Ziqi Xu

Siss / Phuss

An exhibition of etchings and drawings by Ziqi Xu explores the fundamental question “Who am I?”

Artist: Ziqi Xu

Dates: Saturday 27 April - Saturday 4 May 2024


Private view: Saturday 27 April 2024, 4.00 - 6.00 pm

Closing party: Saturday 4 May 2024, 4.00 - 6.00 pm

‘Siss / Phuss’ is the sound of inhalation and exhalation, the repeated cycle recording the endless
movement of Sisyphus rolling a boulder uphill forever.

Ziqi Xu is an investigator, using printmaking to learn and reflect on the uncertainties in human experience. Her work questions the ambiguous boundaries of inner self, the landscape of time, what separates us and what makes us.

Her solo exhibition at HAUSPRINT includes prints and drawings made during the two years after her graduation from Camberwell College of Arts in 2022 with first class honours in BA Illustration. The show is a reflection of the repetition and re-looking inherent in her printmaking practice. 

Ziqi Xu: Esmeralda

“Recapturing and reliving forgotten, unnoticed moments.” James Anderson offers a personal insight into Ziqi’s exhibition.

The sound of the heavy breathing of Sisyphus as he pushes his rock up the hill, again and again, is a metaphor of effort and labour, perhaps alluding to the struggle Ziqi has had to get here; here being an independent artist a long way from where she grew up in central China, and a long way from the cultural expectations of the community she came from.

Ziqi is an only child. She did well at school and for this reason she was expected to pursue a professional path.  Art was not an expected career choice for academically gifted children and for this reason she chose to study architecture but didn’t enjoy it. She wanted to pursue a career in art and to find herself through art. That determination led her to come to England and to the Camberwell College of Art.

Ziqi described entering the print room at Camberwell and being enchanted by the smell of ink and oil, the presence of the heavy machinery and the physical movements involved in the processes of making and printing. She talks philosophically about the ephemeral nature of her existence and how holding a zinc plate represents for her, a totem of captured time. This indicates the metaphorical significance of Ziqi’s work and her subject matter – her prints are generally small and beautifully crafted, predominantly in shades of black and white, sometimes with thin diaphanous colour. 

Her mark making has the script-like quality of Cy Twombly; her subject matter the dreamlike quality of Odilon Redon or Marc Chagall. Isolated figures, part human, part animal, emerge and take shape and become themselves. They float in a transitional space somewhere between the external world and an internal, unconscious, dream world. She describes finding different parts of herself through drawing and thereby recapturing and reliving forgotten, unnoticed moments of her past.

Printmaking for Ziqi has become an important component of her quest to become herself.  She came to England very much alone. She is working as an editioning printmaker, making screen prints for others.  She appreciates the opportunity this has given her, but it is hard and repetitive. Like Sisyphus she takes some comfort in the repetitive nature of her work – it is what allows her to live but she needs to make her own work to realise and become herself. This is that work.

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