Beverage (Funerary Geniuses from the Tomb of Christophe de Thou)


Resin, mineral pigments

211.8 × 97.7 × 202.8 cm

With its cross-contextual reorganization of distinct visual symbols, the “Beverage” series expands XU ZHEN®’s attempts at transforming civilizational experiences with contemporary concepts. Across the sculptures and paintings in the series, ancient Greek pillars, as a symbol of human civilization, are planted onto various classic imageries in Eastern and Western cultures, including Classical sculpture, Chinese blue and white pottery, and scholars' rock. While displacing themselves isomorphically with straws, these pillars defamiliarize and tease whatever it is they insert into, rendering it both out of place and abreast of the times. The artist uses the everyday action of “sucking” as a metaphor for the interactive relations within humans’ cognition of civilization in the post-globalization era: for instance, the search for a future out of history, the conjuring of illusion by the East and the West of each other, and, not least, the symbolization of the uncertainty and dynamism of contemporary reality.

Funerary Geniuses from the Tomb of Christophe de Thou is a statue by the 16th-century French sculptor Barthélemy Prieur made for the tomb of Christophe de Thou, the First President of the Parlement of Paris. In his work, XU ZHEN® plants an ancient Greek column onto the figure's head. A dramatic monologue is thus formed between the two, be it telling of self-affirmation and repetition, or self-questioning and dilution. The work hints at the moment when a civilization is confronted with itself in the post-globalization era, when it must ponder how to break through the cognitive limitations as a subject and, with the help of a self-reflexive gaze, to extract energy from civilizational experiences.

Beverage (Funerary Geniuses from the Tomb of Christophe de Thou)

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