UCCA Beijing

The Discovery of Spices : Xie Nanxing and Ruth Noack in Conversation


Location:  Auditorium
Language:  Chinese & English, with translator.

Xie Nanxing’s painterly oeuvre is richly varied, the result of his continued efforts to renew, and outdo, himself. The groundbreaking “Spices” cycle represents a major turning point—while previously his work sought to mediate between realism and conceptualism, here the artist returns to the origins of oil painting, tracing its evolution from the Renaissance on. The title refers to Christopher Columbus, who famously mistook the Americas for the Indies, and a kind of Caribbean tree bark for a new spice. But how exactly did Xie reach this turning point? Like Columbus returning from his journey, we are faced with the question of what to make of these strange “spices”?

Vienna-based curator and scholar Ruth Noack has been researching and writing on Xie Nanxing’s work for over a decade. UCCA invites Noack to Beijing to have a discussion about this new series of paintings in the context of the artist’s creative development. This will be the latest example of the fruitful dialogue that has unfolded over many years between the two. Noack will also contribute a critical essay to the forthcoming exhibition catalogue Xie Nanxing: Spices.


*The event is free. Because seating is limited, visitors must reserve spots in advance.

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Xie Nanxing

b. 1970, Chongqing, lives and works in Beijing and Chengdu. He has been widely exhibited since 1999. Selected solo exhibitions include “untitled: 3 ×” (Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing, 2016); and “Xie Nanxing Paintings” (Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg, 2005). Group exhibitions include: “The Latch” (C-Space+Local, Beijing, 2017); “China 8” (Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 2015); “New Works #1” (OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen, 2014); and “Our Future: The Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation Collection” (UCCA, Beijing, 2008). Xie’s work has also been shown in major periodic exhibitions including Documenta XII (Kassel, 2007); and the 48th Venice Biennale (1999).

Ruth Noack

Trained as a visual artist and art historian, Ruth Noack has worked as author, art critic, university lecturer and curator since the 1990s. She curated Documenta XII (2007). Her exhibitions include Scenes of a Theory (1995), Things We Don’t Understand (2000), The Government (2005) and Not Dressed for Conquering – Ines Doujak‘s Loomshuttles/Warpaths (2012). Notes on Crisis, Currency and Consumption (2015) was the first of a series of ten essay-exhibitions on issues of contemporary life. The next installment in the series series will be Sleeping with a VengeanceDreaming of a Life and Fragments and Compounds.

Head of the Curating Contemporary Art Program, Royal College of Art, London (2012-13), she acted as Research Leader for the EU-project MeLa - European Museums in an age of migrations. Noack was Šaloun professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague (2013-14) and taught the Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course in 2014. Since 2015, she has been responsible for one of the DAI Roaming Academy trajectories. In addition to contributing articles and scholarly essays to international publications, she has written Sanja Ivekovic: Triangle for Afterall Books and Agency, Ambivalence, Analysis. Approaching the Museum with Migration in Mind (both in 2013).

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