Today we’d like to introduce you to Xiao Wang.
Xiao, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am originally from Beijing, China. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by the legendary stories about artists throughout history. I always knew that I wanted to be one of them myself. Of course, the reality of an artist’s life is nothing like what I imagined, but my passion for art has only deepened over the years.
My path of becoming a painter started when I was a teenager. Like many other young art students in China, I trained tirelessly for years to draw and paint realistically. The skills I learned became important tools for my current practice, but I also realized the constraint it had on my creativity.
When I was 19, I was very lucky to be accepted into the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. I spent my undergrad there- it wasn’t easy. I not only had to quickly adapt to a new lifestyle but also had to learn English as a second language. However, it was truly an amazing experience that opened my eyes to contemporary art and the world outside of my comfort zone for the first time.
Later on, I continued my journey to San Francisco in 2012 where I still reside. It is in this city where I met some of my most inspiring friends and mentors who shaped me and my work. I attended the San Francisco Art Institute for my MFA and graduated in 2015, then spent the next two years keeping up my painting practice while battling for my immigration status. It was a dark time: I would wake up every day wondering whether I would have to pack up and go home. But thanks to the help and support from my partner, friends, and family, I made it through eventually. Now I am working as a teacher and museum guide while making paintings in my own studio in the city, it’s still a challenging way of life but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My work focuses on figurative realism painting. I use dramatic colors and thin glazes to render realistic figures, objects, and scenes that evoke a sense of mystery. I examine cult films, magical realism literature and symbolist paintings to create imageries of tension and obscurity. These paintings feature characters at uncertain moments, situated in disrupted narratives. In these works, I source from photographs of sites and models, which I digitally manipulate to build “sets” to paint from. Together, these works reference each other to fabricate a fictional theme around autobiography and mythology.
Through these paintings, I hope to create my own mythology. This will be a mythology both of the world and outside of it, blurring the line between truth and fantasy, both deeply rooted in the world and apart from it. As an international person living in the United States, I am both outside and inside, and my experiences and interests reflect the growing universe of my paintings.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
Keep pushing your work forward. Any artist who’s good at social skills can have 15 minutes of fame, but only those who make truly powerful work can make history. I understand that things can be hard sometimes – I myself am a struggling emerging artist, but no matter what happens, no matter how busy you are, you have to keep making work. And in the meantime, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
When I was in school, I always felt that my work wasn’t “ready” to present to the larger audience, and because of that, I missed out on a lot of opportunities that could have benefited my career today. So, don’t be afraid! Always apply for things and show your work when you can.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
If you are in the Bay Area, of course, you are more than welcome to visit my studio, I was lucky enough to find a studio last year with a garden attached to it, and there are few cat friends who live there. You can also follow me on Instagram or visit my website, where all my future show information will be posted.
- Website: www.xiaowang.co.uk
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @xiaowang_artist
Kathy Sirico, Subhrajit Bhatta