The Macao Museum of Art (MAM), under the auspices of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, invited eminent curators Feng Boyi and Wang Xiaosong to present the first solo exhibition of internationally recognised artist Xu Bing in Macao, entitled “Language & the Art of Xu Bing”, featuring 30 significant works by Xu Bing, including Book from the Sky and Book from the Ground, the magnum opuses of his accomplishments and prominence in the international art arena, as well as the experimental trials and rough sketches leading to their completion. The artist’s new work, specially created for this exhibition, will also be presented. The exhibition will be inaugurated tomorrow, 8 November, at 6:30pm.
The Macao Museum of Art is committed to introducing the works of leading Chinese contemporary artists and enhancing the public’s understanding of contemporary art, received an enthusiastic response from the public. This year, the exhibition “Language & the Art of Xu Bing” features a number of representative large-scale installations by Xu Bing over the years scattered through an exhibition area of 1,350 square metres on three floors of the Museum, bringing an great visual impact, allowing the audience to enjoy the charm and innovation of his artworks.
Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, China, in 1955 and was raised in Beijing. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in printmaking from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), in Beijing in 1981, and stayed on as an instructor, receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1987. He worked as Vice President of the CAFA from 2008 to 2014, and is now a professor and advisor to CAFA PhD students. He currently resides and works in Beijing and New York. Xu Bing’s works are frequently shown in major art museums and art institutions around the world. He has been repeatedly invited to show his works at the Venice Biennale, and at the Biennale of Sydney, among other international exhibitions, winning various awards. Okwui Enwezor recognised that “Xu Bing translates ideas and issues into visual forms that cross cultural boundaries”.
Xu Bing’s creative career over the last thirty years has been interspersed with hybridism and multiplicity, and marked by an intense dedication to his studies and creativity revolving around “language”, which turns out to be the medium and subject matter of his artworks. Since Xu Bing founded the magazine Brilliant Mountain Flowers in the 1970s, it is manifest his fascination with Chinese characters (hanzi) especially in the reflection about the relation between “form” and “meaning”. So far, these two elements are the core of his work. Owing to the everydayness and open-endedness evident in his series of works, the art forms he practices have been a never-ending theme of discussion since their inception, ranging from arts and culture to the exploration of the world’s civilisation today.
The exhibition brings together Xu’s creative works and associated rough sketches, informative materials and other works of smaller scale. The creative series features Book from the Sky; A Case Study of Transference, Square Word Calligraphy, Book from the Ground, The Character of Characters, Landscript, Forest Project, Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll and The Character of Characters, presenting a comprehensive train of thought about his original language-themed works. Associated sketches, materials and other works include: draft designs of the Brilliant Mountain Flowers magazine, Bird Language, Lost Letters, Book from the Ground (Pop-up Book) and Life magazine as well as rough sketches of Monkeys Grasp for the Moon and Magic Carpet. Among the exhibits are works rarely on display. Upon invitation of the Macao Museum of Art, Xu Bing created a new work especially for this exhibition. Using his Square Word Calligraphy, he transcribed to Portuguese for the first time an excerpt of Chinese Viola by Portuguese poet Camilo Pessanha (1867-1926). The poem is considered a significant work to the relationship between Macao and Portuguese-speaking countries.
This exhibition not only allows the audience to closely appreciate the significant works of internationally acclaimed contemporary artist Xu Bing, but also enables them to understand the artist’s logic and approach in language transformation through sketches and drafts, as well as the significance behind his innovative creativity and how it has greatly impacted the world of arts and culture.
The exhibition also features a reading area for visitors featuring over 20 publications related to Xu Bing’s exhibitions, research and writings for consultation and study, allowing the public to appreciate the exhibition from different perspectives,. Meanwhile, MAM also organizes a series of related activities, including the thematic talk “Language & the Art of Xu Bing: Dialogue”, “Guided Tour by the Artist and Curators”, “Encounter of Printmaking and Book Arts” demonstration, “Beauty of Traditional Thread-Bound Books” Workshop, “Language & the Art of Xu Bing” Group Workshop for Children and “Discovering Xu Bing”, among others. Guided tours for the public will also be available at 3pm every Saturday and Sunday, and on public holidays from 18 November onwards. For details and registration in the above activities, please visit MAM’s website at www.MAM.gov.mo. For enquiries, please contact MAM through tel. no. (853) 8791 9814 during office hours.
The exhibition “Language & the Art of Xu Bing” is held on the first floor, the special exhibition room on the second floor and at the Exhibition Zone A on the third floor. The exhibition runs until 4 March 2018. The Macao Museum of Art is located at Avenida Xian Xing Hai, NAPE, and is open daily from 10am to 7pm, including on public holidays (no admission after 6:30pm) and closes on Mondays. Admission is free.
The “Language & the Art of Xu Bing - Media Session” was held on 7 November, at 4pm, in the Museum Auditorium located on the first floor of MAM, and was attended by the Director of the Macao Museum of Art, Chan Kai Chon; the artist Xu Bing; and the curators Feng Boyi and Wang Xiaosong, among others. In this session, the artist and curators introduced the preparatory process of the exhibition and the highlights of exhibits to the media.