Xu Zhen: Ecosystem as Medium


  • Location:
    The Museum of Contemporary Art & Urban Planning, Shenzhen
  • Artist:

Curated by Wang Yamin, the exhibition presents the rich artistic career of Xu Zhen, China’s most active contemporary artist. Born in 1977, Xu Zhen is one of the representative figures of his generation of Chinese contemporary artists, having gained international recognition for his innovative and provocative art practice. Xu Zhen has been active on the global art scene since the late 1990s, often exploring such themes as cultural identity, globalization, and consumerism. His practice spans a variety of media, including installation, sculpture, painting, photography and performance. In addition to being an artist, he is also a curator, founder of MadeIn Company and XU ZHEN®.

The exhibition at MOCAUP will feature over 100 works of art from Xu Zhen’s career spanning more than twenty years, highlighting his typically assembled, iterating, and self-consistent cohort of works. They belong to the artist’s signature series including “Under Heaven” (2011), “MadeIn Curved Vase” (2012), “Alien” (2017), “Tools” (2018), and “Base” (2021), presented alongside a debut of his latest creations. In the artist’s paintings and sculptures, especially the most representative ones such as “Eternity” (2013), European Thousand Arms Classical Sculpture (2014), and Hello (2018), ancient cultural relics and symbols of civilization are transformed into works of art. The artist thus raises the issues of originality and innovation, conformity and confrontation, value revaluation and cultural transformation, etc. within globalization.

The exhibition centers around Xu Zhen’s artistic practice and proposes its core as “ecosystem as medium”. Epochal changes, ideological iterations, and contemporary art practices together constitute an ecological reality, which Xu Zhen creatively transforms into the medium of his practice. By superimposing and connecting different art systems — those of art making, curation, operation of gallery, art museum, and art media, Xu Zhen pioneers a path of artists’ self-ecologicalization, refreshing and redefining their meaning of work and scope of creation. In the global contemporary art scene, he demonstrates the possibility of a universal contemporary art with Chinese characteristics and primal vitality.

As an active promoter, inheritor, and constructor of contemporary art and urban culture, the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning has long engaged in the creation of an urban art ecology. In hosting Xu Zhen’s solo exhibition “Ecosystem as Medium”, the Museum seeks to build a channel for art and cultural exchange and for public engagement. While expanding the breadth and depth of exchanges, it will continue to help Shenzhen function as the core engine of arts and culture in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and promote high-quality development of its cultural industry through the booming of arts and culture.