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Xue Song

Author: Wu Liang 2006

Xue Song's interest in ash originated some years ago, when there was a big fire in his studio. The fire burnt everything.

Xue Song escaped and looked around. All that remained were burned things. In this scene of devastation, what Xue Song focused on, was the fate of books, documents, paper and photos. They were all charred in the blazing flames. Little remained except the shapeless ash and fragments of pages. From those he could recognize the remains of his paintings, of books he had read and of newspapers. In the pain of things irretrievable and lost Xue Song started to paste the ash on his paintings as if he were at a funeral.

Ash became the main theme of his later paintings. He tried to revive the burned things while carefully pasting them on a surface. He says, that these black things were books, documents, paper and photos, but they are gone. He collected the remains, and as in a ceremony, he fixed them on the canvas, making them sacred.

Ash itself is a reminder of fate, and at the same time, it is also a raw material, though one without shape. Xue Song is aware of this; on a background made of ash, he puts new documents and images-note book pages, printed material with painstaking burnt edges, photos and photocopies of photos. He adds some simple colors - white, black or red - which may remind the viewer of oriental stone rubbings, stele, calligraphy and wood block prints. Most obvious are the empty outlines of the big shapes on Xue Song’s paintings. They are famous political figures, photos from newspapers or copies from famous paintings. There is a joking element in that, there is irony and a fake seriousness. The viewer can explore it in his own way. But the most important element is the source of these paintings: ash.

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