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Artist Statement

Creating distinctive suites of photo-graphic images, my work takes issue with the changing face of Chinese culture.

In one series of “Fragments”, I has created images both arresting and mysterious. Using nothing more than discarded plastic shopping bags, I has arranged these items like the sumptuous folds of delicate silken garments. Recalling the traditional fabrics of my country’s imperial past, my aesthetic program is unquestionably Chinese in character. The dynamic movements expressed in these interlocking fragments are similar to the rhythmic energies of ancient Chinese calligraphy, martial arts and acrobatics.

In another series of “Rock”, I turned my attention to the tradition of Chinese scholars’ rocks. This series brings to light the extent of my preoccupation with the philosophical traditions of my native homeland.

My works looks to the past as a way of negotiating the present and the future. In this I assert a language rooted in nature, at once complex yet strangely reductive in form. Through this I has mirrored many of the contradictions inherent in Chinese culture today.

Artist Biography

Huang Xu was born in Beijing in 1968.  He established the Substratum Art Studio in 1989, the Migrant Bird Art Studio in 1991 and the Big Basin Studio in 2003.  He has exhibited in China, Australia and the United Kingdom and works as a professional photographer in Beijing. 

In his London exhibition, 2009, Huang Xu presented a series of ethereal oversize C-prints exploring the fragile nature of the contemporary global economy.  The tattered remains of plastic bags from rubbish heaps in China were collected and digitally remodelled in 3D scanners normally used by archaeologists to produce images of haunting luminosity. Evoking the aesthetic of the sublime, Huang Xu’s vast prints capture freeze-frame shots of decay in a maelstrom of economic change.

Huang Xu elevates this detritus to inspirational heights. Far from resembling waste, his densely textured, luminous prints suggest the fine silk textiles of Imperial China, evoking an age of decadence and wealth, recalling the historic trade links between China and the West.   These histories ironically foreshadow the current balance of economic power, and give a wry commentary on the trade in materials; whilst China once shipped silk to the West, the West now ships used plastic bags back to China.

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