Xu Bing’s most comprehensive retrospective in China “Xu Bing: Thought and Method”, is on view at Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing until October 18. “This is the most complete exhibition of his work you will see for a long time,” says Philip Tinari, UCCA’s Director and the curator of the exhibition. It represents the major chapters of Xu Bing’s artistic career including more than sixty works, comprising prints, drawings, installations, and films, as well as archival material. The most recent work shown in the exhibition is the new piece titled, Background Story (2004 – present), which he created specially for the exhibition. In 2011 the British Museum commissioned the 7th piece of the series based on a Chinese traditional landscape painting that was already part of the Museum’s collection.
Xu Bing (B. 1955) is well known for his exploration of linguistic and translingual practice which he has been developing throughout his career. He has been always interested in words, images, communication, culture, and heritage. One of his most famous and emblematic pieces, Book from the Sky (1987-1991) is a large-scale installation currently visible at UCCA’s Nave. For four years, the artist created thousand of Chinese characters which actually look like they could be the real ones, but cannot be read. Then he carved them on woodblocks and hand printed them on paper scrolls and books to create the piece.”We are all covered in what I call the tattoos of culture. Yet, words, images and culture as a whole fail us when all existing values and traditions are being challenged, and they cannot be used to explain what’s going on.” explains the artist.
Xu Bing’s work is also shown at the Guggenheim Bilbao in “Art and China After 1989“.