Wang Xiaojin is inspired by the distant past, particularly its women and artistry. He endeavors to capture the mood of a bygone era that was altogether most refined and conservative. The details in his paintings are drawn from traditional Chinese culture. Ornate porcelain vases with elaborate flowering arrangements, embroidered silk dresses, and modish furniture serve to create the opulent world in which his figures live. Delicate and chic, Wang’s paintings hark back to a time when being “feminine” typified a woman’s existence. The scenes created depict aristocratic ladies who would want for nothing in the materialistic sense but who had little freedom. Indeed there is an unmistakable sense of melancholy in his work. The small bird-like bodies make the women appear fragile and vulnerable while their disproportionally large faces draw attention to their sad expression. Even when the figures are active – sewing, reading, fanning themselves or even socializing – their eyes gaze wistfully into the distance. It is hard to tell whether they are dreaming of a more fulfilling life perhaps, or whether they are simply lost in boredom. Wang knows that women of the time would avoid revealing their emotions in their faces. All they would show was tranquility and grace.’ Unsurprisingly, this invisible mask makes the figures all the more profound and intriguing.
There are two kinds techniques frequently used in Chinese ink paintings; Gong Bi (using a very thin pen to paint detailed work) and Xie Yi (a more blurry, freer style that strives to capture the spirit and essence of objects and figures). There is also oil paint, which lends itself to both realistic and more expressionistic approaches. I like to experiment with all the different techniques. We live in a wonderful world and though perhaps I cannot present my imaginary world to viewers as accurately as I would like, I feel immense pleasure in my attempts to do so. Aside from expressing my own emotions, I simultaneously hope to strike a chord with viewers and bring you joy. I am not a stylish person and what I strive for is to be genuine and true to myself, rather than focus on the opinions of others. I use my heart to paint and my soul to communicate. Although my body may never be free, I yearn to make my spirit soar.
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