A leading 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 in 1989. 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."
Her artworks have been shown extensively in various international exhibitions including Brain, Manchester Craft Centre, United Kingdom (1998); Yin Xiuzhen in Beijing Commune, Beijing Commune (2007); Introspective Cavity, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2008); Projects 92: Yin Xiuzhen, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Yin Xiuzhen, Groninger Museum, The Netherlands (2012); Yin Xiuzhen, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Germany (2012); Slow Release, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); and Made in China 007: Action and Reflection: Yin Xiuzhen, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan (2018).
2017.12.14 - 2018.03.03
Pace Beijing is pleased to present Yin Xiuzhen's solo exhibition Back to the end. As the eighth installment in Pace Beijing's annual program Beijing Voice, this exhibition marks Yin’s return to Beijing after four years, and sifts through the spiritual threads behind the artist's recent works. A public opening reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, December 14, from 4 to 6 p.m.
As one of the most influential and active Chinese contemporary artists in recent decades, Yin has been included in many landmark exhibitions and events since the 1990s, and represented China as one of four artists at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Her gaze on social reality has always unfolded along a fine concrete thread of the individual condition, and captured, with keen, poetic creative intuition, the disorientation and unease that lies behind the mainstream atmosphere of this rapidly developing society. Using a series of sculptural installations made from everyday materials to visualize subtle individual perceptions and the oft-overlooked individual will, she weaves a private biography into the grand narrative of history.
This exhibition is an overview of her creations in recent years, the entire exhibition space temporarily conceals any rational thread of understanding beneath a powerful, chaotic and unsettling atmosphere. A sculpture toppled on the ground like ruins, waist-high weeds growing haphazardly across a concrete field, a cloud of mosquitoes drifting around in the sky... a series of narrative montage scenes draws the viewer into the depths of the exhibition hall, where a giant figure towers six meters overhead. Titled Trojan, this large-scale traversable installation is part of one of Yin Xiuzhen’s most recognizable series since Introspective Cavity (2008), and, to a certain extent, provides a spiritual sanctuary for the individual in these tumultuous times. Unlike the enchanting colors of previous works, however, this installation uses black, white and gray, and takes on an unsettling appearance—in a recognizable airplane seat, a passenger curls up into a position shown on safety cards. Though an interpretation can easily be inferred, the artist has no intention of attaching any clear reference to the work. If the works from this series with the more alluring colors aim to provide spiritual comfort to the individual in these tumultuous times, the black, white and gray tones of this large-scale installation rebuff all attempts to find consolation, and make the work an absolute embodiment of the solitude, repression and anxiety of modern life.
In new ceramic works featured in this exhibition, the artist uses small but tenacious forces to destroy and rebuild these objects which have historically been viewed as perfect. The stubborn vitality that interferes with the high temperature firing process is a perfect metaphor for the attitudes of the individual amidst the great trends of the wider world. Such subtle arrangements of elements at once opposed and unified are not rare in Yin Xiuzhen’s art. Her love for conflicting materials can be seen throughout her two decades creative career. The documentary video installation Mosquitoes, created in 2010, will be presented to the public for the first time at this exhibition, which forms a tantalizing intertext in the current narrative. It appears at first that these numerous, tiny insects are circling around the same area as if lost, but there seems to be a mysterious order in this blind flight, calling to mind an earlier work by the artist, Collective Subconscious, which was featured in MoMA Projects 92 in 2010, revealing the conflict and interplay between collective ideals and individual desires. For Yin Xiuzhen, the collective and the individual are not necessarily opposites. Her concern for the individual takes place through repeatedly inserting the individual back into the collective for illumination and emphasis. Over decades of dealing with these subtle relationships, Yin Xiuzhen has developed a rich and vibrant set of aesthetic methods, and with her great fluency in material, it turns her works into true symbols of the spirit. It can be viewed to a certain extent as a stubborn refutation of the mainstream value view of advancing in one direction only; and it also reveals an increasingly powerful and destructive energy source in Yin Xiuzhen’s recent work—the use of materials and conflicting methods to push towards a resolute “ending”, where the artist can reclaim the source of vitality. In a society of signs and spectacles, Yin Xiuzhen's work represents itself as a monument for those long-ignored concrete individuals.
Born in China in 1963, Yin Xiuzhen is one of China’s most important contemporary female artists. Yin has recently participated in multiple major group exhibitions around the world. Additionally, she staged the first two stops of her retrospective tour exhibition in Europe, at Groninger Museum and Dusseldorf Art Museum in 2012. In 2014, Phaidon Press published a monograph of Yin Xiuzhen in their well-known Phaidon 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: Groninger Museum, Netherlands; Museum Kunstpalast, Germany; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark; White Rabbit Gallery, Australia; The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; Mori Art Museum, Japan; Hong Kong M + Art Museum, China; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, China; K11 Art Foundation, China.