Xiao Hanqiu

Xiao Hanqiu (b.1986 in Beijing, China) is a painter and a poet. Xiao received her MFA from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2011, and BFA from Leeds University in 2008. Her solo exhibitions include Love Stories and Horror Stories (Lyles and King, New York, 2022); Honey, Bee (Tabula Rasa Gallery, London, 2021); There May Be No Pearls in This Shell (Leo Gallery, Shanghai, 2020); Sway (Enclave Independent Bookstore, Shenzhen, 2019); and more.
September 26, 2022
Tell us about your practice.
Most of my works are oil on canvas, they are not big. There are a lot of details about skin and textures, usually with a narrative. My work is concerned with the process rather than the result, trying to create a dangerous, unresolved motive in the picture. And at the same time, I like to use harmonious colors.
Poetry seems to be an inseparable part of your practice as an artist, how does your poetry influence your paintings and vice versa?
Writing is the easiest way to get out of one’s comfort zone, with a pen and a piece of paper, and sometimes you can even write in your head. Words are like blood, flowing and sharp, images are like fleshes and bones, creating the atmosphere.
Can you tell us a little bit about the genesis of the body of work in “Love Stories and Horror Stories”?
This exhibition is like a fable with many chapters. What it looks like depends on which page you start from. Small plants formed from sweat beads grow in the ravines of the chest or swan-shaped tube things. There are boys and girls too, and the way butterflies are domesticated is markedly different from that of domesticating foxes. The quiet chapter is like a blackbird, passing through a portrait as part of the dress, the intense part is when the girl marches in a storm of cherries and roses….
Your paintings often take a pair of daily objects being fashioned in a specific way to conjure such a focused sense of feelings. What is your usual starting point to create a work?
Usually, I start with an object or a figure as my subject, and the observation of them provokes the emotions I want to record, under the influence of reality and emotion, a piece of work is formed. There is a dialogue between the works, so they often appear in more than one.
For your show at Tabula Rasa, “Honey, Bee” you mentioned that the creation process made you have a deeper understanding and acceptance of yourself. Can you elaborate a little bit on that statement?
Creation is the most important part of my life, it pretty much defines who I am. Due to different perspectives, the reality observed by each person is different, and recording observations as creations makes life more meaningful to me.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I’m reading a great science fiction novel, Solaris. The ocean on Solaris is a massive biological structure that can mimic the most seductive fantasies deep within the human soul.
Also, I go to meetings every week and always see a lot of interesting things. Sometimes I stay in the same room for a long time and feel the excitement of reunion after a long absence, maybe hundreds of years!

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