Saturday, May 25, 2013

Xu Jiang's Sunflowers

I was relaxing after work yesterday, idly surfing, when I happened on this picture from Art Basel Hong Kong. Mostly I look at pictures from these events from an anthropological perspective, marveling at the strange ways of the art tribe, but I was struck by those lovely sunflower paintings.

After a bit of more focused searching I identified these as works by Chinese painter Xu Jiang (born 1955). And I discovered that he has a thing for sunflowers. Above is Sunflowers (2008).

These are from a series titled Twelve Ways of Looking at a Sunflower Field (2005-2006).

We also get sunflower fields in winter, with no flowers. (Depth of Winter III, 2005).

And sunflower sculptures!

It turns out that Xu, an art professor, has an agenda with these sunflowers:
Sunflowers, those plants which adjust themselves towards the sun, form the central subject of the exhibition. In the eyes of the artist, they have become symbolic of an entire generation, the generation that grew up after the great wars of the 20th century and the Cultural Revolution. During this time, not only the Chinese history but also individual biographies were subject to unrelenting change. Xu Jiang’s ‘sunflower generation’ has been shaped by the task of coming to terms with the country’s historical upheaval, by a disengagement from the past and by the necessity of finding new orientation. Through his exhibition, the artist fosters a dialogue about how to redefine artistic positions in the wake of historical events. In a dialogue between artists and visitors, he seeks to explore the spiritual core of a shared history which is rooted in similar social and artistic experiences.
And just to show that Xu can do other things, here is Snowy Mounds (2004).

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