The Center Long Beach Teams With Flazh!Alley Art Studio to Present Beijing artist Xiyadie
2012-04-11 · By Editor
The Center Long Beach and alternative fine art gallery, Flazh!Alley Art Studio, San Pedro – in partnership with the Beijing LGBT Center – will be presenting the U.S. premiere of the paper cutting masterpieces of Beijing artist Xiyadie (pronounced Zhee-yá-dee), beginning April 29 and continuing through July 14, 2012. The artist’s work has been publicly prohibited in China due to its same-sex themed content.
Titled “Metamorphosis of a Butterfly: A Kaleidoscopic Vision of Life by a Gay Chinese Artist,” the exhibit will include more than 50 works celebrating same-sex love and life struggle transcending the harsh discrimination and social stigma experienced by the LGBTQ community in China. Also included in the exhibit will be works showing the artist’s struggle as a gay, married father of a daughter and son – the latter severely disabled by cerebral palsy.
“My artwork is really about the desire for freedom,” Xiyadie said. “Freedom of expression, freedom to live honestly and freedom from the disease my son suffers from.” “That’s why I call myself Xiyadie, or ‘Siberian Butterfly,” he continued. “In Chinese, it expresses hope and my wish for freedom in a cold and harsh environment.”
The framed masterpieces will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting The Center’s numerous programs and services. The exhibition will also include an artist meet-and-greet and discussion forum as part of The Center’s QSpeak lecture and performance series, to be held at Flazh!Alley Art Studio on Thursday, May 10 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. By-appointment-only viewings at the gallery will be complemented by public showings on May 3, June 7 and July 5 as part of San Pedro’s First Thursdays Art Walk Nights.
“It’s been my dream to exhibit in the U.S. and to finally share my gay themed work to a broad audience openly and without disguise,” the artist said.
Xiyadie’s work was discovered last spring by The Center Long Beach board member Ján Montoya on a cultural mission to The Beijing LGBT Center. “When I saw his artwork displayed at The Beijing LGBT Center, I had never seen such beautiful paper cuttings and knew they had to be shared with our own community,” Montoya said. He brought the idea of the exhibition to The Center Long Beach board, which agreed with the idea of the world premiere exhibition.
Fine Art journalist, critic and gallery owner, Joe Flazh!, decided to exhibit Xiyadie’s work because its eastern beauty, excellence of form and execution and unique vision. According to Flazh, Xiyadie achieves works that are old and new at the same time – old in that they are grounded and expressed in the traditional Chinese art of paper cutting, and new in the treatment of the artist’s personal, yet universal, issues.
The Center’s QSpeak series is a quarterly lecture and performance series featuring artists, activists, scholars and public figures in the LGBTQ community. QSpeak seeks to inspire, educate, challenge and entertain and aspires to re-energize the collective consciousness of the LGBTQ community and its allies.
Flazh!Alley Art Studio is located at 1113 S. Pacific Ave., Suite B, San Pedro, CA 90731. Parking is available in the large city parking lot behind Ramona Bakery at Pacific & 11th Street. Enter from the alley. Adults 18 and older. For more information, call 310-833-3633 or visit flazhalleystudio.com.
About the Artist
Beijing artist Xiyadie (Xiangsheng Lei), born August 27, 1963, is one of the most innovative paper cutting artists in contemporary China. Born into an artistic family in Shanxi province, well known as the cradle of China’s many folk arts, Xiyadie (pronounced Zhee-yá-dee) spent his childhood enduring the poverty of the farming plateau, as well as indulging in its bleak beauty. Not having received any formal art school training, he learned the art of paper cutting solely from other folk artists, including his mother.
Following Chinese tradition, he married in early adulthood without any knowledge of sexual orientation or identity and had a son, now 21, with cerebral palsy and a daughter, a 23 year-old college junior. After the birth of his handicapped son, he centered his life on taking care of his unfortunate family, and the topic of sexual identity began to appear frequently in his paper cutting works. After receiving numerous folk art awards and recognitions (1998-2001), the first documentary on the artist’s life, Time Together, was made in 2003, and postal stamps of his selected work were officially printed in 2008.
Just as he was building a reputation as an artist of China’s most traditional and folk art, Xiyadie began to discover the part of him that was not so traditional. He first became aware of the existence of the gay community on the internet and gradually learned the meaning of the affection to men that he had possessed throughout his life. With artistic instinct, he soon made same-sex love the dominant topic of his works.
Visit www.flazhalleystudio.com for more information.