The Form of the Formless

Artists
On View

February 17 – March 30, 2024

Opening ceremony on February 17, 2024 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM PST

Press Release

January 31, 2024 (Palo Alto, CA) - Qualia Contemporary Art is pleased to present The Form of the Formless, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of Chinese contemporary painter XU Hongming. In philosophy, approach, and practice, Xu has been breaking the barriers of conventional Chinese art for more than four decades. He infuses pure abstraction of the Western tradition with Daoist philosophy, straddling a dynamic tension between the traditional and the modern. Layering mineral powder on canvas, Xu creates luminous paintings that oscillate between poetic fields of color. Qualia’s solo presentation will include “Four Seasons”, a new body of work within the artist’s ongoing series “Not Clouds, Not Fog, Not Qi”. The exhibition will be open to the public from February 17 through March 30, 2024, with an opening celebration hosted on February 17th from 4:30-6:30 PM PST.

 

Xu’s new works were created during and after his stays in the Qin Mountains, a mountain range that divides the central plains of China from north to south. While there, he contemplated the inner worlds and natural conditions that first inspired Chinese shanshui landscape painting, in an effort to understand not only the origins of its outward appearances, but also the logic within. Xu’s interest in shanshui painting is coupled with his critical eye to its limitations and formulaic constructs. In the artist’s view, the shanshui tradition was initially distinguished by its expression of spirituality, but strayed from its roots as it developed within literati circles and as it was eventually co-opted by the political system during the Ming and Qing dynasties. As shanshui painting became heavily codified and rule-bound, it was no longer a means of finding the truth in things, but rather a confining structure to reinforce the status quo and deter artists from deviation or experimentation. 

 

The overarching series “Not Clouds, Not Fog, Not Qi” is an ongoing effort by Xu to free shanshui paintings from this restrictive literati tradition. Xu counts amongst his influences the Song dynasty master painter Mi Fu (1052–1107), who was widely admired during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Xu also looks to the expansive desert landscapes of the Hexi Corridor and the Tang dynasty mausoleum murals and grotto paintings nearby that inspired him as a rebellious young art student. In the artist’s own words, “To me, painting landscapes is not about painting the unusual or the perilous, but the grandeur and the totality of the landscape.” Accordingly, Xu describes his painting practice as “trying to envision the wholeness of the universe, of the matter that is ever-present, if not readily visible.” He continues: “To me, painting is about integrating different materials, colors, and emotions. In many ways, so is life. I want my paintings to be open spaces that the viewer can enter into, and then leave behind.” 

 

“Four Seasons” sees Xu use canvas as a substrate for his mineral powders and metallic oxide pigments, having previously painted with water-soluble pigments on silk. The materials are akin to those used in Chinese cloisonné, and allow Xu to engage in a dynamic interaction between pigment and fixative. The process of layering pigment, misting and fixing with water-soluble adhesive, mimics the motion and erosion of rainfall. Each work begins with a consideration of color as a reactive and relative quality in perpetual flux, akin to the nebulous forms of one’s emotions. Colors, in Xu’s process, are not absolute values, but rather spectral realms that are constantly and continuously interacting with the colors nearby. 

 

The Form of the Formless is Qualia’s second exhibition of the New Year at the former Pace Gallery space at 229 Hamilton Ave in Palo Alto, just three short blocks from its previous location on University Ave. For more information, please visit www.qualiagallery.com

 

About XU Hongming (徐红明)

Born in Hunan province, Xu Hongming studied in the Sculpture Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. In 1992, he conducted independent research of the ancient murals and sculptures along the Hexi Corridor. Xu currently lives and works in Beijing.

 

Xu has exhibited nationally and internationally including solo and group exhibitions at Yuan Art Museum, Beijing, China; Whitebox Art Center, Beijing, China; Qualia Contemporary Art, Palo Alto, CA; Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey; UCCA, Beijing, China; National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China; Today Art Museum, Beijing, China, Shanghai Art Museum,  OCAT Xi’an (Xi’an, China); Buffalo University Art Gallery, New York;  Larunxinge Museum, Netherlands; MACRO Museum, Rome, Italy; among others. XU has participated in several art fairs including Beijing Contemporary Art Fair in 2023; Art Market San Francisco in 2022; Art Shenzhen and DnA Shenzhen in 2023.

 

Xu’s works are in the permanent collections of Shanghai Art Museum, Shenzhen Art Museum, Fred Art Foundation, Yuz Museum (Shanghai), M+ Museum (Hong Kong), and White Rabbit Museum (Sydney). 

Read More
XU Hongming

2023 Qinling Summer, Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2023

Mineral powder on canvas

279.53 x 82.68 in

XU Hongming

20180118, Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2018

Watercolor and ink on silk

118.11 x 47.24 in x 2

XU Hongming

20231008 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2023

Mineral powder on canvas

82.68 x 82.68 in

XU Hongming

20240112 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2024

Mineral powder on canvas

82.68 x 82.68 in

XU Hongming

2023 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2023

Mineral powder on canvas

82.68 x 82.68 in

XU Hongming

20240104 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2024

Mineral powder on canvas

82.68 x 82.68 in

XU Hongming

20090818, Oriental Red, Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2009

82.68 x 86.61 in

Mineral powder on canvas

XU Hongming

2002, Black & White Small, Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2002

Watercolor and ink on silk

14.96 x 14.96 in x 16

XU Hongming

20190813 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2019

49.61 x 35.43 in

Watercolor and ink on silk

XU Hongming

20230213 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2023

Watercolor and ink on silk

23.62 x 23.62 in

XU Hongming

Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2022

Watercolor and ink on silk

70.87 x 70.87 in

XU Hongming

20210703 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2021

Watercolor and ink on silk

14.96 x 14.96 in

XU Hongming

20220817 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2022

Watercolor and ink on silk

14.96 x 14.96 in

XU Hongming

20220708 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2022

Watercolor and ink on silk

14.96 x 14.96 in

XU Hongming

20190918 Non-cloud Non-fog Non-QI

2019

Watercolor and ink on silk

47.24 x 51.18 in