Cai Xi’s Edge paintings from the 90’s:
August 5 – September 18, 2016
You are cordially invited to an artist reception, Friday, August 19, 5-7pm at C.X. Silver Gallery for Selections from ‘Edge.’ Cai’s ‘Edge’ paintings 1991-1994 are on view at C.X. Silver Gallery, Brattleboro, VT, through September 18, open daily by appointment, closed August 20-22 and 27-30. Inquiries: Contact Adam Silver, Operations Manager / Co-Director, (802) 257-7898.
The “Edge” series of paintings developed over a seven-year period during the 1990s. The first year, they were oil on canvas which changed to mixed media during the second year. The archive of images of most of those works are at caixiart.com/edge.
“I returned to my gymnastics and calligraphy experiences as a child, finding myself jumping, stretching, and reaching as I painted. Chinese traditional breathing exercise (Qigong) continued to help me channel energy when I painted. Throughout the nineties, materials, surface and texture were self-renewing areas of exploration. I derived a lot of inspiration from living in New York City. On the street and subway, on the ground in the cement sidewalk, a peeling wall, everywhere I went, I kept discovering: ‘Oh, look. There’s a painting!’ The experience of “Edge” is about stepping into and out of myself. My art-making is characterized by this existential process. For me, Art is about Paradox: appearance-disappearance, life-death, nothingness-wholeness, chaos-groundedness, emptiness-substance, movement-fixity.” – Cai
Cai is part of the experimental contemporary art scene, albeit a maverick in her own right, forging new solutions with each work in process. At the same time, she has a connection to and transforms traditional classical Chinese art through calligraphy and the principles of ‘brush’ (using the common mop, broom, and mason’s trowel), ‘ink’ (as oil or enamel paint), and, what has been known for centuries in China as the ‘bone’ of compositional structure.
Much of her connection to traditional Chinese painting is echoed in Mai-mai Sze’s translation of the 17th century treatise, The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. :
— “The great unifying aim has been to express Tao, the way – the basic Chinese belief in an order and harmony in nature.” – (Sze, p.3). Cai relates to the Tao as a mystical groundedness.
— “The close relationship between painting and calligraphy” and “the traditional view that painting is not a professional but an extension of the art of living” (Sze, pp.5-6.). Cai both embodies a conservative worldview and an expression of that worldview that is quite radical for the present times.
A major aspect of Cai’s work is the connection to the Chinese concept of inner energy, qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is related to breath, both of humans and of the world and all things within and without the world. In Cai’s painting, the qi is visible in the movement of the painting stroke within the picture plane. Cai also taps into the centuries-old concept of qi-yun, loosely translated as ‘spirit-resonance’ which is more than just movement but also related to the vitality of the composition, the interaction of the painting medium, the forms depicted,and the painting surface.
In her abstract works of the past decade and continuing into the most recent year, the ‘Wu Ji (Infinity Within)” and “In The Box” series, Cai continues her exploration of the relationship between qi-yun and harmony, her painting, her tai chi martial arts practice, and most recently, the Chinese meridians and China’s traditional Five Elements.
LE XI and CAI XI – ‘Nonconformist’ – a sibling exhibition in Newfane
Moore Library’s Crowell Gallery, 23 West St, Newfane, VT, during August. Artist reception is Thursday August 4, 6-8pm at the Crowell Gallery. Crowell Gallery at Moore Free Library, Newfane, is open Tuesday/Wednesday/Fridays 1-5pm; Thursdays 2-7pm; Saturdays 10am-2pm; Sunday/Mondays – closed. Le Xi approaches light, shadow, time, and space in a constant state of watchful experimentation leading to the development of kinetic video art pieces as well as two- and three-dimensional pieces. Cai Xi’s approach is about savoring color, dancing with line and brushwork, focusing on the materials of her art media. She contemplates portraits and landscapes, the radiance of color, and the interplay of light and shadow of charcoal, and the vitality of contours, strokes, stretching and sweeping which has become a foundation for her exploring abstraction during the past 30 years since the ’80s. The show is open Tues-Fri 1-5pm, Sat 10-1pm, closed Sun and Mon.
Coming from China’s collectivist society yet from earliest days both artists have been cultivating unconventional nonconforming worldviews that have been producing unique ways of communicating and depicting their observations and their mind-body-feeling. Both artists have their own trajectories that share an abiding interest in light and shadow, time and space. Le Xi approaches light, shadow, time, and space in a constant state of watchful experimentation leading to the development of kinetic video art pieces as well as two- and three-dimensional pieces. Cai Xi’s approach is about savoring color, dancing with line and brushwork, focusing on the materials of her art media. She contemplates portraits and landscapes, the radiance of color, and the interplay of light and shadow of charcoal, and the vitality of contours, strokes, stretching and sweeping which has become a foundation for her exploring abstraction during the past 30 years since the ’80s.
In these selected sketches and paintings of the 1980s, Cai doesn’t choose colors; colors choose her and then move through her during the drawing and painting process. With charcoal – the light and shadow is its own color and luminosity. For Cai, art goes beyond color: it’s about light, energy, movement. Colors interact with each other creating story, voice and sound. Based in Vermont, Cai Xi trained in fine arts at Shanghai Drama Institute and received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. A 2010 Fellow at Vermont Studio Center and recipient of a 2010-2011 Arts Endowment Grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, Cai Xi is Chef/Owner/Director of C X Silver Gallery of Fine Art and Cai’s Dim Sum Teahouse and Catering. For the past decade, Cai’s art and studio have expanded into an arts, cultural and culinary environment.
Based in Chongqing, Vermont and New York, Le Xi trained at the Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts and received his MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York. As part of the contemporary Chinese art scene, Le Xi’s video installations have appeared in China, the United States, Italy and Denmark.