FROM CHINA TO AUSTRALIA
Ah Xian was born in Beijing in 1960. As an artist, he initially trained to be a painter, and from the early 80’s, he was closely involved in avant-garde artistic activities in China.
He was involved in violent protests with students and activists in Tiananmen’s Square in June 1989. He then sought political asylum in Australia. Once settled in Australia, Ah Xian changed his practice from painting to sculpture.
In 1996, as a part of an investigation of his heritage and determined to bring traditional craftsmanship into a contemporary art context, Ah Xian began his study of porcelain at the ancient kilns of Jingdezhen. Soon after, he began to go to Sydney College of the Arts, where he worked on a series of porcelain busts by himself.
In 1998 he was awarded a New Work Grant from the Australia Council, which allowed him to work with master ceramists and painters. Between 1999 and 2004, Ah Xian had produced over forty, working in partnership with porcelain specialists.
His work seems to go beyond mere representation. It is full of meaning - a statement about the fact that you can never leave your roots completely behind. Through his work, he explores what it means to be bi-cultural in the modern world.
Answer the following questions in your VAPD.
1. Do you think Ah Xian thinks of himself more as Chinese, or Australian? Explain your answer.
2. In your own words, explain why you think Ah Xian decided to move away from painting and into ceramics.
3. Write a few lines about the connections between Ah Xian and the world he lives in. You should consider China and Australia in your response.
Avant-garde: at the cutting edge of the arts, inventing new techniques and/or exploring new ideas.
Political asylum: protection granted to someone by a new country because the government of their own country wants to imprison them for their views and opinions.
Porcelain: a white, translucent ceramic.