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Xu Weixin’s monumental portraits force the viewer to challenge the conventional wisdom of forgetting the Cultural Revolution, ultimately making one acknowledge, confront, and reflect on such events. The much acclaimed series, Chinese Historical Figures, 1966-1976, rendered in black and white, portrays the Revolution’s chaos openly and honestly, contrasting the bright, glowing faces of propaganda art. Also displayed in Portraits of Emptiness is work from Xu’s Chronicle of Chinese Mining series, which reveals and ponders humanitarian concerns. Xu sheds light on those who are overlooked, focusing on everyday individuals, giving a voice to those who are otherwise lost to the collective mass.
Xu Weixin, arguably the leading realist painter in China, was born in Urumuqi in 1958. A graduate of Xian Academy of Fine Arts and the Zhejiang Academy of Art, he is now a professor at the Xu Beihong School of Arts at Renmin University. He has been featured in numerous museum shows including the Shanghai Art Museum, Beijing’s Today Art Museum, and the National Art Museum of China.