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Why artist Feng Xiao-Min's paintings don't have titles

South China Morning Post 標誌 South China Morning Post 11/2/2019 Lauren James

Chinese-born French artist Feng Xiao-Min no longer gives his paintings titles, believing that naming his work prevents viewers from making up their own minds.

"I used to name paintings as soon as I finished. But several years ago, I realised people would explain my paintings to me based on the titles: their own imaginations were blocked," he says.

"Inspired Resonance", Feng's first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, is an opportunity to sit and ponder 27 of his artworks, 20 of which have not previously been seen in public. The largely abstract natural landscapes created with vivid lashes of colour chart the artist's career since the early 2000s and his transition from paper to canvas.

Before, I could throw the work away easily, but now I keep it and, through finding solutions, I can get good surprises

Feng Xiao-Min

As if to validate Feng's wish, 8.8.18, a dreamlike piece rendered in sunlit shades of ochre, sand and amber, was interpreted by onlookers at the exhibition's launch as showing a beach at low tide; others saw a shimmering desert or sailing boats. Some form of water, a favourite theme of Feng's, features in almost every artwork.

To add an extra sensory dimension to the experience, viewers are invited to wear headphones playing music by British-South Korean pianist Yiruma and a poem about nature by a woman who felt inspired after attending Feng's exhibition last year in Shanghai. The audio element is designed to replicate the state of mind in which Feng likes to work.

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by South China Morning Post Publishers Limited Born in Shanghai, Feng has lived and worked in Paris since studying at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in the late-1980s, and is credited with shaping the French capital's contemporary art scene through the blending of French and Chinese styles and influences.

Although the artist gained a reputation in his younger years for being a mercurial perfectionist, prone to finding fault with and, subsequently, even sabotaging pieces that had already been sold, the 60-year-old says these days he is more willing to set a painting to one side and revisit it later.

"When I paint, I imagine it will go one way, but often I encounter difficulties. Before, I could throw the work away easily, but now I keep it and, through finding solutions, I can get good surprises."

"Inspired Resonance" will be shown at Opera Gallery, W Place, 52 Wyndham Street, Central until February 28.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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