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HPK & Xiao Wang, 2015

Xiao Wang and Hadar Kleiman reference iconic themes of Western culture. From China and Israel respectively, these two artists fetishize the aesthetics often assumed to be neutral.

Kleiman uses Las Vegas as a figure to nuance Jean Baudrillard’s simulacrum, where the representation of the real becomes the truth in its own right. Her sculptural installations shift the viewer’s perception of iconic tropes: the palm tree, the diamond. To explore the multiple planes in which reality is perceived and executed, she creates sets for nothing, or impractical dioramas.

Xiao Wang’s paintings explore the uncanny, what is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. Sourcing his imagery from photographs, he slightly distorts places and situations to play with the viewer’s expectation of the visual world. While the paintings can be articulated effectively with formal and conceptual concerns, they remain incomprehensible.

As a collaborative installation, the artists lay down a bleached canvas as the foundation of this bizarre space. Reminiscent of a smoky casino carpet, the canvas repeats and appropriates a common Victorian pattern that has lost its referent and serves as pure artifice. Kleiman and Wang extract the cultural aspects of decadence only to tilt and skew them. The familiar cannot be fully realized, but instead endlessly approached.

 

Kathryn Barulich, MA

History and Theory of Contemporary Art

San Francisco Art Institute, 2015