A leading female figure in Chinese contemporary art, Yin Xiuzhen (b. 1963, Beijing, China) began her career in the early 1990s following her graduation from Capital Normal University in Beijing where she received a B.A. in oil painting from the Fine Arts Department in1989. Her artworks have since been shown extensively in various international exhibitions. Best known for her works that incorporate second-hand objects, Yin uses her artwork to explore modern issues of globalization and homogenization. By utilizing recycled materials such as sculptural documents of memory, she seeks to personalize objects and allude to the lives of specific individuals, which are often neglected in the drive toward excessive urbanization, rapid modern development and the growing global economy. The artist explains, "In a rapidly changing China, ‘memory’ seems to vanish more quickly than everything else. That’s why preserving memory has become an alternative way of life."
Pace Hong Kong, 15C Entertainment Building, 30 Queens Road Central
2016.11.25 – 2017.01.12
Pace Hong Kong will present a solo exhibition for the artist Yin Xiuzhen on 24 November 2016. This will be a continuation of the artist’s previous exhibitions at Pace Beijing in 2010 and 2013, but it is also a new emergence for the artist. The exhibition will be opened to the public at 6.00 p.m. on the evening of November the 24th; it will feature the artist’s newest series of works, entitled Instruments, and on view through 11Feb2017.
Yin’s focus on social realism has always revolved around social experience, and it also reflects sociopolitical, economical, and historical changes through the lens of the subtle and real circumstances of individuals. This deep concern for life itself is naturally and intuitively conveyed to audiences with the aid of the artist’s skill for manipulating everyday materials. During the creation of this new piece, the artist’s acute and richly insightful contemplations on the world once more begin to take shape through her choice of materials. As opposed to the characteristic materials commonly seen in past works—the old clothing seen as humanity’s “second layer of skin”—this time the artist has chosen ceramics as her creative medium. This change indicates that the artist’s “bodily” understanding of creative materials is currently probing a spiritual world focused on form.
Old clothing, soft and warm, is inextricably tied to memories and experiences of human senses such as touch, smell, and vision. While ceramics are also quite commonplace, their exquisite nature gives form to a subtle sense of distance. Ceramics themselves have been transformed from common earth to exquisite instruments through the complicated process of heating in a kiln; this property doubtlessly carries with it even greater symbolic significance. Thus, the ceramics that appear in the form of “instruments” in this work may be viewed as “spiritual instruments,” which are vessels for complex and vivid lives, even souls.
The Instruments of Spirit series featured in this exhibition is comprised of four parts: “ceremony instruments,” “wall instruments,” “lachrymal instruments,” and “blending instruments.” Of these four, the oldest, “ceremony instruments,” is a clear successor to the artist’s 2010 piece entitled Temperature. The shreds of old clothing peeking valiantly through the cracks in ruined ceramic pieces symbolize the strength of life surging forth from decay, while the ruined debris itself becomes a monument to this age of constant destruction and rebirth.
The topic of “ceremony instruments” stems from ancient objects used in sacrificial rituals; this lends the piece a strong sense of history and ritual. These ceremonial instruments used for sacrifice, which were created through the application of intense heat, seemingly point directly to an ideal place that transcends conflict and change, that opposes reality’s impermanent nature with an eternal spiritual force. During the creation of this work, the artist repeatedly experimented with materials inside a kiln. Again and again the artist watched as ceramics were birthed from fire; she was deeply moved by this process which contains strong symbolic parallels to nirvana. The objects that exist as “instruments” first and foremost signify the forsaking of one’s own independence, thereby reducing oneself to a vessel for something else. This kind of dedication is undoubtedly religious.
The fourth part of this series, “blending instruments,” appears to be the final segment of a ritual. Here the artist intentionally challenges the very material of ceramics, which have been viewed as a perfect material since ancient times. By inserting iron blades into unfired earth, she creates large cracks that, according to the conventions of traditional handicraft, are seen as absolute flaws. In comparison to traditional visual standards, the beauty of the cracks in these “blending instruments” is of a literary and spiritual nature. Furthermore, just like the power that flourishes from within the ruined ceramic of the “ceremony instrument” series, the existence of cracks is the best display of strength. As the ceramic struggles against the blades, its perfection and fragility are destroyed and dispelled, thereby allowing the ceramic to complete its ultimate transformation.
Born in China in 1963, Yin Xiuzhen is one of China’s most important contemporary female artists. Her works focus on living individuals’ subtle perception of the changes in their objective external environments; these works organically convey their feminine sensitivity and exquisiteness to their audiences through an experience that transcends gender. Her series of representative works, created through the use of recycled materials, forms a type of sculpted memory text. Among the rapid changes of high-level urbanization, modernization, as well as the growth of the global economy, she attempts to individualize those things that are commonly ignored in order to hint at the individual character of life.
One of today’s most active female artists, Yin has recently participated in multiple major group exhibitions around the world. Additionally, she staged a large-scale exhibition at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands in 2012. In 2014, Phaidon Press published an album for Yin Xiuzhen in their well-known Contemporary Artists series. This marked the second occasion a female artist from Asia was selected for this honor, following Yayoi Kusama. Yin’s works have been included in the collections of major museums and art institutes such as the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, the Mori Art Museum in Japan, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in China.
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