21 Sep 2012, ‘Present- Perfect- Tense (United Kingdom)’, Solo Exhibition of Jiao Xingtao in Museum of East Asian Art and public spaces in Bath, United Kingdom. Sponsored by Tomorrow Culture.
Foreword by Michel D. Lee, Director and curator
Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, UK
PRESENT – PERFECT – TENSE: Sculptures by Jiao Xingtao represents a flagship exhibition for the Museum of East Asian Art. It is the first time in the Museum’s twenty year history to host an exhibition purely around contemporary sculpture. This is also a landmark exhibition for the artist himself, as it is Mr. Jiao’s first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom. We are very happy to work with both the artist and Canvas International Art of Amsterdam, Holland, the main catalyst of the project, and hope this exhibition will serve as a beacon for which future discussions on contemporary sculpture can draw from.
Jiao Xingtao delves into the question of the meaning and value of sculpture in contemporary society; ultimately rediscovering beauty in cast-away objects. The artist plays with form, aesthetics and content to create art inspired by the mundane. This topic is also relevant to the Museum of East Asian Art. Generally speaking, objects in our collection are usually seen as ‘art’ by the majority of our visitors. However, many of these objects, from Neolithic jades to Qing Dynasty teapots, were not made as ‘art for art’s sake’. Although they were meant to be aesthetically pleasing, their function, whether spiritual or practical, was usually the prime judge of quality. In fact, very few objects in the collection were made to be objects of ‘art’ in today’s sense of the word. So often, objects that were originally made to be useful, but with a certain degree of aesthetic quality, become objects of ‘art’ once it enters a museum or collection. In this way, PRESENT – PERFECT – TENSE makes a perfect platform of discussion not only about the meaning and value of sculpture in contemporary society, but also leads us to the broader question of ‘what is the value and meaning of objects throughout time?’
The exhibition, set against the backdrop of the Museum of East Asian Art, provides a magnificent opportunity for ancient objects to interact with contemporary, nontraditional works of art. It gives viewers the chance to reflect on the meaning of art through 5000 years of history and begin the dialogue of the human search for beauty and meaning.