In a series of photographs entitled “Rock Never” (2001), Xiang Liquing presents a reaction to changes brought on by the transformation of space and its potential uses in the metropolis. Today, rigid high-rises have pushed horizontally structured communities into vertical organization of order and control. Xiang Liquing’s photographic images with their grid-like facades of contemporary residential buildings scrutinize these symbols of architectural master planning. Yet, the strength of this work rests on its ambivalence: as one reads the pictures closely, one reaches the understanding that all individual, but similar, apartments serve as habitats for real people – the image shows the dichotomy between the public masses and private space. Architecture is presented as a carrier of social desire, in this case, the fantasy that collective residential architecture will lead to happiness regardless of whether individual needs are addressed. Despite the attempted leveling out of differences and the claustrophobic staging of the failures of the system, the work becomes paradoxically exhilarating. Focusing on the theme of sameness and difference, his recent series of photographs “The Second Generation” (2005) show the remarkable distinction between two people from the same family, only one generation apart, but belonging to and representing entirely different universes.
In addition to photography, Xiang Liquing also works with painting and sculpture. His abstract paintings express the same loss of center as his photograph series of nightmarish architecture. Within his paintings, no immediate or recognizable point of reference can be identified. His colorful composites may have dark and uncomfortable passages, but they are ultimately quiet celebrations of life.
Xiang Liquing was born in Zhejiang province in 1973. He graduated from China Academy of Fine Art, Oil Painting Department. Today he lives and works in Shanghai. Xiang Liquing has exhibited widely in China and internationally. His most recent exhibitions include China Contemporary Art, Architecture and Visual Culture, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam 2006) and Restless, Photography and New Media, Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai, 2006).