Chinese artist Ah Xian lives and works in Sydney where for nearly two decades he has explored aspects of the human form using ancient Chinese craft methods including porcelain, lacquer, jase, bronze, and even concrete.
The artist often uses busts of his own family members including his wife, brother, and father onto which he imprints traditional designs with a vivid cobalt blue glaze.
These sculptures by Ah Xian establish a series of multilayered oppositions. The most overt is the tension between the sculptural form of the bust and the painted surface designs, which the artist likens to the oppositions of West and East. The bust is part of a Western portraiture tradition dating back to the busts of ancient Roman times and the designs are derived from Chinese decorative traditions, unique to China and in some cases to the studio-kilns at Jingdezhen.
Such an opposition can also be seen as the relationship between the personal (since many of the busts are of Ah Xian’s family, including his wife, brother, and father) and the political (a statement about the artist’s own Chinese heritage articulated outside China).
Ah Xian’s linking of western artistic traditions of sculpted portraits and the nude with reinterpreted traditional Chinese art forms of porcelain, cloisonné, brass work and hand-painted motifs has been facilitated by his frequent movements between China and Australia. As such his work explores notions of identity, diaspora and cultural history, forming an expression of cultural belonging and heritage from a context that straddles inside and outside Chinese culture.
Meet more artistic busts HERE!