Xu Jiang was born in Fujian in 1955. He graduated from China Academy of Arts with a major in oil painting, and in 1988 he went to study at Hamburg Academy of Arts in West Germany. Xu Jiang plays multiple roles. As a cultural scholar and critic, he is deeply concerned with the cultural and intellectual orientation of contemporary art. As a curator, he has organized numerous impressive exhibitions. Also, he is a tireless educator who brings innovative ideas and practices into art education. Xu Jiang, however, is a painter by nature and destiny. His artistic exploration in the past two decades is distinguished by the cross-fertilization of the artistic and the intellectual.
Xu Jiang is primarily recognized as a landscape painter, unlike other artists who specialize in either cityscape or natural scenery. Xu Jiang’s penchant for the cultural and historical richness of the city finds vivid expressions in his painting. His cityscapes, with compelling images of skylines, streets and buildings, recall a tragedy or epic. The cityscapes have moved beyond the representational, and although the subject matter may vary, the artist poses similar intellectual questions. What he paints becomes a meta-landscape, revealing his spiritual, intellectual, and cultural concerns. Compared to cityscapes, Xu Jiang’s painting of natural scenes conveys a sense of liveliness and spontaneity. Xu Jiang’s bigger compositions often consist of a group of small-scale sequential paintings in order to involve the temporal and the spatial elements. It is a way to reflect the artist’s perception of the world or the image of the mind. His response to the crisis of painting and the rise of media-art, is to create a fruitful dialogue between the traditional and the new media.
Extract from Fan Di’an “Post-ism: Xu Jiang’s Painting and Its Cultural Relevance”