Sui Jianguo


Sui Jianguo
b. 1956, Qingdao, Shandong
Sculptor, installation artist
Sui Jianguo graduated in 1980 from the Shandong Art Institute. He fostered his early artistic interests volunteering to run a Cultural House for factory workers during the decade of the Cultural Revolution. Subsequently awarded with a master’s degree in sculpture from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1989 (see art academies). Sui has always balanced a ‘bold experimental approach to materials, with his own subdued, personal introspection’ (Wu Hung 1999). Since his first sculptural series such as Balancer (1988) and Hygiene (1989), the mixing of media stands out as a kind of metaphor he first used to delve into the past as a follower of the Native Soil Movement (see Native Soil Painting) and then as an intellectual engaged in the social and political debate on developing China with an aspiration for technical perfection. In his monumental installations, stone, granite, wood and fabric coexist with steel and iron, creating a tension between passive and active forces, as for example in the piece Earthly Force (1990–2) first exhibited in 1995, where a group of granite boulders are embraced by a net of steel rods.
In 1996 Sui Jianguo teamed up with Yu Fan and Zhang Wang in the Three Men United Studio, which led to the realization of two big installations, Property Development and Women/Site (both in 1996).
In the late 1990s, Sui began to insert historical quotations into his works, producing the series of aluminium Mao jackets Uniform (1997) and A Study of Folds series (1998–9), where the back-drops of post-colonialism and cultural-vacuum issues are invoked by moulding together the aesthetic models of ancient Greece and the Socialist Realism, via the Mao suit. Sui’s works have featured in many exhibitions such as ‘China’s New Art Post 89’ at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in Hong Kong (1993), ‘Between Heaven and Hearth: New Classical Movements in the Art of Today’ at the Museum of Modern Art, Ostend (2001), and ‘Open 2001:4th International Sculpture and Installation Exhibition’ in Venice (2001).
Desde el Pais del Centre (1995). Avantguardes Artistiques Xineses (1995). Barcelona: Centre d’Art Santa Mónica.
Dewar, Susan (1995). ‘Sui Jianguo and the Sculptural Dilemma’. Asia-Pacific Sculpture News 1.1 (Winter) : 28–30.
Feng, Boyi (2002) Fushihui (Beijing Afloat) (exhibition catalogue). Beijing: Beijing Tokyo Art Projects.
Wu, Hung (1999). Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 66–71, 188–9.
BEATRICE LEANZA

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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