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Artist brushes up on his character

Updated: 2024-03-23 10:15 ( China Daily )
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Xu Bing discusses his concept of art with an audience at the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston on Feb 23. [Photo by MAY ZHOU/CHINA DAILY]

Chinese words take on a deeper meaning at Xu Bing's fascinating exhibition, May Zhou reports in Houston, Texas.

More than 50 important works — woodcut prints, videos, drawings, installations — that represent renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing's incredible achievements over more than 40 years — are on display at the Asia Society Texas Center.

Titled Xu Bing: Word Alchemy, the exhibition took a year to assemble and will continue until mid-July. It's primarily funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts, a state agency.

Xu, who currently divides his time between Beijing and New York, has won many prestigious awards including the Medal of the Arts from the US State Department, according to exhibition curator Owen Duffy.

He has displayed his works in numerous prestigious venues around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the National Museum of Asian Art and the British Museum.

The Houston exhibition especially focuses on the theme of words and language, "which is absolutely foundational to understanding Xu Bing's practice", says Duffy.

In a one-day-long symposium on Feb 23, the Asia Society Texas Center invited eight curators from around the country to explore some of Xu's significant works with the artist himself presenting a keynote speech at the end.

"Each of Xu's unique art installations, in any of the various mediums he works with, pushes us to confront the limitations of our routine ways of seeing and interpreting what we see, or what we think we see," says Jan Stuart, curator of Chinese Art at the National Museum of Asian Art.

"What Xu Bing does is to take our routine patterns of thought, and he smashes them open with a sledgehammer. He's the one who breaks the cognitive structures in our way, breaks that obstacle to liberate us through his art," Stuart says.

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