Jan 11, 2019 -
Mar 9, 2019
Jan 11, 2019 17:00 Friday
The body is our general medium for having a world. – Maurice Merleau-ponty
BANK is pleased to present Xie Qi’s Clavicle, marking the artist’s first solo show in Shanghai and her first collaboration with BANK.
Clavicle presents a series of recent oil paintings by this Beijing-based artist in a signature style that embraces both transcendental humanistic tenets and a contemporary spirit. The show is the result of several years of preparation and marks a new breakthrough in the artist’s oeuvre.
Taking notice of the human figure’s delicate structure in various natural postures the artist evokes not only the radiant beauty of the human form but also the individual’s underlying psyche and its myriad emotional states. Xie Qi reminds us in these paintings that our surface lying flesh has always been the portal to our entrenched inner conditions. The catalyst for this body of work is the clavicle, one of the body’s most visible and therefore most fragile bones, whose sinuous line of demarcation separates the upper bust and head from the main trunk of the body. For the artist the clavicle is a line of distinction between portraiture and figuration. On one side we perceive the identity of the person and on the other we reveal the habitually obscured portion of breast, abdomen, sex and legs. The clavicle or collarbone, as it is commonly referred to, is an off-center cantilever that props the surrounding body parts into focus. It is the threshold through which the human becomes both subject and object. Balanced atop the clavicle is the head, a perpetual incubator of reason, and suspended below is the body, a vessel of physiological sustenance and emotive energies. Xie Qi vacillates her attention around this fragile bone through many canvasses. Some are full body models counterpoised as celestial beings; some show only contorted upper bodies, while others are simple bust portraits.
The artist notes that narrative and the identity of her subjects aren’t important to her. “The themes I like are the big ones in life. Tragedy and comedy together-that is life, the combination.” Like music, an art that targets the emotions directly, Xie Qi attempts to meld anonymous and universal themes together. To achieve this she has employed a dramatic sense of lighting and unique color schema, making her subjects emanate with an intimate nocturnal feeling, as if being seen through the veil of a dream. Her tinted pallet can’t help but remind us of social-media image filters that help to embellish our ordinary lives, or the sordid side of evening- red light districts, neon signs and nightclubs. However these colors aren’t symbolic as much as they are visual harmonies for otherwise solitary subjects, creating slight disturbances and ambience. She says “The lights put the subjects on a stage, connoting a certain predicament or dilemma.” The ethereal atmospheric quality of the work is heightened by other incursions to the canvases. Some pictures appear unfinished as if a printer ran out of ink, while other seem to have been assaulted by random swatches of color. Reality is broken by these disturbances and a sense of completeness betrayed. This is the effect that the artist strives for- a tenuous, impermanent beauty. Such is the paradox of the clavicle or bones in general – they’re beautiful because of their fragility, and like our emotive capacity they only can bear so much.
*For the opening reception of Clavicle the Beijing-based musician, Song Yuzhe, a long time friend and collaborator of Xie Qi will perform an unplugged set of songs carefully chosen for the exhibition. Song Yuzhe, known for his off- folk ballads, says of Xie Qi’s paintings “Warm and moist is the valley where neon strains against murky green/ Amid rocks a bracing stream where a clavicle shows through.”