Xu Bing’s Phoenixes Make Their Way To Shanghai

Ravenel-Commissioned Phoenixes Had Been Displayed In Beijing’s CBD

Xu Bing's "Phoenix Project," being hoisted in Beijing earlier this year

Xu Bing's "Phoenix Project," being hoisted in Beijing earlier this year

This March, Jing Daily looked at the “Phoenix Project,” a pair of $3 million sculptures by top Chinese artist Xu Bing. Originally commissioned by Taiwan’s Ravenel auction house and purchased by super-collector Lin Baili (aka Barry Lam), Xu’s twin phoenixes were displayed in Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD). This week, as reported by Artinfo, the phoenixes made their way to the Shanghai Exposition Park, where visitors to the Shanghai World Expo feast their eyes on a rare sculpture project by one of the country’s best contemporary artists.

From Artinfo:

The phoenix has important connotations in both Eastern and Western cultures. As the second-most-respected legendary creature in China (right behind the dragon), the mythic bird is often seen in Chinese empresses’ residences, embodying an ideal image of femininity and eternity. Featuring LED lights, Xu’s two phoenixes illuminate the night sky of the Expo Park, adding a touch of festivity and divinity to the famed Shanghai night scene.

The two phoenixes have so far taken an interesting journey across China. Originally a commission from Ravenel Art Group (an auction house with a branch in Beijing and headquarters in Taiwan), the two birds briefly graced the famed Central Business District in Beijing — playing a similar role to the bull that sits on New York’s Wall Street — earlier this year before migrating to Shanghai.

Not pleased with the modest choice of material, the Chinese investor who originally commissioned the piece abandoned the unfinished project, leaving the two birds homeless until they were purchased by Taiwanese IT magnate Barry Lam.

Despite their early abandonment, the two phoenixes managed to rise from the ashes. Now, displayed in Shanghai’s urban splendor, the two phoenixes, at once beautiful and fierce, allude to the struggle and transformation of this ascendant country.

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Art & Auction, Culture