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2008/35/1 Sculpture, 'Bust 39', 'China, China' series, body cast, yingqing glaze, porcelain, made by Ah Xian (LIU Jixian), Jingdezhen, China, 1999. Click to enlarge.

‘Bust 39’ porcelain sculpture by Ah Xian

Made by Ah Xian in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China, Asia, 1999.
Chinese-Australian artist, Ah Xian (born LIU Jixian, Beijing, 1960), designed this porcelain body-cast in 1999 for his 'China, China' series. Made in Jingdezhen, Jiangzi province, the series consists of around 40 busts in porcelain as well as more recent examples in cast bronze, carved lacquer, inlay and cloisonné. For Ah Xian, the works are a medium on which to project traditional motifs, such as dragons, bamboo plants, lotus flowers and lily pads. They also enable him to experiment with Chinese artistic techniques. Titled 'Bust 39', this example features a phoenix and peony design, carved in low-relief and finished with a yingqing (shadowy blue) glaze. It is cast from a girl from Jingdezhen whom Ah Xian met while making the series.

Ah Xian migrated to Australia in 1990, following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and a year as a visiting artist at the Tasmanian School of Art. It was through this separation from his homeland that he began to reconsider his heritage and develop a new perspective on traditional Chinese craft. 'Once I decided to leave China,' says Ah Xian, 'the country of my birth, where I grew up and was educated and which I both deeply loved and hated at the same time, my soul began a journey to pursue and explore something called 'Freedom'.' [Ah Xian, 'Self-Exile of the Soul', TAASA Review, vol. 8, no. 1, 1999, p. 8)

Receiving an Australia Council grant in 1999, Ah Xian collaborated with teachers and artisans at studio-kilns in Jingdezhen and produced the 'China, China' series. This city has been the centre of Chinese porcelain production since the Ming dynasty (1368-1643) when it supported around 300 kiln centres, each with a different firing specialty. Its history and expertise appealed to Ah Xian who drew upon its traditional designs, styles and glazes for his series.

Ah Xian is interested in Chinese designs and techniques as vehicles of ideas, meaning and emotion. The tattoo-like motifs signify the permanence of cultural heritage, and by covering the figures' mouths, refer to China's intolerance of free speech. The works convey many other personal and symbolic meanings. For this series, Ah Xian learned about ancient artistic techniques, many of which have been passed down through the centuries from master to student. Through study and experimentation, he developed ways to apply them in a contemporary context, determined to emphasise their ongoing relevance to modern Chinese art.

Summary

Object No.

2008/35/1

Object Statement

Sculpture, 'Bust 39', 'China, China' series, body cast, yingqing glaze, porcelain, made by Ah Xian (LIU Jixian), Jingdezhen, China, 1999

Physical Description

A porcelain cast of a Chinese woman's head and shoulders, decorated with a phoenix and peony scroll design in low-relief and finished with a soft blue glaze. The woman's eyes and lips are closed and her hair is drawn into a twisted bun. The unglazed base is marked with black paint, and features the inscription, 'China, China - Bust 39'. Four Chinese characters are impressed into the base.

Marks

The base is inscribed 'China China - Bust 39' and is impressed with Chinese characters that translate to 'fineware made by Ah Xian'.

Dimensions

Height

345 mm

Width

395 mm

Depth

210 mm

Production

Notes

Chinese-Australian artist, Ah Xian (born LIU Jixian, Beijing, 1960), designed this porcelain body-cast in 1999 for his 'China, China' series. Made in Jingdezhen, Jiangzi province, it is cast from a local girl whom he met while developing the series. Ah Xian began these works by making plaster-of-Paris body casts to create moulds into which he then pressed sheets of porcelain clay. He employed local artisans to apply the glazes and decorations in traditional Jingdezhen styles. This piece features a phoenix and peony design, carved in low-relief and finished with a yingqing (shadowy blue) glaze.

Ah Xian made his first porcelain body-casts in 1998 at Sydney College of the Arts. He decorated these earlier pieces himself by painting directly onto the porcelain.

History

Notes

Chinese artist, Ah Xian, migrated to Australia in 1990, following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and a year as a visiting artist at the Tasmanian School of Art. Receiving an Australia Council grant in 1999, he collaborated with teachers and artisans at studio-kilns in Jingdezhen, Jiangzi province, and produced the 'China, China' series. This consists of around 40 busts in porcelain as well as more recent examples in lacquer and cloisonné. Titled 'Bust 39', this piece is cast from a local girl whom he met while making the series.

In 2003, Ah Xian sold the bust to Sydney gallery owners, Gene and Brian Sherman. They lent it to the Powerhouse Museum in 2005 for inclusion in the permanent gallery, 'Inspired: Design across time'. Gene and Brian Sherman subsequently donated the piece to the Museum under the Cultural Gifts Program .

Source

Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Gene and Brian Sherman, 2008

Acquisition Date

21 February 2008

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Bust 39' porcelain sculpture by Ah Xian 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 13 August 2020, <https://ma.as/366538>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/366538 |title='Bust 39' porcelain sculpture by Ah Xian |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=13 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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