One of the preeminent abstract painters of his generation in Beijing, Wang’s work is rooted in questions of painting’s temporality and the canvas as a vessel of labour and marker of time. The exhibition at Pace London will include a selection of recent paintings by the artist that evince the spirit and style of his work from the past decade. The exhibition also accounts for an unprecedented use of yellow in Wang’s work. Although he has no prescribed meaning for the colour, he embraces its various associations, from timidity and carefulness to a more Chinese connotation of the erotic.
Wang’s Terrazzo works take their subject from the eponymous style of flooring tile, which was installed in one of his first studios. Wang spends months on the
works, attending to every millimetre with equal care and repeating lines, colours and textures with subtle variations. These paintings complicate the notions of abstraction, drawing on real materials, spaces and textures for their source.
In his Coffin paintings, thin strips of acrylic paint line the canvas, wrapping around the frontal surface and leaving the trace of drips. Wang typically begins by painting the entirety of the canvas. Subsequent layers of paint—added over periods of several weeks—decrease in size, leading to the striped effect that characterizes the works as well as thick agglomerations of paint that evoke the material’s physicality. This additive layering process finds its origins in Wang’s home province, Fujian, where elder men annually add a fresh layer of lacquer to their coffins in anticipation of their death. Wang stresses this temporal element in this body of work by including the date of the work’s completion in its title.
The Untitled paintings mirror this process of scaling and accumulation in the Coffin works while placing a greater emphasis on geometry. Wang paints rectangular fields, each layer progressing farther from the edge and closer to the centre, creating a subtle gradation of colour and the effect of an illuminated rectangle or void. Like in the Terrazzo works, the question of abstraction arises; for Wang, abstraction is less a means of nonfiguration and more of record that most abstract of phenomena: time.
Wang Guangle (b. 1976, Songxi, Fujian, China) trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, where he graduated in 2000 and was awarded the Director’s Prize in his final year of school. He is a member of N12, a group of twelve Central Academy of Fine Arts graduates that began staging exhibitions together in 2003. In 2014, Hatje Cantz published the first major monograph on the artist, featuring essays by Bao Dong, Thomas Berghuis and Philip Tinari.
Wang’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions including China’s Revision: Focus Beijing, Museum Ludwig, Koblenz (2008); Prague Biennale 4 (2009); Busan Biennial (2010); ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists’ Concept & Practice, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2012); Spin: The First Decade of the New Century, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2012); 2013 California-Pacific Triennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; and 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (2015). His work is included in the permanent collections of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing; Long Museum, Shanghai; M+ Museum for Visual Culture, Hong Kong; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Sammlung Goetz Collection, Munich; and Ullens Foundation, Geneva.
Wang Guangle lives and works in Beijing. This is his third exhibition at Pace.