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Ah Xian

Ah Xian China China - bust no.3 1998

Ah Xian | China China – bust no.3 1998 | The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. | Purchased 2000 with funds from The Myer Foundation, a project of the Sidney Myer Centenary Celebration 1899–1999, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Ah Xian China China - bust no.3 1998 

Ah Xian
China China – bust no.3 1998
The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art.
Purchased 2000 with funds from The Myer Foundation, a project of the Sidney Myer
Centenary Celebration 1899–1999, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

China China – bust no.3 1998

Ah Xian was born in Beijing, China, in 1960 and first came to Australia in early 1989 as a visiting scholar at the University of Tasmania’s School of Art. He returned to China just weeks before the student demonstrations that led to violent confrontations at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Deeply affected by these events, Ah Xian sought asylum in Australia. He now lives between Sydney and Beijing.
 
Ah Xian began porcelain casting in the early 1990s to explore the central and ongoing theme of the human body in his practice. In 1996 and again in 1998 he returned to China, travelling to Jingdezhen — famous for kilns which for centuries produced fine porcelain objects and vessels for the Chinese imperial courts — to learn traditional techniques. Working with master potters, he learnt the processes of moulding from life, decorating, glazing and firing. The move to work in cloisonné, lacquer and jade became a natural progression in reinterpreting the great traditions of Chinese crafts.

In creating the ‘China China' and ‘Human human’ series of busts and figures, Ah Xian continues his long philosophical journey. Living in Australia released him from the immediate pressures of Chinese politics and his physical distance from China, coupled with the struggle to survive in and understand his new Australian home, created an environment that allowed these works to develop. He argues that he could not have produced such work in China. For Ah Xian, these two series are the result of a period of deeply felt life experiences in which he and his family have straddled two cultures.