Xie Ke 謝克 Hong Kong, b. 1955
"The way I built my studio is as if I am creating my artworks. Adopting a blend of Oriental and Western elements, I meant to achieve a Zen state of mind and yet fulfill a modern aesthetics look. "
—— Xie Ke
Born in Hong Kong in 1955, Xie Ke became a graphic designer and illustrator in the late 1970s. Being the first foreign student to study art in China after its liberation, he enrolled into Beijing’s Central Academy of Craft & Design in 1980 and graduated with a major in the History of Traditional Chinese Art. Subsequently in 1984, he returned to Hong Kong as an art and design lecturer. He first taught at the Chinese Art Faculty of First Institute of Art & Design and then Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In recent years, he has moved to Beijing to further his artistic career. He has also published two books between 1985 and 1987, China’s Traditional Lunar New Year’s Woodblock Prints and The Art of Chinese Pagodas.
Born in Hong Kong, China in 1955, Xie Ke became a graphic designer and illustrator in the late 1970s. Being the first foreign student to study art in China after its liberation, he enrolled into Beijing’s Central Academy of Craft & Design in 1980 and graduated with a major in the History of Traditional Chinese Art. During this period, Xie Ke traveled and carried out extensive research across China, to discover the “roots” of Chinese culture and heritage. Subsequently in 1984, he returned to Hong Kong as an art and design lecturer. He first taught at the Chinese Art Faculty of First Institute of Art & Design and then Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In recent years, he has moved back to China to further his artistic career. He has also published two books between 1985 and 1987, China’s Traditional Lunar New Year’s Woodblock Prints and The Art of Chinese Pagodas. As part of his cultural journey of discovery during the past thirty years, he has continued to travel between Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Mainland. Xie Ke’s background as a designer, together with his rich experiences in life have continued to contribute towards his evolution and development as a unique artist. His approach towards creating sculptures and paintings is direct and crisp, transmitting positive messages to the viewers. Theme provoking thoughts of how youths surrounded by a technology advanced society, mingled with traditional values have conflicting choices to make. Blindfolded heroes, like Themis the Greek Goddess of Justice, impervious to injustice, returning balance and order. Xie Ke emphasizes the importance of education to the young, believing knowledge is the way to change society for the better. He portrays and records fragments of 5,000 years of history in a humorous yet thought provoking way, combined with his own critique and reflection of the world today.
The Charisma of Xie Ke
Hailing from Hong Kong, Xie Ke used to live in Singapore for over a decade there before relocating to China. Previously being a graphic designer, Xie Ke is adept at exploring the contexts of decorative art and sculptural techniques. He has a strong sense of workmanship and a trove of life experiences; he also has a habit of reflecting on culture.
When Xie Ke was furthering his studies in China, he took the opportunity to visit various provinces observing the many different forms of folk art. He contained the cultural conscience, responsibility and empathy of a modern intellectual, going to places where others may have not been and saw things that the rest did not notice – all in order to know more about the remaining spectacular and unusual local architecture and Chinese decorative art. Therefore, through his journey, he has grasped the unfathomable spirit of Chinese art.
Xie Ke not only travels regularly between the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also to Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia. Every time when he was at the old Kai Tak Airport, watching the skyscrapers over the horizon, he would reflect on this term - internationalization. Its history and geographic location have enabled Hong Kong to be intercultural on a macro level. The cross-straits politics, economic conflicts or changing situations always have an impact on Hong Kong, making its people edgy.
Therefore, the cultural reality that Xie Ke experienced at that time equipped him with an extraordinary potential.
Xie Ke criticizes beyond himself and he speaks his own language by placing numerous artistic elements (Western versus Oriental, tradition versus modern) into his works. Hence, the charisma of Xie Ke comes from striding across different societal systems and cultural ways.
The paintings and sculptures of Xie Ke possess the grace of a graphic designer or architect. The simplicity and conciseness of his paintings presents multi-layers of implied meanings and symbolism, and he is good at depicting the whole picture with traditional context and being meticulous. Every little detail in his paintings, be it the many artistic forms, execution of techniques etc, reveals of the deliberate thought placed into his creative process. Xie Ke highlights a special characteristic of illustration in his works, overriding the traditional academic way of thinking.
In contemporary art, Xie Ke understands that the dedication of creating his artworks is not just honing his craft, but instead to raise people’s spirits. His artworks are full of meaning and his purpose is to remind viewers to focus on the concept behind every painting and sculpture. His charisma is expressed through visual means to raise awareness of being critical and culturally reflective, which is an artist’s way of pursuing a modern way of life; constantly striving towards a new contemporary spirit that is rich in its meaning.
2013 Micro-infiltration Group Exhibition, SuiFeng Art Centre, Beijing
2012 The Territory of Xie Ke – A Solo Exhibition, Hong Kong Arts Centre
Dialogue Contemporary Art group exhibition, Langham Place, Beijing
2011 Took part in CIGE 2011, Beijing and ARTBeijing 2011
Took part in SH Contemporary 2011
Sensation of Contemporary Art group exhibition, Singapore
2010 Charisma – A Solo Exhibition of Xie Ke, Hanmo Art Gallery, Beijing
Exhibited in Fine Art Aisa 2010, Hong Kong
2009 Exhibited in ARTSingapore 2009
2008 Took part in ARTSingapore 2008 and ARTBeijing 2008
2004 Participated in Contemporary Chinese Art group exhibition, Marseilles Art Museum
1986 Wrote The Art of the Chinese Pagodas, published in Taiwan
1985 Wrote Chinese New Year’s Traditional Block Prints, published in Hong Kong
1980 Hong Kong Society of Illustrators Group Exhibition, Hong Kong Arts Centre