The creative career of Xu Bing, over the last thirty odd years, has been intertwined with hybridity, multiplicity and marked by an intense dedication to his studies and creativity revolving around ‘language’, which turns out to be his resourceful medium and subject matter of his inventiveness. Since Xu Bing founded the ‘Brilliant Mountain Flowers’ magazine in the 1970s, his fascination with Chinese characters (hanzi) has been indicatively expressed through the ingenious thoughts attributed to their ‘forms’ and ‘meaning’. So far, these two core elements continued to be the dynamics in shaping his artistic approach and manifestation. And owing to the everydayness and open-endedness found in his series of works, the art forms he practices has been a never-ending theme of discussion since their inception, ranging from arts and culture to the exploration of today’s world civilisation.
This exhibition takes the ‘Language & the Art of Xu Bing’ as its theme, showcasing his magnum opuses, accompanied by the related experimental trials and rough sketches leading to their accomplishment. They represent the fruition of over three decades of artistic creativity and reveal the underlying logic and supporting reasoning. Among the exhibits are works rarely on display elsewhere.
Upon the invitation of the Macao Museum of Art, Xu Bing created a new work for this exhibition. Writing in Portuguese for the first time using his Square Word Calligraphy, he transcribed the excerpt of Chinese Viola by the Portuguese poet Camilo Pessanha (1867 – 1926). It is considered a significant work to the relationship between Macao and the Portuguese-speaking countries.
The exhibition brings together Xu’s significant works, along with other works of less intense scale, associated rough sketches and informative details, presenting a comprehensive train of thought about his language-themed original works. The creative series feature ‘Book from the Sky’, ‘A Case Study of Transference’, ‘Square Word Calligraphy’, ‘Book from the Ground’, ‘The Character of Characters’, ‘Landscript’, ‘“Forest Project” – Forest Series IV’, ‘Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll’ and ‘The Character of Characters’.
As for the other works of less intense scale, associated sketches and rough drafts, they include Brilliant Mountain Flowers Magazine, ‘Post Testament’, ‘Brailliterate’, ‘Lost Letters’, ‘Monkeys Grasp for the Moon’, ‘Bird Language’, ‘Magic Carpet’, and ‘Abstract Articles’ series from the Life Magazine.
In this exhibition, viewers can take a close look at the important works of Xu Bing, an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, as well as the logic and approach in language transformation through sketches and drafts, which will allow people to understand the significance behind his innovative creativity and how it has greatly impacted the world of arts and culture.