NEW YORK, Chinese Contemporary, Xue Song's "New Life", May 24 - June 28, 2008
MAY 24th - JUNE 28th, 2008
OPENING: May 24th 2008, 3-6pm
535 W. 24th Street, 3nd FL, New York, NY 10011
Visit our website at www.chinesecontemporary.com
Xue Song's works are collages of torn pieces of paper, some with their edges burnt, others not, some completely burnt to black ash, all very carefully selected and placed in each composition. In the early 1990s Xue Song's studio burned down, destroying not only all his works but most of his other possessions as well. In a cathartic process he took the ashes of his old works and the half destroyed remains of other objects and used them to create collages. Ironic though it may seem, he has described this moment as exciting and defining since this is when he realized the power and possibilities of expression that collage gave him.
Xue Song has continued using burnt paper and ashes in his work ever since the burning of his studio in 1980s. Many interpretations have thereafter been linked to this event such as a rebirth not only of Xue Song's art but also of a civilization. As a young adult in the 1980s he would have been aware of many Chinese artists’ desire to contribute to the regeneration of their culture. His works form a continually evolving body of observation and assessment of his country's adjustments in the post- Mao era. Some of his works, most obviously his Mao series, fall into the Political Pop School that emerged in China in the early 1990s. Typical of the Pop approach, there is a playfulness with which the artist presents this iconic leader. The graphic approach, the outline of his portrait and the collage composition all remove the feeling of an individual and emphasize the icon, while the elements of the collages recall his personality, his preferences and his deeds.
Xue Song has seen the entire social, economic and political transformation and continues to witness this amazing evolution. Other recent works express the distance between the revolutionary China of his childhood, filled with model peasants, workers and soldiers, and the mange imbued childhood of today. The main figure may be a recognizable figure from the recent past or present: a political figure, an image made famous through the press, a culturally charged icon, a commercial product etc. or it may be calligraphic The burning of the edges of the fragments adds the aura of history as though segments of information have been found among destruction and pieced together in an attempt to recreate a reality. Instead of discarding it outright, many artists of the Chinese avant-garde struggle to reconcile their great cultural tradition with contemporary art and contemporary life.
ABOUT XUE SONG
Xue Song is one of the most important artists of the Chinese avant-garde. Born in 1965 in Anhui province and now living in Shanghai, he had his first exhibition in 1992 at the British Embassy in Beijing. He decided to dedicate himself full time to his art during the early 1990s when very few people were taking an interest in contemporary Chinese art and times were definitely hard. Now Xue Song has taken part in exhibitions the world over and is in major private and public collections.