Xu Bing: Thought and Method

Xu Bing: Thought and Method

Duration:2018.07.21 – 10.18
Address:UCCA, 4 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing, China

BANK is proud to announce artist Xu Bing’s solo exhibition Xu Bing: Thought and Method will open at UCCA on 20th July and continue through 18th October. Curated by UCCA Director Philip Tinari and independent curator Feng Boyi, this will be the artist’s most comprehensive institutional exhibition in Beijing, showing major works drawn from his artistic career since the 1980s.

Xu Bing

As an integral member of the Chinese avant-garde since the 1980s, Xu Bing is known across the world for conceptual and installation art that engages with visual culture, media technology, and linguistic exchange. His work arises from a rigorous, theoretical foundation: he spends years researching topics like language acquisition, real and imagined writing systems, or surveillance networks, ultimately transforming his thoughts into artworks such as “Book from the Sky” (1987-1991), Ghosts Pounding the Wall (1990), “New English Calligraphy” (1994-present), “Background Story” (2004-present) or the most recent film, Dragonfly Eyes (2017). While continuing to reflect on traditional East Asian culture, he has also proven a vigilant and farsighted observer of the transformations that are occurring in contemporary society on a global scale. Xu’s layered, interdisciplinary approach is evident in his artworks’ multifaceted depth, offering viewers numerous points from which to explore.

In the past few years BANK has successfully presented and published Xu Bing’s signature projects such as “Book from the Ground”, Shattered Jade, “Bcckground Story” and “New English Calligraphy”. On the occasion of Xu Bing’s UCCA exhibition, BANK recalls its collaboration with this dynamic and internationally renown artist.

“Book from the Gound” (1999-present)

Book from the Ground is a novel written in a “language of icons”. The entire book has not one single character in the traditional sense and it can be published anywhere in the world without the need of translation. Regardless of cultural background, one should be able to understand the text as long as one is thoroughly entangled in our contemporary life. In this sense this book offers every reader, intellectual or illiteracy alike, the same kind of joy in reading. We have also created a “font library” computer program to accompany the book. The user can type in English or Chinese and the computer will instantaneously translate them into this language of icons. It can function as an “intermediate platform” where people speak different languages can use to communicate. This is a rather practical function.

– Xu Bing

Installation view of Reading Room,
BANK (Xianggang Lu), 2014

Xu Bing’s Book from the Ground Concept Store, K11 Shanghai, 2014

“New English Calligraphy” (1994-present)

“Square Word Calligraphy” is a form of writing designed by artist Xu Bing that appears Chinese, but is actually formed by English letters and words. When confronting this “English language Chinese Calligraphy” the audience experiences something quite new. Transitioning between the familiar and the foreign, our cultural preconceptions are challenged and new areas of thought lay open to us as we rediscover the basis of our recognition.

Untitled, 1998
Ink on rice paper
63.5 x 48.3 cm

Square Word: New English Calligraphy (An Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy), 1994-1996
Woodcut (printed books)
41.5 x 27.5 cm

Shattered Jade (1978 – 1983)

Shattered Jade series consists of 124 pocketsize wood engraving prints made between 1978-1983, a time when China’s Cultural Revolution transitioned to a period of reform and opening up. This series, with its focus on rural life, marks the beginning of Xu’s remarkable career as well as the start of his artistic influence in China and abroad. He notes “These small wood prints were the starting point of my whole practice… when I tried to represent the world devotedly for the very first time.”

Installation view of BANK booth,
Art Basel Hong Kong, 2018

The End of A Village, 1982
Woodblock print
Image: 13.6 x 14.2 cm
Paper: 35 x 35 cm

Watertown, 1982
Woodblock print
Image: 14.5 x 14.6 cm
Paper: 35 x 35 cm

Garden, 1983
Woodblock print
Image: 15.4 x 15.8 cm
Paper: 35 x 35 cm

Winnowing Ground, 1982
Woodblock print
Image: 7.8 x 10.1 cm
Paper: 23 x 23 cm

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