Xinyi Cheng
Born Wuhan (CN), 1989
Nationality CN
Pomegranate, 2017
Oil on linen
40 x 50 x 2,5 cm Pomegranate, 2017 Oil on linen 40 x 50 x 2,5 cm
‘Still even today,” says Xinyi Cheng, “when people ask what is the subject I can say its
purely fascination.” All the subsequent decisions, such as choices of color, composition,
what technique to use, follow that initial attraction and are perhaps means to apprehend
it. The subjects are mainly white bearded and androgynous men, in various degrees of
clothing or unclothing in rather anonymous spaces, lounging, staring at cakes, each other,
and at times the viewer. They are the artist’s muses and she studies their fashion,
movement and figure, fantasies them, yet remain emotionally ambivalent. The models
gradually turned into characters that might appear alone or together in different
compositions and various poses and the paintings rarely render staged photos. At times,
Cheng admits, they become almost her alter ego and through them she ventures through
scenarios that she wouldn’t engage with in everyday life. In Cheng’s paintings, it is hard
not to notice a political byproduct, naming the inversed relationship between the painter
and the muse in the history of the art form, the perceived and actual power relations
between the two, the ethnic differences, and furthermore how she is painting the
archetypical art historical figure of the painter and returning his gaze. Yet, all of such
implications, in addition to technical painterly questions, all follow the initial fascination.