One of the largest and most impressive installations to date by the Chinese artist Xu Bing will feature among the highlights of the ninth annual Beyond Limits monumental sculpture exhibition at Chatsworth. The outstanding work will be unveiled at the opening of this year’s exhibition on 8th September 2014 both in and around the Seahorse fountain, a circular pond on the historic South lawn in the Chatsworth Garden – a location usually off limits to the public. While the Seahorse fountain undergoes restoration, Sotheby’s is privileged to have been offered the opportunity to transform this centrepiece of the South lawn, which sits directly below the south façade of the house, to install Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia. This multi-media work by acclaimed artist Xu Bing incorporates both natural and man- made elements in the form of natural rock formations, ceramics, exotic plants in addition to mist effects.
The dream-like landscape of Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia was inspired by the classic Chinese fable “Tao Hua Yuan” (“Peach Blossom Spring”) written by the scholar Tao Qian in AD421, about a chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where people live in harmony with nature. To reproduce Tao Qian’s utopia, Xu Bing has created hundreds of ceramic objects (such as the ones in the images featured above) and collected mountain rocks from five different regions in China to reflect the specific characteristics of their regional identities. The full extent of the sculpture, arranged concentrically around the pond, will be revealed at the opening of this year’s Beyond Limits. This three-dimensional installation has been designed to bring Chinese ink painting to life. As the visitors walk around the elements of the installation, the mountains, trees, figures, houses and reflections on the pool coalesce into new tableaux vivant, enabling the viewer to experience Chinese ink painting in a three-dimensional sensory experience.
Over the last eight years, Sotheby’s Beyond Limits at Chatsworth has firmly established itself as one of the most prestigious selling exhibitions of modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture and a key event in the art world calendar. Beyond Limits 2014 will showcase spectacular monumental sculptures from around the world, including works by established modern masters such as Aristide Maillol, Eduardo Chillida, Baltasar Lobo and Giacomo Manzù in addition to highly sought-after contemporary artists such as Marc Quinn, Christopher Le Brun and Michal Rovner, will be on view in the Chatsworth Garden.
Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, China in 1955, Xu Bing has become one of China’s best known and critically acclaimed artists, exhibiting in solo exhibitions and winning awards around the world. His work, spanning a variety of mediums (calligraphy, ink painting and installations) has been exhibited in some of the world’s most important institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) where Travelling to the Wonderland was first exhibited, in the John Madjeski Garden from November 2013 until March 2014, The Louvre (Paris) and two editions of the Venice Biennale.
Bing was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (1999), the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (2003), the first Wales International Visual Art Prize, Artes Mundi (2004) and the lifetime achievement award of the Southern Graphics Council (2006). The artist was also awarded Doctor of Humane Letters by Columbia University in 2010. Xu studied printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, where he has served as Vice President since 2007.