許炯 Xu Jiong
Opening Reception | May 31 Fri. 6 pm
來自浙江杭州，許炯於2017年在Each Modern亞紀畫廊前身亦安畫廊台北曾展出個展「我看見賈島了嗎？」，以唐朝詩人賈島（779 – 843）作為創作中的浮木，透過黑白水墨創作抽象畫面與字詞作為一種自我面對與認同，而2019年的「自畫像」系列則更傾向於觀念性的表述。
Each Modern is pleased to announce “Self-portrait”, the latest solo exhibition by Chinese artist Xu Jiong, will be on display beginning May 31st. A departure from his usual abstract black and white ink works, Xu Jiong has experimentally transposed his unique ink painting method into colored paints on the acrylic sheets, creating a series of self-portraits without portraits. Through tower-like forms, and old and new works fused together, Xu’s conceptual paintings reexamine the artist’s complex identity through multiple imagined perspectives. Xu uses the personal to lead viewers into contemplations on history and identity.
From Hangzhou, in Zhejiang Province, Xu Jiong’s solo exhibition “I saw Jia Dao” was presented at aura gallery taipei, the precursor to Each Modern, in 2017. The Tang Dynasty poet Jia Dao (779 – 843) served as a creative anchor in that particular series of abstract images and calligraphic words in black ink, serving as a kind of confrontation of the Self. 2019’s “Self-portrait” is more akin to a conceptual expression.
Xu Jiong’s self-portraits differ from those of established Western art history, which emphasize likeness and appearance. His works gaze beyond the face, and seek a deeper exploration of oneself. The portraits begin with an older series of works painted by Xu. These works are used as the bottom layer of the new work, which is covered with a layer of transparent acrylic upon which Xu has painted towers of varying sizes, which represent a mixture of philosophy, economics, culture, religion, power, and politics. Written in his rebellious hand, Xu Jiong paints his name, his identity, on these Chinese symbols of power. Xu avoids the dense and full compositions of traditional abstract expressionist paintings in lieu of sparse lines, text, and narrative on wide and expansive, nearly-blank canvases to depict a deconstructed and fragmented identity. The artist’s imagery suggests concepts beyond the self: calligraphy, flowers, Mother, the phallic, cross-strait relations, etc. Having broken through the conventions of self-portraiture and abstraction, Xu has also challenged the standards of traditional black ink painting, and even more so, self-expression. The acrylic surface shares a connection to Chinese ink painting in its permanence and performativity. Strokes cannot be undone. Under seemingly pleasing colors, Xu’s portraits express an intensity of the subconscious and a shifting identity.
Upon turning 31 years old, Xu produced the first layer of this series- a group of paintings that directly responded to his queer identity. In time, the fullness of the compositions seemed overly intentional, addressing only one facet of his psychology. When reencountered, these works serve as the basis of the new paintings, symbolizing the artist’s recognition of the past self; in the triptych “Poet II / Calligrapher / Killer” (2019), the artist reflects on his Chinese cultural education and his desire to rebel against it. In the “Archaeologist” (2019), Xu depicts the differences in regard for historical artifacts by archaeologists and tomb robbers: metaphysically an exploration in cross straight relations as well as the inevitability of history. After his sexual identity was accepted and supported by his family, Xu Jiong became aware of his mother’s great influence during his formative years. Xu in time became a feminist. “Enma” (2019) emphasizes the strength of his mother, using lines to link points that represent the artist’s and his mother’s age. “Wu” (2019) pays homage to Wu ZeTian who ruled over male subjects. After visiting her mausoleum, Xu Jiong decided to smear off the initial text he wrote on Wu Zetian’s work, demonstrating the artist’s thinking process and the variability in his creation.
Xu Jiong’s faceless self-portraits reveal a complex and multi-layered state of mind. As the artist has stated, “the essence of the Self-portrait series is a passage”: a passage to share pieces of oneself, to allow viewers to enter and contemplate identity. Xu Jiong’s complicated identity narratives, though transparent and blank, seem to show us the possibilities and courageousness of self-expression.
About the Artist