Beyond Limits exhibition opens at Chatsworth

Xu Bing at ChatsworthOne of the most ambitious works to date by one of China’s best-known and highly acclaimed artists, Xu Bing will be shown at this year’s Beyond Limits exhibition at Chatsworth.

To accommodate  Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia, which is one of Xu Bing’s largest and most impressive works, Chatsworth has made special provision by situating it in and around the Seahorse fountain, a circular pond on the garden’s historic South Lawn.

The sculpture, which was revealed to the Press yesterday, sits directly below the south façade of the house and is a location usually off limits to visitors and was described by the Duchess of Devonshire  as extraordinary.

“It is so fascinating. There is so much in it to look at. Lots of little figures, animals and houses,” she said.

Xu Bing has used natural and man-made elements to create this multi-media work, in the form of ceramics, natural rock formations and exotic plants in addition to mist and lighting effects.

This three-dimensional installation has been designed to bring Chinese ink painting to life and it is certainly true to say that Xu Bing’s vision of Utopia is a dramatic contradiction to the grandeur of Chatsworth.

As visitors walk around and between the elements of the installation, the mountains, trees, houses and reflections coalesce into new tableaux vivants, enabling the viewer to experience Chinese ink painting in a three-dimensional sensory experience.

The six-week exhibition of monumental contemporary outdoor sculpture, which runs from September 8 until October 26, also features more than 20 works from around the world.

It has been curated by Sotheby’s, and highly sought-after artists including Antony Gormley, Marc Quinn, Christopher Le Brun and Lori Park, will be joined by landmark works from established modern masters such as Aristide Maillol, Eduardo Chillida, and Baltasar Lobo.

The Duke of Devonshire said that having Xu Bing’s sculpture was definitely something of a coup for Chatsworth but that having an exhibition by mixed artists and really rather appealing.

“Sotheby’s have done a marvellous job. They do all the hard work and once again we have an exhibition which is monumental,” he said.

Xu Bing’s work has been exhibited in some of the world’s most important institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Louvre and two editions of the Venice Biennale.

The dream-like landscape of  Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia was inspired by the classic Chinese fable Tao Hua Yuan (Peach Blossom Spring) written by the scholar Tao Qian in AD421, about a chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where people live in harmony with nature.

The exhibits will be on display every day from 11am-6pm in Chatsworth House gardens at normal garden admission prices. Go to for more details.

Watch a glorious Sotheby’s video highlighting the exhibition by clicking on the link below.