Creative evo­lu­tion

Xiang Jing’s ’s works show a quiet lit­tle girl’s view of life

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIN QI linqi@chi­

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.

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