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Xu Bing

Xu Bing was born in 1955 in Choqing and grew up in Beijing, although his family is native to Wenling of the province Zhejiang . In 1977 he entered the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) where completed his bachelor’s degree in 1981 and stayed on as an instructor, earning his MFA in 1987. In 1990, on University of Wisconsin-Madison’s invitation, he moved to the United States. Xu served as the Vice President of CAFA from 2008 to 2014 and is now a professor of CAFA, advising PHD students. He currently lives and works in Beijing and New York.

Contribution Award Jury Statement

Xu Bing stands out for his unique artistic concepts, his explorations on artistic methodologies, the continuity and systematic manner in his practice. 

On the one hand, Xu Bing tackles sensitive issues of contemporary thinking and culture, on the other hand, he dedicates himself to the comprehension and manifestation of the wealth and complexity of Chinese traditional culture, bridging the traditional and the contemporary.

Since the 1980s, Xu Bing has been employing the characters of “print marks” and “plurality” of printmaking in his artistic practices, offering a fresh perspective towards both traditional and modern Chinese script culture with major pieces such as Book from the Sky and Ghost Pounding the Wall. Later on, he furthered his investigation of the encounters and misreadings that had taken place in the East-West communications. This led to a significant body of works including Post Testament, Cultural Animal, and New English Calligraphy. Through Chinese identity and symbols Xu Bing managed to convey his concepts and elaborate his critical statements in particular. The adaptation of new computer technologies and internet resources has facilitated Xu Bing to penetrating complex and sensitive social issues whilst maintaining the originality and creativity. Since 2013, Xu Bing worked on A His-tory without Words, a script consisting of pictograms only, that can be read by audiences re-gardless of their mother tongue. This represents a major contribution to visual arts as much as to linguistics. 

Furthermore, he not only pursued a very successful artist career, but with a devotion to teach-ing, he also assumed the position of vice dean of China Academy of Fine Arts to pass on what he had gained in his artistic practice.

Considering Xu Bing’s artistic achievements, inventiveness and impact on both Chinese and international art world, Xu Bing has been awarded the Contribution Award.