‘… Something seems to have happened in the settings depicted in my paintings. They seem like the setting of a crime …’

Born 1967, Beijing . Lives and works in Shanghai.
Self-taught painter Zhao Xuebing lived in Paris for five years and New York City for three. In Paris he immersed himself in the works of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists and their treatment of shifting light and shadow. In Manhattan, he lived on the Upper West Side near Central Park, walking often in its wildest, most deserted, slightly creepy corners, and taking thousands of photographs. Returning to Shanghai, these influences were melded with suggestions of Chinese Song Dynasty landscapes by masters such as Fan Kuan that he loved; in monochrome shades of blue/grey, they evoke the nuances of ink painting. He says: ‘Until today, each time I paint a Central Park painting, I always have a large Fan Kuan painting hanging on the wall of my studio.’ Zhao projects an image onto his canvas or board and then uses tiny, feathery brush strokes to build up subtle layers of very thin, diluted oil paint. His careful brush captures dappled light and shadow falling on leaves like the aperture of a camera with a long exposure. Mostly painted from memory and his collection of photographs, his Central Park series recalls nineteenth century collodion tintypes or cyanotype photographs –– nostalgic and elusive, there are slippages between the positive and negative image. They are like dream landscapes, lonely and desolate, and a little strange.

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