The title of the exhibition, Skating through the gallery with tricksy snakes, is taken from a poem artist Xiao Hanqiu puts together herself using characters she has read in a book. To Xiao, writing poetry is all about harvesting words. Similarly, rather than being the 'creator' of her work, the artist places more value on her identity as a 'reconstructor'.
How can one sail through a gallery alongside a pack of lying snakes? In the eyes of the artist, 'snakes' are not a symbol of taboo, but a metaphor for adventure. Instead of trying to recreate the Garden of Eden, Xiao Hanqiu's work has more to do with running barefoot through dewy meadows in the early morning and measuring shadows with the distance between the folds of pleated skirts. Her paintings attempt to make mischief in a twilight zone, but end up betraying an even purer form of innocence; they are uneventful accounts of the wonderland, though what we call 'wonderland' is often an abyss that pretends to point upward.
What we see is never the thing itself, but the depiction of it at each given time. The things we see are also depicting us; they are constantly changing, and we hide in them. Xiao Hanqiu is quite good at using her sensitivity to capture the details that carry her imagination of the whole. With the caution and slowness necessary for introspection, her work becomes 'smaller' and smaller still, collapsing her dazzling world of imagination into the smallest possible field of vision, like a black hole we cannot behold but are hopelessly attracted to.
The exhibition featured four series of oil paintings by Xiao Hanqiu: Pleat, The Princess and the Pea, Adventure Time and Thorn of Rose from Last Year. The artist's latest poetry collection Three Minutes to Midnight Flower Thief was also launched at the exhibition.
Press release courtesy Tabula Rasa Gallery.