Stratigraphic records account for 4.6 billion years of earth’s history, and theearliest cave paintings of humankind to date are about 30,000 years old. From caves to clay vessels, brick walls to temple interiors, early pictures of mankind embraced the materiality of the painted surface. By rubbing broken stones on cave walls, mankind used simple traces of lines to preserve ancient memories of drawing and history. When individual circumstances trigger the senses, memory immediately seals reality. In the foggy frontier of consciousness, what will harness our unhinged thoughts and leads us to the outer border of perception and memory?
Xie Fan’s solo exhibition “Sediment” will showcase his paintings on clay panels from 2019-2022, attempting to take the language of painting as a subject to reflect on its resonance with nature and history. The artist fires these clay panels like artificial rocks; while the painting process is innovative, it recalls a time of the past.
In Celestial Signs, the hazy brushstrokes of colorful sunbursts dazzle the eye, plunging it into a vertigo moment of temporal chaos. When the sun sinks in the west, the tide surges, and the golden waves tumble, a constant that has remained unchanged for millions of years; thereafter, the sea roars with wind and cloud, with striking whirlwinds, thunder, and lightning. Nature takes its course, preserving earth’s secrets eternally in each geological time. On the other aspect, the exhibition accounts for the slash-and-burn agriculture that marked the inception of human civilization, yet time has assigned various fates to individuals. Tasmanian aboriginals’ extinction, slaughterers and soldiers, despots and capitalists, the humans repeat their actions with cruelty. Time is a race, but not always a trophy of praise for the wise and the virtuous.
The painter smears his brush and rediscovers the aura of painting through his reticent brushstrokes. The grains of nature and history repeatedly rub one another, where marks and traces become sediments in the layers of time.