(Chinese, b. 1955)
Woodcut print with ink on paper
Image: 52.8 x 73.2 cm (20 13/16 x 28 13/16 in.); Sheet: 66.7 x 85.2 cm (26 1/4 x 33 9/16 in.)
Gift of Joe and Nancy Keithley 2019.239
Spotlight on a New Generation: Contemporary Chinese Artists (Chinese art rotation)
While living in the mountains during the Cultural Revolution, Xu was in demand as the village portraitist and calligrapher for weddings and funerals.
Xu created Five Series of Repetitions to explore the process of printmaking. He printed images of the series in different stages, each time carving away a little bit more of the block’s surface. The first print is the darkest; the final one is the lightest with the image being entirely effaced. This print represents a stage in the process when the image was most legible. Some prints show Chinese characters, indications for his later works featuring writing and language called “landscripts”—images made with script.
As a child, Xu had access to a world of books: his mother worked in the library and his father in the history department at Peking University. Toward the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1974, Xu was sent to a rural village north of Beijing for “re-education.” The Cultural Revolution taught him the power of words and text, while the interruption of his formal schooling gave him time to practice writing and teach himself woodcut techniques.
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