Pro­found in Trans­la­tion

Xu Xiao Yong teaches Sam Yen about the im­por­tance of in­ten­tion in de­sign.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Contents - Fe­bru­ary – 2017

An in­ten­tion to de­sign be­comes the ba­sis of sculp­tor and artist Xu Xiao Yong’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of deities in Royal Se­lan­gor’s Ce­les­tial Bless­ing col­lec­tion.

Speak­ing with the con­sum­mate artist and sculp­tor Xu Xiao Yong is a dis­arm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Within sec­onds, the in­ter­view turns into a les­son, with the stu­dent elic­it­ing pearls of wis­dom from a sage.

“In Bud­dhism, there is the con­cept of kong – empti­ness,” Xu muses. “This is a void that ex­ists be­fore any cre­ation. So when I de­sign, I am fill­ing this new space with my sen­si­bil­ity, which is in­flu­enced by my mem­o­ries, my his­tory and my heart. I start with in­ten­tion and just let it hap­pen.”

To give an ex­am­ple, Xu cites the Bud­dha. In In­dia, he looks In­dian. In China, he looks Chi­nese, but even then, de­pic­tions of Bud­dha in China dif­fer across his­tory. “To make a de­sign rel­e­vant for to­day, we have to un­der­stand con­tem­po­rary needs. We can ad­mire a statue from the Tang Dy­nasty, but we can never truly un­der­stand it be­cause we don’t live in the Tang Dy­nasty.” So even if Xu’s re­cent Ce­les­tial Bless­ing col­lec­tion for Royal Se­lan­gor is rooted in Taoist mythol­ogy, it is de­cid­edly mod­ern in de­pic­tion – Guan Yin is serene and al­most sen­sual, while Guan Gong is ar­rest­ingly for­mi­da­ble. It was the first time Xu worked with pewter, and the grey of the metal gave him a sense of peace. “Pewter is very Zen to me. It starts as a flam­boy­ant metal then slowly sta­bilises and ma­tures, gain­ing seren­ity with age.” Xu asks three ques­tions when de­sign­ing: Is this mean­ing­ful? Is this right? Is this fun? The an­swer has to be yes to all three be­cause mo­tive shapes all de­signs. “What unites the de­sign of a cen­tury ago and to­day is the hu­man el­e­ment. If I en­joy mak­ing some­thing, then ev­ery­one else will feel it too.” www. roy­alse­lan­gor.com ≠

“What unites the de­sign of a cen­tury ago and to­day is the hu­man el­e­ment.”

Built on the long tra­di­tion of the im­age of Guan Gong, this fig­urine (RM12,500) in­cor­po­rates Ori­en­tal phi­los­o­phy and artis­tic lan­guage in its ex­pres­sion.

A na­tive of Jiangxi, China, Xu Xiao Yong ex­plores iconic mytho­log­i­cal fig­ures with his sculp­tural skill.

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