Artist Spotlight: Xiyadie
BY Christopher Harrity
April 21 2012 1:00 AM ET
The sweet innocence of Xiyadie’s renderings in paper and tints camouflages the sexual content in his work. His cuttings are lighthearted and joyous yet intense and revolutionary, considering current conditions for artists, especially LGBT ones in China. How dare he portray such delightful images of same sex love?
Xiyadie (pronounced Zhee-yá-dee) was born August 27, 1963 in Shanxi Province, China, known as the cradle of many Chinese folk arts, including the art of paper cutting. A gay, married father living in Beijing, he has a 23 year-old with cerebral palsy and a 21 year-old daughter, currently a college junior.
A working farmer who calls himself the “Siberian Butterfly,” Xiyadie’s own formal schooling ended after middle school. His work is publicly prohibited in China, where the LGBT community continues to deal with freedom of expression issues and censorship.
Xiyadie’s life experiences have inspired his work. “[My inspiration] links my curiosity of every aspect of nature and calls to me when I close my eyes to imagine during the day, and the illusions I experience in the quiet night’s thousands of dreams,” the artist says.
Previously unknown to U.S. art audiences, Xiyadie was discovered during a cultural mission between The Center Long Beach in Southern California and the Beijing LGBT Center earlier last year. This world premiere of his work in a public gallery, the exhibition will be presented April 29 through July 14, 2012 at alternative fine arts gallery Flazh!Alley Art Studio in San Pedro, California. The exhibit, titled “Metamorphosis of a Butterfly: A Kaleidoscope Vision of Life by a Gay Chinese Artist,” consists of more than 50 works celebrating same-sex love and life’s struggles and transcending the harsh discrimination and social stigma facing the LGBT community in China today. The Center Long Beach will host an artist lecture and discussion as part of its QSpeak Series on May 10, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Note: Some of the artwork is more explicit than the samples here, for that reason the exhibit is restricted to those 18 and over only.