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The Scenery and Fashion of Today

Author: Li Xu 2006

Starting from this spring, Mr. Xue Song has been working on "The Symbol Series". Different from his last album, "New Interpretation of Classic Poems", the spirit of the current series points to contemporary culture and life in reality.

The images in "The Symbol Series" are mostly traditional Chinese brush painting of mountains and waters as well as ruins in modern cities. Interestingly, he marks those painting with "big arrows" and "crosses", which stand for reorganization and negation respectively. The complexity of the images employed in the paintings gives them a provoking multiplicity between the real and imaginative. Let's sort things out. The Hollywood and high fashion posters remind one of the things in vogue nowadays, the western masterpieces suggest cultural style of the post-colonial age, the collage of banknotes hints the corrosive power of money on all traditional values structures, while the proletarian worker, farmers and soldiers, familiar images of "the Cultural Revolution", symbolize the memory of politics in a certain past age…Piled on top of the other, those pieces of image seems to be thrown together at random. The artist tries to recapitulate a somewhat messy status of the contemporary Chinese culture in a seemingly very traditional pictorial pattern. Time and space lost their coordinates. Everything seems to be a state of mess. It creates an overwhelming, confusing, embarrassing and yet comic effect.

Flame and ashes. They signify destruction and ruin. Desolation and wreckages seem to be the their proper destiny. In the works of Mr. Xue Song, however, these have been given the power of reconstruction and rebirth. The arrows and crosses are perhaps subjective and rush judgments, and an alternative criticism concealed in fun poking.

The works of Mr. Xue Song is an open space embracing and yearning for new meanings. They are also a chaotic jigsaw puzzle, as well as an interactive and ever-changing lineup and permutation of bits of reality in contemporary China. It produces a different effect on each individual audience and everyday audience seems to be able to find him or her in a strange new journey in reading those paintings.

Qikang Li, Shanghai
Midnight, August 20, 2003

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