The Shape of the Real: Liu Xiaohui is a monograph and a case study focusing on contemporary painter Liu Xiaohui’s practice over the past decade. The substantial publication of more than 30,000 words written by art critic and curator He Jing brings together over 100 reproductions of Liu Xiaohui’s paintings and a large number of documents made and used in the creative process. It is published by Culture and Art Publishing House and will be available from June 2021.Via ten interconnected chapters, this monograph delineates a topographic map of Liu Xiaohui’s art, providing an insight into the painter’s singular creative journey, touching upon a series of problematics regarding the ontological aspect of contemporary painting. These questions all pertain to the “Real”, which is the absolute theme of Liu’s painting, and to the diverse, uncertain creative forms that arise from this theme. Accordingly, the monograph is edited, composed, and structured in an unconventional fashion, by presenting textual and critical “fragments”, and by presenting an additional layer of dynamic hermeneutic texts that include the artist’s notes, historical references and images. It aims at approaching a capitalised “Shape of Real” on both the dimension of the textual and that of the image – a “Shape” that at once concerns painting, book and writing. It attempts to outline an experimental form of artists’ publications emerging between the conceptual and the methodological, research and criticism.On the occasion of the book launch, Professor Wang Min’an (School of Humanities, Tsinghua University), artist Liu Xiaohui, and the author of the publication He Jing (art critic, curator) will have a conversation and sharing event at UCCA, moderated by Zhang Yuling (art historian, writer). In addition to sharing the making of the monograph, the event will also feature an in-depth discussion of Liu Xiaohui’s practice and the aesthetic issues in contemporary painting.
About the guests
Wang Min’an is a Professor at the School of Humanities, Tsinghua University. His main research interests are critical theory, cultural studies, modern art and literature. He is the author of 11 books, including Roland Barthes, The Limit of Michel Foucault, and Friedrich Nietzsche and Body. He is the editor-in-chief of Humanities and Society Translation series (published by Henan University Press), the Producing series, etc.
Liu Xiaohui is an artist. He currently teaches at the Mural Painting Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts His creative practice quests after preciseness and the “real” in the repeated painting experience. For him, the act of painting is at once the construction of artistic experience, and the dissolution of the said experience in life. The shifting, generative and merging process between the two reveals with clarity the true significance of painting. In recent years, the repeated depiction, erasure and concealment of similar themes and motifs have come to form the main body of Liu’s painting, resulting in further obscuration of the image, and increasingly precise calibrations of the painting experience hereby revealed. In magnified moments of life and the everyday “labour” of painting, Liu Xiaohui anchors his relationship with painting as he repeatedly affirms and negates the “experience in the now”.
He Jing is an art critic, curator and young scholar. The main focus of her research is on the relationships between concept and image in the realm of philosophy of art, particularly the research of modern and contemporary painting and image through the lens of French philosophy and phenomenology. She is dedicated to experimental writing in contemporary art criticism.
She has served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of the LEAP Magazine French edition, as well as Deputy Editor and Editor-at-Large of its international edition; Director of Research of the Mao Ji-Hong Arts Foundation; and has curated numerous exhibitions, symposiums and screening programs at institutions including the Centre National Editions Art et Image (CNEAI), Centre Georges Pompidou, Le Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse à Lille, the Fudan University School of Philosophy, OCAT, 798 Art Center, the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival, PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco, and other institutions and academic platforms in China and abroad.
About the moderator
Zhang Yuling is an art historian and writer. Graduated from Peking University and University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, she earned a PhD in Art History and Archaeology. She is a long term writer for art history columns on magazines such as Sanlian Life Week Magazine, Wissen and Dandu Reading. She is the author of Song played by the instruments is not as good as songs sang by human – Power and Body in the History of Western Ancient Art and Aestheticism. She is also the translator of Medieval Society, Micropsychanalyse, C’est de Chine que je t’écris…, and Kant and Bergsonism.