Fiumano Clase proposes a solo project of the Chinese artist Xuesen Liu including a two-part video piece and an installation of ‘traditional’ Chinese ink drawings. This focused presentation will allow collectors and visitors to explore the artists practice and gain an understanding of the complexities within his oeuvre.
Xuesen places himself between positions; originating from and having lived and worked in China and then relocated to London to complete his artistic education, he both embraces and rejects Chinese tradition and its many cultural associations.
Xuesen’s two-part video installation Genesis directly references his Taoist values and principles. Initially the piece appears to be a relatively simple depiction of two opposites, masculinity (heaven) & femininity (earth), power & harmony. Firstly, a man, wearing only white Wudang trousers wields a delicate wooden sword. The second film depicts a woman wearing simple western dress adopting a similar stance but instead of the refined sword she is brandishing a gnarly tree branch. Both figures swing their foils with great force, leading the viewer to imagine that the Tibetan Singing bowl placed before them may be broken. Instead the bowl is glanced, producing a harmonious meditative chime.
In its exploration of the duality of being and the neutrality of gender. Genesis touches on the long-held Taoist notion that female and male are complimentary, inseparable and equal (Ying & Yang). However, the Lacanian theory of the Mirror Phase – in which a child learns to identify with an image outside of themselves in order to learn and grow – is also in play. Xuesen himself describes his work as ‘emerging from the womb’, and here we watch two figures overcome what appears to be anger or frustration and replace it with control and quietude. As viewers we might learn from these figures: Observe and mirror their actions and regain control of our instincts and return to a more harmonious relationship with the people and objects around us.
Complimentary to Genesis is an installation of ink drawings completed in the Taoist tradition. Through meditation and contemplation Xuesen creates works that fall outside of the western notion of aesthetic and philosophical norms. He paints quickly, often on paper, making marks that cannot be altered or erased. These automatic paintings again refer to the duality of being, the traits that at first seem to be indications of difference but ultimately which reveal themselves as the very thing that unite us.
Xuesen dismantles and deconstructs his position as an artist, he is the creator of the work, but he also is the work. His inks are intimate, unedited portrayals of his thoughts and the video piece, a more processed piece, features himself as the male figure but also his ‘other’ self as seen through the female figure.
In his own words:
“The Genesis series is a dynamic gestate, pointing towards the centre/beginning of our existence sphere, captured in stillness.”