ShanghART Gallery is pleased to announce that Xu Zhen’s newest outdoor artwork Hello is presented atop the bowl of Meyer Green on the Stanford campus, which is the inaugural commission for the Stanford Plinth Project. The work is on view since Feb 4, 2022, and will last for 2 years.
The artist created the 4.75-meter sculpture especially for Meyer Green, a 2.45-acre open space located close to several university landmarks, including Green Library, the Law School, and the Graduate School of Education. He combined traditional bronze techniques with the latest digital sculpting technology to create something that looks both ancient and contemporary. Its form is based on Greek architecture pillars, symbolizing the origin and cornerstone of Western civilization. As viewers move close, they will notice that the towering column is twisted in the form of a magnified and mutated snake, observing its surroundings from its perch on a plinth surrounded by soaring cedars.
The work fuses the classical Greek column shape and the snake’s aggressive biological attitude to stimulate viewers’ perception and experience of classic civilization. The moment the viewer’s eyes come across the Corinthian capital also represents a confrontation with the depth of history and culture. With the increasingly frequent blending and impacts among global civilizations, the work constitutes both a reality and a metaphor for encountering civilizations of different times and spaces. “It is hard to define an artist as someone who just produces art pieces,” said Xu Zhen in a 2017 interview. “He is perhaps someone who changes the way people think.”
In 2019, Xu Zhen was chosen to create Hello for the Plinth Project. The work was to be installed the following year, but due to the pandemic, the installation was delayed. The Stanford Plinth Project is a key component of a new vision for public art. Modeled after the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square, the Stanford Plinth Project commissions allow for innovation in the works selected and a greater ability to reflect the current cultural moment, as well as meaningful campus engagement opportunities.Xu Zhen was chosen in part for his representation of global perspectives and his engagement with issues relevant to the university. In his statement about creating Hello, he writes: “The people of this distinguished university share similar qualities with contemporary artists: the capability to see new possibilities and the courage to explore opportunities, even though results remain uncertain.”