Xiao Yu (b. 1965, Inner Mongolia) examines symbols associated with Chinese identity, as well as the ecology of the art world, through painting, drawing, sculpture, video, performance, and installation. He has participated in international exhibitions including La Biennale di Venezia, Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, Shanghai Biennale, the Offsite Project of the Guangzhou Triennial at the Royal College of Art, London, and the 15th Istanbul Biennial. In 2000, he was awarded the Chinese Contemporary Art Award. He is a founding member of the art group Polit-Sheer-Form-Office (PSFO), which takes a collective, humorous, and critical approach to contemporary Chinese culture. Xiao Yu has exhibited in group and monographic exhibitions at institutions worldwide, including Bern Art Museum, Switzerland; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fukuoka Asian Art Museum; Guangdong Art Museum; Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; the National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Seoul Art Museum; The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Shanghai Art Museum; and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, among others.
Hong Kong—Pace Gallery is honoured to present BB, an exhibition dedicated to renowned Chinese contemporary artist Xiao Yu; it is the artist’s first solo show at Pace’s Hong Kong gallery. The exhibition will showcase the artist's latest work, including five representative "bamboo" sculptures, as well as three video works, continuing his ongoing contemplation of the human condition and the ecology of the art world. The exhibition will be on view at Pace’s gallery in the Entertainment Building from March 26 – May 11, 2019, with an opening reception in the presence of the artist on Monday, March 25.
The term "BB", with its duality of simple appearance and overabundance of connotations, bears the artist's reflection on the phenomenon of over-interpretation in the contemporary art world. Xiao Yu’s homonymic BB series of bronze sculptures is an extension of his past "bamboo" sculptures that emphasize the “violent deconstruction” of traditional symbols. Having evolved from that, the new series moves away from the manifestation of violence and instead devotes itself to the construction and writing of the artist's own language. The lines of these works are disorderly yet fluent, reminiscent of the brushstrokes in Chinese calligraphy. Xiao Yu adapts the medium of bronze to make the "bamboo" break away from its innate physical characteristics and realize otherwise unachievable postures. The lines and colors form an internal context that does not depend on the external environment – fragmentation and alienation of bamboo as a symbol makes it a part of his personal abstract language. The artist retains the visual cognition of bamboo through details on the works while removing its traditional connotations, and in this process, the subtle convergence from the natural to the artificial is acquired, providing a most intuitive aesthetic experience to the audience.
A selection of video works are featured in the other side of the space, continuing the use of bamboo as artistic language. A narrative with the fragmentation of bamboo as its manifestation is created within the visual contrast of dynamic and static, light and dark. It speaks for itself that the bamboo, rather than being the subject, is emancipated from its cultural symbolism by the artist and instead becomes a sensory context for experience. With regards to the relationship between his creations and the audience, Xiao Yu believes that after a natural accumulation of experience viewing contemporary, the gallery audience now possesses the ability to read the works independently, instead of relying on the injection of meaning from artists. Using multiple visually expressive forms of media, Xiao Yu constructs a free environment for spontaneous dialogue between his work and the audience. The diversity in interpretation, drawn from an individual’s background and life experience, is the artist’s desired result.