These paintings were created since 2012 as part of his doctoral research entitled "Between Dog and Wolf. Poetics of the strange for a painter today". After graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA, 2006), XIE Lei joined the Beaux-Arts de Paris where he graduated with honors (2010). In 2012, he was selected for the new research program, SACRe (Science Art Creation Research), which brings together the five major national graduate schools of creation, the Beaux-Arts de Paris, the Fémis, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse, the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique, and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS). These institutions are all members of the research university Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL). The objective of SACRe is to allow the emergence and the development of interdisciplinary projects associating creation and research by bringing together artists, creators, performers but also theorists in exact, human and social sciences bringing into play an articulation of the sensitive and the thought.
XIE Lei is the first artist-doctor of the Beaux-Arts de Paris to defend a thesis of research through practice. The thesis is directed by Nadeije Laneyrie-Dagen, professor at the Ecole normale supérieure (ENS), with co-supervision by Philippe Cognée, artist and studio director at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, and François-René Martin, professor of general art history at the Beaux-Arts de Paris.
XIE Lei's work questions reality, the world around us, but XIE Lei is wary of appearances, as well as the obvious, and prefers to focus on duality, ambiguity, and the tension that can arise between phenomena. His paintings explore an uncertain universe, equivocal situations, even disturbing, that his imagination shapes. He does not work in series, but conceives certain paintings as echoes of others and thus ensures the coherence of the hanging. The works also refer to the anguish that any man can feel about the justification of his existence, the search for his identity, the awareness of his vulnerability...
Some of them may remind us of current events, but the artist does not want to deliver a direct message and leaves the viewer free to look at them.
These existential questions are posed through a pictorial language inscribing itself in the Entre Chien et Loup (Between Dog and Wolf), seeking to render a poetics of the strange, to say without saying. Entre Chien et Loup (Between Dog and Wolf), that moment of the day when, as the light declines, the obvious becomes blurred: doubt, confusion of images and meaning sets in, the protective dog turns into a threatening wolf. Neither figurative nor abstract, his vocabulary, like the choice of his chromaticism, reinforces the originality of his vision, that of a painter who has deliberately chosen this medium to express his universe and believes in the power of his specificity in the contemporary world.
For this exhibition, in addition to his paintings, the artist presents his research in an installation, where the visitor will be able to see and consult the two volumes of the "portfolio" that participates in the thesis. The first collection gathers, in particular, the corpus of texts that he wrote and that can be read through twelve key words: Practice, Painting, Sublime, Romanticism, Worrying strangeness... These entries mark the theoretical and historical construction of his thesis. The second volume takes the form of a Chinese painting scroll to materialize a thread of images. Seventy-one works from the West and the East, from the tenth century to the contemporary period, are presented. All of them are related to the Dog and Wolf and all of them are reproduced in black and white to distinguish this second volume from the first one, and also to show their role: they act in the artist's memory as a flow of information and not as a direct image.