Xia Xing "2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010"
January 29 - April 10, 2011
Opening: January 29, 2011; 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
The Beijing News (Xin Jing Bao) is a popular newspaper founded on November 11, 2003 as a venture between Beijing’s Guangming Daily (directed by the Central Propaganda Department and supported by the Communist Party Central Committee), and Guangzhou’s Southern Daily Press Group (controlled by the Guangdong Communist Party Provincial Central Committee). Although intended to adhere to the Party line, since its establishment The Beijing News has gained a reputation as one of China’s most progressive newspapers. Some of the articles published in its first years are regarded as so audacious that the authorities repeatedly adopted “corrective measures” and made a series of major adjustments, replacing key personnel.
The source material for Xia Xing’s paintings is photography. Accordingly, each yearly series of canvasses is conceived in the same way as a photographic edition: besides the whole work comprising approximately 60 pieces accompanied by the pages of the original newspapers, on request the artist can repaint a single canvas twice more, for a total maximum edition of three. In this way, and like the widespread diffusion of news through the media, Xia Xing’s series exist both as an entire body of visual information, and also as dissimilar individual stories.
With respect to the content, Xia Xing’s works are related to all kinds of news, spanning from amusing events such as the Beijing Winter Swimming Competition of 07.01.07, a painting depicting the middle-aged women of an unofficial, aspiring “Olympic Winter Swim team" who are seen cheering while wearing headgear in the shape of the Fuwa dolls – the mascots of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing – to the most tragic disasters, as in the case of 07.04.19, a picture representing a steel crucible that slipped onto a shed where workers gathered for a meeting in Tieling, Liaoning Province, killing 32 people. Since 2009, however, Xia Xing’s paintings have increasingly concentrated on the topic of the safeguarding of human rights, a subject matter initiated by an episode that happened on December 8, 2009, when a citizen named Liu Tianxiao, a representative for consumers, threw a bottle of mineral water at an official during a public hearing over rising water prices in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province.
For the first time, a selection of works from Xia Xing’s four most recent series will be featured together in the artist’s solo exhibition 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010, on show at the Beijing space of Galerie Urs Meile Beijing-Lucerne from January 29 to April 10, 2011.
In this exhibition, the artist’s criticism of the media’s strong tendency to make social and political news spectacular, as well as the public’s fast consumption and the eventual oblivion of such press images, is emphasized by means of the repeated juxtapositions of paintings related to an expanded timeframe covering four years, a very long time in the forgetful collective memory of a country whose gaze is relentlessly cast into the future.
by Nataline Colonnello, 2010 (english)