NOME Gallery in Berlin is presents the first solo show of Chinese artist Xiyadie in Europe, curated by Hera Chan, opening 16 June.
Cut Sleeve, Split Peach shows a selection of Xiyadie’s works, traditional paper-cuts that are tenderly snipped and died by hand. The exhibition title originates in two early queer love stories from Ancient China. In the first, courtier Mizi Xia tastes a peach so sweet he offers it to Duke Ling of Wei to share. In the second, Emperor Ai’s lover Dong Xian falls asleep on his sleeve, and rather than wake him, the Emperor cuts through the silk fabric.
These illicit tales set the backdrop for Xiyadie’s paper-cutting practice, in which a traditional form, dating back as far as the sixth century, is subverted through scenes of queer eroticism. Paper-cutting was first introduced in the ancient worship of ancestors and gods, hung on the panes of windows and doors as symbols of luck and happiness. In Xiyadie’s contemporary works, human beings are fused with nature and gay virility combines with the fertility of gardens and animal life.
Xiyadie means Siberian Butterfly – a name he chose after his move to Beijing in the 1990s as a migrant worker, where he became involved in the burgeoning gay subcultural scene. Surviving in the harshest conditions, the Siberian Butterfly maintains its pursuit of freedom in an environment that does not lend political agency or representation to queer-identifying people. As Siberian Butterfly, the artist flits between spaces, crafting a queer proposal for other worlds that are already possible. The splitting of blank sheets of paper holds secrets only Xiyadie can tell.
Xiyadie was educated at the Special Arts and Crafts School in Heyang County, and worked in the crafts department of the Xi’an Film Studio. His works were first exhibited at the Beijing LGBT Center. He was a participating artist in Spectrosynthesis: Asian LGBTQ Issues and Art Now (2017) at Taipei MOCA. His works have also been shown at Para Site, Hong Kong (2017); Galerie Verbeeck – Van Dyck, Antwerp (2015); Topenmuseum, Amsterdam (2015); Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg (2013); Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm (2012); and Flazh!Alley Art Studio, San Pedro, USA (2012). Xiyadie has been profiled by Hyperallergic, BBC News, Los Angeles Times, Shaanxi TV, CCTV, et alors? and Advocate. He is a member of the China Society for the Study of Folk Literature and Art, as well as the Shaanxi Society for the Study of Folk Literature and Art.