Xiang Jing’s ’s works show a quiet little girl’s view of life
Commenting on Xiang Jing’s works from more than a decade ago, poet and curator Zhu Zhu says the sculptures show a quiet little girl’s vision of things.
“She seems vulnerable; she is quite nervous; inside her, the feelings of the outside world erupt like lava to leave scars on her heart.”
Since the late 1990s, Xiang, 48, has been known for her life-size sculptures of girls and women of different ages. Her husband, Qu Guangci, is an equally famous sculptor.
The Beijing-born artist highlights a female perspective on human nature and the world.
She says she uses a woman’s body in the different phases of her life to address not only identity issues but also shared perplexities.
Five years after her last exhibition at Beijing’s Today Art Museum, Xiang is making a comeback with a largescale show reviewing her works since 1999, as well as her latest series, S, at the Minsheng Art Museum in the capital.
Curated by Zhu, the exhibition, titled Upon This Anguish I Repose, has some 100 of Xiang’s works.
“I’m afraid of being in a state of emptiness. I can’t live without thinking,” she says, adding even if it means being constantly anxious.
“It tortures me a lot when I conceive a work and then go into self-doubt mode.”
The show has her iconic sculptures of young women, in some of which she portrays the mental state of a teenager or young adult who resists growing up.
Between 2003 and 2005, her works were about older women, who, after being engaged with society, were seeking to balance their desires and reality.
Since 2009, Xiang has been using fewer female forms, especially nude, in her works.
Now she explores the predicament of people in the series Will Things Ever Get Better?
Her subject matter includes a sheep, an elephant, a horse and an imaginary creature based on a horse, deer and wolf.
She crafts these sculptures to show the instinctive and tender side of human nature that wishes for peaceful days.
She has also created huge works inspired by many traditional stunts in Chinese acrobatics, such as performers stacking up on each other to form a human pyramid as a showcase of their balancing skills.
Xiang uses the acrobatic performance as a metaphor for the fact that each person is required to play a certain role in a social structure.
She says the complicated and sometimes dangerous stunts suggest a belief that things can be done no matter how difficult they are.
With this series, Xiang asks herself and the audience how things can become better.
Her answer is an introspection of the inner self: “The construction of our inner worlds can be a way to salvation.”
In the series S, developed since 2012, she has taken a more abstract and less aggressive approach. She achieves a classic feeling of harmony by which she shifts the focus from pain to insightful thoughts about truth.
Xiang says she will travel after the exhibition and wants to go to a buzzing little town rather than sunbathe on a beach.
“In the progression of my works, there is a fundamental clue— my curiosity about human nature. I take prodigious delight in observing people.”
OrdinaryPeople—Unlimited by Xiang Jing.