Wan Xiao Jia's art is about personality. Inspired by the tenacity and uncompromising willpower of Frida Kahlo, her portrait series expresses the female experience and form. Wan Xiao Jia's ensemble of characters are elegant and seductive, complemented by an air of detached aloofness that lends a sense of cool intelligence. An oblique gaze hints of thoughtful scrutiny; a slight turn of the wrist suggests the subject's temperament. These are individuals touched with the quality of being a unique person. These are people we would like to have a conversation with.
Wan Xiao Jia graduated from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, and obtained her Master’s degree from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts where she studied under prominent Chinese realism painter Guo Runwen.
She currently lives in Guangzhou and is a full-time professional artis
She has held two solo exhibitions in Singapore through our parent gallery Heng Artland. With White Space Art Asia, we have the opportunity to showcase this artist in Hong Kong.
Each Portrait A Little Production
Wan Xiaojia often conceives of the painting as a stage. The character is the actor, and the costumes and props have to be designed, the colours and the space conceived. She imagines the emotions frozen in a momentary snapshot. As she draws and paints, she imagines ‘what does she like? What is she worrying about? What is her mood? What is her personality? What is she thinking?’ During this time, the artist immerses herself in this universe of her creation.
The artist draws inspiration from the details around her – in news, magazines and walking around the city. Her portraits are often a composition of different sources which she arranges and coalesces into something new and different. This is what makes each of her paintings different. For Wan Xiaojia, inspiration is like the air or wind around us. There is no place where it does not exist, yet it is fleeting and visible only out of the corner of one’s eye. Trying to store up inspiration is like trying to store wind. You have to be out in the world and constantly alert for that flash of inspiration. She makes it a point every week to walk around the city of Guangzhou where she lives or hike through the nearby hills. She is passionate about live performances – particularly music and theater.
She does not believe in adopting a style and to exhaust every possibility of that approach. If the painting is not great, it should at least capture the thought process behind the creation. This is what makes each of her paintings different.
People are multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, and a piece of art can never mirror that person in its entirety. It is only a single point or a single strand of that personality. The artist describes this with an analogy – ‘If I were a tree, my art is only a twig or a leaf on this tree. A leaf on the tree is inseparable as a living organism, but to describe a leaf as a tree is not quite correct.’
Fashion as a Theme
One of the themes of this series is the homage to fashion. There is an old saying that fashion is the enemy of art, and for a long time, there was a certain arrogance and disdain in how the art world and the world of fashion viewed each other. This is not unusual or surprising when you consider that the act of artistic creation is an individualistic expression of freedom; it does not require approval or consideration from others because it is formed of the imagination of the artist. On the other hand, fashion is designed with utilitarian intent, and by definition cannot entirely reflect individual personality.
These traditional lines have been increasingly blurred as old prejudices are set aside. In today’s city life, fashion is no longer just about clothing and make up, they extend to ideas about life, entertainment, leisure, work and even how we consume.
In this portrait series, the artist pays careful attention to the pose of the models and the design of the clothing and accessories. She has meticulously considered the colours used in the clothing and how this accentuates the culture and story behind the painting.
Ethnic dress that seem to be from different cultures but are at the same time timeless.