“I am trying to represent the past, present and future—the circulation of life.”

Born Mianyang, Sichuan, 1961

Asked about his biggest influences, Xu Zhongmin cites futurism and philosophy, Buckminster Fuller and Buddhism. His Egg Shape No. 1 and Egg Shape No. 2 (2006) are inspired by both Fuller’s geodesic dome and the circles that pervade Tibetan Buddhist iconography: mandalas, prayer wheels, the Dharma wheel, the cycles of incarnation and rebirth, and the kora pilgrimage, in which the devout trek clockwise around sacred mountains to expiate their sins. “When I am creating art, I am also making a pilgrimage, in a sense,” Xu Zhongmin says. Just as screening still pictures in rapid succession creates the illusion of animation, the revolutions of his stainless-steel egg-planets seem to set circles of silver skeletons and babies on a furious march to nowhere. The electric motors and flashing lights “convey a sense of modernity and of the future”, the artist says, but the work also reflects eternal verities: “Seen as a whole, the life of human beings is a long series of circles and repetitions.”

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