Silence, suspended

Xiaojing Yan.| Photo by Huang Bo.

Ontario-based artist Xiaojing Yan, known for fusing together traditional Chinese artistic techniques with contemporary practices, will be presenting In Suspended Silence, an installation work based on symbolism.

Yan’s first solo art exhibition in Metro Vancouver will run Sept. 14–Nov. 10 at Richmond Art Gallery ( RAG).

“This exhibition will be a unique experience” says Xiaojing Yan. “The gallery space is quite different to other places I have exhibited. There are going to be two installation works – Mountains of Pine II and Lingzhi Girl. [Mountains of Pine II] is made with pine needles piercing through silk organza. These are then layered and suspended to form a landscape. The silk organza is translucent… It will be like mountains in the mist.”

For the piece entitled Lingzhi Girls, Yan has cast eight busts using wood chips containing Lingzhi mushroom spores. The mushrooms then grow out from the busts.

“So each sculpture has a different form” says Yan. “These two [works] are intertwined with each other.. People can go into the organza landscape to discover the figures, and the people visiting then become part of the work.”

Symbolism and suspension

Symbolism is central to this exhibition. “I used Lingzhi mushrooms and pine needles to create the work and both symbolise fragility.” says Yan.

When asked about the title of the show, Yan explains: “Suspension for me is both an aesthetic method and a way of overcoming the idea of being suspended in two different cultures. Art gives me freedom to see the world in a different way. It is a way for me to communicate. I see colour, form, materials and even display methods as my vocabulary,” she says.

Yan is heavily inspired by her Chinese heritage and her experiences of moving to Canada from China. “Chinese Culture and tradition have always inspired my work” she says. “I am drawn to Chinese materials and traditions but I give them a new identity and contemporary context.”

However the work has not been made purely for a Chinese audience.

“People from different backgrounds can associate with the work. It is talking about life and death and the human-nature relationship,” she says.

Intercultural exchange

RAG curator, Nan Capogna agrees.

“I am looking forward to bringing Xiaojing’s work to B.C. – specifically to Richmond” she says. “Richmond has a large Chinese community.. But even if you have no experience of China I think anybody who walks into the space will hopefully have the aesthetic experience of this environment that is dream-like, tranquil and meditative. The materials that she uses are pretty unusual and a bit provocative, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that does to our visitors in the gallery.”

According to Capogna intercultural relationships, exchange, fusion as well as cultural hybridity are the main elements at the heart of the show.

“Humans on the move is clearly a global condition and one that more people are experiencing. The aim is to bring work to the gallery that will resonate with the gallery visitors,” she says. “Do they see themselves in this exhibition? Do they relate to her experience? Has this work made them curious to learn more?”

In Suspended Silence opens on September 13, with an artist talk and tour. The exhibition will also coincide with the 2018 Culture Days, Sept. 29–30.

“We will be running multilingual tours in Mandarin and Cantonese on those days” says Capogna.

In addition the gallery is also planning other special events to coincide with both the Xiaojing Yan exhibition and the Wen-Li Chen exhibition that will be running at the same time.


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