Fable and the Prophet
A few years ago, I met Xiaolu for the first time at an exhibition in R Space. Hearing that he was a student of the Dean of the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, I immediately felt a connection. Generations of art students in the last century grew up under the influence of Soviet Russian art. The Repin Academy of Fine Arts was a holy palace in the heart of many and was far beyond reach.
Learning art from other countries has many different aspects. Apart from the techniques, the artistic style, subject matters and forms can only be seen but not learned. The total “Westernization” or “Russification” has misguided the development of many Chinese artists in the past. What worth learning the most, are the artistic spirits and cultural connotations, as these are the doctrines to be acquired from the long journey. In Xiaolu's paintings, the superficial colour and brushwork are not visibly similar to Russian art. What he has captured is the philosophy and compassion of the Russian culture.
The “Fable and the Prophet” series depicts a landmark that we are seemingly familiar with but unacquainted. The calm and vast lake and the infinite blue sky become no more than the background of a series of dramatic fables and memories. Xiaolu says “a short narrative won’t be enough to describe my reflection on this sensitive space.” Under the paintbrush of him, the space is disturbing. Nature becomes full of repressive and sinister prophecies as tensions shroud over it.
We live in a city with beautiful mountains and clear waters and sunny days. Meanwhile, it’s a world full of plague and death, violence and killing, greed and fraud, lies and deceit. A peaceful day is never peaceful. Realistic scenery can seem more surreal. Created in Vancouver, Xiaolu’s “Fabel and the Prophet” series is an honest narrative of his intimate emotions here and now. It will inevitably resonate with the audience who all live in this world full of uncertainty.
In Vancouver, Summer 2020.