On 5 September 2013, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Fifth Avenue location In Between Israel and Palestine, a series of recent paintings by Liu Xiaodong.
Liu Xiaodong combines expressive on-site painting, drawing, film, photography, and diary keeping to examine situations of social, cultural, religious, and ethnic complexities in his native China and other areas of the world. Previous projects have led him and his small team to establish a temporary studio in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau and Yan’ Guan County in China (works from these series were exhibited at Mary Boone Gallery in 2008 and 2010 respectively), as well as Thailand, Cuba, Japan, Italy, and Austria.
With this auspicious working method, Liu Xiaodong was invited to participate in Host & Guest, a program of exhibitions and events at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from May-June 2013 which explored the concept of dominance and co-existence through the charged context of Israel and Palestine. In April 2013, Liu Xiaodong and his crew traveled through Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hebron and Ramallah, interacting with the local inhabitants and penetrating their surroundings in an effort to understand their everyday lives and concerns.
The current exhibition consists of eighteen small diptych paintings completed on this quest, as well as two larger single canvas works. Liu Xiaodong conveys his experiences by focusing on details that reveal a common humanity; he avoids engaging a tense moment or taking sides. The diptych format visually underscores the omnipresent cultural divide and its effect on the region and its people: a gap cuts through an image of a young girl intently studying the Old Testament, the stark rise of the West Bank wall, a group feasting outdoors, a rusted iron window grate, or, in the surprising final work, monochrome panels of Israeli blue sky (or sea) and sand.