Massimo De Carlo is pleased to present New England, a new site-specific solo exhibition from acclaimed Chinese painter Liu Xiaodong at its London gallery. For this series, Liu Xiaodong turns his gaze to a generation of young Chinese professionals who have moved to London to enrich their ambitions. By embracing or rejecting British practices, these personalities present new ways of understanding Britishness through a process of cultural interchange.
Liu Xiaodong is a restless traveler who combines an energetic love and curiosity for humanity with a sincere dedication, and belief in the power of art. Through his rich oil on canvas paintings and acrylic photo-paintings Xiaodong invites us to practice slow looking; to carefully distinguish human expressions and attitudes, and to recognize the genuine beauty of the world. Ironically titled New England, the exhibition is narrated through the stories of the individuals whose portraits he paints. Collectively, they address topics common to the artist’s practice: integration, acceptance, cultural diversity, and the power, and the limits of globalization, in a time where the concept itself has been strongly questioned.
Following in a long tradition of artists painting from life, including Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustave Courbet, Xiaodong imbues his portraits with a dynamism and cosmopolitism that feels both authentic and modern. Following numerous months of research, and several trips to London, Xiaodong painted his subjects – whose work ranges from the creative to the financial – over an immersive stay in the city in June 2019. Realized in real time, and often in the sitters’ own home, this group of portraits are intimate and personal depictions made possible through trust and empathy.
Those depicted in the exhibition include: Duncan Qiu – the first Chinese Polo player in the British league and a representative of Chinese sports legacy and culture; Geoffrey Yu – a young executive banker painted in his garden with his family; Keyu Jin – a Professor at the London School of Economics and an ambassador for Chinese new economy; Veronica Chou – a leading entrepreneur in the business of fashion; Samuel Gui Yang – one of the most acclaimed youngest fashion designer who combines Western and Eastern styles; Stanley Zhu - an investor and entrepreneur in the luxury sector; Ma Yue – a collector and flamboyant persona, who is portrayed in his Mayfair home with his partner; and Victoria and Ed Tang – the son and daughter of Sir David Tang, one of the most prominent figures in the China-UK relationships in London, and themselves internationally active in the art, fashion, and creative business.
The exhibition is enriched by a 30-minute documentary film directed by Yang Bo, and sound engineered by Shi Qian, and a handwritten diary that documents the making of each painting in the artist’s own words. The New England catalogue is published by Nero Editions, and includes an introductory text by Mark Rappolt.