Renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing has enriched art enthusiasts in Jakarta with his first and biggest retrospective exhibition in South East Asia, called Xu Bing: Thought and Method.
It’s also Xu Bing’s first major, solo presentation in Indonesia. He’s brought over 60 of his works, including drawings, prints, installations, films, and archival materials which can be observed and enjoyed at Museum MACAN from 31st August until 12th January 2020, as part of a collaboration between Museum MACAN and UCCA Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China.
Xu Bing views language as a medium to communicate politically. Moving to New York, USA during the early 1990s definitely influenced his artistic approach. Putting together elements and cultural traits from Western and Chinese cultures, Xu Bing dived into exploring cultural dimensions, language, and traditional knowledge systems that are portrayed through his art. Eventually, during the early 2000s, Xu Bing started portraying globalisation, industry, and surveillance, which can be seen from his first feature film called Dragonfly Eyes (2017).
Xu Bing first moved from his birthplace of Chongqing, China, to a commune on the outskirts of Beijing to learn from and assist local farmers during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s.
One of his works that art goers can view at Museum MACAN is called Square Word Calligraphy (1994-present) which is a language system that Xu Bing created by combining Chinese calligraphic arts with English writing – one example of where English and Chinese language arts is portrayed.
“The characters resemble Chinese, yet their essence is thoroughly English and completely unrelated to Chinese. I am actually interested in prompting people with a new cognitive perspective and changing our fixed ways of thinking. Through this work, I find a new conceptual framework to restore the foundation of our cognitive knowledge,” Xu Bing stated.
Other than that, there is Book from the Sky (1987-1991), Ghosts Pounding the Wall (1990-1991), Honor and Splendour (1994-present), and Book from the Ground (2003-present) available to view in this art exhibition.
According to Xu Bing, a good artist must be a good thinker. “However, if you only have good thinking or philosophies, you could become a great philosopher, but art history might never record you. Therefore, an artist has to employ an artistic way to present his or her ideas, beyond the normative cultural concepts,” he added.
His love for experimenting with traditional and new media, along with expressing current global issues and his creative order have established his spot in Chinese contemporary art.
Aaron Seeto, the Director of Museum MACAN, highly praised Xu Bing’s visions and is excited for Jakarta’s art enthusiasts to witness some of Xu Bing’s most important works that have defined, from a cultural perspective, the understanding of the role of technology, language, and global culture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
“Xu Bing is a truly global artist – his practice probes the depths of history to think through processes of cultural transference in an age of transnational communication. We are pleased to introduce Xu Bing for the first time to audiences here in Indonesia, and believe this exhibition will resonate widely,” said Seeto.
With a different approach in his art, Xu Bing continues to bring up global matters in a way that, whether an art goer or not, people could resonate with once they leave, masking in his various mediums of thoughts and expressions.