Atlanta painter Caomin Xie’s exhibition of new work at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah is an intimate journey into the immensity of the universe. On view through June 28, “Maps of Infinitude” is tucked away in the diminutive Emerging Artist Gallery off the main lobby of the museum. Xie’s seven canvases are displayed on walls upholstered in pale yellow damask, like a cherished art collection in an elegant private home. The paintings depict planets, stars, and lunar landscapes in a limited palette of bluish-grey, brown, and black. Each one gently radiates a subtle, mysterious intensity.
The “Infinitude” paintings are strikingly different from those in Xie’s well-known Mandala series, which are very large-scale works with kaleidoscopic compositions. In his new work, Xie scales down the size of his canvases as he ramps up his immersion in themes of grand magnitude: the cosmos and creation. It seems Xie is exploring ideas of creatio ex nihilo or “creation out of nothing,” as evidenced by the titles of several of his paintings—Brahma, Gaia, and Pangu—the names of mythological beings in Hindu, Greek, and Chinese creation stories.
In his exploration of the “nothingness” of the universe, Xie seems to have found a realm fraught with coded meaning and filled with pattern and design. In Pangu #1 stardust floats in delicate columns that are mirror images of each other, against a backdrop of deep space. The minimalist lunar landscape in Sin is marked with craters that form a distinct swirling pattern, and the arrangement of moon rocks in Brahma #1 and Brahma #2 are like Rorschach tests whose messages are undecipherable. In these paintings, emptiness and negative space are part of the spiritual journey. As always, Caomin Xie’s work challenges us with a kaleidoscope of possibilities to ponder.
Caroline Stover is a resident of Atlanta and works in publishing and artist representation.