In Human human – lotus, cloisonne figure 1 2000-01, Ah Xian uses the lotus flower as his decorative motif. This flower is rich with symbolic meaning and in China is closely associated with Chinese Buddhism and Taoism. It represents spiritual unfolding, purity and spiritual awakening leading to the state of nirvana or eternal bliss. In addition, the lotus is associated with aspects of the divine within humanity. This serene nude figure is adorned with blossoms on her cheek, shoulder, breast, abdomen and thigh. The flowers cling to the form to amplify an overall sense of adoration, with the blooms and stems reaching around the figure and embracing it.
The nude has been a constant form in Ah Xian’s practice. When the artist was in China this form was inflected with notions of protest; in Australia his sculptures have developed with the intention of re-connecting with China. This is an essential connection that sustains Ah Xian’s creative practice. Thus the nude form, especially since Ah Xian began working with artisans specialising in the traditional crafts of porcelain and cloisonne, is now modulated with symbols derived from those traditions. In Human human – lotus, cloisonne figure 1, Ah Xian has constructed a supreme sculpture that advocates for relationships that traverse exile and homage, craft and art, tradition and contemporary practice.