Xie Nanxing

谢 南 星

Painter, *1970 Chongqing, Sichuan, studios in Chengdu and Beijing

Xie Nanxing (fourth from left) with his gallerists
All images from Urs Meile Galleries, Beijing/Lucern

Outside the meager date of Xie's birthyear and place there exist only a few paintings by him describing a disturbed childhood. Already then he employes Gerhard Richter's technique of using soft-brushing to unsharpen reality. In most of his work he searches for new means to blur his paintings. This makes “reading” his work - which is moreover mostly untitled – difficult. I will make use of the texts on the Urs Meile Website that are based on interviews and personal contact with the artist. Xie Nanxing became widely know in the West through his exhibits at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and at Documenta 12 in 2007.

Early Works

Family, 1992
150x150 cm

Untitled, Flame of gas burner, 2001
220x380 xm

Family, 1999
190x150 cm

A distorted room, an embarassing family situation and a gas flame are related to Xie's childhood memories.

Triptych “Picture of a Voice”, 2001, 220x130 cm each

Xie Nanxing meticulously investigates the surface of the canvas, the light that is generated by the paint that he uses, and the material itself that disappears (only to reappear again) beneath the thin layers that serve to create what he is depicting. We become witnesses to a never-ending disappearing and reappearing act by virtue of the pictorial process that he employs.
Peter Pakesh 2008

In contrast to Qiu Shihua's quiet Taoist meditations, Xie Nanxing's paintings are huge restless, explosive canvasses that are intended to disturb the viewer.

In the following years Xie disbands with a paint brush. Like Gerhard Richter uses a squeegee, Xie paints with a mop around his brush, producing canvasses that evoke intense but undefined impressions if seen from a distance, and complete nonesense up close. Yet the viewer is left with the tantalizing feeling that they are having a representational substructure that the artist is hiding.

The First Round with a Whip (Brush)
“The Wave” series, 2004-2009

Untitled, 2004, 220x320 cm

“The Wave”, 2008, 291x384 cm

Untitled, 2009, 220x385 cm

The Second Round with a Whip”
Canvas Prints series, 2011-2013

“Mug Mat”, 2011, 190x300 cm

“Triangular Relations”
2013, 220x150 cm

Untitled, 2012, 220x320 cm

Unlike Richter Xie likes to paint in thin, transparent layers, so his previous images show through. Searching for a method to overcome this without giving up his thin paints, he reverses the usual procedure and paints on a a second overlaid canvas and lets the paint leak through. The effect is a stipled image of dots and blotches on the first canvas, which are even more “spotty” - Xie's intention – than in his “First Round”.

If these brief technical explanations appear contrieved, you should read the more detailed analysis by David Spalding (2012).