Exhibit shows transient nature of news and life
In one of Xiaoze Xie’s paintings, newspapers are depicted folded and piled in the stacks of libraries in China and the United States. Xie does not alter the placement of the newspapers, as it is their “found” combinations that he finds so intriguing.
“They suggest a forgotten narrative of our recent history as well as a metaphor for the transience of day-to-day life,” said Xie, whose subjects in paintings have been predominantly books and newspapers for the last two decades.
Subtexts, an exhibition of the new paintings by Xie, a professor of art at Stanford University, was recently presented at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery and will be on display through June 20 in Toronto.
The May 28 exhibition, which was Xie’s fourth at the gallery, featured two different series of newspaper paintings, The Silent Flow of Daily Life and Both Sides Now.
In the former series, Xie renders the newspapers with softened edges and a nuanced variation in colour, the paintings appearing as though slightly out of focus.
While most of the contents of the newspaper are obscured by this effect, Xie offers a few cryptic hints in the blurred text and images. His ethereal use of light, and rhythmic, poetic brushstrokes convey a certain reverence for the newspaper.
At the same time, Xie’s depiction of the newspapers within the confines of the library acknowledges their increasing redundancy as they remain, for the most part, untouched as soon as they are filed away.
In the Both Sides Now series, Xie transforms the canvases into blown-up sections of the
newspaper’s pages. The text and images are clearly legible, but dramatically cropped so that the information is interrupted and removed from its original context.
As in the Silent Flow of Daily Life series, Xie paints the newspapers as they are found. “This means sifting though hundreds of international papers in search of the most compelling or ironic juxtapositions of text, images and advertisements,” he said.
To create the look of newsprint, Xie invented a remarkable trompe l’oeil technique that mimics the appearance of text and images bleeding through from the opposite side of the page. The large scale of these paintings is essential for their success, as it highlights the disruption of text from the other side and, in combination with the cropping, creates abstraction.
“The beauty and detail of Xie’s paintings evokes nostalgia for the newspaper while his carefully crafted compositions question it as an objective source of information and its existence in the not-toodistant future,” said one reviewer.
Xie Xiaoze (left) is introducing his painting to the audiences at the opening ceremony of his exhibition entitled Subtexts at Nicholas Metivier Gallery on May 28 in Toronto.