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In our growing figurative-painting panorama, a number of young and talented artists are gaining more more attention by the art world and its followers. Chinese painter Xinyi Cheng expresses an imagery both of creative freshness and mature observation of the past, creating beauty out of simplicity and well educated aesthetic taste, while putting in front of the observer a continuously moving panorama of desirable sensations. 

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Born in Wuhan in 1989, raised in Beijing, and currently living and working in Paris, Xinyi Cheng has been creating beauty out of figurativeness in a world that is moving more and more towards abstraction and conceptualisms. During her upbringing, Xinyi Cheng studied sculpture in Beijing, an approach that, as the artist explains herself, was incredibly useful in order to understand shapes, forms and the way light behaves when put in contact with the element of the human body. “These years were really formative for me, because I had to do a lot of figurative clay sculptures, a practice which still helps me today in my approach to painting bodies”; as it can be understood by reading the artist’s words, the study of clay sculptures allowed the painter to gain a better and more complete knowledge about the human body and the way it behaves in a variety of different contexts. 


Xinyi Cheng, Clement, 2019. Oil on canvas.


In her works, Xinyi Cheng speaks to the viewer about the element of desire, in all of its subtleness and unexpectedness, about the unusual paths that are engaged when seeking pleasure while escaping discomfort. Pleasure itself is analysed by the artist as a mere gateway towards one’s innermost fantasies, towards the realm of the atypically felt, an idea that enables Xinyi Cheng to travel within the world of sensations bringing back for the viewer a panorama of subtle and unusual feelings. Her paintings depict a variety of situations, in which the subject, often a person that is affectionate to the artist and therefor has been observed and absorbed in all of its emotionality, is overcoming a situation which appears to be on the edge of discomfort; as if the subjects were portrayed seconds before the arrival of a feeling of harm and dismay. This sensation of continuous happening and imminent arrival communicates to the observer, whom is attracted and desires himself to feel and participate into moments of such powerful sensiorality. 


Xinyi Cheng, The Rain, 2014. Oil on linen.


Besides all of the conceptual aspects of Xinyi Cheng’s research, her paintings are also incredibly appealing in terms of compositions and palettes. The element of light is described through the clever usage of colour and its expressive potential, combining a number of hues and tones into an image that expresses psychological depth and introspective involvement, while obtaining also a pleasurable experience for the viewer’s eyes to step into. 

A feeling of apathy is often felt in the complexity of our contemporary existence, it may be through painting that we discover the paths toward the incredible expressiveness that lies within simplicity.


Xinyi Cheng, Wishes, 2021. Oil on canvas.


Cover image:  Xinyi Cheng, Stijn In The Red Bonnet, 2020 . Oil on canvas.

Written by Mario Rodolfo Silva

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