The Relationship Between Western and Asian Art and
from Antiquity to the Present in the Contemporary
Floral Paintings of the Artist Mr. Xu Xi
Liu Long Ting
About Xu Xi
Since ancient times and until the present day, Chinese painting has
perennially depicted the subjects of Chinese culture. Chinese art has its
evanescent and recurring glory just as the Buddhist saying "The phoenix
vanishes yet appears and reappears incessantly." When I gaze upon Mr.
Xuxi's painting, I discover this luminous and radiant phoenix who has risen
progressively from the mother's womb of traditional Chinese painting and
flown above and over the horizon all-embracing to the opposite side of the
great ocean. Mr. Xuxi's paintings of flowers leaves me breathless with the
feeling of brilliant radiance and contemporary novelty giving the here and now
contemporary atmosphere to the subjects with the fluidity and delicate beauty
of Eastern traditions.
However, there existed already a great distance between the traditional
Chinese floral painting which was quite different from the historical royal style
and the ink painting imagery, prevalent during several past dynasties.
The forms of calligraphy poems, painting and seal carving and other artistic
mediums are in a style and form that are no longer in the main flow of present
day painting. Our genius painter, Mr. XuXi, has been able to fuse his Sino-
Western artistic language to present day forms to produce magical results.
Taking into consideration Ling Fengmian, Wu Guanzhong and Huang Yong Yu
artists who succeeded in making the Sino-Western transition, Mr. XuXi's
paintings display with assurance his own objectives and his own special
definitive character. He stands out and apart from all the others who tend to
convey a static spirit.
In Mr. XuXi's early childhood artistic development at the Chekiang
Academy of Fine Arts, he enrolled in engraving and woodcutting at Met Tung,
having already absorbed a solid foundation in sketching and color control and
mixing. Decades of the most difficult experiments, gave him the feeling that he
now possessed the ability and was ready to create and assimilate the methods
of Western painting.
Since the 1980s, Mr. XuXi's paintings have won many international awards
and attracted a great deal of attention. He has received many invitations from
many worldwide artistic organizations. He has visited and traveled around the
world with his paintings and has acquired a solid reputation in many countries
in Asia, Europe, North and South America. He has researched, visited and
been appreciated in many worldwide renowned museums holding exhibitions
with some of the finest artists; he has been inter
viewed and written up by cultural and artistic authorities where his insight and
intelligence broadened and contributed to the artistic understanding of the
contemporary sing-western transition.. Ever since he has been residing in New
York, the opportunities with worldwide renowned people and events have
increased and will broaden his views and artistic inspiration, i.e., priority
conditions and circumstances, which places him a step ahead of artists who
have spent their early years studying abroad in Japan and France. His
unbridled temperament and profound understanding allows his unequivocal
acknowledgement of the spirit of western painting; he has asserted his own
style and individual status frequently through comparative study and keen
Mr. Chaung Kwon, a long time intimate friend and fine artist postulates:
"Mr. XuXi has an unusual clarity of mind, is quick-witted with keen
perspicacity and diligent spirit. His ink paintings led him to the discovery of his
own style and established his painting genre, temperament and characteristics.
Since the 1970s, after several decades of experience and experimenting, his
painting has emancipated and succeeded. His depictions of mountains, water,
and other landscapes, have demonstrated his creation of the XuXi Style. No
doubt he will occupy a secure place in the realm of present day Chinese
painting and become an important figure in the artistic world.
Flowers also reflect Mr. XuXi's concerned inventive intellect. His research
in oils and watercolors has made him choose the best medium for his floral
work; a mixture of watercolor and ink, usage of the sweeping curve, covering
the blocked spaces and the application of the colors, i.e.,
black, white and gray, while applying a similar technique as for the landscapes
which reflect the inspiration and activity within the space of the painting.
This complex Sino-Western painting technique is his unique style of
painting landscapes and flowers. His painting, which has evolved and
emancipated from his former style, is able to impress the viewer with his
completely new individual form which is his most valuable asset.
He has been a professional painter since the late 1970s, traveling
throughout the world and to every corner of China: cities, mountains, rivers,
seashores and countryside to the farthest northwest and southwest provinces
such as Sinkiang and Tibet where he sketched his firsthand impressions Äa
most important collection of sketches for print creations.
As for Chinese painting, his primary specialty is mountains and water
landscapes, while people and flowers are in the second place. Our painter has
chosen according to his circumstances; at the beginning he pursued the Sino-
Western complexity developing his priorities with the use of sketching and
watercolors with the light and heavy ink and pen usage with inventive
structures of style, together with many other considerations eventually evolving
into his personal primary vision which became a complete success."
Artist and professor Mr. Chaung Li Shan, also educates at Central Fine
Arts Academy, who is one the finest birds and flowers painter, interpolates:
"Mr. Xuxi's painting is an expression and style of sagacious painting yet his
watercolor pictures of flowers do not only reflect his wisdom, they show a
basic foundation of Sino-Western painting with unbridled artistic inspiration and
intellect. Traveling through decades and to the farthest corners in China and
abroad, he was able to develop his individual visions, i.e., 'different from all
others' wherein his painting incorporates two most important principles: First,
mixes and harmonizes the Western color composites with Chinese inks, using
both at the same time, contrasting and blending the mixture, to bring out the
Western brightness and beauty of color tempered by Chinese shades and
nuances resulting in an unparalleled richness of composition, luminosity and
harmony. Secondly, the correct usage of the pen involves holding the pen
properly, knowing how to draw the most important and complex oriental style
curve, the fluidity of which is the basis and backbone of the method of pen
application that can give the surface of the painting a multiplicity combining
Western refinement with oriental delicacy of character and conception."
Both of the artists Mr. Chaung Kwon and Mr. Chaung Li Shan are Mr.
XuXi's intimate friends in China and are greatly successful in their own
Chinese painting endeavors. Their acclaim of Mr. XuXi and their tribute to a
friend and colleague are heartfelt expressions of their approbation of Mr.
XuXi's artistic talent and success.
For his many years of experience in Chinese painting, engraving, wood cuts
and waterprinting, Mr. XuXi has acquired a profound perception far supeior to
the conventional and prevalent Chinese painting including the special character
of pen and ink drawings. He is a master of the materials: the absorption and
dissolving of ink and water, the technique of holding the pen and speed of the
strokes; he is masterfully fluent and his has a controlled and authoritative free
In his technique of flower creation with the Chinese application, he has
experimented and painted these with oil paints, watercolors, waterchalk,
acrylics, etc.... with innumerable color combinations, sometimes applied on the
same picture, giving the painting a multifarious character of expression. On the
surface, the colors may be bright and strong, the ink mitigates and tempers the
harshness creating an atmosphere of mysterious secrecy. This very special
characteristic enhances the inspiration of his flower paintings giving it an
unparalleled strength and radiance.
He has been enthusiastically acclaimed by thousands who compliment and
praise the remarkable beauty of his blossoms and how realism is impregnated
with the abstract in XuXi's unusual artistic language. His technique has been
referred to as the sweeping creation where magic enters into the harmony
similar to Pegasus flying through the sky creating a spiritual state only a very
few great artist has been able to achieve.
Mr. XuXi's Flower Album is in the process of being published; our sincere
congratulations to him for his accomplishments.
Mr. Liu Lung Ting, a well known art critic in China. Mr. Liu graduated
from Central Art Academy Department of Art History Master's program in
1980. He is now a chief editor of a most important art professional periodical
"Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy".
(Chon Ham Chi Translation)
About Xu Xi