Dec 2, 2009

Ah Xian

I first saw Ah Xian's beautiful and intricate busts at the National Gallery of Victoria for 2006's Contemporary Commonwealth exhibition. But, fool that I am, I promptly forgot all about them. Fast forward to 2009, and Ah Xian has won the Clemenger Contemporary art prize, and I feel vindicated for falling so madly in love with the busts I saw way back when, and eternally foolish for forgetting about something so striking. Usually Xian works in traditional Chinese materials such as jade, or shiny white porcelian painted with archetypal willow pattern designs. The series of sculpted busts featured in the Clemenger exhibition present a break with these traditional materials -- they are cast from concrete, which gives them a pale, matte finish. Despite the heaviness of the material, they retain an aura of delicacy, not least because each cast has been 'texturised,' so to speak, with inprints of leaves and flowers. Each bust is different, both in regards to the original head it has been cast from, and in regards to the design element, yet they are united by the ghostly beige of the concrete. As such, the installation continues a theme prevalent in Xian's earlier work -- that of cultural identity -- whilst also incorporating themes of alienation and dislocation. A worthy winner indeed.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails