Same craft but different path

By Deng Zhangyu(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-02-15 07:27:15

Edie Xu follows her parents' footsteps. [Photo provided to China Daily]

She has a chic appearance with flared jeans and a choker. Edie Xu may only be 16, but she's confident about the concepts and ideas behind her recent artworks-several paintings and sculptures, plus an installation, on show at Beijing's Gauguin Gallery.

She was born into a family of artists. Her father, Xu Bing, is one of the country's most-famous artists. Her mother, Cai Jin, is an oil painter known for using vibrant colors.

"I don't want people to know me because of my parents' reputation," Edie Xu insists.

"My style is different."

She says the figure sculptures in which she sketches distortions of her own face on pumpkins are inspired by Irish painter Francis Bacon's grotesque depictions.

Her small installation takes inspiration from US artist Alexander Calder. A thin twisted iron wire casts a shadow on the wall that overlaps with an identical drawing.

It's her fourth public show. The previous two, in 2013 and '14, were staged with her mother.

Her parents attended her ongoing show's opening day in January.

Her father snapped smartphone photos.

Xu Bing, a veteran artist. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Edie Xu tries to avoid comparisons with her parents, but their influence is inevitable, the show's organizer, Dong Huiping, says.

Her father's use of light and shadow can be seen in her installation. Her sculptures' bright colors hark to her mother's work, Dong explains.

Edie Xu was born in New York. She returned to China at age 7 and received her education in international schools in Beijing.

She spends most of her time with her mom.

Cai says the girl couldn't concentrate when she was little but would spend over two hours painting.

"I always encourage her to draw what she wants. And I clean up after her," the mother says.

Edie Xu travels a lot, plays badminton and loves outdoor sports.

Xu Bing says: "I can always read my daughter's personality and true thoughts through her works. One has to be honest with art."

It's the perfect language for them to communicate, he says.

A sketch by Edie Xu. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"I have a lot of expectations for her. I have more worries than expectations, especially the older she gets."

She paints freely and randomly. He once asked her to study calligraphy to strengthen her sense of aesthetics, but she learned traditional Chinese painting instead.

"She's disobedient. Sometimes I have to serve her," Xu Bing says, jokingly.

He selected her works for display, framed the paintings and curated her part of the show.

"I hope she's always happy. She'll have her own fate as an artist."

Edie Xu says her parents' success places her under pressure. But she's determined to pursue an art career.

What kind of artist she'll become, she says, is an open question.

"I'll continue to explore," she says.

Part of the installation Traveling to the Wonderland by Xu Bing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

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