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Purchased 2009 with funds from Tim Fairfax AM through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Human human - Bust no.5 is made using the cloisonne technique over porcelain, with the assistance of craftsmen from Jingdezhen, one of the most important kiln sites in China. In this work, as with many of his busts, Ah Xian uses an all-over design that creates strange and surprising conjunctions between the motifs and the features of the face. Using traditional decorative design elements such as flames and dragons, Human human - Bust no.5 features a symmetrical design over a blue-green ground - a colour that in traditional Chinese physics symbolises one of the five elements, wood, which references spring and thus vitality and life. The figure appears to be wearing a demonic mask, at odds with the calm features of the sculpted face. On the crown, chest and back of the figure, Tao Tieh dragon motifs appear like tattoos, perhaps intended as a statement about the indelibility of one's cultural background. Ah Xian's sculpture explores paradox - tranquility and disruption, beauty and aversion, tradition and innovation, life and death.
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