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Xu Zhen: Twenty
Project THE QUBE, PMQ, Hong Kong
Date: 03.10, 2015 - 03.18, 2015

Artists: XU Zhen 徐震 |  XU ZHEN® 徐震® | 

Xu Zhen, Under Heaven-3208NH1409, Oil on canvas, aluminium, 140x95x13.5cm, 2014. Produced by MadeIn Company
(Courtesy the artist )


Xu Zhen’s “Twenty” runs at THE QUBE, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong from March 10 through 18.

HONG KONG — Xu Zhen, one of the leading lights of Shanghai’s explosive contemporary art scene, opens “Twenty,” his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong at PMQ on March 10, coinciding with this year’s Art Basel.

A collaborative project presented by Xu’s own MadeIn Company, K11 Art Foundation founder Adrian Cheng, and ART021 co-founder David Chau, “Twenty” will showcase a series of new media works and paintings inspired by the freewheeling, somewhat reckless emotional makeup of a fresh-faced twenty-year-old. Cheery pastels, rich violets, and gaudy vermilions collide on his canvases in the form of fragile blossoms, borrowing freely from the language of modern advertising.

In planning for this exhibition in Hong Kong, the artist specifically chose a series of work that has “gained international recognition, and employs a visual vocabulary that is familiar and identifiable.” Laced with a knowing irony, Xu’s evocation of the slick temptations of consumerism, however, is a constant presence wherever he shows his work. “For me, my desire for beauty goes beyond boundaries — I do the same work wherever I am, whether in Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York, or London. I believe that real art can serve as an echo or symbol of the historical and political issues unique to each city. But ultimately, art is something that transcends and accepts all of these differences,” says Xu.

The mastermind behind a staggering scope of other projects and entities, Xu Zhen also produces large-scale installations under his MadeIn Company, runs his own MadeIn Gallery and the nonprofit institution BizArt, as well as Art-Ba-Ba, an online art community for critical discourse. His involvement in these multiple ventures gives his work a critical, self-aware edge that speaks to the turbulent conditions that govern the contemporary art system in Mainland China. For Adrian Cheng, Xu’s work “maps the complex relationship between the creation, curation, and consumption of contemporary art.”

David Chau, on the other hand, sees Xu Zhen as something of a pioneering maverick in a contemporary art scene that is still finding its feet. “Xu hasn't always been readily accepted by those in the traditional art world, who have sometimes told me that they feel ‘attacked’ and ‘mocked’ when confronted with his work. Personally, I feel that his satirical approach expresses nothing but the truth — it is not intended to ridicule any particular individual.” But Xu is not just a rebel and a provocateur in the context of the contemporary art scene of his native China. “I’ve always felt that Xu is very much a student of philosophy and sociology, and not just an artist. His approach to art and social issues is very Socratic, in the sense that seeking the ultimate truth always makes people uncomfortable,” notes Chau.

For his own part, Xu is a shrewd observer and outspoken critic of the glaring excesses and deficiencies of the Chinese contemporary art scene. “At the moment, the whole Chinese art industry is at a stage where survival and development go hand in hand. Artists have to sustain themselves through innovative channels in order to avoid being eliminated in the art market. We’ve undergone a drastic shift over the past fifteen years — from the underground art scene in the 2000s to the development of the commercial art model in 2005, and the rise of today’s international art fairs. I also foresee the growing power of private circles of collectors in the near future.”

Xu also points out that the initial promise demonstrated by many Chinese artists often failed to translate into sustained, progressive development later on in their careers. “There have been many artists who made a few great works early on, but then vanish quietly from the market quietly. Most of them didn’t fail because their creativity disappeared. Often, they were faced with the bigger problems of whether their artworks even sold, or whether they were included in subsequent exhibitions.”

“Many Chinese artists are talented, but lack a sense of urgency and crisis — they’re happy to indulge in their own self-affirmation, flattering each other as fellow artists within a small social circle.” Ultimately, Xu feels that China still suffers from an immature art infrastructure, whereas “artists in the West are protected by the stable pricing system, large variety and number of collectors, quality of the museums and galleries, and a much more mature education system.”

Still, Xu is optimistic about the new potential that this current, younger generation of Chinese artists might bring. “No matter how immature they might be in terms of their values, they are still much more dynamic, open, and diverse than the old guard. They’re also more accepting of others, less selfish, and less obstinate and stuck in their ways. Now we can choose and learn freely from different cultures. We no longer need to rely on the old system, where power and success would depend on one’s seniority and status — in what is perhaps the world’s last, non-transparent art scene.”

Xu Zhen’s “Twenty” runs at THE QUBE, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong from March 10 through 18.

- See more at: http://hk.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1104091/xu-zhen-to-open-solo-show-at-pmq#sthash.fQ6OTeYe.dpuf


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