At first glance, and to anyone who cannot read Chinese script, the pages appear simply as an elegant example of traditional Chinese calligraphy, evoking the richness and sophistication of China's long literary history. The male, Feng, measures 90 feet long while the female, Huang, measures 100 feet long. Xu Bing, a Chinese artist who lived in the United States before returning to China in 2008 and maintains studios in London and Beijing, has a show at the British Museum. The New York Times / The illusionistic works challenge the viewer's perception. The figures are lined with tiny LED lights, which illuminate the recycled materials at night. The Living Word, Xuâs third version of the piece but the first to be exhibited in â¦ Made up of 4,000 hand-carved and printed characters, Book from the Sky remains Xu Bing's most iconic work to date. See available prints and multiples, works on paper, and installation for sale and learn about the artist. A commonality between these materials is that they were collected from the construction site of Beijing’s Financial Centre. He is fascinated by â¦ However, it is not simply an investigation of the calligraphic stroke that intrigues the internationally recognized artist, but how each tradition provides a means to transmit ideas and knowledge that the artist actively investigates. Xu Bing wanted to hang the recycled birds from the immaculate and architecturally magnificent building in order to create contrast and raise ideas regarding the schism between wealth and labour. First realized in the form of a 604-page, 4-volume book, Xu Bing replicated its content to become an immersive installation piece. In this video, Xu Bing speaks about why he created a new and âmeaninglessâ language. Greenko looks to recharge global play with NECâs US battery unit buyout for $300-400 million In keeping with his previous work with calligraphy, which challenged the audience's preconceived ideas about their surroundings whilst maintaining a reverence of tradition, Xu Bing's Background Story series employs traditional Chinese aesthetics to promote this same inquisitive mindset. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, he enrolled in the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), where he would serve as a professor, while also being active with the experimental artists collectively known as the 85 New Wave. The Philip and Patricia Frost Art Museum. However, instead of frustration with the dichotomies of language, Xu expresses a desire for harmony in his Square Word Calligraphy. ", "For me, traditional and contemporary, East and West...are mutual and interchangeable. ‘Phoenix’ is a sculpture of monumental birds that appear to be flying side by side. Sculpture / The Tiananmen square pro-democracy protests and the massacre of June 1989, led to the questioning of the avant-garde movement. Despite the high walls languages build between people, Xu Bing creates abstractions of the Chinese language to enable viewers of all nationalities to associate with and value his works. Thus, this artwork was banned. Find an in-depth biography, exhibitions, original artworks for sale, the latest news, and sold auction prices. March 7, 2017, By Anthony Huang / Black,â a â¦ Xu Bing, one of Chinaâs most celebrated and unconventional artists, moved to America in 1990, when Chinaâs contemporary art scene was tightly â¦ British Museum / As a child, he was surrounded by great literature. The wall panels, hanging scrolls and books which create the space conjure an atmosphere of almost religious sanctity and safety, with the whiteness of the paper evoking a purity of spirit, and their neat rows of black print permeate an aura of authority and knowledge. ©2021 The Art Story Foundation. Xu Bing subtly suggested how the amalgamation of various cultures and their products affects our perception of a piece of artwork. ‘Phoenix’ is currently installed in the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine. Xu Bing, Square Calligraphy Classroom, 1994-96, red-line tracing book, 41.3 x 27.3 cm. Sixth Tone / This comment relates specifically to the differences between the West and Bing's home country, which he notes maintains a penchant for frugality and recycling. View Xu Bingâs 394 artworks on artnet. One of my favorite artworks is Xu Bingâs 1st Class (2011), a rug made from half-a-million cigarettes.They stand leaning against each other on the floor to form a 40-by-15-foot âtiger pelt,â the stripes changing from tobacco-brown to filter-orange as you move around the piece. If you see the world through language, you observe that it focusses your thinking, your thought patterns. However, realizing the nonsensical nature of the characters redefines this feeling of calm into bewilderment. The building was previously leased as a fabric-printing factory, that employed vast amounts of Chinese immigrants and therefore has relevance to the materials used to create the artwork. The complex relationship between language (è¯è¨YÇyán) and meaning has been a central preoccupation of his art. by LILLY WEI Xu Bing, the internationally acclaimed Chinese conceptual artist who works in a variety of disciplines and materials, in particular printmaking, ink painting, calligraphy, text and installation, and has also worked with silk worms and pigs, has just completed a major project in New York, the installation of his magnificent Phoenix. A trailer for Xu Bing's 2017 film Dragonfly Eyes, which was created using footage entirely from surveillance videos. In trying to find a way into Xu Bingâs spectacular work, that is, in trying to find the human element within the larger scope of the paintingâs natural world, I took as my starting place the small figure of a Chinese man sitting on a bench in the forefront of the screen. Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, in the newly-formed Communist People's Republic of China, in 1955. Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, in the newly-formed Communist People's Republic of China, in 1955. Xu Bing is a contemporary Chinese installation artist and one of Chinaâs best-known creative figures. He was raised in a highly intellectual environment, as his father was the head of the University's history department, and his mother worked as a researcher in their Department of Library Science. Xu rose to fame as a prominent participant in the seminal exhibition China/Avant-Garde in 1989, an exhibition organized to introduce contemporary aesthetics to a broader audience in China, but shut down by the government within a few days of being open to the public. The materials were considered when Xu Bing experienced the horrendous working conditions of the immigrants working at the construction site of the financial centre. MusÃ©e: Vanguard of Photography Culture / Xu Bing said “In Chinese culture, the phoenix symbolizes the hopes and desires of a better future, even when those hopes are not necessarily realisable”. As well as the use of crates as part of the artwork, the MoCA building added to the meaning. What is consistent in his work through the 1980s and 1990s is a connection with China's deeply-rooted scholastic traditions, something which he was taught by his intellectually-minded father in private, despite the external transformations of the Chinese language which were being implemented by Chairman Mao. For most critics and scholars, however, Book from the Sky is a clever contradiction and manifestation of Xu Bingâs long preoccupation with text and language. Kai Yin-Lo comments on this by observing that, "while well versed in tradition, and in the culture and mores of the Communist regime, Xu Bing also poses cerebral and representational challenges to their validity and values." Why did I have this idea and create this form of writing? This might not seem unusual, as the relationship between calligraphy and ink painting goes back well over a millennium in the Chinese tradition. Xu Bing returned to China in 2008, the year he was commissioned to create “Phoenix” and he has continued to challenge Chinese culture, politics, history and values ever since. New York Times / A Curatorial introduction to Xu Bing: A Retrospective When he was a child, Xu Bing recalls, his mother was so busy working at the Peking University Library Department that she would often âlockâ him in the book storeroom. However, things are not as they first seem - Book from the Sky is, in fact, a collection of meaningless glyphs, imagined characters created by the artist to trick the viewer. [right] Figure 5. His earliest works explored the transmission of knowledge through language, calligraphy and traditional Chinese aesthetics, which evolved into a global critique of cross-cultural communication in the 1990s, and into his recent turn to the impact of modern technologies on the environment and human psyche. His artwork “The Book from the Sky” was an arrangement of large pieces of paper, which appeared to be covered in Chinese calligraphy, but in fact were meaningless symbols. January 17, 2008, By Glenn Harper / They were all created to estrange concepts. Pioneering Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing creates powerful, poignant mixed-media installations, in which he subverts systems of language, upending expectations and perception. In his early childhood, his father taught him traditional calligraphy and the scholastic canon of China's long history. In 2014, the lab Dr. Xu worked in published two algorithms: Gausianface and DeepID, where the facial recognition performance of an algorithm surpassed that of humans for the first time, a feat broadly published by various media outlets such as Science and Nature. The viewer must confront and overcomes their initial assumptions over the course of experiencing this work, as the transition from the front to the rear of the piece takes us from what is known and recognizable to a wholly unexpected understanding of its essence. As the work was reinstalled in the fall of 2018 for a major retrospective for Xu Bing, the monumental work was described as defining the post-Mao period in China, "it evokes the doubt - that old and cherished signifiers had lost their referents - that prevailed among intellectuals in post-reform China, many of whom pored over the work, obsessively looking for a single, real character.". You can see Xu Bing and his crew at work in the video below. The installation of the work allows the viewer to go behind the work and see behind the illusion. For Xu Bing there is no true boundary between language and art, between the written word and the drawn image, nor between the past and present that does not beg to be explored. Beijing Review / Xu Bing: interview. These early experiences formed his initial fascination with the written word, and the physicality and aesthetics of paper and books in general. NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) today announced the establishment of NEC X, Inc. (NEC X) in Santa Clara, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, in order to capitalize on the region's startup ecosystem and accelerate the development of new business based on the strengths of NEC's Central Research Laboratories technologies. In school, he had to learn and practice the new official language of China ordered by Mao Zedong, the leader of China. Despite the high walls languages build between people, Xu Bing creates abstractions of the Chinese language to enable viewers of all nationalities to associate with and value in his works. In 2007, as Xu Bing returned to China from the United States, the work was included with "'85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art" exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. February 22, 2016, By Yin Yijun / Is Xu Bing referencing manipulation during Mao Zedongâs reign? Xu Bing's A Book from the Sky 1988 Chinese printmaker Xu Bing is a teacher at Beijing's prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts and a respected practitioner of â¦ [facing page, top] Figure 1. However, his meticulous positioning and stylistic play with the letters has rendered words into the square shapes which characterize the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy, with the works speaking "to the problems [he] encountered in a foreign country" Still affected by the linguistic upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, Bing here explores our perception of language further, whilst incorporating his experiences with learning English. 13 years later, they moved to the U.S, but Xu Bings experience with the Cultural Revolution shaped his conceptual practice as his artwork commonly challenges the Chinese politics, culture and history. "The two invitations were like mirrorsâa similar experience, but in reverse." In all of Xuâs art we find obstacles to habitual ways of thinking. Through May 24, 2015 . Image courtesy of Xu Bing Studio. Among the artists participating in the 1989 exhibition was Xu Bing, now widely regarded as one of the most important artists of his generation, and whose sculpture The Living Wordâone of his most important worksâis currently on view at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. Xu Bing, the renowned Chinese artist whose many laurels include a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and an appointment as vice president of Chinaâs Central Academy of Fine Arts, has long demonstrated a fascination with the written word.. His groundbreaking work, Book from the â¦ In his youth, Bing's experience of language was one of two worlds - at home, he practiced the fine art of literati calligraphy which was so respected by Imperial Chinese values, whilst in his capacity as student and worker, he created banners and posters in the government's simplified, direct style. As a child, Xu Bing was exposed to the Cultural Revolution. Xu Bing spent seven years gathering materials, experimenting, revising, and arranging thousands of pictograms to construct the narrative of Book from the Ground. Asia Society is currently hosting the artist's first-ever solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Linguistically, he creates a new form of writing, which on a personal level helped him to understand English as a new lexicon, though on a larger scale could help others to dilute the perceived distances between the West and East. The idea of the phoenixes was originally conceived due to the cage like structure of the building, which inspired the appearances of taking flight, upwards and outwards. View Xu Bingâs 394 artworks on artnet. Translation by Jesse Robert Coffino and Vivian Xu . All Rights Reserved, Xu Bing and Contemporary Chinese Art: Cultural and Philosophical Reflections, The Art of Xu Bing: Words without Meaning, Meaning Without Words, Reinventing Tradition in a New World: The Arts of Gu Wenda, Wang Mansheng, Xu Bing, and Zhang Hongtu, Landscape Landscript: Nature as Language in the Art of Xu Bing, Artefacts of Writing: Ideas of the State and Communities of Letters from Matthew Arnold to Xu Bing, Book from the Ground: From Point to Point, V&A page on Xu Bing's outdoors installation piece at the museum, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art's page on Xu Bing's Phoenix Project, Xu Bing's official Instagram account, managed by his studio, Exterior Form - Interior Substance: A Conversation with Xu Bing, Background Stories: Xu Bing's Art of Transformation, Xu Bing: An Artist Who Bridges East and West, Review of Xu Bing: Book from the Ground at CFCCA, Manchester, The Artist Rejecting East-West and Old-New Dichotomies, Fruits of surveillance: Xu Bing Interview about "Dragonfly Eyes", Inside China's Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras, Intellectual by Nature, Poet at Heart: Xu Bing, Above the Drowning Sea: 'Square Word' with Xu Bing, An Installation by Xu Bing at the British Museum: Background Story 7, Full-frame Close-up: Xu Bing, Contemporary Chinese Artist, Square Word Calligraphy (from 1994 onwards), Xu Bing is among a generation of artists, including, Widely recognized for his manipulation of the written word, Xu's oeuvre exemplifies the artist's constant exploration of socio-political concerns in his art. 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