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Interview with artist Xingrui Xu

There are multiple sides to things, and I like to flatten those sides and put them on the same plane. I think it's a technique of "blurring", it's a behavior or an action. My artistic practice is constantly evolving around this technique. I like to blur the boundaries between different cultures, intervene in iconic symbols, and show a mixture of tradition and antitradition in my works. I also try to set up some barriers to the normal way of thinking in my work.

My practice involves ceramics, painting, sculpture, and land art. I reflect on the impact of contemporary art while working to push the boundaries of ceramics in contemporary art and expand its influence. I study the relationship between natural substances and materials, translating them into my personal expression.

artist Xingrui Xu

Xingrui, your work involves a unique technique of 'flattening' the multiple sides of objects and concepts into a single plane. Can you elaborate on how this approach helps you blur cultural boundaries and what inspired you to develop this technique?

This is my methodology, I start a lot of times through images and then move on to research, so at this point there will be a need to dismantle and differentiate between images and words. What inspires me would be my background and educational experiences, I have always had the intention to observe and preserve the unconscious behavior in my creations, which eventually points to my artistic methodology. It may be a bit abstract to describe, but the act of blurring is actually in a way to find the point of intersection after flattening things, and then overlap and dissipate.

artist Xingrui Xu

In your practice, you mention intervening in iconic symbols and showcasing a mix of tradition and antitradition. Could you give us an example of how you have applied this concept in your recent works, particularly in your solo show 'ICON' at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art?

This solo exhibition shows my early works, which were commissioned by the museum to combine and dialog with their research results and is the first commission of their museum to move towards contemporary art exhibitions. The Buddha's head in the exhibition is an iconic symbol that I am looking for, which is a symbol of the East, or even a symbol that represents a summary, which is related to the era and human civilization. And my methodology intervention may break the traditional schema, then transform and reorganize it. Tradition is a good database, and anti-tradition is the requirement of contemporary practice.

artist Xingrui Xu

You’ve expressed a commitment to pushing the boundaries of ceramics within contemporary art. What challenges have you faced in this endeavor, and how do you see the role of ceramics evolving in the broader context of contemporary artistic practices?

When mentioning ceramics, the first thing that comes to mind is vases, then daily necessities, with design and practicality taking up too much. Most of the ceramic sculpture artists are still unable to break away from some fixed frameworks, and their creations are still centered around the vessels, only constantly adding decorations to them. I believe that ceramics should not only be used for a single purpose but should also emphasize the material's contemporary nature.

artist Xingrui Xu

Your work also studies the relationship between natural substances and materials. How do you incorporate these elements into your sculptures and land art, and what do they represent in your personal artistic expression?

In fact, ceramics is a natural material, all of its original from the earth and minerals, Land Art is considering changing the existing terrain, change the site, in fact, its essence is to change the properties of the material. The process of making ceramics is in fact changing the properties, the chemical structure is completely changed. The combination of ancient alchemy and contemporary "alchemy" has always seemed to me to be a wonderful collision.

artist Xingrui Xu

With studios in both Chicago and Shanghai, how do you manage the dynamics of working across two very different cultural and artistic landscapes? Additionally, how does this bi-continental lifestyle influence your creative output and your collaboration with other artists, such as during your residency with a renowned performance artist?

I've gotten used to working in two different studios. In Shanghai I can receive new materials and work in teams more quickly. In Chicago I am more of a solo researcher, and I like to be alone in my studio to do some practice. Simply put, in Shanghai I have more opportunities to work with new materials and different people. In Chicago I am immersed in my own world. I think this approach is actually what many artists face, often needing to do their work in different places, and needing to take into account the size of the work, transportation, and the needs of the venue.

Interviewer: Zin

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