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Xie Guoping

Xie Guoping an Essay:Tally Beck

Xie Guoping is on the vanguard of a new artistic vision in Chinese contemporary art. His technical virtuosity and the emotional intensity of his painting belie his youth. Born in 1985 to a farming family in the small town of Wuxi (near Chongqing), he graduated from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Art in 2007, and his entries in the graduation show already began attracting attention. Drawing from his own observations of daily life and some surprising stylistic influences, Xie carefully and quietly draws us into his engaging, individual idiom.

Working in acrylic on canvas, Xie uses monochrome dots on a large scale to evoke a photojournalistic mood. The approach may remind viewers of the Ben-Day dot compositions of Sigmar Polke and Roy Lichtenstein, but it is not Xie’s intention to make a similar Post-Modernist commentary on mass media. Recalling Polke’s work, Xie’s pieces are challenging to decipher up close but become increasingly clearer as the viewer steps back from the image. Polke used this effect to subvert commercialised sexuality (as in his 1966 Bunnies), but Xie employs it to invoke objectivity and, at times, to edify the ostensibly insignificant or mundane.

…(they) seem to display a healthy, insouciant disregard for these established styles…
Pi Li

No Trace is his first solo exhibition, and the show is dominated by works he painted in the aftermath of the May 14, 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The pieces depict the destruction, damage assessment and cleanup. His vignettes portray the ordinary people, the workers going about their lives in the wake of the tragedy. Whereas many artists might take the opportunity to focus on drama or sentimentality, Xie wishes to draw our attention to the unnoticed details and the unsung heroes.

Providing an effective counterpoint to Xie’s photojournalistic objectivity is his captivating overlay of painterly abstractions. He finishes each piece with swaths of fiery colour, usually red or yellow. These gestural flourishes animate the subject matter and inject Xie’s personal subjectivity into the work. According to Xie, the autumnal palette he uses in these fields is inspired by several of the painters in the Nabisme movement, such as Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. The Nabis were a self-inaugurated group of artists in Paris in the 1880s who were not bound together by a particular style but rather by a commitment to separate, individual artistic visions.

Vuillard’s and Bonnard’s hues clearly animate Xie’s canvases, but the basic principle of Nabisme seems to have a relevance to the young artist’s work as well. Xie also does not identify himself with a particular movement. His style and approach defy the facile categorizations we often apply to Chinese contemporary art. Galvanised by the runaway success of the erstwhile titans of the genre, many artists after the turn of the millennium sought to attach themselves to one of the nascent movements (Cynical Realism, Political Pop, etc.).

Newcomers simply imitated without originality while others were able to energise these styles with technical virtuosity or creative twists. Xie, along with a promising smattering of other young artists emerging from Chengdu and Chongqing, seem to display a healthy, insouciant disregard for these established styles. Their priority is to remain honest to a personal, individual vision of their worlds and to execute this vision in a unique, unpretentious, unself-conscious visual idiom. Xie shows us what he notices, observes and is moved by. At the same time, he gives us an objective distance that effectively conveys isolation and ambiguity. Any sense of alienation that this approach may engender is tempered with the warmth of his gestural abstractions. Xie skillfully directs our point of view to share his personal view.

Born in Chongqing
Graduated from Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts
Professional Artist

Solo Exhibitions

A Floating Life, Red Gate Gallery
No Trace, Red Gate Gallery

Group Exhibitions

Two Generations – 20 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, 2012 Australian Tour: City of Sydney Chinese New Year; Manning Regional Gallery; Damien Minton Gallery; University of Newcastle Gallery; Melbourne International Fine Arts (MiFA); Linton & Kay, Perth
20 Years – Two Generations of Artists at Red Gate, island6 Art Center, Shanghai
20 Years – Two Generations of Artists at Red Gate, Red Gate Gallery
Mixture and Vitality, 2008 Beijing Show of Sichuan Fine Arts
Institute, Today Art Museum, Beijing
This Visit, Chongqing Art Museum
Street Scene, Chongqing Xinrui Contemporary Art Gallery
The Beauty of Home, The 1st Chongqing Exhibition of Graduate Student Artworks
The Fool, Sichuan Art Gallery, Chongqing

My recent work is about a return to nature, which takes the form of a couple of fruit trees or a mountain. I feel that only by being in nature will one feel extremely peaceful; where one can find a serenity that emanates from the inner self. It is a place free of slogans and there is nothing to fathom. By returning to this boundless inner sanctum, one can access a life force. Perhaps it is just that for me? I feel closer to myself as I channel this internal energy into my painting.

Xie Guoping



9 am - 5 pm Daily
Levels 1 & 4,
Dongbianmen Watchtower,
Dongcheng, Beijing
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