Vincent Xeus, ‘Francis Unfolds’, 2014, Gallery 1261

Artist Statement:

Perhaps the most daring piece I created for the Alternative Visions Exhibition, “Francis Unfolds” challenges the conventional barrier between doctrines such as realism vs. abstract. I wanted to reinterpret the figure and develop the painting beyond the obvious and let the audience have an instinctive connection to the essence of painting.

Francis Bacon, an important postmodernist painter, was one of the influences to me in painting deep into human flesh and sculpting new visual realities. This influence slowly developed an affinity towards his rough and weathered face. With the subject’s eyes concealed, the audience is forced to engage with the full painting, skipping the initial stage of “meeting the eyes”. Colors and shapes support and contrast one another to deliver the flying movement in the painting.

What’s conventionally expected to be real—the figure—is heavily blurred, thus becoming an abstract idea; while the sharp contrast in the abstract shapes and strokes on top appear much more visually “real” and three-dimensional. This reversal of real vs. abstract unfolds a new visual experience for the audience.

About Vincent Xeus

Vincent Xeus’s atmospheric portraits are driven by a reverence for Italian and Dutch Old Master paintings as well as a desire to challenge classical constraints. “I loved their traditions and I had an equally strong desire to break away from it,” he has said of 16th- and 17th-century artists. “This conflict gave me struggle, and the struggle kept painting alive for me.” After immigrating to the United States from China to pursue a career in architecture, Xeus shifted his focus to oil painting. In portraits of historical figures, cultural idols, and personal friends, Xeus combines traditional techniques such as impasto and chiaroscuro with bold strokes and idiosyncratic details that disrupt otherwise classical compositions. In his “Fragmented Traditions” series, paint splatters interrupt diaphanous dresses, passages of color slide off faces, and outlines are diffused by an all-over dappled effect.

Chinese-American, b. 1981