One of the highlights of a recent trip to Beijing was discovering the work of Xie Molin, a locally based artist who is currently part of the “Beijing Voice” group show at Pace Gallery Beijing. Xie’s process involves three phases, which begins with the artist developing the pattern for the piece on a computer. Xie then uses a machine that he designed himself to trace the movement of his pattern on a canvas using a brush and paint before the final step, which involves the application of pigment by hand, a process the artist has not yet recreated using a machine. The resulting artwork combines mesmerizing texture with a simplicity that contradicts the intensely technical process. Importantly, each piece is one of a kind—the tech is not leveraged to create multiple copies of the same work.
Though mechanical processes in art occasionally garner criticism from purists, Xie’s work integrates his artist-adapted technology instead of relying on it to do the work in his place. By fashioning his own tailor-made machine, Xie’s made it an artistic appendage, giving him the freedom to achieve his vision. While the work certainly speaks to the alienation of people from materials, there is some pleasure that arises from the conflict between mechanical formality and artistic vision.
Molin received attention early in his career for the recreation and destruction of Jin Shangyi’s well known “Tajik Bride.” After finishing the work, Xie applied steady heat to the reverse, melting the aluminum on which he had painted. His anti-establishment ethos is clear from his tendency to embrace abstraction, something that we noticed a lot of in our travels through Beijing.
Xie Molin is a young artist we’re keeping an eye on.
798 Art District, No.2
Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100015
All images copyright Xie Molin, courtesy of the Pace Gallery Beijing.