Xu Zhongmin is considered one of the most important contemporary artists in the Chinese art world. His art works are often challenging to categorize due to their interdisciplinary features. Not only has Xu effectively adopted aesthetics in design and its technical requirements, he has also infused social aesthetics and artistic meanings in his construction of a sort of visual surrealism.
Xu Zhongmin’s concepts are inspired by two cultural traditions: one is the traditional Tiibetan ceremony of “Trekking Around the Mountain”; and the other is the concept of the Geodesic Dome invented by architect Buckminster Fuller.His earlier work “Trekking Around the Mountain”, fully embodies the consolidation of the two.
Xu’s central concepts posit the magnificent visual effect displayed by the sound and light effects on a mechanical apparatus, by which the machines transform their rigid and frigid exterior to sensational, vital and glamorous impressions.
On the one hand, the work acts as a metaphor for the self-emancipating process of spiritual ascetics。
On the other hand, it displays the momentous aesthetics of futurism.
Without any narrative, the sculptural protagonists on these machines follow repetitive rhythm of movement, laced with intermittent flash and palpitating sounds. These figures circulate repetitively, spin, climb and resurge, disappear and reappear endlessly.
If the moving machines are seen as a theatrical stage, then those figures in movement must be its performers. These works operate as repetitive cycles with game elements eventually eternalizing in time.
If the machines and robotics in motion are metaphors for vehicles of desire and beauty for speed, they also succeed in enticing the audience’s voyeuristic desire, producing visual gratification and a dislocation of psychological fear. Xu’s work not only reflects upon differentiation and homogeneity as an outcome of contemporaneity, but also on the absurdity of the contemporary condition of ‘unconsciousness’.
Xu Zhongmin’s work presents a fictional utopia to convey people’s utopian experiences and beliefs. Xu’s renderings are either a solemn ritual, or a game of interest, an elegant theatrical play, or an interdisciplinary art. His works supersede and override reality by adopting a surrealistic approach to demonstrate the mysterious and invincible aspect of life, yet at the same time sharing worldly experience with its audiences.
Xu Zhongmin’s works show interdisciplinary artistic features, encompassing sculpture, installation, architecture, video art and robotics features. Unlike other artists, Xu does not only focus on the relationship between the artwork and its context, but also highlights the dynamics of machines. In this process, the narrative aspect of the work is effaced to demonstrate that the lives of human beings is indeed an endless cycle.