ACAE Gallery Emerging Artist Award.
SAFETY WITHIN DIVERSE BODIES
Sharon Xin Xu (b.2000), 徐欣, is an emerging Cantonese-Australian artist working on unceded lands of the Eastern Kulin nation, Naarm (Melbourne), and the Eora nation, Warrane (Sydney). Her work predominantly examines or re-defines neglected aspects of her cultural identity, focusing on blurred, fragile, or transcendental media and subject matter, spanning painting, drawing, and installation. Traditionally trained in portraiture oil painting, Xu is interested in combining painterly skills with hybrid contemporary practice, carving out a diverse portfolio of work through an analysis of personal and collective histories. Thematically underpinned by encasings of cultural alienation, wistful iconography, and intuitive artmaking practices, Xu creates profound works that act as methods for unearthing connection and safety for diverse peoples.
I created this body of work in consideration of neurodiverse, queer, and multicultural bodies through the representation of my own body. The medium of bubble wrap is a metaphor for the forms in which safety often comes for these bodies in contemporary society; thin, artificial, plastic, manufactured ASMR.
I also think of the work as reflexive, being self-portraiture – and a methodology of resolving my insecurity with ancestry, being first-generation Chinese Australian. My name comes from the Chinese idiom 欣欣向荣, meaning luxuriant growth. It also has these meanings:
– Doing well
– Going towards glory and prosperity
I’m unsure if I can resonate with implicit ancestral expectations.
Yet, I answer myself, reach compromises, and meditate on personal and collective traumas through the labor of my work. In the making process, I am recognising that sometimes this growth is non-linear, about going within, healing the interior, and not looking to markers of external success. From feeling unsafe in our own bodies, being taken advantage of, abandoned, and not having safe spaces…to encasing everything through this experience, and re-defining these personas for ourselves, which are always in flux.
Sharon Xu, in studio, 2023