Sui Jianguo’s discus thrower

1 June – 9 September 2012

The Asahi Shimbun Displays
Objects in focus

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The Discobolus (discus thrower) is one of the most famous sculptures from the ancient world and has come to mean different things to different people. This display features contemporary Chinese artist Sui Jianguo’s beautiful and thought-provoking interpretation.

The famous marble Discobolus statue is one of the British Museum’s best known objects. It is one of many copies made by the Romans of a Greek bronze original, cast around 450 BC by Myron of Athens. The original has long been lost. The Museum’s marble copy, known as the ‘Townley Discobolus’, was excavated at Hadrian’s Villa near Rome in 1791 and can be seen on display in the Great Court.

'I wanted to show how through self-reflection I have come to throw off the bonds of the education I received at the Art Academy and its socialist ideology. Instead of these I have created a ‘way of art’ all my own.' Sui Jianguo

The power of the Discobolus as a cultural icon continues today with Chinese sculptor Sui Jianguo’s (b. 1956) clothed version, on display in Room 3.

The display of the Townley Discobolus and Sui Jianguo’s response so close to each other allows us to see the conversation(s) between ancient and modern, and East and West.

Sui Jianguo, Drapery folds – the Discobolus, 2012

Sui Jianguo (b. 1956), Drapery folds – the Discobolus, 2012. © Sui Jianguo.

Meet Sui

Sui Jianguo was born in Qingdao, Shandong province, in 1956, and received a BA in Fine Arts from the Shandong University of Arts in 1984.

He went on to study for an MA in Sculpture from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and is now head of the Sculpture Department.

It was at the Central Academy of Fine Arts that Sui first came across a plaster cast of the discus thrower: this and other casts were brought to China by Xu Beihong in 1939 as models of European art.

Sui has exhibited his work extensively in China and internationally. A major solo exhibition, The Hague under Heaven-Sui Jianguo Sculpture, was held at the Museum Beelden aan Zee in The Hague, Holland, in 2011.

In a recent work, Sui Jianguo modelled himself in the Discobolus pose.  © Sui Jianguo