Departing from tales of the past—such as a Qing dynasty classic, Buddhist cosmology or Daoist teachings—and arriving at truncated body parts and porcelain dolls, the multimedia artist Geng Xue's creations offer an uncanny retelling of various traditions. Primarily working in porcelain, Geng Xue investigates the fragile yet enduring nature of the ceramic medium, which metaphorically stands for the duality of man and the physical world.Read More
Geng Xue's preference for porcelain reflects her appreciation of Chinese traditional arts. Historically, porcelain has been integral to Chinese art history; for centuries it linked China to Europe, where it was a coveted rarity. Porcelain symbolised purity, yet it was also double-natured: durable enough to be used as household items and concurrently frail enough to be handled with care. In an interview with Cool Hunting in 2014, the artist herself traced her fascination with porcelain back to her childhood, when she became enthralled by its ability to undergo vigorous change.
In 2014 Geng Xue completed Mr Sea, a stop motion animation featuring porcelain figures. Based on Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, a Qing dynasty collection of supernatural tales by Pu Songling, the film narrates the story of a young traveller who encounters a beauty and later a deadly serpent named Mr Sea (Hai Gongzi in Chinese). In this reconstruction of a tale of violence and eroticism, Geng Xue combines film—a medium previously unknown to her—with porcelain, her long-lasting passion.
Continuing to work with porcelain, Geng Xue explored the relationships between the body and the environment, and between the physical and the spiritual in Mount Sumeru (2017), a solo exhibition at Klein Sun Gallery, New York. The title derives from a sacred mountain by the same name, which in Buddhist cosmology is the centre of the physical and spiritual universe. Unlike the complete human figures in Mr Sea, truncated body parts inhabit Mount Sumeru and are in the midst of being overtaken or integrated into nature. Curator Phil Cai likens Geng Xue's porcelain human bodies to the five senses; for instance, the hand represents the sense of touch, and the head the sense of hearing. When the hand in Ocean's Roar (2016) touches the surface of water, creating ripples, the action references the touching of the water and simultaneously, the sensing of water. The meeting between the hand and the water further suggests communication between our outer and inner worlds, or between our physical and spiritual self.
Geng Xue completed her studies at The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing (2007) and Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in Karlsruhe, Germany (2013), before receiving an MFA from CAFA (2014). Her works have featured in numerous international exhibitions, notably Sydney Biennale (2018), Venice Biennale (2017) and Busan Biennale (2014). In 2017 Geng Xue was shortlisted for Young Artist of the Year at the Award of Art China (AAC). The artist currently lives and works in Beijing, and teaches sculpture at CAFA.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in [London] (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, [Beijing] (CAFA) and the Slade Sc