Freaky 3D layered glass paintings
In Xia Xiaowan’s latest show, “Painting From the Inside,” “painting” is conceived of as both as a physical act and artistic outcome. Under such a pretext, Xia Xiaowan’s works seek to investigate and question the essence of painting as well as the process of creation, sensual perception and our observation of reality.Since his early drawings, master sketcher Xia Xiaowan has restlessly been pushing the boundaries of Western traditional realistic painting. His goal, in all of this, has been to explore, by means of expanded and diffracted viewpoints, a new and ‘true vision’ which goes beyond the principles of physics. Dating back to sketches from the late 80s and early 90s, Xia Xiaowan’s subjects are often depicted from unusual angles and sometimes even appear deformed. At the same time, they appear to float in space. In short, over time, his works have increasingly departed from objectivity, realism and a strictly two-dimensional plane. It was from 2003 that Xia Xiaowan’s works found their ‘true space,’ gaining a three-dimensional quality and materially becoming in-air, ‘spacial paintings’.
Achieved via an arrangement of glass panes, varying from 14 to 21 depending on the work, glass paint and pencils, the recent works of Xia Xiaowan involve a different pictorial process – a process of analysis, construction and re-assembly of the image that implies a multi-faceted vision and a new psychological approach. Different from sculpture, Xia Xiaowan’s suspended paintings are not molded from any rough material and, as the artist says, “despite this overwhelming sense of mass, they still maintain that ’emptiness’ of painting or drawing, and that’s because these glass works are also the result of mental or emotional projection”.
The human body is a starting point and fixed subject in the artist’s works and is regarded as a basic means of knowledge – much the same as it is with sketching, for example. Contorted, blended together and seemingly subject to a constant state of metamorphosis, Xia Xiaowan’s figures inculcate seemingly paradoxical themes such as life, death, decay and return to a fetal condition together. Shapeless in terms of physical solidity and commonly held aesthetic standards, Xia Xiaowan’s often ethereal subjects deal with an unceasing transformation that is not only material but also spiritual, and are in part, metaphorical references to Chinese traditional philosophy and the idea of concurrent conflicting forces and the cyclical nature of the world and existence.
by Nataline Colonnello