Gay Beijing Artist Defies Social Stigma
The Center Long Beach and alternative fine art gallery Flazh!Alley Art Studio in San Pedro, in a partnership with the Beijing LGBT Center, will be presenting the U.S. premiere of the paper cutting masterpieces of Beijing artist Xiyadie (pronounced Zhee-yá-dee) through July 14. The artist’s work — what The Advocate appropriately called “Lighthearted and joyous, yet intense and revolutionary” — has been publicly prohibited in China due to its same-sex themed content.
Titled “Metamorphosis of a Butterfly: A Kaleidoscopic Vision of Life by a Gay Chinese Artist,” the exhibit will include more than 50 works celebrating same-sex love and life struggle transcending the harsh discrimination and social stigma experienced by the LGBTQ community in China. Also included in the exhibit will be works showing the artist’s struggle as a gay, married father of a daughter and son, the latter severely disabled by cerebral palsy.
“My artwork is really about the desire for freedom,” Xiyadie said. “Freedom of expression, freedom to live honestly and freedom from the disease my son suffers from.” “That’s why I call myself Xiyadie, or ‘Siberian Butterfly,’” he continued. “In Chinese, it expresses hope and my wish for freedom in a cold and harsh environment.”
Xiyadie’s work was discovered last spring by The Center Long Beach board member Ján Montoya on a cultural mission to The Beijing LGBT Center. “When I saw his artwork displayed at The Beijing LGBT Center, I had never seen such beautiful paper cuttings and knew they had to be shared with our own community,” Montoya said. He brought the idea of the exhibition to The Center Long Beach board, which agreed with the idea of the world premiere exhibition.
“It’s been my dream to exhibit in the U.S. and to finally share my gay-themed work to a broad audience openly and without disguise,” the artist said.
Fine art journalist, critic, and gallery owner Joe Flazh! decided to exhibit Xiyadie’s work because its Eastern, traditional beauty — excellence of form and execution — was paired with a distinctly unique vision. According to Flazh, Xiyadie’s work achieves that melding of old and new at the same time – old in that they are grounded and expressed in the traditional Chinese art of paper cutting, and new in the treatment of the artist’s personal — yet universal — issues.
The framed masterpieces will be available for purchase with proceeds benefitting The Center’s numerous programs and services. The exhibition will also include an artist meet-and-greet and discussion forum as part of The Center’s QSpeak lecture and performance series, to be held at Flazh!Alley Art Studio on Thursday, May 10 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. By-appointment-only viewings at the gallery will be complemented by public showings on June 7 and July 5 as part of San Pedro’s First Thursdays Art Walk Nights. The gallery will also be open during Long Beach Pride on Friday, May 18 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm; May 19 from noon to 6:00pm; and May 20 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. The same weekend hours apply to Los Angeles Pride June 8-10.
The Center’s QSpeak series is a quarterly lecture and performance series featuring artists, activists, scholars and public figures in the LGBTQ community. QSpeak seeks to inspire, educate, challenge and entertain and aspires to re-energize the collective consciousness of the LGBTQ community and its allies.
Flazh!Alley Art Studio is located at 1113 S. Pacific Ave., Suite B in San Pedro. Parking is available in the large city parking lot behind Ramona Bakery at Pacific & 11th Street. Enter from the alley. Adults 18 and older. For more information, call 310-833-3633 or visit www.flazhalleystudio.com or www.facebook.com/QSpeak.
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