Xu Zhen (Produced by MadeIn Company) is pleased to present Corporate, a solo exhibition of the artist at Kunsthaus Graz, Austria. The exhibition, in cooperation with steirischer herbst, is curated by Katrin Bucher Trantow and Peter Pakesch.
Xu Zhen is widely considered as one of the most critical of the leading figures of a younger generation of Chinese artists. His solo exhibition Corporate –his first large-scale exhibition specifically adapted European public– is the result of an ongoing engagement with artistic output. His artistic strategies are a mirror of a rapidly evolving Chinese art scene. They employ an 'art of conforming', veering between a partial use of conceptual art up to Re-enactment, with an ironic critique of the system and a craftsman's precision. The often theatrical, highly provocative sculptures, pictures, performances and films confront contemporary China with socio-political and cultural taboos. Also in Graz, the works on view, which are produced serially in his 'MadeIn Company', are comment on a short-lived, globe-spanning consumerist society. They ask where our behaviour will lead in future and create systems offering cultural and spiritual reconciliation.
The exhibited works cross boundaries, moving through levels that are not only political and cultural, but also institutional. Sculptures that are amalgamations and copies are presented as new creations of a global culture, revealing the market and its regulations as the determining receptacle of artistic endeavour. To this Xu Zhen reacts with his 'MadeIn Company'. The term 'MadeIn' refers to the commonly found label 'Made in China' and in Chinese (没 顶公司) includes the word ‘company’. The two characters ‘ 没 顶 ’ pronounced ‘mei ding’ meaning ‘without roof' or 'no limit'.
As a cunning form of self-marketing and annexation, Corporate is to some extent a triumphant invasion of Europe by what is 'Chinese'. Xu Zhen's production firm 'MadeIn Company', which produces in all genres with the greatest precision and perfection, thus operates in the style of the 'new generation' of Asian artist producers. While Xu Zhen charms the public with the persuasive power of stereotypes, he takes a tongue-in-cheek stance to artistic colonialism.
Born in 1977, Xu Zhen works as an artist, curator, critic, entrepreneur and networker. From 2001 to 2010 he was Art Director of the BizArt Art Center, the first non-profit Chinese centre for contemporary art for the promotion of new Chinese art and international cultural exchange projects. In 2006, Xu Zhen initiated together with other artists the online platform Art-Ba-Ba (www.art-ba-ba.com), a leading online forum for discussion and critique of contemporary art in Shanghai. In 2009 he founded 'MadeIn Company' and relinquished his art practice of authorship in favour of a 'company for the creation and the exploration of the endless possibilities of contemporary art and culture'. In 2013 MadeIn Company introduced the ‘Xu Zhen’ brand and a year later founded MadeIn Gallery. The artist lives and works in Shanghai.
Xu Zhen, MadeIn Company and Xu Zhen (Produced by MadeIn Company) were exhibited in numerous national and international institutions and biennials, for example as part of the Venice Biennial, Italy (2001, 2005), in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, US (2004), in the Tate Liverpool, UK (2007) as well as in the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China (2014).