Caomin Xie


About this Series

The series painting of “the Facial Makeup of Chinese Opera” is created between other series of paintings in these recent years. The idea came from my thoughts on the question of cultural identity. To my thinking, the most charming quality of facial makeup in Chinese opera is that it reveals the chanciness between representational sign and essential identity. Male character can be represented by a female performer; elder can be shown by youngster. The essential identity of actor is not the assured fact. The most important is the sign of the representation. As a trick of metaphor, it is the facial makeup which creates the role, not the actor himself. The facial makeup replacing actors’ facial expression is one signifier replacing another signifier. The facial makeup is not a representational depiction of a natural subject but to reveal its creative nature through its splitting from it’s signified as subject. People always criticizes that today’s Chinese art is more and more becoming symbolized. This kind of view implicates a sort of essentialist call of cultural identity. The demonstration of the facial makeup of Chinese opera is jeering overturn of the essentialism.

Artist Statement

If painting is comprehended as a productive practice, we cannot make much difference between painting, photo or motion graphics. All of them are the same as image producing, and all kinds of image producing are painting; the producer is desire. The image producing is desire’s practice as metonymy and metaphor.

Since 2000, I have produced a series of paintings called “Still Image”. “Still Image” is not painting mimicking screens, but the metonymy between different images. Image in screen not only give us disordered and impermanency experiences, it also offers different profiles of the image debris in the stream of time. “Still Image” is the suspension in the process when image transforms from one kind of destruction to the other. The image producing is the metonymy of destruction. That is why I always is obsessed in painting Modern ruins. However, the sense of the image producing is not consisted in what it has produced, but in the process of producing as such reality.

In 2006, I developed the “Still Image” series into a new group of painting —-“Thousands Buddha”. This series of painting is my interpretation of Buddhist’s idea of the infinitude universes and self micro cosmos. The existential Wonder of the individual’s chance dwells in the uncanny feeling of the infinitude universes; every element in the painting prefigures finitude and infinitude. It is impossible to confirm or deny by its own. It only appears not in a long term contemplate but in a short glance.

My interpretation of the Buddhist’s idea is all through my recent paintings of “The Ruins’ Mandala”. Mandala first appeared in Tantric Buddhism as a form of sand painting. In the making of Mandala, different colored sand processed in metempsychosis like pictures changing in a kaleidoscope. It embodies the Buddhist concepts of creation, maintenance, destruction and emptiness. Mandala also is a kind of visual presentation of the Holographism. It reflects the relationship between happenchance and eternal return of the whole universe; not only we can search out the information of universal existence in the detail of chance; we can also find contingence chance in the existence of the whole universe. When we are confronting the stupendous creative and destructive powers of today’s technology, for me, Mandala is the best visual metaphor of our world.

Caomin Xie’s Website