Born in 1976 and graduating only in 2000 from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Wang Guangle is one of China’s contemporary art darlings… and rightly so.
His work is fresh, original, holds it own and is international, and by this I mean that it is easy on the eye whether you are Lebanese or Brazilian; American or Indonesian. I was lucky this summer to examine his work first hand during his first solo US exhibition at the Pace Gallery in Manhattan.
The basis for his 2004 Coffin Paint series and by extension his Untitled Series at Pace is the Fujian tradition of preparing oneself for the afterlife by painting one’s coffin in red lacquer and every year you find yourself alive, you apply another coat. Using this as inspiration, Wang applies layers of acrylic paint twice each day to a canvas, each layer a little more removed than the previous one from the edge. The build-up of paint towards the center makes it seem 3-D creating a dramatically illusionistic work.
I found that each painting had a different effect on me depending on its color, and so I found myself feeling happy, lugubrious and contemplative all in the space of 30 minutes (and no, I’m not bi-polar). This to me signals remarkable work and Wang Guangle is one artist I’ll be keeping my eye on.
image credits: The Pace Gallery, New York.
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