1977 · China
XU ZHEN®’s provocative aesthetics relies on both conceptual and pop strategies. He first undertook behavioral and cultural experiments as an autonomous artist via controversial performances and videos. Ironically mirroring post-Mao China’s journey into consumerism, he has since transformed himself into a brand with the creation in 2009 of his art corporation MadeIn Company. The works “produced by MadeIn Company” in his name mainly consist of sculptures, paintings and installations. They represent, often monumentally, incongruous clashes between iconographies pertaining to distant cultures, civilizations, and ages. From the improbable encounter between Japanese bondage and voodoo fetishes, to Buddha statues forcing themselves into duplicates of Greco-Roman gods, the collision between cultural symbols allows him to subtly touch upon the various power struggles of human history. Embodying the truly violent nature of cultural hybridization, XU ZHEN®’s composite art further questions the loss of meaning and context induced by the precipitation of globalization in the digital era.
Xu Zhen is considered a leading figure amongst the young generation of Chinese artists and is the youngest Chinese artist to have participated in the main thematic exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Through a range of media, including photography, installation art and video, Xu Zhen’s work explores human sensitivity and dramatises the humdrum of urban living. This sensitivity is balanced with satirical humour and social critique. Often confronted through his work are sociopolitical taboos in contemporary China and the manipulation of western expectations of Chinese art and commerce.