“The artist should not only paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees in himself.”
——Caspar David Friedrich
HdM GALLERY is delighted to present “Xie Lei / Christopher Orr”, a two-person exhibition, of Chinese-born artist Xie Lei and British artist Christopher Orr.
The exhibition will intersperse the work of the two painters, conjuring a dialogue between them grounded in their shared, quasi-Romantic sensibility.
Both artists create figurative paintings drawn from and set in dreamlike spaces. The backgrounds in the works of both artists are hazy, indistinct and ambiguous. The atmospheres in Orr’s paintings evoke the painting effects seen in the skies of J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich – soft, uncertain passages of light built up through layers of translucent washes and pigments. In Xie Lei’s luminous, almost neon paintings, the backgrounds are often flat and abstract or generically natural; water, mountains, vegetation. Mostly the spaces in the paintings by both artists, are shallow, sometimes even claustrophobically so, frustrating expectations of pictorial depth and foregrounding the subjects, placing them, as it were, dramatically, centre stage.
Archetypes, stereotypes and symbols populate the works. The people in Orr’s paintings are, judging from their clothes, visitors from 1950’s Britain. They look safe and wholesome and uncannily in the wrong place - accidental tourists in Orr’s phantasmagoric creations – dutifully starting into sublime voids. In Xie Lei’s works the humans and animals are more anonymous, more purely archetypal, figures powerfully evoked, but without individual features – ghost forms his nether world – compelling, dark, threatening even. Like dreams these works are deeply allusive, full of opaque meanings.
In an age in thrall to empires being built in digital space the works of Xie Lei and Orr and timely reminders that we all, already, carry virtual worlds within us. They are powerful messages sent to us from the infinite lands of the imagination.
This show will be Xie Lei’s first exhibition in the UK.
About Christopher Orr
Christopher Orr (1967), born in Helensburgh, Scotland, lives and works in London. Orr graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design with a bachelor’s degree in 2000, then studied at the Royal College of Art and received a master's degree in 2003.
Orr’s works have been exhibited widely, including in a solo show “A Stone Walks Slowly Under A Cloud” at La Borie, Solignac in France in 2019, ‘The Beguiled Eye’ at Talbot Rice Gallery in University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 2013. “Light Shining Darkly” at Kunsthaus Baselland in 2013, another one “Christopher Orr”at the Hauser and Wirth, Zürich in 2010. Notable group exhibitions including “Foncteur d’oubli” at FRAC ile-de-Paris in 2019, “No New Things Under the Sun” at the Royal Academy (London U.K., 2010), “2007 Old School” at the Hauser and Wirth, Zürich in 2007, another one “London in Zürich” curated by Gregor Muir in 2005, Tate Triennial in 2006, “(...) The Duck Was Still Alive” at CAC Meymac in France in 2005 and “Ideal Worlds” at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt Germany in 2005.
About Xie Lei
Xie Lei, (1983) born in Huainan, Anhui province, China, lives and works in Paris since 2006. He graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts and École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris, and received his PhD (practice-based) in visual arts in 2016 from École normal supérieure and Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris.
Xie Lei’s work is included in public and private collections, such as Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne (MAC VAL) and Burger Collection. He has been exhibited widely in France, Switzerland and China. His remarkable solo exhibitions including “Chimères” at Yishu 8 in Beijing (2012), several other important shows at the Galerie Anne de Villepoix from 2009 to 2015, “Entre Chien et Loup” in Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris (2016), “Poe’s Garden” in Z Gallery Arts in Vancouver both in 2017 and 2019. Significant group shows such as “Persona Grata” in MAC VAL (2019) and Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration, Paris (2018); “How To See [What Isn’t There]”, Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany (2018); “Collection David H. Brolliet – Geneva”, Fondation Fernet-Branca, Saint-Louis (2018); “Memo II” at White Space, Beijing (2014) and “Ligne de Chance,” Fondation Ricard, Paris (2010).
The Road to Stac Pollaidh - oil on wooden panel - 30.5 x 22.5 x 4 cm - 2019
A Song for Lost Blossoms - oil on wooden panel - 30 x 35 x 4.5 cm - 2019
Seeing By Believing - oil on canvas - 200 x 155 cm - 2019
I Will Be Your Mirror 2 - oil on canvas - 33 x 24 cm × 5 -
I Will Be Your Mirror 9 - oil on canvas - 33 x 24 cm x 5 -
Not stir of the air was there - oil on wooden panel - 40.5 x 30.5 cm - 2019
Be Glad for This Song Has No Ending - oil on linen - 31 x 36 cm - 2017