Nicholas Metivier Gallery

Xiaoze Xie
Forbidden Memories
September 6–29, 2018


Opening Reception: Thursday, September 13, 6-8pm
Artist Talk: Thursday, September 20

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce Forbidden Memories, an exhibition of photographs, paintings and a documentary film by Xiaoze Xie. The exhibition will open on September 6th and run until September 29th with an opening reception on September 13th.  An artist talk will take place at the gallery on Thursday, September 20th.

Xiaoze Xie is highly regarded internationally for his nuanced still-life paintings of books and newspapers. It is a theme he has researched, photographed and painted rigorously over the last twenty-five years. For Xie, books represent not only cultural memory and the passage of time, but the ways in which history is recorded and interpreted according to a particular belief system or political agenda. Xie was born in Guangdong, China in 1966 and grew up during the Cultural Revolution; the destruction of books is part of the collective memory among his generation. As a way to address censorship, Xie has created installations based on book-burning events, and most recently a project focusing on the history of banned books in China.

In 2012, Xie began researching and collecting books banned during various periods in China from online sources as well as Chinese book dealers. Today, he has amassed more than 750 books and photographed 118 ancient titles. To access some of the oldest publications, Xie visited libraries across China and obtained special permission to photograph. He used a standardized format, laying the books open to pages that the various dynasties and leaders would have considered “dangerous” content. In each image, the same steel ruler appears to indicate scale while at the same time, symbolizing China’s history of control over human thought and ideology. The photographs are grouped by title and arranged into grids. An elegant abstraction emerges from this presentation that complements Xie’s meticulous and minimal Chinese Library paintings.

This exhibition features, for the first time, Xie’s photographs alongside new paintings of Chinese libraries. In addition, Tracing Forbidden Memories (2017), a film directed and produced by Xie, will be screened. 

Over the last 2,000 years, the books that have disappeared in China because of prohibition are countless. There is no trace of them anymore, all I have found is a small fraction. All of these old paper stacks, these silent books, consist of thoughts and discourses. These invisible and shapeless things and the stories behind them - the complicated contexts of philosophical, religious, political, historical, social, ethical and racial issues - are gone. The history of banning books is a process of challenging repeated oppression and control, and challenging it again. It is alongside this back-and-forth repetition, I think, that history slowly marches on. - Xiaoze Xie

Xiaoze Xie is a Professor of Art at Stanford University and lives in Palo Alto, California.  A solo exhibition of his work, Eyes On: Xiaoze Xie, was recently on view at the Denver Art Museum. A survey exhibition, Amplified Moments (1993-2008), traveled to museums in the United States between 2010 and 2012. His work can be found in prominent collections including the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Jose Museum of Art, California; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona and Oakland Museum of California, Oakland.

For more information on this artist, click here.