Ex­hibit shows tran­sient na­ture of news and life

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - BY LI NA in Toronto

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.

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