Xia Xiaowan
Date of birth
Place Of birth
Beijing, China
Xia Xiaowan has been preoccupied for years with the problem of representing three dimensions on a flat surface. For him, the Western solution—with lines of perspective converging on a vanishing point—is powerful but inadequate. After much experimenting, he decided to approach the question from the opposite direction and build flat images into a 3D one. He divides a picture into layers, draws each section in coloured pencil on a sheet of tinted glass, then stacks the sheets one in front of the other. The translucent composite conveys the depth and solidity of a living figure. Man and Woman (2007) not only extends across multiple dimensions, it contains them. What at first seems a single monstrous figure turns out to be two: a pregnant woman and a man, deformed yet recognisably human. Bent and sorrowful, they might almost be Adam and Eve cast out of Eden. As the viewer moves around the painting-sculpture, it seems to move too, adding to the lifelike effect. “When we view a living person,” the artist says, “their position at the end cannot be exactly the same as at the start.”

Works by this artist