Thew Smoak, In the Bevel, 2022
Portrait of a Man
Jun 29 – Oct 20, 2024
X Museum
Beijing, China

Following Collection as Poem in the Age of Ephemerality in 2020 and X PINK 101 in 2023, X Museum will present its third collection exhibition, titled Portrait of a Man, in the summer of 2024. The exhibition features male figures created by 61 international contemporary artists in recent years, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs, alongside relevant research materials, publications, and videos. Departing from a historical review of male portraiture, the exhibition delves into the complexities and multifaceted implications of male image and identity, and explores how contemporary artists learn and unlearn from the past.

Portrait of a Man is a common title in countless male portraits throughout art history. In these works, figures are anonymous, their specific identities often went unnoticed or unrecorded, hidden behind this generic title. As subjects of depiction, men have thus transitioned from narrators to the object bearing the gaze. In these works, the details of their faces and bodies are externalized through their expressions, postures, costumes, subtle interactions between multiple figures, and the surrounding environment revealed as internalized social symbols. These elements embody the social lifestyles of that time. Through this classic theme and title, the exhibition attempts to reveal the enduring significance of portraiture today, and revisits the memory and expectations associated with male representation.

Portrait of a Man consists of six sections, providing a concise overview of the techniques and concepts contemporary artists use today. The exhibition examines how they use, extend, and respond to the history of portraiture. Through emphasizing the faces, attire, settings, objects, and even animals in portraits, the exhibition reveals the relationship between male individual and groups. Portrait of a Man also highlights details of mundane life, weaving a complex world familiar to us and outlining the current socio-economic climate. This prompts us to recognize and reflect on the surge of stereotypes, consumerism, and power dynamics. It is precisely these realistic subtleties in the edges and corners of these portraits that redirect our gaze to the subjects of this exhibition—men—who, following our scrutiny, become the objects through which we reflect upon ourselves.

The participating artists in this exhibition come from 20 countries and different generations born between 1950 and 2000, with the majority born after 1980. Their works, created from diverse perspectives, connect and resonate with each other to form a realm that constantly challenges established perceptions, guiding viewers to explore the significance of male portraiture. By supporting, collecting, and exhibiting their energetic and experimental works, X Museum remains committed to its founding mission of utilizing its expansive space to connect emerging artists from around the world, researching and propelling contemporary Chinese culture and global exchanges.

Portrait of a Man
X Collection 202
Jun 29 – Oct 20, 2024
X Museum
Beijing, China

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