Innocent or innocence lost? That is the question most viewers are likely to ask after seeing the oil paintings of Beijing-based artist Xie Qi (below left).
On the surface the works from her solo show, A Private Playground, look naive enough. Simple compositions of figures sitting on a see-saw or a slide in the playground are reminiscent of paintings produced by a child, but on closer examination there is a hint of cynicism that can only come with age. This sets the parameters for Xie's exploration.
'These are actually images of my own childhood,' she says. 'Playgrounds symbolise a nice lifestyle, but they are artificial creations made by human beings. So I use a lot of black to darken them.'
Were her own memories of childhood good? 'Somehow the unhappy moments are more vivid,' she says. It shows - Xie's playgrounds are empty, desolate places. Lonesome figures appear to be detached from the world.
Although the artist paints with oil on canvass, her works appear as if they were done with charcoal. 'I am trying to break the barrier of oil paintings,' she says. 'People tend to think oil paintings should be vibrant colours, but I am more interested in making them look like Chinese ink paintings.'
Monochromatic as they may be, Xie finds the challenge in creating depth using little colour - creating images which are the antithesis of the flat-plane style of traditional Chinese paintings. 'I think it's more interesting to do something unconventional,' she says.
Until June 21. Art Scene China, 7/F One Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Mon to Sat, 10.30am-7pm. Tel: 2501 0211.