Ah Xian is active/lives in China. Ah Xian is known for sculpture.
Biography from Sotheby's Melbourne
Beijing, Ah Xian first came to Australia in 1989, as visiting artist at
the Tasmanian School of Art, Hobart. Stranded by the events of Tienanmen
Square, he sought asylum here, settling in Sydney with his brother and
fellow artist Liu Xiao Xian. In the alienation of exile, Ah Xian found a
degree of cultural solace in historical national traditions, expanding
his painting practice in the late 1990s to incorporate traditional
Chinese decorative arts, often working in collaboration with artisans in
his native country.
** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
In the breakthrough China China series,
naturalistic porcelain busts (life casts of family and friends) are
decorated with all-over images and patterns variously drawn from brush
painting, ceramics (especially blue and white wares) and textiles. This
concept creates a mismatch of form and surface that animates the faces
in surprising, even surreal conjunctions: a butterfly on the eyes, for
example, or a mountain on the forehead. More broadly and more
significantly, it effectively illustrates the tension between Ah Xian's
motherland culture and that of his adopted home, or between the interior
self and the public face.
Maintaining the metaphor but extending the material vocabulary, Ah Xian
also produced works in gold lacquer and then in cloisonné enamel. His
life-size, full-figure copper and enamel sculpture Human human lotus
(2001, Queensland Art Gallery) won the inaugural National Sculpture
Prize at the National Gallery of Australia in 2001, bringing the artist
to wide public attention in Australia, China and beyond. He has since
exhibited extensively here and overseas, his solo museum exhibitions
including Ah Xian meets Jingdezhen (Museum of Frankfurt, 2002); China
reconfigured: the art of Ah Xian (Asia Society, New York, 2002); Ah Xian
(Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2003); and Ah Xian: sculpture
(Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 2008).
Despite the difficulties of his personal history, the racial and
national identity politics of his iconography and the occasional shadows
in individual works, Ah Xian retains a gentle, optimistic perspective.
As he said in his artist's statement for the recent Contemporary
Commonwealth exhibition: 'Although politics and art both play major
roles in human history, politics is usually a short-lived way by which
people practice their greed and lust for power (ruling other people and
even the world). However, art is ever-precious, exploring our peaceful,
bright and never-ending imagination.'1
1. Ah Xian, artist's statement, in Charles Green (ed.),
2006/contemporary commonwealth/, Melbourne; National Gallery of
Victoria, 2006, p. 131
Share an image of the Artist firstname.lastname@example.org.