ART021 SHANGHAI CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR: Shanghai Exhibition Center, Shanghai, China

11 - 14 November 2021
  • THE ELEPHANT OF FREEDOM

    XU BACHENG SOLO PROJECT
  • Arario Gallery is pleased to announce our participation in ART021 Shanghai 2021 with artist Xu Bacheng’s special solo project, The Elephant of Freedom at booth W17. The booth will feature the artist’s recent artworks in a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, installation and video. This is the artist’s third major show with Arario Gallery, after the 2019 solo exhibition The Island of Immortality at Arario Gallery Shanghai and his solo booth at the 2020 Nanjing Art Fair International.

     

  • The Elephant of Immortality
    XU Bacheng
    永生之象 The Elephant of Immortality, 2021
    布面油画 Oil on canvas
    300 x 1,000 cm

    The Elephant of Immortality

    Born in China in the 1980s, Xu Bacheng grew up in an environment that emphasized collectivism over individualism. However, Xu believes that the creativity of any collective consists of the creativity of countless individuals within it, and the source of individual creativity essentially comes from individual freedom. For Xu, creativity is the fruit of whimsical ideas, the Chinese phrase for which is “Tian Ma Xing Kong” (literally meaning flying horse in the sky), a word Xu Bacheng appropriated and turned into “Tian Xiang Xing Kong” (literally meaning flying elephant in the sky). In the act of quoting the phrase, he replaced the “Ma” with “Xiang,” a recurring motif that has been central to his art since 2020.

     

    The Elephant of Immortality is a large-scale, multi-panel oil painting series consisting of five consecutive 300 x 200 cm canvases. Together, the five panels construct a panorama of a bizarre, surreal, and unsettling world: mushroom clouds ejected from mushroom-topped buildings; an orchestra immersed in their musical performance among the chaotic surroundings; a boat full of passengers sailing towards nowhere like a distopian Noah's Ark; and the two elephants at the very end, posing blithely as if they are unaware of and detached from all earthly burdens. Xu Bacheng created this painting for his eponymous milestone exhibition at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum earlier this year. It is the biggest retrospective of the artist's career thus far. Using the title as a central clue, Xu also directed his first feature length film The Elephant of Immortality (1h 32min). While working around one theme with different media, Xu appropriated many of the film's props and sets into the painting, thus providing the audience a comprehensive, cinematographic journey. 

  • XU Bacheng, 自由之象 The Elephant of Freedom, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    自由之象 The Elephant of Freedom, 2021

    The word “Xiang” also contains the meaning of “imagery” in an all-encompassing way, a clever wordplay by the artist to subtly combine his visual language with textual language. The word, along with its animal referent, is grand on a cosmic scale, while being optimistically childish and benignly rebellious at the same time. For the most part, these works are anti-secular, anti-intellectual, anti-system, and anti-solidification. The artist is also adept at merging traditional figurative painting and surrealistic techniques, integrating a series of seemingly realistic and familiar yet mysterious and unpredictable characters, elephants, and interstellar landscapes into a dreamlike, epic narrative. The houses, arcades, stairs, pipes, priests, psychic-like aliens, and dolls of man-beasts...Through fables and myth, the transient stream of consciousness is materialized into a lingering phantom, filling the holes and folds of the artist’s pictorial labyrinth.

     

  • XU Bacheng, 爱的预感 The Premonition of Love, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    爱的预感 The Premonition of Love, 2021

    Xu once expressed that a planet can only become a world when there are living creatures on it, otherwise it is but a giant rock. However, every planet, world, and individual is quintessentially independent and nonetheless, lonely. In Xu’s paintings, every visual entity is telling its own lonesome story buried in time: they are about freedom, about light, about dignity, and most importantly, about love and courage. Through his cosmic fables, the artist poignantly reveals the condition of our current reality, but not without a touch of sensitivity and tenderness.

     

  • XU Bacheng, 永生之象 The Elephant of Immortality, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    永生之象 The Elephant of Immortality, 2021

    This painting is a smaller version of Xu Bacheng's eponymous large-scale work The Elephant of Immortality. He often revisits older works to draw inspiration and enhance the significance of important motifs. The smaller works emphasize Xu's delicate pictorial arrangement that might be overlooked in larger works. 

  • XU Bacheng, 我们生命中高兴的日子 The Happiest Days of Our Lives, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    我们生命中高兴的日子 The Happiest Days of Our Lives, 2021 布面油画 Oil on canvas
    240 x 160 cm
  • XU Bacheng, 我的面容、我的心,简洁如画 My Face, My Heart, Simply Like the Painting, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    我的面容、我的心,简洁如画 My Face, My Heart, Simply Like the Painting, 2021 布面油画 Oil on canvas
    150 x 120 cm
  • Revelation

    Miniature Oil Painting Series
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation , 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
      XU Bacheng, 启示 | Revelation, 2021
  • REVELATION

    Drawing Series
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 No. 42 | Revelation No. 42, 2018-2019
      XU Bacheng, 启示 No. 42 | Revelation No. 42, 2018-2019
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 No. 61 | Revelation No. 61, 2018-2019
      XU Bacheng, 启示 No. 61 | Revelation No. 61, 2018-2019
    • XU Bacheng, 启示 No. 84 | Revelation No. 84, 2018-2019
      XU Bacheng, 启示 No. 84 | Revelation No. 84, 2018-2019
  • XU Bacheng, 给你一个承诺 Give You a Promise, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    给你一个承诺 Give You a Promise, 2021

    In the work Give You a Promise, the artist incorporated the laws of energy conservation and entropy to create a POS machine running on a precise mechanism. With the support of two gear wheels on both ends, the revolving credit cards are transported all day long, passing through the card slot of the POS machine. Under the repeated and precise process of "swiping," energy is continuously generated. Excessive consumption in turn creates excessive data aggregation, but the machine itself is inevitably degradating as time goes on, therefore exposing its users to potential security risks like data leaking. This constant cycle continues as our desire, satisfaction, and sense of foreboding crisis are bound to coexist, forming a unique contemporary paradox. 

  • XU Bacheng, 永生之岛 Island of Immortality, 2019 - 2021

    XU Bacheng

    永生之岛 Island of Immortality, 2019 - 2021 装置组合,综合材质 Installation combo, mixed media
    150 x 210 x 250 cm
  • XU Bacheng, 生活就像一台抓娃娃机 Life Is Like a Claw-Grabbing Machine, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    生活就像一台抓娃娃机 Life Is Like a Claw-Grabbing Machine, 2021

    Xu Bacheng is a keen observer of life's various tricks played upon us. In this work, he collaborated with mechanical engineers to create a claw grabbing machine that periodically grabs the toy rabbit up and drops it down. The mechanical claw runs on a pre-determined algorithm that is embedded within the wooden structure.  

  • XU Bacheng, 永恒的契约 Eternal Contract, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    永恒的契约 Eternal Contract, 2021

    The two tiny beds inside the house-like structure are designed to keep moving towards and away from each other according to a set of codes. This repeating action symbolizes the constant meaningless back and forth in life that we face on a daily basis. 

  • XU Bacheng, 生存与命运 Survival and Destiny , 2021

    XU Bacheng

    生存与命运 Survival and Destiny , 2021

    Xu Bacheng's interest in mechanical installation is persistent throughout the years. In this piece, the hand, which is composed of multiple smaller lego-textured components, has its thumb up by default. Once the electronic switch is turned on, the hand starts to rotate quickly, giving the viewer a thumbs-up while immediately followed by a thumbs-down. Playful yet psychologically disconcerting, the work embodies the artist's shrewd and mischievous character. 

  • XU Bacheng, 冷风还在飕飕地吹着 The Cold Wind Is Still Blowing, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    冷风还在飕飕地吹着 The Cold Wind Is Still Blowing, 2021

    In this video installation work, Xu Bacheng elevated the element of playfulness even further. The tiny screen in the middle shows a video of a dog sticking his head out of a car window and its mouth being blown open by the wind head-on. If anyone gets closer to see in detail, the small hole beneath the screen will shoot out a quick breeze, benevolently catching the viewers off-guard.  

  • XU Bacheng, 家 Home, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    家 Home, 2021 综合材质 Mixed media
    35 x 65 x 65 cm
  • XU Bacheng, 大力水手和女孩 Popeye and the Girl, 2021

    XU Bacheng

    大力水手和女孩 Popeye and the Girl, 2021 铸铜雕塑 Cast bronze sculpture
    21 (h) x 140 (base) cm