Xiao Jiang
Continuous Passage
November 9–December 21, 2022

Karma, New York
188 & 172 East 2nd Street
New York, NY, 10009

Karma is pleased to present Continuous Passage, a solo exhibition of work by painter Xiao Jiang. Located at Karma’s 188 and 172 East 2nd Street locations, the show will be on display from November 9 to December 21, 2022. Continuous Passage is the first solo exhibition of work by Xiao in the United States.

Xiao Jiang (b. 1977, Jinggangshan, Jiangxi Province, China) grew up in the mountains of Jinggangshan, located in China’s rugged Southeastern interior. Now he lives in Shanghai, more than six hundred miles away. Xiao returns to the land where he grew up through memory and paint.

Studio scenes and natural settings, while at times blended, are for the most part distinct in his work. For his natural scenes, Xiao works from personal photographs and from memory: in particular he is inspired by the way that color changes with distance. The natural world is rendered in angular, near-abstract geometric arrangements, while interiors contain a expansiveness akin to mountainscapes.

Burlap, a rough, fibrous material favored for its durability and practical uses, is a preferred surface for Xiao’s oil paintings. Like a rugged, steep road, its friction compels one to move slowly. Burlap stubbornly asserts its fibers in the texture of the paint. For Xiao, burlap forces his process to slow down, a quality he matches in his compositions, in which muted colors are heavily layered, therefore imperceptible to an impatient eye. In life, too, Xiao prefers to move slowly, making space for introspection and subtlety.

In the Studio (2022), depicts a stack of canvases bisects an interior striped by shadow and light. A woman reads in the corner of a room, the edges of which have all been rendered in red. A window exposes a mountain scene, where a small figure, clutching a hiking stick, peers back—behind him, a path leads into the folds of green mountains. Through the window, Xiao allows memory to collide with direct observation: the result exists only in his imagined world, in which his studio in Shanghai is transported to the mountains of Jinggangshan.

In Xiao’s work, people are left faceless, welcoming projections, and embracing ambivalence. Gusts of wind, mist, and jagged skylines are rendered stylistically, which Xiao folds into scenes in the late afternoon, or at dusk. Natural settings are dotted with telephone towers; green swaths swallow up buildings; a road disappears behind a sharp curve. Figures traverse rough passages, hiking along dirt paths, their form humbled by the rugged horizon.