For the 56th Venice Biennale, Liu Xiaodong presents a solo exhibition of works with the Faurschou Foundation at Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The exhibition, Painting as Shooting curated by Jérôme Sans is the first major European institutional exhibition that fully explores Liu Xiaodong’s unique practice.
Liu Xiaodong is considered one of China’s most influential painters of the last two decades. He is one of the leading figurative painters of the “New Generation” of contemporary Chinese Realism of the 90s and one of China’s foremost artists. Painting as Shooting focuses on a unique selection of some of his most important recent projects dealing with major global sociological, cultural, economic, ecological and environmental issues from the past ten years; presenting the journey of a voyageur moving through the images of the various worlds and situations he has witnessed, in locations worldwide from China and Asia to Cuba, Europe and Israel.
Liu Xiaodong approaches his work with the eyes and the storyboard practice of a filmmaker. Each of the artist’s major works begins with a simple idea from one of his daily diary entries, describing the events he has witnessed, photos he has taken or people he has met, and then transforms them into live characters on his canvas. In a way the artist’s paintings resemble a production set where he acts as a director who collaborates with actors to play, record or recreate a situation, various impressions or the effects thereof. It is hereby that Liu Xiaodong embodies the concept of ‘painting as shooting’.
Liu Xiaodong is viewed by some as a painter of everyday life in China, with his images of family and friends set against modest scenery capturing ordinary moments, such as eating, launching or playing games. However, in-depth exploration of what is hidden behind the small stories that populate the surface of his works reveals a much bigger picture which Liu Xiaodong conveys by pointing with one simple gesture to the reality of the periphery, the margins and the paradoxes of our contemporary society, a reality that lies behind a dark curtain that no one cares to look behind of speak about, the tough reality of daily existence that reaches out to us from displaced communities - from migrant workers, victims of ecological and natural disasters and sex workers to the new homeless – all sharing the dream of a better life, with their dignity and poignancy captured in the subtlety of the few small, beautiful moments that their existence permits.
Painting as Shooting is on at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice from 8 May - 2 August 2015.
Image: Out Of Beichuan, Liu Xiaodong, 2010 © Liu Xiaodong Studio