Richmond artist finds a style all his own

Xiao Ming Xu with his paintings at his Seafair basement studio. ‘I wanted to be different from other people,’ he said.  - Matthew Hoekstra
Xiao Ming Xu with his paintings at his Seafair basement studio. ‘I wanted to be different from other people,’ he said.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra

Like most classically trained artists, Xiao Ming Xu learned traditional styles of painting. Portraits, still-life—he created works so life-like they appear to be photographs. But several years ago he imagined a style unlike anything else.

Now, the Richmond artist is showing his paintings in public exhibition for the first time since he arrived in Canada a decade ago.

“I wanted to be different from other people,” said Xu, through interpreter and wife Kelly Li.

“At first I wanted other people to know I can do it—that I have the technique. But this style was the same as other artists. I wanted to change. I wanted to work in my own way.”

A selection of the 50-year-old artist’s large paintings are now on exhibition at Richmond City Hall. His works intricately depict buildings as if they were made of popsicle sticks.

Xu developed his style in 2007, and has since created 50 paintings depicting structures and transportation.

Architecture can represent different periods of history. Xu brings that history to life in his Seafair basement studio that’s crowded with canvas paintings in acrylic and oil.

“I have a unique painting language. One and only,” he says in his artist statement. “In my works I use the brilliant colours. This is my way to express the romanticism, the outpouring of my true feelings, and my pursuing for life.”

Born in Tianjin, China, Xu’s artistic path started with drawing at age six. Finding it an ideal way to express himself, he didn’t stop.

Painting later became his passion. Traditional Chinese art served as a great influence. Studying Western art in university awakened a broader interest in styles. After graduating, he began teaching watercolour and oil painting at Tianjin Normal University while exhibiting his work.

But since coming to Canada in 2003, his work has had little exposure. Now his current Richmond City Hall Galleria exhibition—which includes selected works from numerous series—could be the first of many.

Said Xu: “I hope to make more people understand my paintings, and accept my style.”

Vestige by Xiao Ming Xu

•A new art Richmond Art Gallery exhibition at Richmond City Hall Galleria

•On until March 4; free viewing during city hall opening hours

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