>  Featured  >  MAIN ARTISTS

Xu MaoPing

Xu Maoping in his paintings reveals his own individual, twenty-first century, world-traveler self. His landscapes take on an increasingly abstract form and acquire the distinctive expression that is his own alone. With many years of rigorous discipline in the work and spiritually meaningful composition, Xu has maintained – if anything, brought out more clearly – the aesthetic quality of the best in Chinese tradition and abstract innovation. He does not play on traditional themes (water buffalo, willow trees overhanging a fisherman’s boat, peaches, or insects) with an unschooled and weak brush; he does not plunge headlong into Western abstractions using a wild, ink-based palette on rice paper. He has not simply continued to imitate the manager and style of teachers and teachers’ teachers; he has not exemplified the dead-end effect of a reverence blind for tradition, which can happen upon uncreative minds. Xu, on the contrary, has been able to look boldly toward the future, while also retaining the best of the past.

He places the greatest emphasis upon the basic need of good work. This does not mean refined, graceful, “made-to-look-good” flourishes. It never means prettiness. It is the antitheses of artifice. The aim is always to create an effect as completely natural and accidental as “worm holes in ancient books, bird tracks, or stains on a leaky ceiling.” Strength, weight, and control of the wrist and arm reveal themselves only by inference, never directly. The direct transmission of energy from shoulder to canvas indicates that there is much more than meets the eyes. The patches of colours, light or heavy, large or minute, look even rough, suggesting naturalness, as though unleashed by heaven. This accomplished artist merely hints at his might.

The powerful insight can come only from years of thoughtful looking and, better yet, years of direct experience in the art of painting. This majestic and powerful work is the key not only to the painter’s identity but also to the quality of his oeuvre. And it is precisely here that Xu reveals his true stature.

In composition and spatial handling also Xu derives from the ancient masters, but he never imitates them. He has brought landscape painting into the twenty-first century – in full tradition,or he has revived it and imbued it with new virility and freshness. The force and vigor are not so much due to his Western experiences as to the times in which he lives.

In Xu’s compositions and subjects, in the spatial grandeur, one can see the infinite expanse and majesty of the universe. He has achieved the aim of naturalness: everything looks as though unleashed from heaven. Xu has inherited a delight in the dramatic play of light and dark, a lyrical use of colours, while his intellectual approach to technique and his tight, abstract organization derive from the great contemporary masters.

Xu Maoping, born in September 1955, China Shanghai Chongming County, graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy.

He is a member of Shanghai Artists Association, Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Institute executive director in Tokyo.