Galerie Urs Meile was one of the first international galleries to focus on the Chinese art scene and has been working on an international level with Chinese artists since 1995. The gallery represents established artists such as Wang Xingwei, Xie Nanxing, Qiu Shihua, Not Vital, as well as emerging artists such as Cao Yu, Hu Qingyan, Ju Ting, Chen Zuo, Miao Miao and Rebekka Steiger.
With the opening of this new space at Rämistrasse in Zurich in June 2023 Galerie Urs Meile is locating itself in the center of Zurich, between fellow art galleries and institutions. The inauguration show is dedicated to the Chinese painter Wang Xingwei, who continues to inspire and shape young generations today. In the three decades of his mature output, Wang Xingwei has created an artistic universe all his own, where references collide, characters recur, and styles proliferate, all articulated in a deliciously skillful range of styles. Regarded as one of China's most mature and wide-ranging contemporary painters, Wang Xingwei’s irreverent appropriation of visual references from both Chinese and Western art history has been a topic in his work since the beginning of his career. Years of exploring and experimenting with these references allowed him to build up his very own visual vocabulary. Toying with disconnected elements, dismantling the acknowledged logic of thinking, and fabricating domestic incidents into his personal fantasies have always been winning strategies since the beginning of his artistic journey. With a focus to various forms of portraiture loaded with referential symbols and playful metaphors, his paintings feature a wide range of topics from everyday scenes to cultural history or contemporary political satire. Wang's unique approach to painting has earned him critical acclaim and a loyal following in the art world, both in China and internationally. Wang Xingwei, who was born 1969 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, lives and works in Beijing China.
One of the works displayed in the upcoming exhibition is Oedipus and the Sphinx (Proposal 1993), 2021 (Oil on canvas, 190.5 x 150 cm), which is based on the artist’s personal proposal expeirecne in the 1990’s. At that time, China was in the initial stage of the development of modern urban civilization, and the study and imitation of Western civilization were rough and exaggerated. At the same time, the artist incorporated today's fashionable gesture of showing love. The picture draws on the exaggerated processing techniques of comics and renders with strong contrasting colors. The relationship between the characters in the picture is somewhat similar to the scene in Greek mythology where the Sphinx posed a riddle to Oedipus and the riddle was successfully solved. Here, the mystery of marriage is solved by the answer of "love". This is not only the artist's commemoration and review of his own precious moments, but also a clever fusion of two different eras in a playful way.
Equally colorful is the work Evening Flight (oil on canvas, 197 x 295 cm), being created in the year 2021 and depicting a dream most humans have at least once in their lifetime: Flying. But in this work, the subjects of flying are deliberately demonized characters, alluding to the ideological opposition that is prevalent in today's society. The work draws on the exaggerated treatment techniques of comics, including the expressions and movements of the characters. In the picture, the huge fat man is flying stably in the
attitude of an arrogant bomber, while the thinner man is portrayed in a frightened staggering posture. The figures are respectively rendered with green and purple modern artificial light. The railway over the horizon
is faintly visible, which is also the artist's memory of modern Chinese history to some extent. The artist stages exaggerated character performances with his witty brushstrokes in a very personal and representative style. At the same time, he quietly transforms and integrates individuals and groups, the past and the present.
As always Wang’s plots are often unexpected, far-fetched, and yet charmingly surreal. He has constructed an exquisitely unique and picturesque language of seemingly disconnected elements -
conceptual entries from his own “visual dictionary”. These elements are juxtaposed in order to purposely dismantle the acknowledged logic of thinking and create, by means of their disruptive power, new and
unpredictable interpretative possibilities.
Groups of works by Wang Xingwei are represented in prominent collections in Europe, the USA, China and Hong Kong. Museum exhibitions have been shown in major institutions in China and Hong Kong, such as UCCA (Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing; PSA (Power Station of Art), shanghai; chi K11 Art Museum Shanghai; M+ Museum Hong Kong.