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J Gallery
2017.05.27 Sat - 2017.07.09 Sun
Opening Exhibition
莫干山路50号17号楼102室, 200060 ; 102, Building 17, M50, Shanghai.
+86 13062689395
Opening Hours
Mo. Tu. We. Th. Fr. Sa. Su 11:00 - 18:00
Huang Josefina

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Solo Exhibition of Xie Yi:Barge Haulers on the Volga - J: GALLERY
[Press Release]

J: GALLERY is honoured to announce the upcoming solo exhibition of Xie Yi: “Barge Haulers on the Volga”, opening on 27 May, 2017. This exhibition will be the artist Xie Yi’s first solo show, curated by young curator Yang Zi. Following the artist’s longstanding creative working, the majority of the works in this exhibition will be his recently finished pieces, which embrace media such as sculpture, painting, installation and video, representing the artist’s confrontation with his personal knowledge structure in his lasting endeavour to artistic creation, as well as the artist’s self-reflection upon his professional identity under the present intricate social environment. The exhibition will continue until 9 July.


Studies and practices on sculpture constitute the primary method of Xie Yi’s artistic pursuit – a mind-set derived from sculpture-making almost pervades the crafting process of each single work in this exhibition, among which some pieces demonstrate virtuosic craftsmanship and tremendous working intensity. Regardless of their forms and media, these “sculptural” works indicate an adherence to the Classical, ideal aesthetics.

Nevertheless, Xie Yi does not discard the “contemporaneity” in his work. The aspiration of those silent beings in the contemporary art exhibition space, who always eagerly communicate to the beholders knowledges and messages about themselves, is not eliminated. The artist seems to take on the “Realism-Humanism” stance of Ilya Repin (1844-1930), the representative of the Russian Itinerants (this exhibition is named after his work Barge Haulers on the Volga), encompassing heterogeneous issues in his works, such as the body as an aesthetic object, art history, popular culture, humanism, power agencies that have been veiled in every corner of the world, as well as fused ideologies risen from globalisation and urbanisation. Xie Yi searched for existing “cultural signifiers”, of which the interpretations originated from diverse cultural backgrounds become woven into a certain scene. Various values (which may conflict with one another at times) are represented by the “cultural signifiers”, “enchanting” the substances which occupy the physical space, attempting to immortalise them (the immortality they gain, nevertheless, often remains questionable) – this is also a common function of the sculptural media.


Xie Yi is interested in the matters pertaining to “labour”. Labour (of which creation, or even conceptual creation is a subcategory) is regarded by some as a relentless activity that consumes life; it is inescapable being born to be a human. The sensations that Repin’s paintings convey are loneliness, misery, and yet they are heroic. However, as what Camus remarked on Sisyphus: “The absurd man… he knows himself to be the master of his days.” Xie Yi understands that specific labour works are not thoroughly an affliction under the “maximum economy benefits” logic that one seeks to escape from; instead, it offers him the opportunity to “intimately encounter” with the reality — the seemingly consuming labour thus becomes functioned to resist nihilism in the present. Perhaps, instead of modelling a “timeless” value, it would rather be worth to accentuate the development and chaos of the values, so that its vitality can endure. Hence, labour is transformed from a “process” to a “target”.

Article by Yang Zi