Xiao Yu graduated from the Mural Painting Department of Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, later teaching there until 1998 when he resigned to become a full-time artist. The 1990s was a time of dramatic change for Chinese artists; they were discovering global contemporary art, at first through books and foreign art magazines and later through international travel. Xiao Yu gained a reputation as one of China’s leading conceptual artists, at times causing controversy with works combining human and animal body parts, such as the combination of the dead body of a bird with the head of a human foetus. He was a participant in many of the most important exhibitions, within China and internationally, that brought Chinese contemporary art to the attention of the world, including the Fuck Off exhibition in 2000, Alors, la Chine (2003) and Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection (2005). More recently, in a return to pure aesthetics and with a revived interest in Buddhism, Xiao works with bamboo. Imagery of bamboo is so prevalent in east Asian art that audiences are familiar with it and bring their own memories and experiences to their encounter with his artworks. At the same time, Xiao is stripping it of its literary associations and creating something entirely new, in an attempt to break through the barriers between audiences and contemporary art. Xiao Yu loves bamboo’s suppleness and beauty, as well as its historical associations with ink painting and calligraphy, creating sculptural forms by twisting bamboo to the point at which it shredded or snapped. His twisted, broken bamboo forms, cast in bronze, warn us that there is a point at which the natural world can no longer recover from the impact of humanity. He currently lives between Beijing and Hong Kong and works in Beijing and Shenzhen.
The White Rabbit Collection is one of the world’s most extensive and significant collections of contemporary art from China. With a focus on works created since the year 2000, the Collection contains almost 3,000 works by over 750 artists and continues to expand. Note that when you click on the link below you will be forwarded to the White Rabbit Collection website.
Explore the work of Xiao Yu in the collection database