.22-2014.03.22
    OCT, Shanghai, China

    From December 22, 2013 to March 22, 2014, OCT will present the exhibition The Most Important Thing Is Not the Contract by XU Zhen, featuring installation Movement Field and a new site-specific work. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition.

  • Movement Field-Xu Zhen Solo Exhibiton, produced by MadeIn Company

    2013.04.27-2013.06.23
    Long March Space, Beijing, China

    Each of us has a certain desire of accomplishing a movement – Xu Zhen

     

    Provocation has always been a main aspect in Xu Zhen’s creation, touching upon taboos, definitions and rules. His early work 8848-1.86, fully reflects doubts about power and truth – this installation is a ‘troublemaker’, ironizing humankind’s illusory and blind pursuit for a certain ‘apogee’- it encompasses the current chaotic situation in politics, economy, culture and history generated by ambitions of hegemony, selfish desires. With provocation as a stimulus, Xu Zhen builds a systematized ‘destruction/reconstruction’ cycle. This logic reached its climax when in 2009 he announced that ‘Xu Zhen’ was over, and began ‘MadeIn Company’. Under his direction, MadeIn creative team acted in a more radical way, at the edge of art creation, power and business. Operating under a public ‘undercover’ identity, ‘MadeIn’ undertook all kind of experiences within this mechanism.

     

    As Xu Zhen elaborated this art system, ‘Movement’ became a new keyword, it pointed out and aroused a reflection on the complexity of human collective consciousness and attitude. The series Movementism, created in 2012, was conceived by Xu Zhen as he subtly caught the fact that “people all have a certain desire of accomplishing a movement”.The newly created Movement Field that will be presented this time, is an utopian space composed of multiplereal movement-related itineraries. This Movement Field is a memorial, which questions past and future commemorations; it constitutes a place for infinite spiritual quests. Thus, works from the series True Image exhibited within this Movement Field represents a form of media creation based on media diffusion. Among them, pictorial installations inspired by ‘faith’ and ‘symbols’, such as a lotus composed of gas stoves and huge rainbows Buddha,embody Xu Zhen’s comprehension of faith and self-belief. ‘Ginseng’ images collected from the internet, probe Eastern and Western different cultural backgrounds and knowledge about a similar material, this work alludes to a certain upright tolerance within disorder and confusion.

     

    These works by XuZhen, will all be displayed in MadeIn Company Spring 2013 New Works Exhibition organized by Long March Space. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience Xu Zhen’s Movementism. Xu Zhen considers that Human actions (and thoughts) that are stimulated by goals constitute a movement, he raises requests on its scale, adheres to this attitude, and determines a particular way of understanding. Through his signature provocation and doubt, 
Xu Zhen audaciously reveals his attitude towards the world.

    Produced by MadeIn Company

  • Turbulent

    2020.05.11-2020.07.31
    Bund 18 Temporary Space, Shanghai China

    Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

  • Offsite:MadeIn Company

    2013.04.26-2013.09.29
    Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada

    Vancouver, BC – For the seventh installation at Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite, contemporary Chinese art collective MadeIn Company is presenting Calm, a work which prompts passers-by to reconsider their perceptions. At first glance, Calm appears to be a large mound of debris from a demolition or recent disaster. Upon closer inspection, the pile of rubble slowly undulates, like a mirage. In a state of constant flux, this site-specific sculpture evokes the endlessly changing cityscape that has become typical of many urban centres of the world, whether in present day China or Vancouver. Calm’s ambiguity, along with the work’s unexpected movement, questions ways of observing, believing and understanding, and reminds us that truth often differs from what it seems.

     

    MadeIn Company is an artist collective established by Chinese artist and provocateur Xu Zhen in 2009. The Shanghai-based group satirically portrays itself as a contemporary art corporation focused on the production of creativity, with up to thirty artists working on any given project. MadeIn Company also curates exhibitions and supports art projects, including the Chinese contemporary art online forum called Art Ba-Ba. In a short time the group has participated in both national and international exhibitions at such institutions as S.M.A.K. Gent, IKON Gallery Birmingham, Kunsthalle Bern, Hayward Gallery London, Rijskakademie Amsterdam and have also participated in the 8th Shanghai Biennale, 7th Busan Biennale and 1st Kiev Biennale. Members of MadeIn Company are currently working in both Shanghai and Beijing, China.

     

    Offsite, the Gallery’s outdoor exhibition space in downtown Vancouver, located on West Georgia Street near Thurlow and Bute streets, is dedicated to newly commissioned public art projects. Since the launch of Offsite in 2009, artists have responded in dynamic ways to the specific nature of the site. Past Offsite exhibitions include: O Zhang’s photographic portraits of young Chinese girls as the next generation of empowered citizens (Horizon (Sky), 2009), Ken Lum’s sculptural reminder of contested local histories (from shangri–la to shangri–la, 2010), an installation by British artists Heather and Ivan Morison (Plaza, 2010), Elspeth Pratt’s spatial transformation of the site (Second Date, 2011), Kota Ezawa’s representation of democracy (Hand Vote, 2012) and most recently Damian Moppett’s transformation of the artist’s studio into a sculptural artwork (Artist’s Studio as Sculpture, 2012).

     

    Offsite is funded by the City of Vancouver through the Public Art Program. The Gallery recognizes Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank, Ben Yeung, President, Peterson Investment Group, and the residents at Shangri-La for their support of this space. This project is generously supported by our Visionary Partner: Michael O’Brian Family Foundation. Offsite: MadeIn Company is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Diana Freundl, assistant curator.

  • MadeIn Company

    2012.11.17-2013.01.02
    Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai,China

    Sorry, this entry is only available in 中文.

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