The Straits Times
Published on Nov 19, 2012

Dark vision of humanity comes to life in 3-D glass paintings


From a distance, Chinese contemporary artist Xia Xiaowan's artworks resemble vats of scientific experiments on the human body gone terribly wrong.

One is a disembodied, glowering head, staring down at the viewer. Another is a decapitated female nude, suspended in space, as if floating in invisible liquid. Another is a pile of writhing human limbs, where it is hard to differentiate where one body begins and ends.

Go closer and you will realise that these disturbing installations are actually made of many panes of glass, individually painted and layered in front of one another to create a three-dimensional, holographic effect.

These works have emerged not from the biological laboratory but from Xia's studio in Beijing. Called "spatial paintings", these pieces have become a calling card for the 53-year-old artist, who also works in other media such as oil and pastel painting.