Visual Arts

Yige Xu


Against the backdrop of history

Acrylic on canvas and stop motion video

My body of work explores the recent Chinese ‘century of change’, representing the shifting cultural fabric, caused by rapid political and technological upheaval, through the personal backdrop of my own family history. I trace China’s history through the last 100 years; three generations, from the fall of a 2000+ year imperial empire, to a country indoctrinated by communist ideology and propaganda, to the manufacturing powerhouse it is today.

The stop-motion video captures this sense of time moving forward, in which I honour the ancient shan shui tradition of landscape painting using ink and rice paper, on which I overlaid layers of red acrylic paint, before digitally-transforming it into a modern cityscape to express the rapid eradication of cultural tradition by political and technological forces.

Painted from my Western perspective using gestural, Expressionist strokes, the three accompanying portraits of my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother anchor this rich past, to my present.

My work is therefore, a recognition of the complexity of my culture and the incredible struggles and triumphs of the women who have led me to where I am today, represented in snapshots of time; a tribute to my family, and my history.

Influencing artists: Dai Jin, Wei Zixi, Yang Yongliang, Jenny Saville, William Kentridge