Wang Guangle (b. 1976, Fujian, China) is recognized as a pioneer of conceptual painting in China. He was a founding member of the N12 artist group, unified by their break from the traditions of representational painting toward individual expression. He has garnered critical praise for his process-based paintings, wherein the artist translates abstract qualities of the world—such as the passage of time—into paint, simultaneously referring to the materiality of the medium and the act of painting through abstraction and repetition.
Wang has been the subject of several one-artist exhibitions at venues including Beijing Commune (2009, 2011, 2015), and the Soka Art Center, Taipei (2011). Since 2000, his work has been featured in over ninety group exhibitions, including China’s ReVision: Focus Beijing, Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany (2008); Prague Biennale (2009); Busan Biennale (2010); Spin: The First Decade of the New Century, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2012); ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists’ Concept & Practice, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); California-Pacific Triennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach (2013); 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (2015); and Constellation, Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery, Tbilisi, Georgia (2017).
London—Pace London is pleased to announce Yellow, the first solo exhibition of work by Wang Guangle in Europe. The exhibition will be on view on the ground floor gallery at 6 Burlington Gardens from 18 March to 16 April 2016.
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.
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. In these 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.