All text and images from The National Gallery of Australia here
It is about a beautiful dream, it is about fancy and fantasy, and it is about human beings, the natural environment surrounding us and the civilisation we have evolved.
Other than our consciousness, we are part of nature but, as an unsolvable contradiction, it seems that the technologies we have been developing, especially in the past two centuries, are against nature and never affirm it. Did nature create our consciousness or did we, mankind, create I and WE out of it? It is one of the oldest philosophic propositions, like the chicken and the egg.
Landscape exists because we exist and vice versa. It is not just the environment reflecting on us; our surroundings and we humans grew out of each other.
It is a conscious adjustment, as I switch myself from the mainstream clamour-crowd and its followers to a solitary uncultivated field. Although this sounds like the Chinese saying, ‘lifting oneself off the earth by one’s own hair’, it has been decisively and effectively reflected in my recent works. It is simply a conceptual attitude, which is directing my art creation.
Our ancestors have created and handed down to us a very wealthy culture and art heritage. I believe that the best place to apply (not just attach) all of such quintessential treasury heritage we possess is nowhere else but on human beings ourselves. This would be one of the dearest returns to both nature and art evolution that I could aim to achieve.
Ah Xian, 2002
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002