Ren Xiaolin: An End in Obscurity


Hive Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing) is honored to pronounce that “Ren Xiaolin: An End in Obscurity” will be presented from Sep. 28 to Nov. 13, 2019.

 “An End in Obscurity” gives us a special glimpse of how he spent the very period. The narratives of these pieces are mainly composed of his inner soliloquies. Loneliness and upset have arisen as God is taking his love away. That’s him being trapped in endless caretaking and waiting and, at the end of a hospital corridor, his world is illuminated only by the dull-red medical lighting and his shimmering cigarette. With the night closing in on him, he has no choice but to look around the hospital hopelessly as far as he can while imagining and amplifying the potential panic lurking in the surroundings, and all this is dissolving his faith.

——Feng Boyi


Over the past thirty years or so, Ren Xiaolin has been passively in and temporarily out of the Chinese world of contemporary art, and what’s special about him is that, to steer clear of the two extremes, he vacillates frequently between his gift and experience of life, thanks to which his art was not eulogized hastily in “good times” and no new meanings were imposed on it in “bad times” to reflect upon the previous undue haste, so, with a touch of re-enchantment, his painting features thinking that goes against the times, making an undercurrent of the history. Just as it’s famously put in Giorgio Agamben’s What Is the Contemporary, “Those who are truly contemporary are those who neither perfectly coincide with their time nor adapt to its demands.” This may be the very reason why Ren Xiaolin is viewed as a flaneur that has been defying easy definition in the contemporary art history of China.


There always seems to be a touch of primitive animism in Ren Xiaolin’s art, which haunts a sensitive image in combination with things, images and words, and, along with each subject’s experience and free expression of its feelings, his art features ghostlike vividness all the time. And every piece of his is full of complicated and rich symbolism, which has shown an evident change in preference in his works made in recent years, from personal and poetic to mystical and religious-ish, as in quite a number of “fixed patterns” of his, like, in a Renaissance case, a picture of a woman with a baby in her arms can always remind one of the Virgin and Child. The interlacing form and structure of the symbolisms abundant in Ren Xiaolin’s new works are particularly demonstrated by his “fixed patterns”, which has equipped his paintings with a religious sense that is inexplicable, vaguely-referred and primitive, but, just as similar “fixed patterns” would be interpreted differently in the contexts of different historical periods, Ren Xiaolin has planted in these personal paintings a sense of time to retain a form of polysemy and openness for interpretation in the clearly religious-ish “fixed patterns”, so the obscuring of the over-definitely signified in religious forms makes his art impossible to be coerced by form.


It is noteworthy that these new works by Ren Xiaolin provide us with a projection of him and her in the scenery of the world and epitomize his dazzling worries and murmuring fantasies. A series of converted mutual gazes with her, the fragmental images seem disheveled as flowers that are flying off their stalks, but these “chaotic scenes”, in rich tonality, can hardly give one any peace. In fact, reality is already saddening enough as it looks straight into those exposed wounds, freeze-frames those lives full of uncertainties, amplifies those absurdities so common in everyday life to be easily overlooked… In a work of art, this is undoubtedly only a piece of imagination, and such “undoubtedly” is the very “cruelty” of the world. If we pay attention, we can find the recurrent image of a deer in these new pieces by Ren Xiaolin. God incarnate, the deer, with the scent of green grass, can look at the existence of humanity speciologically or biologically, but, with its figures frozen in Ren Xiaolin’s paintings, it’s become a spirit-like existence remodeled by the artist. It’s a fable about a deer or a fable told by the deer, and this very form is itself the renaming of her. In a fable-like manner of narration, Ren Xiaolin gives vent to his perplexity and unease rather vividly and presents a thrill of lamenting and pathos in the special space he’s created.


Ren Xiaolin

1963 Born in Beijing

1986 Graduated from Painting Department of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts

Teaching at School of Fine Arts, Guizhou Normal University

1991 Took a refresher course of Mural Department in Central Academy of Fine Arts


Now lives in Beijing

Solo Exhibition

2019 Ren Xiaolin: An End in Obscurity, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China

2015 Experience: REN XIAOLIN, ArtDepotCo.Ltd, Beijing, China

2013 Ambiguous Harmony-Ren Xiaolin Solo Exhibition, Mountain Art Beijing & Frank Lin Art Center, Beijing, China

2012 Visual Rhetoric of a Generation-[Passing Through Broken Memories-Ren Xiaolin Solo Exhibition(2009-2011), Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts Gallery, TNUA, Taibei, China

2011 Special image + Special beauty, Ren Xiaolin Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

Traces of Human Presence, Visual Reality- Ren Xiaolin Solo Exhibition, The old Albergue of the Macau Holy House of Mercy, Macau, China

2010 Special image + Special beauty, Ren Xiaolin(1983-2010), Guiyang Art Museum, Guiyang, China

2008 Illusory color, ARTSIDE Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

Somniloquy, Works by Ren Xiaolin (1986-2008), He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

2007 Ren Xiaolin, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney, Australia

2006 Dissolute Indulgence in Make Believe, Ren Xiaolin Oil Painting Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

Landscapes: Ren Xiaolin Solo Exhibition, L.A. Gallery, Frankfurt, Germany

1998 Concealed Expression-Ren XiaoLin 1998 Oil Painting Exhibition, International Art Gallery, Beijing, China

Ren Xiaolin Solo Exhibition, Mountain Art Museum, Gaoxiong, China

1993 Ren Xiaolin, International Art Gallery, Beijing, China

Ren Xiaolin, Beijing Concert Hall, Beijing, China

Ren Xiaolin, Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China


Group Exhibitions

2018 The Garden of Forking Paths, ArtDepot Center, Chongqing, China

2017 Reading the Raindrops- Western Artists Documenta, MOCA Yinchuan, Yinchuan, China

2015 Hetero-entity: Myths, Narration, Imagination, E Museum of Contemporary Art, Shenzhen, China

2014 The Rural, The Scar, The Southwestern Soul-Works Of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, National Museum Of History, Taibei, China

2013 Artist’s Trivial Living Ⅰ-Object Ruminationism, Blue Roof Museum, Chengdu, China

2012 20 Years of Glory -Mountain Art Foundation Collection of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

PASSING THROUGH MEMORY , Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, China

2011 Visual Art Exhibition of Guizhou, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

2010 RESHAPING HISTORY Chinart from 2000 to 2009, China National Convention Center, Beijing, China

2008 THE SICHUAN MOVEMENT, New Paintings From China 16 Sichuan Artists Joint Exhibition, Indonesia National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia

2007 Starting from the Southwest-Exhibition of Contemporary Art in southwest china(1975-2007), Guangdong museum, Guangzhou, China


2006 Imagery of Mt.Wuyi: the Debut Interactive, Reaction of Chinese vis-à-vis German Artists, on International Tours, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

2005 Scenery: Century Paradise, 2nd Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu Century City New International Convention and Exhibition Center, Chengdu, China

History of River 1976-2005 The Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition in New Era, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

2004 1st Nominative Exhibition of Fine Art Literature, Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, Wuhan, China

2002 The First Triennial of Chinese Arts, Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangzhou, China

2001 Research & Exceed, China Mini-sized Oil Painting Exhibition, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

1st Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu Museum of Modern Art, Chengdu, China

2000 The 20th Century Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

The 20th Century Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

1994 The 2nd Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

The 8th National Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, China Art Museum, Beijing, China

1991 Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, The Museum of Revolutionary History, Beijing, China

1989 The 7th National Art Exhibition, Jiangshu Art Museum (Oil Painting), Nanjing, China

The 7th National Art Exhibition (Award-Wining Exhibition), China Art Museum, Beijing, China

Exhibition of Modern Chinese Art, China Art Museum, Beijing, China


Ren Xiaolin: An End in Obscurity

DATE: Sep 28 - Nov 13, 2019

ADDRESS: Hive Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing) 地址|Add.

CURATOR: Feng Boyi, Yang Jian

ARTIST: Ren Xiaolin