MELBOURNE—Blending East and West figurative sculpture, trans-disciplinary Chinese artist Xu Zhen‘s latest monumental installation at the National Gallery of Victoria Triennial Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana (December 15, 2017 – April 15, 2018) features a reclining Buddha lying on his side has he’s surrounded by lilliputian Greco-Roman sculptures.
Featured image: The final elements of ‘Eternity Buddah in Nirvana’ by Chinese artist Xu Zhen being installed at the NGV. Photo: Eugene Hyland
DesignBoom writes Xu’s intent was to coalesce two cultures, and bring appreciation to them, within his art.
In the artists own words, ‘Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana’ generates ‘a new form of creative culture’ that he hopes will help bring about understanding and appreciation across societal boundaries.
“I have always been curious about the differences between cultures and the alienation between them, and yet, misconceptions can be the beginning of awareness and understanding.”
Upon the 14-meter-long replica of the iconographic Buddha, which dates from the high Tang Dynasty, Xu has added sculptural representations from Greek and Roman mythology; each posing or leaning on and around the great Buddha.
In addition to the culmination and joining of cultures as intended by the artist, much like how the denizens of Lilliput captured Gulliver, it’s hard not to see something more sinister within this work as the alabaster-colored mythological figures, encroach on the lying Buddha just before he enters parinirvana. Furthermore, perhaps this is where we find our lesson, if any. As Buddha enters Nirvana, the Greco-Roman representations endure in samsara.
Combining humor and irony in his works, Xu’s work often offer critique of political and institutional exploitation in the art world, Artsy writes.
Xu is hyper-aware of the contemporary art market and often critiques its norms and structure; although associated with the politically provocative artist Ai Weiwei, Xu attributes a lighter agenda to his work.
The NGV Triennial is a celebration of contemporary art and design practice that traverses all four levels of NGV International, as well as offering a rich array of programs. The NGV Triennial explores cutting edge technologies, architecture, animation, performance, film, painting, drawing, fashion design, tapestry and sculpture. Visitors have an opportunity to look at the world and its past, present and future through the eyes of some of the most creative minds working today.
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