Xiao Xian LIU

China born 1963

  • Australia from 1990

Reincarnation - Mao, Buddha and I. 1998 Description: A set of three prints, each image comprising 100 sheets
Page: collection record 1-
Place made: Sydney Sydney, New South Wales New South Wales, Australia Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, digital-image, printed in black ink, from inkjet printer Support: thin white cardboard

Dimensions: printed image (each) 27.0 h x 19.7 w cm printed image (overall) 275.0 h x 625.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1999
Accession No: NGA 99.152.1-3.1A-10J
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from the artist, Sydney, 1999.
  • Reincarnation – Mao, Buddha &I is based on the core of Taoism/Yin and Yang: the basic elements which provide the explanatory basis for the formation of the cosmos and its symbolic correlation in the corresponding human world.

    The work is completed in three portraits – Mao, Buddha & I. Each consists of 100 panels of A4 size prints. Tiny portraits of each subject are used as ‘basic elements’, which in turn construct the portrait of the other, i.e. ‘Mao’ is made of ‘I’, and so on. Technically, I utilise the principle of the halftone image reproduction – the tones are broken into dots, which I have swapped for tiny images to emphasise that the universe is made up of basic elements. Such innovation has a leap effect in the process of both image formation and cognition.

    The work is constructed to such huge proportions not only to meet the technical requirement, but also to allow the 108,300 small images to compete with each other outrageously for attention. Moreover, the delicacy of changes from small to the general as a whole may lead us into thoughts about micro versus macro. Hasn’t it been mentioned in the Buddhist Scriptures that the immensity of the gigantic cosmos has no boundaries?  Yet, it is so small that infinitude of the inside has no end.

    In my work, I try to offer a new viewpoint to look at dialectical matters. After seeing the work up close and at a distance, the ambiguity of identities becomes obvious and roles are constantly changing. I try to reveal the constant rotation of Yin and Yang cosmos into different levels of life behind the scene. Hopefully, this work may provoke deeper thoughts.

    Liu Xiao 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