Xiao Yang’s practice is centred around the representation of people and animals.
3 years after doing a degree at the University of Bedfordshire in Media Production she started to paint, this involved her looking and learning and teaching herself. She applied and got accepted to the painting and drawing course at Chelsea College of Art.
During her studies, Xiao Yang looked into the theme of craziness and the stories of the madness in people. She therefore began to invent characters such as Madame Z who was based off a story of a woman in German Strasbourg in 1815 who could not stop madly dancing and people followed her round the village until they dropped dead from exhaustion. This painting was based off a painting done by Brugel the Younger who based his off Brugel the Elder.
Xiao Yang was born in Northern China and this very much influences some of her pieces. She identifies with the characters in black and white photographs.
Xiao Yang also works with antiques and found a set of Indonesian Puppets. Taking inspiration from a photo of soldier, she placed the puppet in the same position as the soldier in the photo. Her final work was created by joining two canvas’ together. This painting was called the Death of Madam Z.
Xiao Yang has recently become interested in Pre-classical and Greek work and has said that the best artists are the Ancient Craftsmen. She has explored a lot of stories through mythology and looked in detail at works in the British Museum admiring the beauty in their objects.
This followed a study of the mask of Gilgamesh from 1800 BC.
She told us she has difficulty with the male form and has also recently become interested in the relationship between women and beast. This was shown in one of her paintings, Beast and the Mistress that involved a gorilla type presence through a window.
Finally Xiao Yang talked about her residency in Elbruk where she discovered an abandoned sculpture. This inspired her to create her piece A Song for the Unspeakable Girl.
I really appreciated having looked at Xiao Yang’s work and I thought the themes and discovery behind her work are intriguing. The way she paints is a different style to what I have previously looked at throughout my studies. I would like to try a similar style to see if I can look at an alternative way of mark making.

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