Xu Feng—To Embrace the World While Wearing the Mask of a “Rabbit”

TEXT:Sue Wang    TIME: 2019.1.30

Albert Camus once said that, no artist can live without reality. Art can question reality, but art cannot escape from reality. Compared with most mature artworks, the living conditions and life stories behind the art production seem to be more intriguing. Taking from the first-person perspective, CAFA ART INFO is now presenting you with our latest micro video program, “Art Walk: Behind the Scenes”. With a focus on individual artists’ life stories, we will take you on a tour to explore how an artist actually works and lives in real-life situations. This series will be filmed at a part of the artists’ studios at some art districts in Beijing. Each artist’s unique character will be revealed to our audience in a more realistic and tangible way.

“Art Walk: Behind the Scenes”

Episode 7: Xu Feng

(Time:03' 29'')

Xu Feng, Buddy, oil on canvas, 120x90cm, 2018

It really requires a lot of courage to fully reveal yourself to others. Usually, people use a mask and pretend that they can calmly face the world.

Born in Jiangkou in Guizhou province in 1980, Xu Feng used to be a local art teacher. Then with the help from a Beijing-based oil painting artist Ran Jinsong, Xu Feng was able to come to Beijing and became an assistant to the artist Xia Xiaowan. Afterwards, Xu Feng started further studies at China Central Academy of Fine Arts. After graduation, he became a professional artist. Now, Xu Feng lives with his wife, son and his mother in Beijing.

Xu Feng, New Refugees, oil on canvas, 93x245cmx13, 2010

Xu Feng, New Refugees, oil on canvas, 93x245cmx13 pieces, 2010, details

Xu Feng, As Trassient as a Fleeting Cloud, oil on canvas, 40x30cm, 2013

Initially, the subject of Xu Feng’s art is mainly the human body. Xu’s art is known for his portrayal of hideous faces and monstrous human bodies. Xu hoped to display a distorted form of human nature through the “bizarrerie” of form. However, Xu Feng’s style changed drastically in 2013. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he had recently become a father. He grew into a man who started to hide his feelings with a soft heart. The focal point of his art then shifted to the figure of a “rabbit” that seems quite cute. And since then, Xu Feng’s art career has been significantly inspired. His figurative sign of a rabbit has evolved into his own personal style and it has been recognized by more and more people in society.

Xu Feng, Rabbit Series, oil on canvas, 2018

Xu Feng, Rabbit Series, oil on canvas, 2018

Xu Feng, Being Embarrassed, oil on canvas, 160x270cm, 2018

Xu Feng’s mother comes from the Miao culture in Guizhou, and she is very good at embroidery. Under the influence of her son, Xu Feng’s mother started making art using embroidery to record the things that she experienced and the people she met. Xu Feng was born one of the villages in the mountains, and he truly understood the struggle of the life of the kids living in the mountainous areas. Recently, Xu Feng has been preparing “Warm Rabbit: Xu Feng Art Exhibition” in Beijing and “Wise Rabbit” Teaching—Assistance Project in Guizhou. Xu Feng is a very kind person and he receives support and help from many people. The studio that he uses currently is also provided by the artist Ran Jinsong for free.

Warm Rabbit: Xu Feng Art Exhibition, Beijing, 2018

Wise Rabbit Teaching-Assistance Project, Jiangkou, Guizhou, 2019

Xu Feng, as a man from the mountains, he may not be fully involved in the life of modern urban cities. Therefore, he creates a fairy land for himself. And within this world, he wishes to build his art castle usi ng the figure of a rabbit.

Photo of Ran Jinsong and Xu Feng, 2005

Xu Feng and Xia Xiaowan Talked about Creation in the Studio, 2006

Xu Feng, Outlining, oil on canvas, 150x110cm, 2018

Xu Feng, Fruit No.2, oil on canvas, 90×90cm, 2018

Photo Courtesy of the Artist.