Skip to content

Press Release

Sean Kelly is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Sun Xun, widely considered to be one of China’s most talented and ambitious young artists. A major new 3-D animated film entitled Time Spy, produced in late 2016, will be presented alongside a selection of the woodcuts used to create the film. This will be Sun Xun’s second exhibition with the gallery.  An opening reception will take place on Thursday, September 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Composed of thousands of images of individual hand-carved woodcuts, Time Spy marks an evolution in the artist’s practice.  Constantly developing new techniques in his process, Sun Xun adopts a different medium for each of his animations.  For this film, he produced thousands of woodcuts and then transformed images of each woodcut into 3-D film, with each frame of film requiring eighteen pictures per second to pass in front of the camera lens.

The film employs images of traditional Chinese themes such as the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth—in a symbolic exploration of the nature of time and how we try to make sense of it.  Motion is a leitmotif of the film, as a violin with wings flies through a sky filled with spinning moons, while rotating machinery gives way to strange landscapes and oscillating pressure valves. Sun Xun’s films do not have a “story,” but their themes usually arise out of trips he takes to other countries.

In the case of Time Spy, inspiration came from an excursion to the town of Le Brassus, home to Audemars Piguet, the Swiss watchmaker who commissioned this work. Sun Xun described it as one of the best places on Earth to watch the stars. “The people that watch the stars stop thinking about life. Space is huge but we are limited…. Only Time can be both huge and limited…. This is my starting point.” In this exhibition, viewers will be able to view the woodcuts in tandem with the film, gaining insight into not only the artist’s creative process, but also the seemingly magical ability of film to transpose concrete form into ephemeral imagery.

Sun Xun has held multiple solo exhibitions around the world. Most recently his work Time Spy was featured as the 2017 Midnight Moment installation Times Square, New York. Other notable exhibitions include the Yuz Museum, Shanghai; Macao Museum of Art, Macao; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Hayward Gallery, London; The Drawing Center, New York; the Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel; the A4 Contemporary Arts Centre, Chengdu; the Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai; and the Louis Vuitton Taipei Maison, Taipei. He has most recently exhibited his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai; The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. His films have been screened at numerous festivals worldwide, including the Holland Animation Film Festival & City Hall, Utrecht, The Netherlands; the 25th Torino Film Festival, Torino; the 8th Seoul International Film Festival, Seoul; the 53rd International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen; and the MECAL International Short Film Festival, Barcelona.

For media inquiries, please contact: Hannah Gompertz at 212.202.3402 or
For other inquiries, please contact: Janine Cirincione at 212.239.1181 or