Proceeding from a cultural mode of thought that transforms antagonisms into collaborations, Xue Song's art finds expression in the negative space usually left behind: soot and ash are crucial elements in his art, and the outlines of many of the figures in his images look as if they have been burned out. For Xue, ash is a reminder of fate and a symbol of rebirth. Fire plays a central role in Xue Song's work. It is a form of mourning. Time and again the artist elaborates on the fire that burned down his studio in the early 1990's, destroying all of his work to date, mainly oil paintings and calligraphy. The charred leftovers of pictures rescued from the ashes are used as fragments in the new works, as a kind of memorabilia of past events. The collages become a tactile site of remembrance and reflection with traces of the fire unavoidably present. Xue produces scenes that pick up on themes of traditional painting and calligraphy, as well as combines them, for example, with silhouettes of contemporary politicians. Xue Song is known for his innovative integration of contemporary elements with elements manifested in the collective cultural memory. He continues to invent new forms and reinvent those left by tradition. The approaches and explorations are not only inspired by traditional calligraphy, but are also transformed. By collecting random samples of mass media language, including the revolutionary language of Mao and contemporary consumer culture language, Xue Song creates a kind of multi-sensory imagery. Scattered across the canvas, the visual juxtapositions are whimsical and inspired, proving that the artist possesses a keen eye for color and form.
Xue Song's distinctive collages represent the many different aspects of Chinese culture; he incorporates traditional Chinese paintings, ancient calligraphy, folk art, religious icons, legendary figures and historical photographs, effectively erasing any categorical imperatives. His methodology is one of appropriation, manipulation and subversion in order to create a subjective universe that manifests his personal memories and loses.
Xue Song was born in 1965 in Anhui province. He graduated from the Shanghai Drama Institute, Stage Design Department in 1988. He resides and works in Shanghai. Xue Song has exhibited widely since his first solo-exhibition in 1999. Recent exhibition including The Fragment Time, Xi'an Art Museum, Xi'an (2013); XUE Song, New Shanghai Style Paintings, MoCA, Singapore (2013); Xue Song: Piercing Through History and the Fashion, A Retrospective from 1988-2011, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2011); A Fashion, Or the History?, The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2010); Looking Back: Deconstruction Classics, Xue Song Portfolio, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2009); Xue Song Solo Exhibition, ArtChina, Hamburg, Germany (2007) etc.