Xie Lei
Nachtgesänge

May 24th – Jun 29th, 2024
Caprii, Düsseldorf

Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt

Text: Lorenz Ecker

Two extremes take centre stage in Xie Lei's new works. During his one-month residency at the Villa Medici in Rome, six new works were created. Inspired by Friedrich Hölderin's Nachtgesänge, Xie thematises the night as the time of human instinctivity, and as a safe space in which sexuality and identity can be freely expressed. Desires, concealed by day, transpire in the twilight, unfolding in all their beauty and horror in the night. Innermost encounters and threatening interactions emerge unreservedly out of memories. Lust and longing are juxtaposed with violence and dominance. Despite the overlaps between both themes, Xie treats them as two distinctly different subjects. Connection is established through the depiction of hands and touches, whose colour connotations alone convey their meaning. The colour palette reveals the artist's emotion in relation to what is depicted: deep blue and dark violet tones conjure up a sense of danger and fear, while bright yellows and greens evoke stirrings of intimacy and excitement. In some cases, the glaring light substitutes an object or body part. Indeed, it takes the place of the object of desire and creates a space for personal associations, expanding the understanding of what we as a multi-layered and inhomogeneous society are striving for. Mostly monochrome, gestural brushstrokes form torsos, feet, mouths, and arms. By assigning none of the depicted figures a complete face, Xie leaves the identity of his protagonists undefined. In this way, he opens the works to the viewer and enables them to empathise with the scenes depicted. Xie lends his works, which oscillate between tragedy and ecstasy, a dream-like quality that also emphasises the omnipresent desire for love and security.

Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt
Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt
Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt

Indulge II, 2024

Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt
Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt

Nachtgesänge II, 2024

Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt
Copyright the artist; Meessen, Brussels; Caprii by Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Kai Werner Schmidt

Xie Lei (b. 1983 in China) chose painting through personal conviction, as it opens up a pathway towards a language capable of expressing his sensory universe and a field of experimentation that allows him to delve into the specificity of this medium in the contemporary world. His work always starts with a basis in reality before taking flight into explorations of uncertain or ambiguous realms, transformed by his imagination. Most of his paintings refer to murky or disturbing situations, discreetly linked to literary or cinematographic memories or drawn from a profound crucible of personal emotions. His work dwells on the complexity of events and situations and above all the ambiguity and tensions they foster. His recent painting intrigues through their exploration of a world in-between sleep and death, torment, and eroticism. The colours are somber yet shift towards the luminous and the powerful. His touch is both fluid and textured. Xie Lei’s painting is singular in that it offers up an alternative perception of time: in a salutary manner, it suggests a slowing of the spectator’s gaze and an escape from the intoxicating world of immediacy and constant acceleration.

Xie Lei has lived and worked in Paris since 2006. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing then the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he received also the PhD in visual arts. His works have been exhibited in numerous institutions: Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; MO.CO, Montpellier; CAPC, Bordeaux; Villa Noailles, Hyères; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon; Collection Lambert, Avignon; MAC VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine; K11 Art Foundation, Shanghai; Langen Foundation, Neuss; Musée National d’Histoire d’Immigration, Paris; Yishu 8 Foundation, Beijing; Ricard Foundation, Paris. His oeuvres feature in many public and private collections such as the Albertina Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, MAC VAL, Frac Pays de la Loire in Nantes, Rennie Collection in Vancouver, Colas Foundation, Burger Collection and X Museum. Xie Lei was a resident of the Casa de Velázquez in 2020-2021 and Villa Medici in 2024.

About Xie Lei

Xie Lei (b. 1983) is a Parisian-based contemporary painter known for his phenomenological compositions—textured, somber yet luminous—of worlds in-between.

Artworks

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