Xu Zhen is regarded as the symbol of Chinese contemporary art and rightly so. He’s not only an exceptional contemporary artist but also a curator and founder. In 1998, he co-founded an independent non-profit organization, Bizwing Center, based in Shanghai, China. He went on to establish an online art community, Art-Ba-Ba, with Shanghai artists, which remains one of the most active platforms for contemporary art in China today.
Zhen also founded a contemporary art creation company, Madeln Company, dedicated to exploring contemporary culture. He went on to launch ‘Xu Zhen’ that focused on art creation and new cultural development. He also established the ‘Nodding Gallery’ to promote artists. His latest was the ‘Xu Zhen’ store in Shanghai.
What makes this Shanghai-based artist such an icon is his provocative aesthetics that relies on both conceptual and pop strategies, mirroring post-Mao China’s march into consumerism. His incredible thought-provoking sculptures, paintings, and installations depict the melting pot of cultures, civilizations, and ages.
Passionate about art from his very childhood, he took it up in the right earnest to become the youngest Chinese artist to have participated in the main thematic exhibition of the Venice Biennale. In this exhibition, his video ‘Rainbow’, showing a man’s back being beaten until it burns red by a hand that is abstracted, elicited a very positive response from the viewers.
Zhen’s works include the video – Shouting, the installation – ShanghART Supermarket, and many others. Recently, Xu Zhen In the Blink of an Eye performance piece was displayed in the Museum of Contemporary Art. It shows a group of performers floating in the air as if frozen in time and space.
It’s not at all surprising that this outstanding artist was conferred with the ‘Best Artist’ award in 2004 by the China Contemporary Art Awards. In 2014, he has adjudged the ‘Best Artist of the Year’ at the AAC Award.