Bookmarking Book Art – From a Visit to “Art for the People”, Xu Bing (Center del Carme, Valencia, Spain, 2019)

This exhibition showcases a selection of Xu Bing’s most important works including Art For the People, Book from the Sky, Book from the Ground, Square Word Calligraphy, Background Story, and The Character of Characters. Xu also wrote a new piece of Square Word Calligraphy of an ancient Valencian poem El bon poble. As the curator Marta Millet Moreno says, “Xu’s interest in language and texts originates from his personal background and he transports these experiences to his art, where traditional art and conceptual art, Eastern and Western cultures, are intrinsically connected.” — Marta Millet Moreno, Centre del Carm

At least two days should be allowed to visit this kind of exhibition. The videos shown below are merely clips; the photos shown are but a handful of those taken. Not every room has been covered here; missing are the Square Word Calligraphy practice room and the room of Xu Bing-related publications. For the latter, a visit to the Xu Bing website page does not substitute for the experience of sitting down with the books, many of which are out of print and for which there are no online images. The lengthy amount of time needed to enjoy this abbreviated version of the 2018 largest Xu Bing (Beijing) exhibition is due to looking from every angle allowed, thinking, comparing and contrasting from one room to the next, watching all the videos, taking instruction in Square Word Calligraphy, leafing through the books, going back to the beginning, interrupting that flow to compare/contrast one room with another outside the sequence and, again, thinking.

Book from the Sky (1987-1991) © Xu Bing

Book from the Sky (1987-1991) © Xu Bing

Book from the Sky (1987-1991) © Xu Bing

Book from the Sky (1987-1991) © Xu Bing

Book from the Ground Pop-up Book – Night (2016) © Xu Bing

Book from the Ground Pop-up Book – Day (2015) © Xu Bing

Video clip of Book from the Ground Pop-up Book – Day © Xu Bing

Installation of workshop for creation of Book from the Ground © Xu Bing

“Proof” of translation of “El bon poble” by Ausiàs March, medieval Valencian poet, into square word calligraphy (2019) © Xu Bing. Created especially for this exhibition.

Details © Xu Bing

Left half: Background Story: Shangfang Temple Scroll (2016) © Xu Bing
The images and colors appearing on the frosted glass screen are created by positioning various objects, materials and detritus behind the backlit screen. Xu Bing has dubbed this as “painting with light”.

Right half: Background Story: Shangfang Temple Scroll (2016) © Xu Bing

Detail, front and back view. © Xu Bing

Detail, front and back view. © Xu Bing

Detail, front and back view © Xu Bing

Detail, front and back view © Xu Bing

Five Series of Repetition: A Big River (1987); Black Pond (1987) © Xu Bing

Five Series of Repetition: Haystack Reflection (1987); Moving Cloud (1987); © Xu Bing

Five Series of Repetition: Black Tadpole (1987); Living Pond (1986); © Xu Bing

Five Series of Repetition: Field (1987); Family Plots (1988); © Xu Bing

Moving Cloud (1987) © Xu Bing

Black Tadpole (1987) © Xu Bing

Living Pond (1986) © Xu Bing

Field (1987) © Xu Bing

Family Plots (1988) © Xu Bing

Details © Xu Bing

Details © Xu Bing

Video clip of Xu Bing: Phoenix © Xu Bing
Video clip of The Character of Characters © Xu Bing

Further Reading

Appreciating Xu Bing“, Books On Books, 31 December 2018.

“Farewell Our Globalism”, Xu Bing and the Guggenheim, Books On Books, 9 December 2017.

Xu Bing“, Books On Books, 28 February 2016.

Locations of works

Book from the Sky

Book from the Ground

An Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy

Five Series of Repetition

Background Story

Phoenix

The Character of Characters

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