Xie Fan
Various Fires


The M Art Foundation has supported Xie Fan’s ongoing research on natural phenomena and crop cultivation, an intersection of art, science, and environmental sustainability.

Only the word ‘Small’ is missing from the title for it to echo a tribute to Ed Ruscha and his now legendary series of small books captures photographs of situations, landscapes, and objects taken at the turn of the 1960s.Xie Fan was born in 1983 in Jiangyou, Sichuan Province, China.

He divides his time between Beijing and Chengdu.The Académie Conti presents three series of small terracotta paintings, ranging from the size of a postcard to that of an LP. Created for the exhibition, the most recent ones depict hopping fires—flames—on very dark backgrounds—campfires, bonfires, yellow flames. The other two series comprise five ‘GoldenSea’ on one side and more than ten ‘Celestial Phenomenon’ on the other.

The seascapes are gilded with soothing reflections by the persistent grazing light of dusk. These seas bear the metallic patina of shimmering daguerreo types.As for celestial phenomena, the artist has struck his brush on moons, halos, eclipses perhaps, and suns as well. Framed on their own, they are set alongside sketches of landscapes bathed in the fading light of an ordinary day. A sunset over a flat sea, a moonrise in the darkness.

A few fluffy clouds in a clear, light blue sky, or maybe a little denser. Could we say that light is the primary source of XieFan’s paintings?An elemental painting—fire, air, light, water and terracotta—in the fire of pictorial supports.The paintings are hung on L-shaped hooks. Small plaques mark the walls and these are no longer the plaques of soft clay that the scribes adorned with hieroglyphs, nor the varnished plaques reminiscent of Burgundian roofs, but rather personal yet universal notes about the sky, the sea, the earth.Primordial paintings, of light and water, of the motionless movement of a cloud in the sun diffracted in our blinded eye.

Xie Fan carries with him a pictorial shyness that makes his strength in this very paradox of limited subjects and modesty of vocabulary. Reshuffled cards do not piece together the magical tarot that would be welcome in an esoteric narrative situation. To hell with all that, and fortunately, no need for more than the truth of faded colours absorbed in the porosity of unpolished terracotta.Well below the virtuosity of Indian miniatures,Xie Fan’s art disturbs many certainties about the supposed technical arrogance of new oriental generations. There is candor, and material ecstasy, as in the title of a 1963 essay by Le Clézio, L’Extasematérielle. Pictorial ecstasy is unmistakably conveyed through the tiny bits of yellow or red glowing stars of concentric halos, and the specular pleasure of paradoxical surfaces is there to seduce us.

— Text by Franck Gautherot & Seungduk Kim

Xie Fan(b. 1983, Jiangyou, Sichuan Province, China)received his BFA from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute(SFAI) in 2005. Xie Fan currently lives and works inBeijing and Chengdu.Recent solo exhibitions includeDionysus‘s Screen,Galerie Marguo (Paris, France);Sediment, Sifang ArtMuseum (Tongren Road Space), Shanghai, China(2022);Back To The Footlights Tomorrow, WHITESPACE BEIJING, Beijing, China (2014).Recent group exhibitions includeNight is the Shadowof the Earth, Wind H Art Center, Beijing, China (2023);A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place,BlLUNT SOCIETY, Shanghai, China (2023);Silkroadon the Moonlight, Gowolhun, Seoul, South Korea(2017);Mountain Sites: Views of Laoshan, Sifang ArtMuseum, Nanjing, China (2016);The Moscow Bien-nale, All-Russia Exhibition Centre (VDNKh), Moscow,Russia (2015);Absolute Collection Guideline, SifangArt Museum, Nanjing, China (2015).