"GMT+5" Exhibition by Xu Dongsheng
City: Guangzhou
Duration: 2018-12-08 ~ 2019-01-04
Venue: Kui Yuan Gallery
Address: No.9, Xuguyuan Road, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Participating Artist(s): Xu Dongsheng
Host(s): Kui Yuan Gallery、DSWS GZ Culture Technology Co. LTD


It seems to be a kind of talent to comfort myself with illusion and casually kill time. And this ability is useful when I am in this cramped, unfamiliar dormitory room that I don’t really like. I force myself to imagine I was in a studio as spacious as the one of mine in Guangzhou, and I paint. Small paintings. And my breaths are also corresponding with the small size of the room. The changes happen along with the change of spaces. The detailed, specific partial things used to appear weak in the big studio. I did not realize that the change of work place could lead to the change of my focus and perspective as if my coordinates suddenly shift. It has been more than a year and I have started to feel attached to this small room. No matter it is optimistic or negative, the dorm room is the center of my inner world. Just like the night at this moment, it diverts my attention and gives the meaning of my escape.

However, the terraced houses in here and the old town are the same as when I first came 19 years ago, with the same external appearances, mottled details, and isolated light and shadow. It is an amazing scene when you see a peacock passing by in the setting sun, and then spreading their feathers across the lane. What the city should look like in my eyes? I suddenly feel upset. For hundreds of days I have stayed here, I didn’t keep the distance to read it as a foreign land, instead, I tried to get close to it, as if I was part of it and then comfort myself that this strangeness is inevitable.

My paintings are getting smaller and smaller, but my expressions are more and more verbose. Loneliness will follow, it is waiting to kill my desire to think.

I settled down in this ancient city at the west end of the country. Like a tourist, I went to the street and walked a long way for a long time. Some of the blocks and streets that I walked on before have disappeared during the construction of the city. I wondered how Commander Li Guangli and Ban Chao in Han Dynasty led the army whirring past with warning smoke signals rising, and how the swords were finally turned into ploughs while peace replaced wars; carpets for sale in bazaar and the Etles’s patterns can never tell the origin of civilization anymore. In the wind or the sand, perhaps only one’s sorrow and joy can really touch temperature of fate. Muqam’s song of wilderness sang the lively scenes: the lovers meet for the first time, the hero Rustam cuts off the head of the evil monster; Meshrap is the dancing elf and the ode to joy; as for the bitterness of destitution, the wanderers have the deepest understanding about it... I have no idea about the techniques of the fine painters from Baghdad in old times, or how they gained the specialty to earn what they deserve. Today, we take our own unconventional way to make approaches to traditions. We are not satisfied with the established culture, so we rethink about those things that have appeared before and indicate the possibility of creation. Painting is an old-fashioned thing. However, the meaning of creation may not have been clearly understood, and the miscellaneous techniques may also cause confusion. This kind of vacillating status is very similar to the life status of a wanderer. The full history of painting allows us to freely reference and apply. Reversion or deconstruction is always based on our own prime motivation and cognitive experiences, and is used to explain mystery and metaphor.

This place is still strange for me until now. I don't have a sense of belonging to this city. I don't even have a sense of belonging to my hometown. And as far as I can recall, I have never got happiness from painting. The reason why I can accept life and the world optimistically is because I often have the repeated dreams: I dreamed seven times of falling into a remote abyss and twelve times that I was in the wilderness howling like a wolf. Is it because of love that I focus on one thing despite of the long-term stumbling? It entices you to the far-away place that is deep, chaotic but bright, where there are true mysterious reflections, dark but faintly glowing, like the music crossing the celestial bodies, penetrating the space softly. Its graceful linearity is like time, covering everything with its charm, changing everything and designing all the troubles of life leaving no solutions. It is a “magic reality”, with part of it being real while the whole looks magical. When I was young, I was ignorant but brand new. I liked powerful parts and brilliant fragments. Later, I gradually became willing to grasp the whole. As the body gets aged and heavier, I have no choice but to welcome the middle-aged open mind, and naturally, utter a light, muffled, illusory, hoarse sigh.

Well, painting doesn't bring me much happiness, but I have a sense of belonging to it, anyway.

Xu Dongsheng

At Night



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[Editor] 张艳