Whitecliffe Graduates’ Solo Painting Exhibition at Orex Art Gallery

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Whitecliffe Graduates’ Solo Painting Exhibition at Orex Art Gallery

Beijing-based artists Deng Xinli and Xie Yi open an exhibition of their latest paintings at Auckland gallery Orexart on Thursday 3 May. The exhibition is on view until 28 May.

Both artists will be in Auckland to attend the exhibition opening and will conduct an open discussion about their work at the gallery on Saturday 5 May 1pm. 

Part of a new generation of Chinese artists deeply affected and influenced by the country’s recent and ancient history, Beijing-based Deng Xinli and Xie Yi’s powerful figurative paintings engage highly traditional methods to communicate thoroughly contemporary ideas about art and culture in China today. (gallery media release)

Deng Xinli and Xie Yi met while they were both students at the renowned Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. After completing their studies in China, they travelled to New Zealand to study Fine Arts at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, completing their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in 2003 and 2004. Over the last decade they have exhibited their work largely in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei. This joint exhibition is their first opportunity to show their paintings in New Zealand. 

We interviewed the artists about their practice, experience while studying at Whitecliffe and exploring both New Zealand and Chinese cultural identities: 

On their painting process and communication with their audience:

“Our intention is to redefine the Chinese society and Chinese culture in a contemporary way, beyond its inherent concept of the passage of time and other historical reasons. Among them, the works of Xie Yi are more inclined to the spiritual and emotional exposition, and my work is more inclined to the visual, physical and logical exposition.”

The value they place on their Whitecliffe education:

“Whitecliffe's teaching has enabled us to acquire a more globalized cultural concept and a more diversified tolerance of artistic ideas. We therefore have the ability to observe and understand a cultural system more deeply with multiple cultural perspectives, and to discover the multidimensional nature of the cultural outlook.”

The differences between arts and design thinking in New Zealand in China:

“New Zealand is a truly multicultural country, showing its characteristics both in art and design. Compared with New Zealand, China is an ancient country. Here, the multicultural state of the surface and the deep sense of original cultural identity exist simultaneously.” 

How Whitecliffe has helped them navigate and gain international and domestic exhibition opportunities:

“The education at Whitecliffe has led us to form a tolerant and globalized art concept. It enables us to easily communicate and reach consensus with different art groups and art organizations. At the same time, it also makes our works have potential multicultural characteristics. So, that a wider range of collectors and curators can read them. As a result, opportunities often arise under seemingly impossible circumstances.”

Differences between making paintings in China and New Zealand:

“In terms of the environment of artistic creation, New Zealand and China each have their own advantages and disadvantages. New Zealand can give artists a more relaxed political, cultural and living environment. It enables artists to think and create artworks more easily and independently. And artists living in China will feel much more pressure from all sides, especially in Beijing. However, on the other hand, the vast territory, the complexity and the long history of China makes it easier for artists to get the inspiration and motivation of all kinds of artistic creation. Moreover, due to the lower cost of living in China, the cost of art creation will be much lower. This makes the artist's creation activities have broader possibilities. In addition, the art circles and art markets in China and its surrounding areas are very large, so there is more of a variety of art related opportunities available.” 

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