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Profile: Xu Zhong Min (China)  

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Born in Sichuan, China in 1961 - Xu Zhongmin showed an early interest in artistic expression and even as a child was recognised to have great talent and potential.

His primary education was interrupted by the years of the Cultural Revolution and during this time he grew up working for a traditional Chinese theatre, before being accepted into the prestigious Sichuan Fine Arts Academy where he studied Print-making (major) as well as Painting, Sculpture and Chinese Painting. At the Academy the basics were laid for Xu's later work as he became aware of the extensive possibilities of 'black and white' and turned to line itself as a means of expression. 

Xu's years at the Sichuan Academy coincided with a very rich period of experiment and discovery in Chinese contemporary art history and he participated to the full in organising and mounting various exhibitions and conventions. He was a principal organiser of the Ba Di Cao Arts Society which he chaired for several years prior to its being disbanded in 1989. At this time Zhongmin moved north to Beijing , where he immersed himself in the vibrant arts scene of the day. Some of the creations of this period still rank amongst his most important pieces and many of these works were selected for exhibitions both in China and abroad.

In 1992 Xu moved to England where he now lives and works. Since moving from China he has exhibited frequently in England, France and Japan, has had his work collected by major museums and galleries, including the British Museum, and has been the recipient of a number of significant awards. These include:

  • 1998 - 4th Sapporo International Print Biennale, Hokkaido, Japan
  • 1997 - The Guinness Prize for the best first-time exhibitor at the Royal Academy's 229th Summer Exhibition, London, UK
  • 1996 - First Prize, the 3rd Sapporo International Print Biennale, Hokkaido, Japan
  • 1995 - The Pollock-Krasner Award, New York
  • 1994 - The Sakai City Prize, International Triennale Competition of Painting, Osaka Japan.

Xu's work today maintains links with his early period though showing several innovative changes both of style and scale. Using the traditional technique of Chinese wood-block printing, he chisels delicately incised lines on 'pear wood' blocks. These lines trace complicated networks of forms whose sinuous appearance belies the fact that they are composed entirely of meticulously straight incisions. Whether using these as blocks to print onto fine rice or bamboo paper, or, in his later large-scale panel pieces, as art-objects in their own right, the contrasting colours bring to life a series of towering city-scapes, stylised and distorted, but stamped with a range of individual atmospheres passing from bustling movement to quiet serenity. Both prints and wood-carvings evince Xu's continuing pre-occupation with the properties of line, with flowing lines that wind and twist their way through the complex fragments of interconnected space and emphasise the phantasmagoric nature of these skillfully rendered dream-worlds.

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pages last updated: 31-Mar-01