Portrait of a portraitist

Updated: 2013-05-03 09:51

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

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Portrait of a portraitist

Portraits of two migrant workers by Xin Dongwang.

A solo exhibition by Xin Dongwang, Images Generated from the Mind, featuring more than 100 acrylic, oil and sketches, is presented by the Art Gallery of the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting.

"There are three layers of meaning to the word 'images' in the title," explains Xin, 50. "The models' own images, the images seen with my own eyes, and the images that reflect the spirit of Chinese aesthetics."

Xin describes his paintings as "humorous and secular". The figures are presented realistically and in an exaggerated way, in that the proportions of head, hands and feet are amplified in some figures. The brush strokes and color blocks, meanwhile, are wiggly, as if dancing on canvas.

Portrait of a portraitist

"The distortion is to make them more than real, since appearance is not always true," the artist says.

"Xin's artistic quest is to show respect to truth, a creative process which can be clearly seen in every piece," says Shi Liang, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting.

Migrant workers are among his favorite and most portrayed subjects. "Art is not for decoration but humanism," Xin says.

"In the 1990s, Xin took the lead by portraying migrant workers in the city, starting a new angle of observation," comments Yang Feiyun, director of the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting. "His freehand yet accurate style has won him lots of followers, and his portraits of people from the bottom of society have exceeded the normal scope of aesthetics and shows human sympathy."

Xin gives equal attention to both oils and acrylics, and by doing so hopes to get closer to the spirit of traditional Chinese art as well as borrow from the West.

"Acrylics are aqueous and good for drawing outlines. The presentation is quite similar to traditional Chinese murals, which are dematerialized. But at the same time, it provides the representative colors of Western art," Xin says.

Portrait of a portraitist

Portrait of a portraitist

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