Trickster, Agitator, Chameleon… these are nouns often used in relation to
Shanghainese artist Xu Zhen. Though Xu Zhen still is quite young (born 1977 in
Shanghai), his vita is quite impressive already and within China, he is regarded as one of the most influential artists from a younger generation. Xu Zhen started early in the Shanghai art scene mid to late 90s and exhibited already in the meanwhile legendary «Fuck Off» and «Art for Sale» exhibitions. Xu Zhen is following diverse artistic interests, ranging from body art, performances and complex art to installations, media art and collective art forms. In China, Xu Zhen has already been shown in solo shows at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, at the Minsheng Museum and at the Long Museum in Shanghai. Xu Zhen is deeply rooted in Shanghai and is not traveling to foreign countries due to fear of flying. Despite this, his art has been shown in the West early on. For example, he is the youngest artist ever from China to be shown at the Biennale in Venice (2001 and 2005) and he participated at group shows at the Guggenheim Museum New York, Kunstmuseum Bern, White Rabbit Gallery in Sidney, 13th Lyon Biennale, he had several solo presentations at Art Basel etc.). Furthermore, Xu Zhen hat solo presentations at the S.M.A.K. in Ghent (2009), at the
IKOM Gallery Birmingham (2010), Kunsthalle Bern (2011), Kunsthaus Graz (2015), MOCA Los Angeles (2019) and at the National Gallery of Australia (2020). In other words: Xu Zhen belongs, besides Ai Wei Wei, probably to the most exhibited contemporary Chinese artists in the West. Nevertheless, Xu Zhen is not really famous yet outside of China. Anyhow, the cultural exchange with China is only in its infancy. Apart from Ai Wei Wei, only very few artists from China are known in the West.
Published by Distanz Edition, 2015