Friday, April 8, 2011


When I ask Beijing painter Xia Xiaowan to list a few of his favourite artists, he replies, simply, “Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci”. When I ask about his latest series, a haunting collection of 3D paintings on layered sheets of glass, he sounds like Descartes, slipping into a trance-like meditation on his quest for three dimensional space.

In short, the guy’s an
artiste. A blue-blooded, highly-educated, born-in-1959, highbrow Chinese painter completely submerged in the field. A master, as they call them; waxy candles, notebooks full of sketches, engaging debates, lectures and reflections on the pros and cons of oil painting... the whole nine yards. And despite the dark look of his CAT scan-inspired 3D paintings - that arrested the blogging art world a few months back - Xiaowan describes his work optimistically, as explorations of "human being humanity" (sic)…

When did you start working with sheets of glass in 3D?

Since 2003.

Where’d you get the idea?

I had a solo exhibition in Beijing, at Today Art Museum. I showed my sketch on paper works, nearly two hundred pieces. The exhibition hall is really huge, upright and foursquare. I had many problems expressing space in flat paintings. I recognised that painting can never surpass its flat quality in a real space. Therefore, that made me crazy about the problem. Can painting be painted in a totally space way? I began to practice associating painting with the theory of CT (CAT) scans in medical technology.

Full interview on Don't Panic Online.

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