Under the Influence 

Jane Q Cheng: Studying Andy Dixon


Your style is something that defines you, whether it be in the way you walk, the way you dress, or in the way you paint. Everyone’s got it. Jane Q Cheng’s latest exhibition at Make Gallery, Jane Q Cheng: Studying Andy Dixon, proves just that. Questioning and dissecting what it means to be original, the show challenges the topics of authenticity and authorship. During her Artist in Residency at Make Gallery, Cheng assigned herself the task of studying the work of local artist Andy Dixon to explore how personal style is created. 

If you do not know much about Dixon’s practise, he often references paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries and brings them into the contemporary art world. His characteristic swaths of bright colour and use of geometric pattern make his work distinctly his. He melds a sort of fauvism with Renaissance paintings, creating works that are bound up in art history. 

During this direct study, Cheng shadowed Dixon’s practise in order to mimic and eventually anticipate the way he paints. Jane Q Cheng: Studying Andy Dixon follows Cheng’s progress, exhibiting the work chronologically. Starting with small studies of Dixon’s pre-existing work such as Studies of Expensive Painting (Nude 1), 2016 and Studies of Expensive Painting (Vanitas), 2016, the show culminates into works that are strictly Cheng’s, Expensive Painting (Wedding at Cana), 2016 and Pink Portrait, 2016. These works do not consist of any feedback or consultation on the part of Dixon, they serve as Cheng’s interpretations of how Dixon might paint. On her studies, Cheng has chosen to include the dialogue between herself and Dixon directly on the canvases. Questions around colour choice, subject matter, and technique are displayed for viewers to read in addition to Dixon’s thoughts on the show. This proved to be the most interesting and intimate aspect of the show, as it provided insight into the collaborative aspect behind the works. 

As a viewer, it is evident that Cheng’s work is Dixon-esque, but what becomes clear after reading the dialogue on each piece is that Cheng fails to imitate Dixon. Cheng’s own background in art, coupled with her own personal taste, disrupt her ability to manufacture an image that is inherently Dixon’s. Thus it would be safe to say that Expensive Painting (Wedding at Cana), 2016 and Pink Portrait, 2016 are not copies of Dixon’s work but are influenced by Dixon’s practise. Jane Q Cheng: Studying Andy Dixon highlights how one navigates and creates their own personal style through their confrontation with originality and authorship.