Culture Article

Darcy Littler
/ Categories: Culture, Art

The Dethroning of Divine Beasts

A Sequel to the Classic of Mountains and Seas

The most recent work of Chinese artist and fashion designer Rui Xu is an adaption of the Classic of Mountains and Seas, an early compilation of Chinese geography and mythology. Rui Xu’s unique costumes, animal masks and specially composed music and dance, tell the story of seven divine beasts, whom reside in an ancient, legendary realm: White Marsh, Water Unicorn, Torch Dragon, Chimera, Chenghuang, Nine-Tailed Fox and Pale Deer of Flood. These once-exalted, powerful creatures, formed as both gods and beasts, are terrified to discover the loss of their magical powers as they are transported to the mundane world of modern city life. 

They soon come to realise that the jade figures that manifest around them resemble their own appearances. This gives rise to a meaningful awakening within each of them: a realisation that they are, in fact, connected to the mortal realm. The storyline progresses as these once-divine creatures find themselves surrounded by human beings without their powers to relieve them. They are now stranded in an unfamiliar world… 

The world is in a state of constant change. The divinity of nature has been altered by the influence of technology in the dawn of the digital age. The planet is facing an environmental catastrophe. In absence of a greater guidance provided by the divine, when faith no longer holds the answer, which path awaits mankind?

Rui XU is a London-based Chinese fashion designer, contemporary artist and painter whose works bridge fashion, textiles, painting, music and performance. She obtained an MA in Fashion Design at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing and continued to teach there between 2007 and 2016, during which time she became Head of the Fashion Department between 2012 and 2013. She studied at the Royal College of Art in London from 2014 to 2015 and currently works from her London-based studio.

XU has had exhibitions and performances around the globe including THE SKY IN THEIR EYES at the V&A Museum in 2016, BEAUTY ON FIRE - FOR ZAHA at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery in 2016, CHANT OF BREATH at the Saatchi Gallery in 2015 and FROM XUAN TO BLINDNESS at the Royal College of Art in 2015. XU’s fashion designs and publication XIANG WANG YI won her the ‘Red Dot Design Award’ in Berlin in 2013.


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