On Sunday the 26th, two solo exhibitions opened at White Space Beijing: “Xie Fan: Back to the Footlights Tomorrow” and “He Xiangyu: Dotted Line.” Although White Space’s double openings are intended as separate shows, it’s hard not to observe the moments where the two overlap. White Space tends to favor artists born after 1980 whose work has a kind of minimal softness, drawing attention—true to its name—to the emptiness of the white cube.
Xie Fan: Back to the Footlights Tomorrow
Beijing and Sichuan-based artist Xie Fan’s paintings are paradoxical because they are simultaneously hyper-realistic and impressionistic. Although based on photographs, his Summer and Winter polyptchs represent seasonality and landscape in the vaguest, most basic sense, conveying an impression rather than a lifelike representation. Summer is rendered in a vivid jungle green, the kind of color you might encounter in a child’s drawing of a tree. On the other hand, Xie’s signature technique of using oil on silk makes the paintings anything but cartoon-like, the silk’s translucency creating enormous depth even when only two colors are used. The remaining works in the show, soft-edged portraits of both human and animal subjects, are reminiscent of Gerhard Richter’s blurred photo-paintings. These are paintings about painting, but above all, the representation of objects and the color that illuminates them.
He Xiangyu: Dotted Line
“Dotted Line” is White Space’s third exhibition with Beijing-based artist He Xiangyu (b. 1986). A site-specific juxtaposition of two-dimensional work and installation, at first glance, He’s paintings seem unrelated to the other works in the show. However, it soon becomes apparent that entire exhibition addresses questions relating to perception. The gallery space, most of which is empty, is also an attempt to create a liminal space for the viewer. Endless Copies consists of two mirrors arranged back to back, rendering them ostensibly useless. The narrow space in between, according to the artist, allows the viewer to see a small sliver of themself. On the opposite wall, He’s “Lemon Flavored” series brings to mind the ubiquitous sour sucking candy. Each painting is a different shade of yellow, corresponding to paint chips that the artist selected. Similarly to his earlier Olive Oil Project, which explored the ephemerality of smell, “Lemon Flavored” represents He’s desire to express a correlation between color and taste. However, in this case, the relationship between the color yellow and the sour taste of lemons is a fabrication, both being synthetic materials intended for mass consumption.
“Xie Fan: Back to the Footlights Tomorrow” and “He Xiangyu: Dotted Line”are at White Space Beijing, until December 7th.