Born 1977, Hangzhou, China
Xiao Bo’s paintings owe much to two sources of image production. On the one hand painting skills painstakingly learnt in China’s art academies and, on the other, that of film, photography and television. Photographic or video imagery in the mainstream media is usually considered to provide a factual account that the public can believe in but, in Xiao Bo’s hands, this imagery is described within the context of the propaganda tool. In his multi- canvas works Xiao Bo uses staggered images of film stills. Each canvas details a subtle change as if a strip of film were unrolled across an editing table. For many young Chinese artists, too young to have experienced the Cultural Revolution directly, its iconography remains something that has to be worked through in order to comprehend the profound effects the era between 1966 and 1976 had on the psyche of the Chinese people. Xiao Bo’s monochromatic paintings are about the partiality of history and the way in which key moments in China’s recent past have been played out repeatedly in front of the country’s population. His paintings employ a heavily impastoed surface in which the act of painting is celebrated as a free and expressive act while at the same time showing events that were intended to have the opposite effect. The precise changes that occur throughout the narrative of Xiao Bo’s paintings act in contrast to the original media from which his images have been appropriated from as it slows down moving images to still moments, freezing history in paint.