Biography

Early Years, Academic Education & Influences

 

Xu Hongfei was born in Yangjiang City, Guangdong Province, China in 1963. He graduated from the sculpture department of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1990 and is currently the Dean of the Guangzhou Sculpture Institute.

 

Since 1999, he has created the Chubby Women sculptures, depicting them in various perspectives and different mediums.

His works explore the ingenious union of clumsiness in wisdom, dexterity in heaviness, form sense and human resonance through the sharp contrast between heavy bodies and light-hearted souls. His works also relieve people's souls from stress with inspiring tension stimulated from exaggerated but precise unique shapes.

 

Xu Hongfei has been influenced by Shi Tao, citing that his paintings give him infinite imagination. The sculptor Rodin also influenced him, with his ability to depict the human psyche.

 

Aesthetics

 

In the course of Western and Chinese art, a set of philosophical mechanisms have been used to explore the aesthetics of the human body.  Xu Hongfei’s Chubby Women sculptures uses the female body to explore social and aesthetic concerns. By challenging the canons of beauty, the artist elicits a discussion regarding the aesthetics of the female form. This interdisciplinary approach emphasizes how Xu’s artworks are elaborately clothed in inference and meaning, making them culturally significant.

 

These sculptures do not depict a real overweight woman, but they are actually works of art produced through spiritualization. Even though many of the works in this exhibition are nude, they do not have an uncomfortable tone. This is because they represent Xu’s ideology, concept, judgement and intellectual thought. This walks more or less deliberately in line with the Neo-Kantian view, which suggests how “the aesthetic world can be constituted only by separating form and desire”. Xu’s female figures should not be judged as living organisms, but as artworks which represent his ideas.

 

Art that Frees the Soul

 

Xu once expressed that an artist should stay true to himself and create art that frees the soul. His artworks reflect this idea as they are an absolute internalization in the form of conscious and free personality. Instead of leaning toward emotional restraint and coolness, his figures are energetic and passionate. By creating artworks that free the soul, Xu’s sculptures become relatable to people of different cultures and backgrounds.

 

Challenging Society’s Beauty Standards

 

The Chubby Women sculptures also reveal Xu’s beliefs about society in an aesthetic form. They represent the artist’s desire to break free from an outdated mould. In Chinese history and culture, being overweight is associated with unattractiveness. Women who are lean or athletic are considered the benchmark for being beautiful. By making his Chubby Women figures independent subjects, the artist is questioning the consecrated standards of beauty. Instead of depicting the overweight figures as unworthy, the artist makes his figures cheerful, active, comical and strong.

 

This fleshy representation of the female form can be found in Western art history. European masters like Titian, William Etty, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres often portrayed the female form as plump or curvaceous. Like Boisserees, Xu finds meaning in past Western art that is relevant to the present. By doing so and creating the Chubby Women sculptures, he is able to broaden the Chinese vision of beauty.

 

World Tour

 

The Chubby Women sculptures have been well-received since the beginning. Since 2013, Xu has been promoting his Chubby Women series, eliminating barriers of language and social standards, to countries all around the world. The Chubby Women act as friendly ambassadors of the East, landing at iconic landmarks such as The Louvre (Paris, France), The Forbidden City (Beijing, China), Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia) and by the River Thames (London, UK), building a platform and opportunities for cultural exchange.

 

Exhibition History and Collector Base

 

In 2019, Xu held solo exhibitions at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in Russia and Kobe, Japan. His works have also been featured in many other domestic and overseas museums and private collections, including the National Art Museum of China, Guangdong Art Museum, Jiangsu Art Museum, Zhejiang Art Museum, the Guangzhou Art Museum, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Sydney City Hall, City Council of Montepulciano,  City Council of Turin, City Council of Milan, Istanbul City Council , Trent Park Equestrian Center, Expo Milano 2015, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Cusco Municipality, Peru Hamburg City Hall, Hamburg International Maritime Museum, etc.

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