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June 23–July 23, 2022
“I like staying home. With my parents, I moved many times from one home to the next, and as I grew up I continued to change my lodgings. As a child I would spend time inside the home by myself, and the cardboard boxes became my refuge. I used them to build beautiful dollhouses, with which I played for hours and hours.”
P420 is thrilled to present Shafei Xia’s (ShaoXing, China, 1989) first solo exhibition in the gallery, Passando davanti alla mia finestra (Walking by my window), which follows her Welcome to my show experience in the P420 project room in December 2020.
The show provides a chance to learn about Shafei Xia’s most recent research. In addition to her paintings on mounted sandal paper, she also debuts a large number of ceramic pieces that she designed and created while she was a resident artist at Museo Carlo Zauli in Faenza.
The wide windows of the gallery play the part of Shafei’s world’s actual and ideal borders, as Sabrina Bernardi, the author of the essay that goes along with the exhibition, notes. The audience can see snippets of domestic life as unintentional voyeurs. After passing through the door, visitors enter her world, which features plush mattresses where one may stretch out and dream, elegant dressing tables where one can see one’s reflection and apply cosmetics, and lavishly adorned chairs where one can sit and enjoy cakes and hot tea. As the artist arranges the ranks of the characters that have been a part of her production for some time, the actual and fictional worlds collide, and the dollhouses transform into the theater of the artist’s daydreams.
Though they have been used as allegories of human emotions for some time, Shafei’s favorite animals—the pig, the tiger, and the fish—now evolve and follow the artist’s development. In actuality, the ferocious tiger has been domesticated and has evolved into a devoted friend. It participates in the game’s action and wanders the gallery, watching us. “Over the years I have found resemblances between animals and human beings, we are tigers to get to know, misunderstood pigs, turtles that crawl around,” Shafei explains.
Time seems to stand still during the exhibition. We are reminded of certain young paintings by Francisco Goya, an artist who was able to investigate a wide variety of themes in relation to specific events in his life, by the delicate faces, the little, whimsical details, the dreamlike and allegorical studies, and the romantic games. In contrast to mythical Venuses, Shafei’s feminine figures freely present themselves to the audience, much like the Maja desnuda. As we move through the show, the constant presence of love in the paintings increasingly becomes sexual at times and symbolic at others.