Xiaoze Xie in San Francisco

Xiaoze Xie, “Library of Congress (M1470),” 2009, oil on canvas, 32 x 67″  

Xiaoze Xie, “Library of Congress (BNP),” 2009, oil on canvas, 24 x 36�

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker wonders if anyone has proclaimed the still life dead. “If not, paintings’ own nature as static objects may account for it. Xiaoze Xie, who emigrated from China in 1992 and now teaches at Stanford, appears to exploit this fact smartly. He bases his paintings on photographs he takes of books in library stacks. His canvases exude an air of oppressive inertia evoking the weight of the past – a concern of traditional Chinese painters for centuries – and of the intangible burden of information that each of us bears today, even if books no longer deliver it first or foremost.

“Xie’s ‘Library of Congress (M1470)’ (2009) looks almost abstract at its left edge, which crops the parallel colored bands describing slender book boards and manuscript wrappers. A hazy depth opens in the right half of the painting, about as inviting as the interior of a parking garage, or a crypt. We might take the claustrophobic atmosphere of Xie’s pictures as elegiac, a silent lament for the passing of the non e-book. Or we might see him forming an equation between paintings and books as treasuries of silent meaning….”

“Xiaoze Xie: New Paintings,” Gallery Paule Anglim, , San Francisco, CA. Through Jan. 30, 2010.

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