Xizi Liu

1992 -

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Artist Statement:

My works use stylized painting methods to represent the architectures of consumption, a reality flattened both literal and metaphorically. Through mechanical vision, the paintings explore, critique, and contemplate attitudes concerning consumerism and mass production; including the mechanization of the architectures of consumption, and how they reinforce habits. My works also portray the power of information transmission from unrevealed language and the painterly gesture that replaced the alphabet in non-places—a place, not a social or physical space, which lacks the traditional attributes of space.
My paintings focus on sites of consumption and production in the contemporary environment and explore of capitalist consumerism. No region in the world has undergone such rapid and profound economic and cultural transformation as China has in the past decades. As part of the generation born in the late 20th century, I witnessed the country’s feverish progression of technological innovations and rapid economic growth. The subjects I choose are heavily rooted in my experience growing up amidst frenzied transformations in China, with its subsequent unbearable urban density. The traditional Chinese culture is not entirely replaced but certainly infected by the western culture of capitalism and consumerism. Urbanism and consumerism are not only issues in China but also across the globe.
Shopping has become a leisure pursuit, an experience: the transformation of basic needs into a society of consumerism. Once basic needs have been satisfied, a feeling of emptiness remains. Thus my paintings shed light on consumption and the homogenization of culture. Architectures of consumption are places designed to hypnotize consumer’s places, where consumers are entertained and hypnotized by commodities and inner architectural arrangement. Selling is mingled with amusement and the arousal of free-floating desires.
Although we can spot consumer locations in my paintings, the absence of language makes it difficult to locate a precise setting. Because the environments that we live in no longer have obvious specificity, as individuals we lack uniqueness. To a large degree, we are flattening out the landscape through homogenization and this is a result of consumer culture, and notion of weakness rely on the production of consumption. Thus, the paintings are also bearing my critical position and commentary on the capitalism manipulation. My work is based on capitalist society, depicting a culture in which choices depend on desires rather than needs and where mass production is unstoppable. These flattened pictorial spaces are based on the desirable products. The products are emotionless. I explore the vanity and fantasy of Pop Culture amidst urban chaos. The rigid, faceless, even headless people in my paintings stand for the de-individualization and overwhelming nature of consumer culture and the cold relationships and lack of freedom of people in contemporary society. I transform space and objects that disturb the ‘normal’ order and rhythm of
urban life, in order to find new physical and conceptual spaces. In making my paintings I was inspired by the anonymity. I paint specific places where we often find a great deal of text, but language is missing in my paintings. The brush strokes have replaced the language on. For example, very simplified book covers, labels, branding, posters, etc. None of the books has the words, none of those loaves of bread have words naming the brands; none of these piles of spices, bottles of wine or figures is identified. The language is reduced to the proportions of the site. All my paintings are filled; occupied by the empty carriers of language: books, labels, captions, signs, posters, etc. No content or brand names are revealed. Characters are anonymous consumer objects. Objects lack specificity. It is impossible to distinguish one from another. They are meaningless and immersed in an indistinct world. I use photography as a point of departure. My paintings push the original image towards abstraction in ways that reveal inherent flaws in the processes of representation. Enlarged from snapshots to canvases, my desolate landscapes become objects, far removed from their subjects. In this was and they take on new and different meanings.
The characters in my paintings are faceless or even headless. They represent the de-individualized condition of modern humans in a consumer society. They are lost and overwhelmed in products. Like the well-trained citizens that we are, we know that no matter how unfamiliar a place may be, if we simply follow an already familiar itinerary we will get through. There is a forgetting of our own interest and acting out of the imposed desires of consumerism. We put ourselves and consideration of our own interests first, safely believing that, in doing so, we are acting in the way society expects us to. All of the objects in the paintings are content-less and anonymous. They are the illusion of the meaningless people lost in the non-specific environments, whether it is a grocery shop, airport waiting hall, bookstore or some place that historical events happened. They all are part of the non-place I create. In these places, time is conceptually synonymous with progress and, as such, is seen by audiences to have suffered the same fate as progress.

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