Born 1988, Zhangjiakou, Hebei

The Nei Jing, or Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, is one of the world’s oldest medical texts, dating back to the 1st century. Looking through its heavily illustrated pages—in which the body and its organ systems are likened to mountains, rivers and climatic zones—“gave me a new perspective”, Xie Kun says. “I started looking at people as collages, in a way, collections of parts” that are never in perfect harmony, but instead constantly clash and compete: “We are fragmented and disunited, with a lot of choices and doubts … conflict and contradictions.” His Transformation (2011) was an attempt to convey that sense of endless internal friction. Many of its visual elements—the internal “organs” and the elaborate doodles—resemble those of the Nei Jing, but they are blended with imagery borrowed from Sixties psychedelia and film director and illustrator Tim Burton. In other unions of differences, acrylic paint is combined with marker pen, and the painting’s background is gloss while the figures are matte. As to what the three figures represent, they are “a kind of record of my life’s turning points,” says the artist, who describes himself as “a contemporary Daoist”.

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