Culture Buff

Xu Zhen Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana

9 December 2017

9:00 AM

9 December 2017

9:00 AM

When state governments put money into cultural events they like them to be large and ‘exclusive’. Well, the Victorian Government will get both with NGV Triennial, a gallery-wide exhibition showing works by more than 100 artists and designers from 32 countries (until 15 April).

It will include 20 large-scale works commissioned by the NGV. Ron Mueck will be there with a work, his ‘largest and most extraordinary to date’.

So there is going to be a lot of large on show and the largest of all will be a ‘spectacular’ sculpture by Xu Zhen.

Chinese artists have become a big influence on the visual arts in Australia in the last decade. Some are resident here and are among our most admired artists. Xu Zhen is an international artist whose works are often very large sculptural installations; he exhibited on Cockatoo Island in the last Sydney Biennale. But the new work for Melbourne will probably set a record.

It will span 18 metres in length: Zu has recreated the colossal form of a reclining Buddha dating from the High Tang Dynasty (705-781 CE).

But there’s more; to adorn the Buddha, he has also created replicas of historical western sculptures based on the gods and heroes of Greek and Roman mythology, such as the Dying Gaul, an ancient Roman marble, itself a copy of a lost Greek bronze original. No point in worrying about cultural appropriation here, just enjoy the scale and impact.

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