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Exhibition 'On High': Breaking the mold

By Jiang Yuxia (Global Times)

09:33, November 02, 2012

Sailor on White Horse by features in Yu Fan's new solo exhibition "On High." (Photo/GT)

Since he joined the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) as a teacher in the early 1990s, sculptor Yu Fan has been a pioneering figure at the institute. Yu was renowned for his performance art, installation works and the trio he formed with fellow sculptors, Sui Jianguo and Zhan Wang. One of Yu's most famous acts followed the tearing down of the old campus, when he dug a swimming pool and jumped into it in front of students.

Yu, now an associate professor of sculpture at the academy, has gradually faded from the limelight since those rebellious days. Since the late 1990s, he has engaged himself in exploring new possibilities in realistic sculpture in China.

Yu, 46, recently opened his latest solo exhibition at the CAFA Museum. "On High" is curated by art critic Feng Boyi. It offers a retrospective look at 40 of Yu's selected works from 2000 to 2012.

With two talks on sculpture scheduled for early November, the organizer and curator hopes that the discussions can return realistic sculpture to the spotlight again and inject new creativity into the art form.

Displayed works include Yu's well-known White Horse series, which are less masculine but rather plump and small in size. One artwork shows an intellectual being criticized and denounced in public during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

His half-naked, innocent-looking Mr W and Miss L series, by contrast, detail the lives of two ordinary figures.

With his delicate touch on subjects inspired by everyday life, Yu demonstrates his retrospect to childhood and his primal emotions of reverence, doubt, worship, adoration and yearning in the copper-sprayed works, Feng noted.

"'On High' semantically can be understood as subjects' towering stature common in many of Yu's works, but it also refers to his sculptural return to spiritual aspirations," said Feng ahead of the exhibition's Sunday opening. It is through the primal emotions he demonstrates that people understand their own limitations in searching for life's meaning, and Yu firmly believes that this is what drives people forward, Feng explained.

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