Glass Rice is proud to present Midnight Screening, a solo exhibition of new works by Xiao Wang. Wang’s practice focuses on examining horror and cult films to create imageries of violence, danger, and tension through realism. The Uncanny plays a significant role in his practice because it is usually represented as an in between state: the frozen moment in between one second and the next, the locations between the known and the unknown, and the fetishized interiors that are realistic yet feel alien. The in-between turns familiarity into something that is unsettling and strange. His paintings feature characters at uncertain moments, situated in disrupted narratives with montages of unrelated still images. By appropriating the format of film stills and Roland Barthes’ Hermeneutic Code, he sources from digitally manipulated photographs of sites and models to build “sets” to paint from. This process thus allows him to create his very own “film stills” or scenes that act as meditations on vague senses of discomfort, rather than your typical scenes of gore and horror. His work often references color palettes, compositions, lightings, and characters of films by David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock.
“My work reveals the uncanniness of moments through removing and distorting their narrative contexts. The de-contextualization of the narrative imageries creates suspense around instead of within the paintings. Such suspense speaks largely to my personal struggle living in unstable conditions in today’s America and the feeling of powerlessness in our current social political environment.” - Xiao Wang (2017)
Through this practice, Wang is able to fabricate a fictional yet autobiographical theme around storytelling, fear, the uncanny and fate. Rather than showing his viewers precisely what is going on, Wang drops his viewers into the middle of a scene with no context nor explanation and forces them to delve into their own deep seeded anxieties and fears to give each “film still” its own meaning, thus attaching a storyline to his work that is unique to each individual who views it.