Xiao Lei 蕭磊
This Shanghai-based artist and 1999 graduate of the the prestigious Shanghai Theater Academy's Painting Division is someone to watch. Mr. Xiao creates startling and beautiful images of a new landscape. He has had two solo shows, first: "Desiring" (Haose 好色) featuring oil and acrylic paintings from 1995-2007 at the Feizi Gallery, Shanghai. The 2009 solo show “Revision” (Xiuzheng 修正) was a critical success, selling two-thirds of the works to major private collectors. He is a mover and shaker, and auctioned works for charity to help Ferrari in China help needy children. He recently participated in the group show “Collective Decadence” (集體墮落, 2014).
Mr. Xiao teaches Colour and Colour Theory classes at the Hua Shan Art Academy in Shanghai.
Four paintings from his "Revision" (Xiuzheng 修正) series are in our exhibit of works having to do with natural and unnatural histories. They are images of the four seasons, a traditional way to group Chinese poetry and painting. Xiao Lei’s daring palette puts the clash between consumer society and traditional aesthetics at center stage.
He presses the viewer to think about capitalism and consumer society as a palace and a prison.
Robin Suri (Canada) writes:
"'Revision' is an extended satirical allegory, an indictment of the 'great masters' who have lost inner strength and integrity on the path to success."
"Xiao Lei grew up in the supercity of Shanghai, and he is interested in human emotions and social issues, rather than things like a bridge spanning a stream. He thinks about conflicts in history, about values and human life, not birds and flowers, fish and insects [which are the subject of traditional landscape painting]."
For the past three years, Xiao has focused on creative technique, in a series of large black-and-white pen and ink drawings on cold-pressed paper. (See photo of working studio.) His sketches of landscapes and interiors capture the dissonance between nature and built environments, active emotion and technologised reality. Some of these black-and-white drawings are surrealist: A train follows a track into an mountain landscape that has no end or destination. Some seem like social satire: In a hospital room, countless wires and gauges link to an empty bed; the patient has fled or been disposed of. Each sketch requires two to three months to complete, and the black-and-white tonality extends and deepen his grasp of colour, line, and spatial nuance.
An up-and-coming talent, Xiao Lei has built his own distinctive mode of landscape painting with a command of color and a sense of a new landscape.