Inspiration, 2021
Xie Lei

Xie Lei, Inspiration, 2021
Xie Lei, Inspiration, 2021

Oil on canvas
50 x 65 cm
The word inspiration, derived from the Latin word for breathing in, was originally used to describe the revelation or influence of a truth coming from a divine or supernatural being. Xie Lei’s painting, Inspiration, created during a residency at Casa de Velázquez in Madrid in 2020–21, visualizes the quasi-mystical and archaic meaning of the act of “inspirare.” The profile of a human’s face, leaning over to a light source as if smelling or inhaling it, appears embedded amid lush foliage. Thick brush strokes in a palette of dark green, sea green, emerald, and murky blue are punctuated with dashes of light turquoise, generating a glowing vibration that peaks in the cold white light in the center of the painting. In this nocturnal light, the face emerging from the foliage feels like it morphs into a forest spirit. Xie Lie’s artworks are often set in the dark, embracing the night scene as a place of suspense, bewilderment, and meditation. The artist creates atmospheres that feel undefined and in flux. Like an endless dawn, the characters in the works, whether human or more-than-human, are ethereal and eternal creatures who recall myths, rituals, and folk tales.
Born in Huainan, Anhui Province, China, in 1983. Lives in Paris, France and Madrid, Spain.