Xu Zhen (b.1977) is one of the key figures of the Shanghai art scene and a source of inspiration for the generations of Chinese artists born after the 80’s. His practice incorporates almost all kinds of media and often uses humour and irony. The artist finds a lot of his inspiration on the Internet. He has exhibited extensively in institutions both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, he was the youngest Chinese artist to participate in the Venice Biennale in 2001. In 2009, he created MadeIn company and since 2013 all his works have been produced under the MadeIn company Xu Zhen® Brand. This way he assimilates his artworks with products and plays with the boundaries between art and commerce.
On September 30th, his conceptual artwork Xu Zhen supermarket (2016) was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. It was the first time a concept was auctioned as an artwork in Asia. The supermarket is a perfect replica of a typical Shanghai grocery shop with familiar everyday goods available for sale, with the exception that all the products are empty. Each time the work was shown to the public, the visitors were free to purchase the empty packages available for sale in the supermarket. The work is “blurring the distinction between art and commerce”, explains Barbara Pollack in her book titled Brand new art from China. To close the loop, Xu Zhen® put this conceptual artwork up for auction. The buyer obtained the right to commission new physical recreations and enactments of the concept, to be executed by Xu Zhen®.
Artist Xu Zhen® commented before the sale: “I am delighted that XUZHENSUPERMARKET will be offered at an international auction, which escalates the work to a new level of breaking boundaries and disrupting preconceptions about art and daily life.” The act of auctioning the first and only edition of this work viewed as a critique of global capitalism looks very much like a new piece of art by Xu ZHen®.