The masterpiece collection
In Datura, Wang Xiao Bo paints a woman sitting on the neck of a man (her husband in fact). He’s muscled and can easily carry her on his shoulders, yet his hands are grabbing his lowered head in what looks like confusion or despair. About their relationship? His own life?
The woman looks strong and pensive, not too bothered by her male counterpart, whom she is touching but not quite feeling, it seems. She’s not carried high like a baby princess, nor does she look triumphant. She doesn’t lean on him, she simply sits there, aware.
The man is standing, in horse stance, a martial arts pose requiring good balance and core strength; which apparently he has or else he wouldn’t be able to carry the woman like this for any significant amount of time, which he has agreed to do, both in the scene and in real life. The man’s lower legs are not included in the painting, giving a first impression of him kneeling rather than standing. This cut-off line makes the woman the centerpiece and protagonist of the scene.
“In my IBEX Masterpiece, I wanted to talk about the rising power of women in China, especially among the young generation, and the complexity of the relationship between two people and, in particular, lovers, such as husband and wife. I’ve chosen to call this work ‘Datura’, after a flower known for its beauty and thorns. Joy and pain, love and anger, attachment and annoyance, they come together.”