Scent – Recent Works of Xu Hualing

When 5 Oct 2019 - 8 Nov 2019
Where NanHai Art
510 Broadway
Millbrae, CA 94030
United States
Enquiry 650.259.2100

Opening Reception: October 5, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

NanHai Art is pleased to present Scent: Recent Works of Xu Hualing, curated by Kuiyi Shen. The exhibition will be open on Saturday October 5, in conjunction with the 2019 Asia Week San Francisco Bay Area. The artist Xu Hualing will be present for the opening.

Xu Hualing (born 1975, Harbin, China) is without doubt one of the most successful artists to carefully examine youth, particularly as experienced in the contemporary urban environment. Xu received solid academic training in traditional gongbi painting and life drawing and therefore has an extraordinary fluency in the artistic language of painting. This virtuosity may be seen in every detail of the figurative images she paints. Her painting in many ways is similar to traditional gongbi painting or nihonga, but in actuality she goes beyond these conventions and styles and is moreover not limited to traditional painting materials. The most important difference, however, is concept. Narrative representation is not her purpose. What she aims to do by means of her own distinctive artistic language is to freely reveal her own view of the world, express her concern for the personal emotions of her subject, and probe the essential quality of their life.

In terms of application of color, the artist does everything to simplify it in order to strengthen the purity of the composition and to create her signature mood of elegance and grace. Beginning with her “Scent” series, she avoids delineating the forms of figures with the outlines of traditional gongbi painting and instead uses light and shade. On the other hand, in order to avoid falling into a result that resembles oil painting or drawing, she purposefully weakens the contrast of light and shade to create a pale and hazy feeling. Nevertheless, her long-time mastery of gongbi painting is quite possibly impossible to completely put aside. The long hair of the young women provides an ideal space to display her virtuoso technique. She also adopts a new method with doubled images on the same surface. Bringing in a layer of photographic images enriches the depth of the painting plane, increases the dreamlike effect, and makes possible multiple readings of the painting’s meaning. Xu Hualing also courageously abandons depiction of facial features and even obscures the eyes, instead, she makes use of the close-up depiction of a cropped body. Here the artist relies entirely on body language and hand gestures to suggest the figure’s individual character and subtle psychological state.

In these technically brilliant and conceptually insightful paintings, Xu Hualing interprets the emotions and psychology of youth, accurately capturing the special characteristics of one corner of contemporary urban culture. This youthful aura is intangible and difficult to describe in words, but it is clean, pure and quietly elegant. Perhaps this is the “scent of a woman” in Xu Hualing’s heart.

Image: Xu Hualing, Fragrant 2019 No.1, 2019. Courtesy of the event organizer.

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