Liu Xiaodong: Half Street at Lisson Gallery
Liu Xiaodong paints quickly and on site, choosing unlikely subjects and places usually seen as too ordinary and everyday to become art. Inside family pubs and a restaurant, staff are painted in the midst of real life – informal portraits that nonetheless manage to capture moments of contemplation that happen throughout even work days. As paintings, the images are large and what might be called sketch-like studies rather than polished pieces. They are ideas, which are also made in smaller photograph form.
The photos are especially interesting, as they are partly painted, giving the images an intelligent oscillation between layers of reality – if photographs are real, are they any more real than paintings, and just what is this reality thing anyway? Artists sometimes manage to consider profound questions with a light touch.
A larger film of onsite photographs of the artist working adds more depth to the project. The additional clues about how the paintings were made make the viewer look more deeply into them and in turn see more of the captured moments.
The subjects and locations of Half Street are local to the Lisson Gallery, which is just off the Edgware Road. With a few changes of props, we can imagine these people anywhere, and at almost any other time. People seem to be lost or distracted in thought, and their relationships are the space between.
Xiaodong is a Chinese artist with an international practice, examining and connecting with people all over the world. He seeks the human connection, the parts we all have in common.
Photos: Krish Nagari
Liu Xiaodong: Half Street is at Lisson Gallery until 2nd November 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.