National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
14 March 2020 – March 2021
International contemporary artist XU ZHEN® – famous for his large-scale works exploring the collision of cultures – will present his first major solo Australian exhibition with works taken from the White Rabbit Collection at the National Gallery of Australia in March.
Curated by the white Rabbit Gallery in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia, XU ZHEN®: ETERNITY VS EVOLUTION showcases the artist’s work from early videos to more recent monumental sculptures. The exhibition will also celebrate the international debut of “Hello” 2018-19 – a Corinthian column-like snake that watches and follows visitors as they move through the gallery.
“A leading artist of his generation, XU ZHEN® grapples with the implications of globalisation, not just in China, but around the world. He deftly combines cultural forms with equal parts provocation and humour, exposing the fault lines between cultures and suggesting new ways of living together,” National Gallery of Australia Director Nick Mitzevich said.
In his latest work, “Hello”, being exhibited outside of China for the first time, XU ZHEN ® turns the spotlight on twisted perceptions that emerge with the meeting of different cultures.
“I’ve used a traditional thing and renewed it in some way,” he said. “It’s interesting because, in the west, such columns would be used in official buildings such as courthouses and banks, whereas they most often appear in front of public baths in China, or places where you can sing karaoke.”
The scale of his homeland, XU ZHEN® says, is one of the inspirations for his colossal works, such as the European Thousand-Armed Classical Sculpture 2014, which has the familiarity of classical European sculptures overlaid with eastern religious imagery of a multi-armed deity. “I’m drawn to such things because of what they say about power and what is valued in different societies,” he said.
XU ZHEN® is on display at the National Gallery of Australia from 14 March until 13 September 2020. Entry is free.
XU ZHEN®: ETERNITY VS EVOLUTION is drawn from Judith Neilson’s renowned White Rabbit Collection.
CURATORS: David Williams and Peter Johnson