‘Metaphysica’ 2007 by artist Ah Xian
Stark white rectangular plinths provide identical platforms for ten bronze busts from artist Ah Xian’s 2007 ‘Metaphysica’ series.
The Chinese born (1960) Australian citizen is renowned in art circles for his decorated busts cast from life with several examples of his work on permanent display in the Queensland Art Gallery.
The busts are similar yet different; exuding tranquillity, symmetrically spaced and all adorned with a single significant object placed centrally on the head.
Painted in colours including warm chocolate brown, lead grey and bronzed coppery greens, the subtle differences in the busts are highlighted.
Free of the intricate hand painted designs for which the artist is renowned, the busts provide a neutral ‘humanscape’, a blank canvas for the showcasing of the objects.
All face the same way, with matching motionless expressions of closed eyes and sealed lips, so as not to detract from the different symbolic objects purposefully positioned atop the smooth bald heads.
“Our wishes, imaginations, and spiritual souls linger around…The skull is like a skylight to link our emotions and souls with the imaginative possibilities of the spirit,” says Ah Xian of the head positioning of the objects.
The meanings conveyed by the objects reflect the different ways of understanding the world as espoused in the philosophy of metaphysics and are linked to the serene busts.
A chuckling ‘baby boy’ sucking his thumbs, a bright red fish holding a golden bauble, an extended Buddha hand proffering a lotus bud, a bright gold Laughing Buddha – a few of the displayed objects which Ah Xian found at roadside stalls and markets in Beijing.
“They are all auspicious symbolic objects which reflect what people believe, love, appreciate and enjoy” Ah Xian says.
The intriguing display emphasises the artist’s relationship to his cultural roots.