Xue Jiye, one of China’s most important contemporary artists, is a creative surrealist painter, full of ideas. “I have too many things in my mind, I just don’t have enough time to paint them all,” says the artist. The North-eastern Chinese painter and sculptor captivates viewers with his imagination and visionary power.
Xue does not like to be classified as a particular kind or type of painter. He says that it is important for artiststo depict things in their own unique and original artist’s language. Xue’s style has evolved a lot over the past 10 years. And he predicts more changes in the future. But the artist is consistent in the purpose of his paintings – he paints because he has the urge to paint. And the subject matter of his paintings emerges from that need. When creating, Xue prefers to allow himself a lot of freedom. “I work in a surreal style in my paintings because it gives me more space.” The artist says that “reality has become boring,” and he feels numb from society. So his mind stretches beyond reality into the world of dreams and imagination.
In his latest series of paintings, Xue depicts the human condition – a constant struggle for existence within human society. The figures in the paintings are all nudes, indicating that they are defenceless and vulnerable. Some of them are exerting all of their energy to hold themselves up, suspended between the two ends of the painting. In one set of paintings, the figure is gradually restricted between the edges of the paintings until he does not even have enough space to breathe or move. These pieces indicate men’s futile struggle against the powerful forces of society, which is surrounding them, as the edges of the paintings are confining the figures. Even if one tries to escape from society, it will eventually constrain and constrict us all.
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Guo Wei, Inside with Mosquitoes and Moths (Girl), 2006, Oil on canvas, 160 x 100 cm
Ai Weiwei (born 1957), Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995 Three panels, black and white photographs, Edition of 8, Courtesy Estella Collection.