Xie Nanxing
"untitled: 3 x"

November 7, 2015 - February 6, 2016
Opening: Saturday, November 7, 2015; 4 - 7pm

Xie Nanxing

untitled no. 4, 2014
oil on canvas
300 × 220 cm



Xie Nanxing
untitled : 3 ×

2015 (english)

Galerie Urs Meile is pleased to announce the opening of untitled: 3 ×, the eighth solo exhibition by Xie Nanxing at one of our galleries. Xie Nanxing is a revolutionary and experimental painter, who always challenges tradition and the seemingly established rules of art education. He is interested in psychology and also approaches his practice with a psychologist’s line of questioning, inquiring into what is behind the surface.

For example, he reconsidered the traditional portrait genre, depicting people not as it is usually done, by painting their appearance, but by illustrating their personality through a story, the composition, or through color. Xie Nanxing portrayed his girlfriend (Portrait No. 1, 2012, oil on canvas, 120 × 160 cm) by painting her style of driving. We see a shabby car scaring a dog off the road, and in the light cones emanating from its headlights one can read: “One-eyed person bravely dashing into Heiqiao” (an art district in Beijing). Xie Nanxing’s approach differs for every portrait, depending on and reflecting upon the person who is to be portrayed. His portrait of a friend (Someone’s Portrait, 2014, oil on canvas, 100 × 80 cm) is based on the friend’s ongoing art project. Xie Nanxing was extremely fascinated with the friend’s narratives of the project’s details as well as his expectation of it, which in turn inspired Xie Nanxing to do some portraits for his friend.

Xie Nanxing’s recent series, Untitled (2014-2015) consists of six paintings that radiate a strange, dark, uncanny beauty. The subjects are hard to recognize, and what we see seems to come out of our unconscious. The viewer can’t trust his own ability to focus, as everything seems blurred. In this series, Xie Nanxing was looking into the question of what happens to an image when it is processed though a variety of different media. Xie Nanxing created these paintings by using photographs of flowers and plants taken by his mother, and transforming them with the help of light, painting, and other photographic media. Xie Nanxing has always been exploring the relationship between the image and the painting. He successfully changes the form, composition, and color of the original image drastically with the help of different media and the change of light, as well as the reversal method. The final image was transformed into a map of light and Xie Nanxing felt that this metamorphosis was almost magical. On untitled no. 1 (2014, oil on canvas, 220 × 320 cm) you can even see the artist’s reflection on the TV screen when he was taking the image.

Triangle Relations Gradually Changing (2013) is a group of works that combines Xie Nanxing’s formal and psychological approach. The series was inspired by Lucian Freud’s The Artist Surprised by a Naked Admirer. In Freud’s painting you can see the painter standing in his studio, a naked women sitting at his feet, embracing his legs, and to their left a canvas is set up on an easel, depicting the very same scene. While the model seems to care only about the painter, he is turning away from her toward the canvas. Inspired by this scene, Xie Nanxing wanted to explore the relationship among painter, object, and depiction. At first he thought that the model holds the painter’s attention because she wants him to observe her physical existence instead of his version of her in his painting. In Triangle Relations Gradually Changing No. 1 (2013, oil on canvas, 221 × 152 cm), Triangle Relations Gradually Changing No. 2 (2013, oil on canvas, 220 × 220 cm), Triangle Relations Gradually Changing No. 3 (2013, oil on canvas, 190 × 190 cm), and Triangle Relations Gradually Changing No. 4 (2013, oil on canvas, 220 × 220 cm), Xie Nanxing examined this triangular relationship by assigning different roles to each party. By the time he finished Triangle Relations Gradually Changing No. 5 (2013, oil on canvas, 190 × 190 cm) he realized that he had misunderstood Freud and dedicated the last painting to Freud’s intention to comment on a painter’s adoration of the opposite sex. Xie Nanxing used a technique in this series he has worked with before. He primed one canvas—white or in a variety of colors—and put another one on top of it, upon which he painted a figurative painting. But the finished work is the canvas beneath, which only shows the traces of paint that penetrated through onto the base coat. These are the kinds of marks that can often be seen on the back of a painting, and Xie Nanxing also understands leftovers from themes or concepts as traces similar to those in the painting process. Together they form the unconscious of painting, which Xie Nanxing once more brings to mind.

On the occasion of the exhibition the gallery will publish a catalog with texts by Carol Yinghua Lu (curator and critic, Beijing) and Ruth Noack (curator and critic, Berlin).

Xie Nanxing was born in 1970 in Chongqing, Sichuan Province; today, he lives and works in Beijing and Chengdu, China. The artist’s exhibitions include: New Works #1, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT), Shenzhen, China, 2014; Documenta XII, Kassel, Germany, 2007; Xie Nanxing Paintings, Kunstverein Hamburger Bahnhof, Hamburg, Germany, 2005; Xie Nanxing. Paintings 1999-2002, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UK, 2003; Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2000; d’APERTutto, Venice Biennial, 48th International Art Exhibition of the City of Venice, Italy, 1999.


Julia Steiner
"Across Rooms"

November 13, 2015 - January 16, 2016
Opening: Friday, November 13, 2015; 6 - 8pm


Julia Steiner

Window IV, 2015
gouache on paper
150 x 182 cm



Julia Steiner
across rooms

2015 (english)

After exhibiting her work twice in Beijing, Galerie Urs Meile is pleased to show Julia Steiner’s new works again in Lucerne, for the first time since 2011. The exhibition across rooms focuses on works that are concerned with spatial construction and open up a variety of rooms. Besides works on paper Julia Steiner will show reliefs made of plaster of paris, a medium that she is less known to work with.

In her last year’s show in Beijing, the central piece was a landscape made of unfired clay and covered with black lacquer, which Steiner shaped over several days in the space, physically exerting herself fully. While every element of the work asking the ground was formed by hand and in direct relation to the size of the artist’s body and exhibition space, the new plaster works are smaller fragments. They were not modeled, but are casts, and in that sense, the reverse of the hand-sculpted clay landscape. This inversion creates a detailed copy while reinventing shapes and spaces. The result recalls a fossil, a mixture of natural and physical imprints, and thus formulates a vague, surreal space located between the poles of interior and exterior. The finest hair, fingerprints, structures of stones or bark become apparent in the glossy, painted plaster, demanding a closer look. The fossils are not a physical counterpart, but a kind of microcosm, a copy of an intimate landscape or a relict of real and fictional traces.

The exhibition space also defies clear interpretation, but conveys a sense of the outdoors. The floor is covered with black granite sand and the crunching beneath visitors’ feet evokes the feeling of walking on a street or in a park. Steiner creates an uncertain atmosphere with this exhibition set-up. Her exploration of expanse and depth also results in an alternative perspective that leads us to question our everyday perception. Window reflection, a wall painting painted over one corner of the room, picks up on the opposite window by providing a view of and opening up a new visual space. At the same time it negates the architectonical space, because its illusionary space dissolves the existing corner. Again, Steiner is constructing rooms that have a slight twist and therefore do not conform to our everyday experience.

Works in gouache on paper from three different groups can be seen in this exhibition. Nocturne is the darkest series up to this point, and it explores dense, dark, and almost material moods, in which only a little light flashes. Works of the same title, Windows, feature openings that allow insight into a deeper level. They play with perspective and their impossibilities, with the notion of the image within an image and the space inside a two-dimensional plane. The series Tableau is always in the same format and is a kind of encyclopedia of smaller compositions and formulations, which will be continued in the form of a collection.


Julia Steiner was born in 1982 in Büren zum Hof in Switzerland, and lives and works today in Basel. Shereceived the Swiss Art Awards in 2009, the Manor Kunstpreis in 2011, and the Fontana Gränacher Prize in2011. Her works were shown in the just-finished group exhibition, Harmonie und Umbruch, at MartaHerford in Germany. Solo exhibitions have been held by Haus der Kunst St. Josef, Solothurn (2013),CentrePasquArt, Biel (2011), and the Kunstmuseum Thun (2009), among others.



2015 (deutsch)

Nach zwei Ausstellungen in Beijing, freut sich die Galerie Urs Meile, Julia Steiners neuste Arbeiten seit 2011 erstmals wieder in Luzern zu zeigen. Die Ausstellung across rooms konzentriert sich auf Werke, die sich mit Raumkonstruktionen befassen und Räume eröffnen. Neben Arbeiten auf Papier wird Julia Steiner ihre Arbeiten aus Alabastergips zeigen.


In ihrer letztjährigen Ausstellung in Beijing war eine schwarz lackierte Landschaft aus ungebranntem Ton, den Julia Steiner über Tage unter vollem Körpereinsatz direkt vor Ort modelliert hatte, das Herzstück gewesen. Während bei dieser Arbeit mit dem Titel asking the ground jedes Element direkt von Hand geformt worden war und in direktem Bezug zur Körpergrösse der Künstlerin und dem Ausstellungsraum stand, sind die neuen Gipsarbeiten kleinere Fragmente. Sie sind nicht direkt modelliert, sondern Abgüsse und damit quasi eine Umkehrung der geformten Tonlandschaft. Durch diese Umkehrung entsteht eine abbildende Schärfe und Formen und Räumlichkeiten werden neu erfunden. Das Ergebnis erinnert an ein Fossil, eine Mischung aus Natur- und Körperabdrücken und formuliert damit einen vagen, surrealen Raum, der im Spannungsfeld zwischen Innen und Aussen angesiedelt ist. Feinste Details wie Haare, Fingerabdrücke, Gesteinsstrukturen oder Astrinden zeichnen sich im glänzend lackierten Gips ab und verlangen nach näherer Betrachtung. Die fossils sind weniger körperliches Gegenüber als eine Art Mikrokosmos, eine Abformung einer intimeren Landschaft oder ein Bruchstück realer und fiktiver Spuren.


Der Ausstellungsraum selbst entzieht sich einer klaren Zuordnung – er vermittelt das Gefühl eines Aussenraums. Sein Boden ist mit Granitsand bedeckt und das Knirschen unter den Füssen des Betrachters evoziert das Gefühl, auf einer Strasse oder in einem Park zu gehen. Julia Steiner schafft so bereits in der Ausstellungsinszenierung einen Zwischenraum mit unklarer Atmosphäre. Ihr Spiel mit Weite und Tiefe resultiert ebenfalls oft in einer alternativen Perspektive, die uns die gewohnte in Frage stellen lässt. Das Wandbild window reflection, das über eine Ecke des Raumes gemalt wurde, greift das gegenüberliegende Fenster auf, indem es Einblicke in eine imaginäre Sphäre gibt und einen neuen Bildraum eröffnet. Gleichzeitig negiert es aber auch den architektonischen Ausstellungsraum, da es die reale Ecke auflöst. Wieder schaffen Julia Steiners Raumkonstruktionen eine Illusion, die dann allerdings kippt und sich nicht ganz mit unseren Alltagserfahrungen deckt.


Auch Julia Steiners Arbeiten in Gouache auf Papier, die in den letzten beiden Jahren entstanden sind, wirken keineswegs zweidimensional. In der Ausstellung sind Arbeiten aus drei unterschiedlichen Werkgruppen zu sehen. Nocturne ist die bisher dunkelste Serie in ihrem Werk, welche ganz dichten, dunklen, fast stofflichen Stimmungen nachforscht, in denen nur ganz wenig Licht aufblitzt. In den Arbeiten unter dem Titel Windows öffnen sich Fenster und erlauben den Blick in tieferliegende Ebenen. Sie spielen mit der Perspektive und deren Unmöglichkeiten, dem Bild im Bild und der Räumlichkeit in der Fläche. Die Serie Tableau ist im immer gleichen Format gehalten und ist eine Art Enzyklopädie von kleineren Bildkompositionen und Formulierungen, die sich als Sammlung so fortsetzt.


Julia Steiner wurde 1982 in Büren zum Hof geboren und lebt und arbeitet heute in Basel. Sie ist Preisträgerin des Swiss Art Awards 2009, des Manor Kunstpreises 2011 und des Fontana Gränacher Preises 2011. Ihre Arbeiten waren kürzlich in der Gruppenausstellung Harmonie und Umbruch im Marta Herford in Deutschland zu sehen. Einzelausstellungen hatte Julia Steiner unter anderem im Haus der Kunst St. Josef, Solothurn (2013), dem CentrePasquArt, Biel (2011) und dem Kunstmuseum Thun (2009).