An MFA graduate from the acclaimed Tsinghua University, the young Beijing artist, Yang Xu studied under the tutelage of renowned artist, Chen Danqing, working predominantly with oil on canvas whilst drawing inspiration from motion pictures, photography and still-life.
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Hand Job – As If I Had Nothing To Do features Yang Xu’s works over the last four years, illustrating his development as an emerging artist after academia. These form part of an expansive intellectual exercise through which he experiments with painted two-dimensional images, exploring their boundaries and limitations in exceeding time and space.
The process of unfolding a traditional scroll involves a painting being gradually revealed as it unrolls. Likewise, viewers of Yang Xu’s artwork are required to move from one image to the next, to follow the progression of the works.
In the Utterly Routed series, not only do viewers witness a vase of flowers gradually wilting, they also experience the transcendence of two-dimensional images fusing into a three-dimensional space through movement and interaction with the paintings.
In Suddenly Turning Hostile, the subtle tweaks in the expressions of comedian, Charlie Chaplin, detailed in the first seventeen portraits, lull viewers into a state of complacency before the final image of Adolf Hitler produces a disconcerted jolt of recognition. While the relationship between the beloved comedian and tyrannical dictator is barely discernible, Yang Xu manages to link the most superficial similarities in their facial features and extrapolate them into this clever and ironical piece.
Viewers will realize that the paintings in each series are not meant to be scrutinized as static individual pieces, but rather, to be enjoyed like a reel of film. To fully comprehend and appreciate the depth of their visual impact, Yang Xu’s works must be savored in their entirety.