JANUARY 2013
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Liu Xiaodong
Liu Xiaodong is the most talented Chinese painter. His handling of the painting medium is remarkable and reminds of the greatest painters in art history. His easiness, mastery of brushstrokes to portray a character is reminiscent of the touch of Velasquez, Frans Hals, Edouard Manet ...

But the subject matter of his paintings is very Chinese, derivate from Chinese socialist realist paintings. Actually his paintings are full of humanity, showing ordinary humans dealing with daily concerns. Even when he deals with a complex geopolitical problem, he shall evoke it through the eyes or an ordinary person, how does it affect the life of everyone, at this level .

When dealing with the problematic relations between China and Taiwan, he spends more than a month in army barracks guarding the sea straight between the 2 countries, 3 weeks on each side of the border. He shares the life of soldiers and paints them in their daily occupations, then showing the canvasses by pair chinese soldiers/Taiwanese soldiers, improbable enemies of the same blood.

When dealing with the issue of the 3 gorges dam, he depicts the migrant workers who have been displaced to construct the project. One of the paintings in the show about the 3 Gorge project is depicting a food stall in the construction site of the dam. In the middle of the painting is a piece of meat hanging, the cook is directly cutting slices from it, then placing them in the frying pan to prepare a bowl of noodle soup. While eating his noodles, Liu Xiaodong was thinking that likewise the Authority was cutting into the flesh of common people to serve its purposes, which generated this painting.

After 2007, Liu Xiaodong dedicated himself to create massive works and documenting them with texts, photos, videos bringing with him a team of cameramen and photographs to accompany him in his projects. He exhibited the works in museums around the world (San Francisco, Sydney, London, Seattle, Jakarta, Guangzhou, Beijing...) where he had an undeniable success but lost interest in producing oils of smaller size for collectors. Reflecting on the evolution of art market in China, he wanted to distance himself from this frenzy of speculation and praised to work mainly for institutions. He also set a preference for exhibiting abroad (New York, London, Rome...) rather than in China. That is why this exhibition is quite exceptional. The 25 oil paintings date from the period 1993-2007 where the depiction of intimate scenes was at the core of Liu Xiaodong art. These oils are vigorous, talented, full of love and charm. The largest size is 180 x 240cm but many are in a medium size 150x150cm or 100 x 80cm.

Apart from the 25 Liu Xiaodong oils, the exhibition is featuring a rare 1992 painting by Yu Hong, the wife of Liu Xiaodong, herself a talented painter. It portrays the couple at a time when they had conflicting relationships, just one year before they get married. Yu Hong and Liu Xiaodong were the main proponents of the New Realist Movement, a key phase in the development and history of Contemporary Art in China.