Ravenel To Unveil “The Phoenixes” By Xu Bing In Beijing

Monumental Sculpture Will Go On Display March 27 At The Today Art Museum In Beijing

Xu Bing's work is popular with Chinese and Western art collectors (Image: Xu's "Book From Heaven")

Xu Bing's work is popular with Chinese and Western art collectors (Image: Xu's "Book From Heaven")

Jing Daily has previously covered the emergence of new Asian auction houses and their growing influence in the Chinese art market. Of these newer auction houses, with offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Taipei, Taiwan’s Ravenel Art has been among the most active in the field of Chinese contemporary art, holding auctions in Hong Kong and Taipei that have attracted New Chinese Collectors from the mainland as well as local collectors. Last fall, Ravenel’s Autumn Auction in Taipei (previously on Jing Daily) pulled in US$20,775,622, powered by strong lots like Zao Wou-Ki’s “17.4.64” — which sold for US$4,925,373, well over its US$1,896,000 high estimate — a success by any measure.

This week, Ravenel plans to extend its reach in the mainland with the unveiling of “The Phoenixes,” a monumental sculpture by top Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing, in Beijing. The sculpture, commissioned by Ravenel and owned by Barry Lam, a well-known entrepreneur and major collector of Chinese art. According to a release, the unveiling ceremony — to be held tomorrow, March 27 at the Today Art Museum — will mark the first public exhibition of “The Phoenixes.” And “public” is the right word for the piece; The two phoenixes are truly colossal — 15 meters (49 feet) tall, 28 meters (92 feet) long, 8 meters (26 feet) wide, and weighing in at 12 tons. Tomorrow afternoon, the sculptures will be put in place by six large cranes. From Ravenel:

Created as a reflection on modern Beijing, this first exhibition will be appropriately held in the CBD in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. Constructed from rudimentary waste materials from building sites, its haunting beauty rises from the ashes of this waste, just as a new Beijing rises from the wastelands of building sites strewn throughout the city. The Phoenixes great beauty will be reflected in the glamour and glitter of the new CBD buildings, while its common and ugly base materials will be on full display. Lit up at night from within with many LED lights, the Phoenixes will glow with star-like lights.

The Phoenixes is the very impressive and powerful expression of the world-renowned contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing. Created on his return to China after a prolonged sojourn in the USA, The Phoenixes is inspired by Xu Bing’s experience of the new Chinese society and the reality of the new Beijing that he found on his return. Xu Bing has devoted all his energies to realizing this work over the last 2 years.

An enormous project, that took months of planning, and many trawls through building sites to find all the material, slowly a great work of beauty arose. The Phoenixes examines the profound realities of modern Chinese society and provokes such questions as what is real and unreal. It invites the viewer to behold Modern China, contemplate the backbreaking work of laborers, and to see what lies behind the accumulation of wealth.

In addition to commissioning the piece, Ravenel plans to publish a book detailing the creative process and a public seminar at an undefined date “with representatives from the worlds of Art, Architecture and Construction.”

While Xu’s phoenixes are sure to be as awe-inspiring as his previous work, it’s important to note that we could see more auction houses sponsoring pieces from top Chinese contemporary artists in coming years as these companies fight to draw more mainland Chinese collectors to buy at their auctions.

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Art & Auction, Culture