Featured Artist | Xuanlin Ye

Xuanlin Ye
Chicago, IL

A series of paintings called “Money God 财神” is my attempt to break through the Orientalist narrative. Every painting surface is prepared with a photo transfer of the Money God 财神爷 icon.The image transfer process involves printing, adding adhesive, and pressing the image to wood panels. After drying the paper is removed, revealing the image of the Money God again but transformed, due to the process of peeling away paper, by the addition of various chance shapes and the subtraction of other information. This elaborate meditative process is symbolic of my attempt to excavate the substance of the past. In a way, the painting process of applying narrative elements on top of the photo transfer becomes a process of filling in gaps in an attempt to make the imagery whole.

In my painting, “Back” the canvas is separated into three parts – the left depicts a green jungle, the right depicts a plants with a blue wash, and the middle section shows two genderless figures sit back to back against a red backdrop. A sense of space is created by framing the middle and right section of the painting. This framing makes the viewer aware this painting is a depiction of a painting on a traditional chinese screen. The loose, causal and gestural painting style and the spatial arrangement forces the viewer to recognize that the painting is a commentary on and interrogation of Asian tropes such as “the Chinese screen,” and “ Zen.”. This representing and reflecting on images that are part of my aesthetic lineage, instead of merely repeating imagery that lacks specificity is one of my strategies to escape the trap of zen-like abstract expressionism and Orientialislism.

In my painting, Trinity of the Nowness, it’s an oil painting composed of two figures turning their back towards us, in front of them is a common plastic fence blocking the viewer from entering into their space, and the background of the painting is intentionally washed, and creating an invisible third person, and this person as if he/she is holding her arm up taking two figure into his/her arm. This painting is inspired by classical Christianity-themed paintings, the triangular shape represents the holy trinity. although the painting has a rich cultural context, however to an untrained eye, what is most striking about this painting is the humility and vulnerability of the figure, this painting functions as a portal and a mirror, it’s does not only travel to the inner states of the viewer but also reflects the viewer’s the most tender and vulnerable states of him/herself. And during this process of reciprocal viewing,one reflects on his/her state of being.

Vase and flower | oil on photo transfered canvas | 48" x 71.5"
Vase and flower | oil on photo transfered canvas | 48″ x 71.5″
Trinity of the Nowness | Oil on Canvas | 72" x 60"
Trinity of the Nowness | Oil on Canvas | 72″ x 60″
Back | oil on canvas | 52" x 78"
Back | oil on canvas | 52″ x 78″
Money God of the Jungle | oil on photo transfered canvas | 16" x 12"
Money God of the Jungle | oil on photo transfered canvas | 16″ x 12″