Opening: 30th Aug. 2014, 5pm - 7pm
In 2013, Xiao Jiang started to paint a series of outdoor landscape. Before this, the empty rooms and daily supplies he painted, revealed withered and gridlock，submerged into unutterable dilemma. What they expressed were not distress, but forgotten, neglect, tininess and ordinary. The objects are nondescript, in Xiao Jiang’s creation, some even unbearable like urinal, rubble, blot, bloodstain, butt, soil and so on. Covered with unnatural light and anamorphic color, the images originated from photos and movies are separated from daily experience. Narration turns into unreliable. In the sealed cyclic space, scenes and objects are mutual evidence—scenes are background of the objects which simultaneously are the empty existence of scenes.
What have happened? And what will? These paintings are suffused with confusion, doubt and anxiety, though looks ordinary and frosty. No matter the painter or spectators are dissociated from the paintings without the possibility of communication. The imprisoned memory exists as blind spot in Xiao Jiang’s paintings. They came from a realistic inducement, but then slipped into mysterious and absurd quietly under the spectators’ peep and imagination. In terms of the images, the tension between light and shade was told in concise language. Local and delicate tonal variation aggravated the turbulent atmosphere. When absurd and true are increasingly approaching, reality and illusion immerse into each other, Xiao Jiang concludes the intricate and barely awake characteristics of his paintings.
Xiao Jiang’s landscape paintings still bring us the distant feel. Memory and present plays in the meantime. An emotional moment is freeze-framed by scenery and this commemorates “having been there”.
These landscapes are all what Xiao Jiang saw in his hometown Jinggang Mountains and his hiking in Jiangsu and Zhejiang area. In fact, he took photos on the way, and painted after back to studio. He turned to paint landscape and also turned himself from dream roamer into observer because of the boredom of obscure, alienation and closure relied on second-hand image narration. Trudge brought him back to realistic start, but not his paintings which are not naturalistic either. Paint from life never acts as his purpose, pastoral won’t be the theme. Landscapes play indeed as the medium to purify vision and sprit.
These paintings demonstrate simple and consistent formal principle, including the diagonal composition which splits image with road. His complicated color is unnatural but harmonious. The image focus shifts due to the slight inaccurate perspective. Paths, houses, trees, fields and valleys are represented with geometry lumps of color. The geometric structure contributes to the clear outline of the paintings which meanwhile becomes highly abstractive and stylized.
In correspondence with previous works, Xiao Jiang didn’t easily reveal emotion and symbolic significance and he responded to modern paintings of Edouard Manet, Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler and so on. However, Xiao Jiang consciously changed his and spectators’ position with vision logic and eyes travel. Landscapes are fascinating. The road is under our feet. We are called up to forward. Spectators and the artist meet at this moment, and they are all no longer outsiders. We step into landscapes from this side of the paintings, who are “involved” onlookers.
As Ruskin said, the interests of landscapes are entirely constituted with the relationship between scenery and human. Splendid painter should not only faithfully record the nature but to reveal how people appreciate and comprehend them and in this way the artist bring to our attention the tiny even ignored beauty and power. To paraphrase Stein’s verse “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”. Xiao Jiang’s landscapes are landscapes are landscapes are landscapes. In other words, he concentrates on painting itself, without play up to theory and concept. In his creations, the fusion of presentation and significance, the emotional connection between the visible landscapes and invisible human, the blend and vision power of concretization and abstraction deeply seized our attention and aroused intense sympathy.
Along the Way—Xiao Jiang’s solo exhibition will open on 30 Aug. 2014 at Vanguard Gallery and last to 19 Oct.