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Women hold up half the sky.

Mao Zedong

 

Xiang Yang was born in Qingdao, Shandong China in 1961, the year that marked the end of the terrible Great Chinese Famine.

Much had changed in China by the time the then 14-year-old Xiang began studying art with Zhao Zhiping’s teacher.

She proved to be a quick study. Perhaps too quick, in fact.

It soon became clear that the young woman was on the verge of creating a unique artistic style that would draw on her budding sense of self-esteem, much of it stemming from her new-found, if as-yet fully-articulated, belief in the equality of women.

It was this faith that allowed her to capture the internal and external beauty in woman that would soon come to dominate her work.

Indeed, by the time she was 24-years-old she had already had a number of exhibitions in Qingado and Beijing, to wide acclaim.

It was not long before she set her artistic sights on the outside world, with exhibitions in France, Germany, Switzerland, Vienna, Italy and many other countries.

Her work continued to garner awards and acclaim but Italy was to become her home. And so it remains today.

Xiang is the first to admit that the subjects of her paintings are ‘sophisticated women often captured in moments of eroticism that could be likened to visual poems addressing the meaning of love.’

And her art, like real love, is real. Sometimes both are harsh and harrowing, but never sentimentalised.

And at its core it speaks to the qualities of human nature that allow us to believe in love, no matter what.

It is her belief in truth and justice that has also prompted her to spend a good deal of time and effort giving back to the emerging and respected artists from her homeland.

She has organized a number of exhibitions of Chinese artists to the Castello Sforzesco de Vigevano and Mede with the aim of promoting Chinese art and developing intercultural relations between Italy and China.

By now it has been a long and interesting journey from Qingdao, China.

And yet today Xiang, like her art, remains fiercely independent and equally dedicated to the cause of equality for women.

“I have never believed that women are inferior to anyone,” she says. “I want my paintings to portray women for what they are in real life – not perfect, but real and whole.

“And yes, sometimes we carry the burden of past wounds, but we are resilient and we must always fight for the equality of women, no matter where they might be in the world.”

As for the future, she says she will continue painting, of course, but she is also looking forward to exploring other disciplines, including a new-found interest in sculpture.

And she also hopes to continue showing her work to audiences around the world.

“Given the obvious sexuality of my work, I am of course very interested in seeing how my work is perceived in other cultures,” she says.

“The power and freedom of women is universal, but it is always interesting to see the reaction to the sexuality in some cultures. It is not a bad thing. But it is interesting sometimes!”

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