Entering the artistic universe of Shafei Xia (1989) is like awakening from an absurd, exciting, and ironic dream that leaves one bewildered yet simultaneously amused. The works of the Chinese artist – ranging from watercolors to ceramics – form a kaleidoscope of images, a curious and playful blend of elements intertwining with ancient references drawn from 19th-century Chinese painting. All of this is accompanied by more or less explicit sexual details. The illogical is represented by the predominant presence of animals. In particular, tigers and piglets mischievously interact with the human figure. In this way, Shafei Xia places man and animal within the same sexual sphere, reminiscent at times of the eroticism characteristic of Japanese woodblock prints like Hokusai‘s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, which depicts a sexual act between a woman and an octopus.
In Shafei’s case, animals serve as allegory. The artist says she sees many human behaviours in animals, especially in tigers, pigs and even turtles. Without any kind of shame, Shafei Xia caresses sensuality without ever taking it too seriously. In a scenario where the normal and the exceptional merge, Shafei plays with social expectations and conventions, ironically challenging them. Her works invite us to dance with eroticism, to smile at beaming piglets and seductive tigers, while at the same time leading us into an intimate and domestic dimension.
Courtesy Shafei Xia