“What was your favourite work?”, I asked my friend Sue as we walked away from Sydney’s “White Rabbit Gallery” this afternoon. “It was definitely the video work”, she told me. I had to agree. It’s a beautiful work. Over the course of maybe twenty or thirty minutes, you sit there in a darkened room and watch an artist take delivery of some large stacks of clay, and proceeds to turn those stacks into a human sculpture. Along the way, you get to see the intimate way in which an artist can work with clay. At times, it was if the artist was giving the clay a full body massage. At times, it was as if the clay was an actual human being. One of the most compelling parts is when you watch the artist scoop their hands into the head of the sculpture, removing some clay, creating eyeballs and then putting them back inside. I thought the video was beautifully conceived and shot.
There are several other stand-out works in the current exhibition, “Heavy Artillery” including “The Tank Project”, 2011-2013 by He Xiangyu (a life-size “deflated” tank made from hand-knitted leather); “Armour of Triumph”, 2012 by Wang Lei (knitting); and “European Thousand-Armed Sculpture” (2013–2014) by Xu Zhen (in which massive classical sculptures align in the form of a Buddhist deity). Also memorable was “Guazi Moves Earth”, 2008 by Liu Chengrui (Guazi), a performance piece in which the artist crawls along the ground moving a pile of earth mouthful by mouthful because “not all art should be pretty.”
We are so lucky to have such a great gallery in Sydney, open to the public and free of charge, presenting such beautiful, interesting and challenging work.