Notes on Boundless Boundless is a kind of lookout, a kind of survey, and endless description of space and time in the future, confirms a sense of void from personal point in the interleaving of time and space. The inner value of Boundless is not to protrude a pleasant sensation of arrogating the border, and to correct misunderstandings of individuals stood in grand narrative and highly poetic vacuum. Boundless is not an aggressive expansion, but an inward self-reflection: the sense of void caused by fear and pressure of personal life. Therefore, as the title of Wang Huangshengs exhibition, is full of irony: this exhibition stands on the opposite of infinite and eternal heroism emotion and elite complex, as well as the antithesis of lyrics. Boundless exhibition presents Wang Huangshengs own reality, about talent, education, common sense, experience, and personal understanding of time, dominant or recessive control or abetting of time on individuals. From the concrete to the abstract, Wang Huangsheng brings a person to a maze of contradictions, seeking for a kind of collateral evidence needed to be confirmed in classical and present spiritual circumstances: works and those works had been retold by the third party, a staged projection of personal ideology, a kind of representation of spirit under real oppression.
Boundless Detachment Wang Huangshengs experimental art creation involves with endless conflict between personal poetry and real situation, while in such attached dependency, he was seeking for a visual transformation and defamiliarization effect by means of multi-media experiment. Encircling, crossing and entangling of lines are boundless; intervened obscure on newspapers results to reciprocal images which are subversion and deconstruction of ideology carried by media; among fragmental structures between the tangible and the intangible, virtual and real, as well as light and shadow, it becomes personal feelings on property of survival reality, like moved and floated as accompanying shadow in the critical point between these works. This exhibition thus constitutes Boundless as the theme, juxtaposes three spaces of black, white and grey, and therefore holds three thematic exhibitions respectively of Spacing, Intervention and Intermediate. This is Wang Huangshengs another major solo exhibition following Post Refined Joyin Beijing, 2012 and Roaming-Apparition in Germany, 2013. It is an epitome of his artistic creation at this stage, and means that his creation lies in the experimental process of exploration, as well as his attitudes towards art is always in endless detachment and extension.
As I understand it, the Post Refined Joy means after refined joy. Today, is this refined joy of ancient scholars still able to continue? The works of Wang Huangsheng actually do not raise a question, but express his attitude towards todays society, life and art. In my opinion, this attitude is walking out of the scholars poetic quality in traditional ink paintings, directly facing the real image of visual art and seeking the spiritual home for contemporaries in the image structure and form with more visual extension.
In the essay Boundless Detachment, Feng Boyi pointed out, Wang Huangshengs experimental art creation involves with endless conflict between personal poetry and real situation, while in such attached dependency; he was seeking for a visual transformation and defamiliarization effect by means of multi-media experiment. In this argument, we can split two corresponding relationship: personal poetry and real situation via visual transformation and defamiliarization effect. Personal poetry and reality constitute a contradictory relationship of mutual penetration and growing up together. Personal poetry comes from Wang Huangsheng inner heart, is a kind of enlightenment, recognition of his own literati blood, and self-awareness of cultural root, ensures that his own art creation will not deviate from its position, and keeps a real pain of real life as well rebound and response under survival pressures. Continuing confirmed and strengthened consciousness of identity of literati (the intellectual), and deep aspiration to change the reality and to deconstruct the contradictions, results to a participation into real situation and devises a utopian fantasy after following a theory logic: reality can be changed, and reality must be changed; with what kinds of weapons; critique, re-critique; sense of literati (the intelligent) enlarges ones own sense of mission, and sense of undertaking to save the world. Events and facts had happened in real situation become source and imaginary enemy of literati poetry, meanwhile the biggest obstacle to release literati poetry, and the future stumbling block needed to be removed for utopian ideals, therefore, inadequacy of real situation (self-injustice, inequality, anxiety, etc) sublimates the meaning of personal poetry on individual life, and achieves a height of self-aesthetic and hypnosis of history writing hallucinations. When real situation deconstructs personal poetry again and again, personal poetry has to confront with heavy task to reconstruct, integrate and transform the rhetoric.
Actually, the so-called true and objective newspapers carried with cultural identities and ideologies of that stage, so words and images are only symbolic. Therefore, Wang Huangsheng is not so much in dealing with the media, as it is his intended experimental destruction, also an effort to tile and construct to make these familiar contents become a strangeness, to control the viewers expectation, to make viewers to appreciate the resulting surprise at processed new works, as well as freedom gained after get rid of original transmission. This attitude is not only individual; it is actually almost common for all of us. Age and society, of course, are major themes, thus one could escape and refuse to such imposes, then we had to grow up followed the times and social determinants. Maybe one just grasps of interventional treatment, he will be able to understand better the intentions behind, thus enables us to understand more clearly the nature of things.
Post Refined Joy: Traces of Hand and Heart Wang Huangsheng named his first comprehensive solo exhibition as Post Refined Joy and asked for my opinion. My first response was that it was quite innovative but was very difficult to interpret, just the same as the Super-Organism exhibition curated by him at CAFA Art Museum. However, after viewing the majority of his works, I gave high recognition to the exhibition theme because his works, different from the works of Super-Organism, were not so esoteric.
Boundless means destruction and negotiation, that is, present reconciliation and bridge between personal poetry and real situation, and personalized balance of antagonistic contradictions.
Feng Boyi Critics, Curator2013
As an ink painter, Wang Huangsheng was born into a paining family. As early as 1980s, he showed his enthusiasm and talent on freehand brushwork. Certainly, his early works did not free themselves from the popular freehand brushwork of that time. Moreover, they have strong sketching characters with the descriptive real life images as subject of expression. But the time for the real sublimation of his art is after he entered Guangdong Painting Academy, a professional institution for art creation. Throughout Wang Huangshengs art creation since that time, it can be divided into three phases.
The lines in Wang Huangshengs recent works are very free and a lot of things are filtered out. But he insists that the lines have brushstrokes of Chinese painting which makes his works maintain the unique brushstroke meaning of Chinese painting. Certainly, in the early stage of transformation exploration, the qualities of this group of works are not even. The good works give a feeling of unrestrained freedom and some lesser works look insubstantial. Similar to the American abstract expressionism, Wang Huangshengs works move towards large-scale paintings from small ones. He painted a lot of large paintings, but the picture structure and form are purer. Wang Huangsheng thinks that drawing large paintings could bring him a sense of liberation and make him very pleasant. When he wields the brush on the paper, there is full freedom of lines in the picture, and with the fortuity, the process of painting has cut loose from the pattern of traditional freehand brushwork which enriches the acts and traces of painting. This is in line with the consistent style of Wang Huangsheng, what he wants from painting is fun and happiness. Although he is a professional painter, he always has the mind of an amateur, namely the non-utility attitude. The painting ideal of Wang Huangsheng is to get rid of what seems to be Chinese painting at the first sight and seek more modern language form and spiritual image in picture. He likes to convey a kind of divine breath in the free walking of the lines during the process of creation which gives the flowing feeling to the space in the picture.
The first phase is his creation at Guangdong Painting Academy in the early and middle 1990s. The subjects of Wang Huangshengs creation in this period were floating clouds, flowing water, thatched cottages, constellations and screens. In short, he painted all the things between heaven and earth and their mutual relations. The Heaven and Earth series expresses the majestic Chinese culture and focuses on the communication between the small space of picture and the big world. Through the portrayal of rockery stones, gardens and plants, his paintings touch the painters soul and make people possess everything in the spiritual world and connect with the universe. During this period, his works have great mind which contains the heaven and the earth.
Sun Xiaofeng Critic
Yin Shuangxi Professor of China Central Academy of Fine ArtsMay 1, 2012
In fact, this pursuit of modernity value already began in the times of Shi Tao. In comparison with the requirement of traditional painting to carry with it the values of politics, ethics and literature (poetic quality), Shi Tao put the visual sense of painting in the central position of this creation. He highlighted individuals self-understanding, spoke on behalf of the mountains and rivers and fulfilled the God-given responsibility. The process of searching all the wonderful peaks for sketching actually transcends the traditional and stylized authority structure and establishes the epistemological framework on personal empirical experience. Based on such a subjective principle, Shi Tao established a new ink structure and language form which is consistent with personal trace of heart.
In his Newspaper Series, Wang Huangsheng chose another way to process ready-made Southern Weekend and Reference News. These newspapers are information resources accompanied us to concern about society and learn about the reality, and closely related to our daily lives. And displacement of seeing and be seen had attached naturally to images of influent anxiety. Rotating lines, strokes, spot covered on top of the original image and text. This intervention into original text means a proactive change, so viewers must bypass around his stroke to see the truth of the original. But it is paradoxical that the contents of newspapers are not unnecessarily objective, so the selection of original images and stroke is his subjective and artificial intervention, makes these works had been intervened to entangle and cover two kinds of images, thus to produce a new wording space, which is a re-processing of original intentions and expressions based on the relationship of reciprocal images, or efforts for new narrative or anti-narrative. Maybe todays society is changing so fast, advanced technology has been beyond our imagination, popularity of computer and omnipotent process of real texts and images make us far away from the primitive, and true essence is distorted by a variety of handling.
The third phase began with Wang Huangshengs transfer to China Central Academy of Fine Arts as the curator of CAFA Art Museum in 2009. During this period, because of extensive contacts with modern and contemporary art of both Chinese and Western, his art vision was wider and his ink painting entered a period of extensive exploration which not only has the deepening and continuing of styles of the first two periods, but also begins the transition to more purely modern ink painting. The most impressive is that Wang Huangsheng began to transcend the comprehensive balanced expression of brush, ink, color and line in his early works and turned to the in-depth study of the basic elements of ink art which led to the creation of a group of works with lines as unique features. This group of works could trace back to the tree branches painted by Wang Huangsheng in 2008 and 2009. Although this group of works maintained the rhyme of Chinese ink painting, they have strong modern visual form. Personally, I am very fond of this group of works. They possess the motion sense expressed in the works of American painter Pollock. In the process of work viewing, viewers are able to feel artists passion and the sense of speed in the painting.
May 15, 2013
Throughout Wang Huangshengs ink paintings, the painting features in three different phases are quite different. It seems that they pursue different goals and directions, but I think there are some things in common. Whether it is landscape sketch or freehand flower, we can temporarily give up the viewing of the overall image of his paintings in different phases. Observing from details, we can see that in the creations of different phases, Wang Huangsheng always keeps attention on the organizational juxtaposition of pure ink symbols and the quality of pure component elements such as lines and ink mark. This constitutes the modernity value in his works. In his works of three periods, we can see that while expressing physical image and form such as branches, flowers and leaves, some traces of ink gradually separate from the image of subject, follow the mind of the painter and freely combine in the picture, forming a new relationship of visual structure. Similar to the development of abstractness in Mondrians works, the interweaving of lines in Wang Huangshengs recent works actually comes from the entanglement of branches in his early works.
The lines become the main image of Wang Huangshengs works; it is a symbol of the boundary lines, and those swirling lines seem like disordered boundary lines with strenuous exercise, and when the boundary line lost the meaning of the specification and contract, that is, when power will of lines has been cleared up, lines can only return to the lines, to lines with zero degree of meaning. After Wang Huangsheng takes away the power of lines to shape, on the one hand, he reconstructs the historical position of lines in ink and wash paintings, thus abandons the figurative lyricism, and moreover, gives lines a sense of emptiness, disrupts aesthetic norms and read steps to achieve the purpose of deconstruction of the lines with lines, so that the concept of the work to be confirmed; from figurative lines to the last line, Wang Huangshengs own creation establishes a personal reference system. Personal poetic and personal reality is stitched seamlessly into concept and position dealt with current relevance and significance. Among the different opinions between Japan and China about the issue of boundary, interpretation of boundary from respective own positions makes the boundary line become a dynamic elastic movement, become the intersection of broken and solid lines, deeply effect new interpretation of international relations and pre-imagination for future trends of international forces integration. It is a line of the controversy, but also wrestling between historical evidences and reality. So Wang Huangshengs lines generate a new possibility of reading due to reversed intervention.
Yet from his Clue Series started in 2009 to the Moving Visions Series created in 2011, I dont think they could be commented in the way of the so called from figurative to abstract which was for his earlier works, but rather, they need to be interpreted from the complicated life circumstances he faced. In my mind, although Wang Huangsheng has a special feeling for Chinese ink and wash painting, some works of this exhibition is not merely focusing on the aspects of art language of Chinese ink and wash painting, as well as revealing an internal outpouring through the twining lines, thus he could make the integral structure of the picture form a kind of ensemble-style tone with multi-voice, or in another word, a kind of multi-voice sonata around the same mood, because his experimental ink and wash painting creation is determined by his living situation and attitude, and reinforces the helpless and infinite paradox of reality. As if we are all wrapped into it, and merged into a position in reality which are unable to grasp, even embarrassing. Except for the narration discourse from the inner heart, and the multi-tone structure with multi-voice resonance, Wang Huangshengs art is also special in his image processing which sets a kind of visual tension. This tension is not only reflected in some natural objects and sceneries like lotus, twinning branches and sunflowers, but rather, he put the whole picture into a kind of saturated vision, that is a intermediate process of this ink and wash paintings developed for a way of multimedia. He disordered the structure intentionally and cut it into countless fragments, then he connects their traces on the mottled background, and introduced dream into reality; moreover, along with their charming postures of standing, dancing and others, undoubtedly, broad and profound survival background, and a kind of gloomy and melancholic mystery are also provided for his inner artistic representation. This kind of mysterious tremble has bedded the essence of main visual body and achieved the spaces between dream and reality as well as their merging. Images consisted of ready-made wire gauze changed clear substance of sharpness, defense and harm into illusory images and then this kind of images are overlapped with realistic shapes to explore the capacity of the collision, and resulted a spacing phantasmagoric play. It is an attachment of correlation; maybe also the busy and trivial daily work or the depressed and bored mood has led to Wang Huangshengs Motion/Imagination inner traces in his Watching the Star like an astral trip.
Visual transformation and defamiliarization effect constitute a progressive cause-effect relationship, that is, visual transformation as a means, and defamiliarization effect a result, a result desired by visual transformation. Obviously, visual transformation comes from education and experience, is a strategy in location of space and time, a most effective and direct means to result. Choice of multimedia is obviously skillful; as an experienced director and curator, he is very clear that what should be done in an exhibition in order to get the best result, which is a professional sensitivity. When Wang Huangsheng returns to the artists position, he struggles to find forces of thoughts, to change identity limited by painting actions with borrowing of medium, to mark an obvious position of de-painting. On the one hand, visual transformation expands the way of reading about artworks, on the other hand, it strengthens impact when works come into memory; while formal conversion of subject results to richness of a show and three-dimension effect, it also illustrates the uncertainty and future possibilities of creation, that is, an open expectation of unknown values. Suggestive uncertainty and openness is to maximize the presentation, thus finds room and flexible space for defamiliarization effect, additionally pushes the most desired answers back to individuals; when answers can be obtained from different entrances and exits, the exhibition returns back to its own presentation, provides just a view of reference, gets rid of suspicion of abetting, and makes the reading action in the front of works a sense of participation, so opens up the boundary between the artist, the artworks and viewers, realizes a boundless fact in action.
Concepts which support Wang Huangshengs experiments actually can be traced into the same origin with his reflection on reality and art itself, besides reluctant to keep the immobilized styles. Meditation and sensitivity upon contemporary cultural context will lead to methodological changes to old art forms and what our artists need is to reflect this thought and concept in a way defined to be art. Thus it provides me another clue to interpret his artistic creation.
The second phase is from the late 1990s to the early new century; Wang Huangsheng took charge of Guangdong Museum of Art. During this period, he devoted much of his energy and time to the development of Guangdong Museum of Art and had no much time to focus on the creation of large-scale works. Instead, he created a group of small works of flowers which was named as Leisure series later. This series of works are mostly small colorful works which reveal his efforts to approach abstractness, his more unrestraint using of ink and that his focus is the abstract relations of expression subject. The vases under Wang Huangshengs brush are related to the modern life. The unrestrained expression focuses on the exploration of Chinese painting elements such as brush, water and paper. The picture under Wang Huangshengs brush is scattered with dots and lines like falling flowers which advocate a free spirit.
Speaking of refined joy, the debate of the refined and the popular must be carefully studied. The refined means standards and norms in the ancient literature, so-called Refinement is Correctness in Prelude of Mao Poem. Its the reason for the rise and decline of emperors reign. Chapter of Honor and Disgrace of Xunzi said that Gentlemen are satisfied with the correct path. The so called gentlemen are the men who are correct and virtuous are called the refined. The ancients believed that refined men have profound joy which means only the refined men have profound joy and charm. And the refined gathering which were favored by the ancient Chinese scholars means the gathering in which scholars recite poetry and discuss knowledge. The word refined gathering originates from the famous Refined Gathering at West Garden in the history of Chinese culture. In the Northern Song Dynasty, Su Shi, Su Zhe, Huang Tingjian, Qin Guan, Li Gongli, Monk Yuantong and Taoist priest Chen Bixu gathered to write poems and articles, drink tea and seek rhymes at the West Garden in the mansion of Commandant Wang Shen who was the son-in-law of the emperor. Another well-known scholarly gathering is the refined gathering at Orchid Gathering recorded by Wang Xizhi of the Jin Dynasty in his Preface of Orchid Pavilion. At the beginning of late spring, a large number of talented people arrived. They played the drinking game, viewing the distant landscape and broadened their minds. The refinement of their words, deeds, poems and articles reached the peak of that time.
Wang Huangshengs recent works remind me of famous painter Shang Yangs important solo exhibition held in Tsinghua University Art Museum. Its theme is Diaries and Scripts which marks the importance of artists personal taste and constant reflection on individual disposition in contemporary art. In a sense, lines and colors in art works are a kind of trace in the process of painting. They are also the external expression of painters inner world. Trace of hand is trace of heart. The lines in Wang Huangshengs works seem to be organized in a disorderly way. They actually reflect not only the sensitivity of the painters heart on visual composition of picture, but also his current flowing of mood. This picture form which reflects the spiritual energy of subject actually has nothing to do with the poetic sense and refined joy of traditional scholars painting. The majority of them does not come from the literary tradition in paintings but from the current social reality and visual culture environment and possesses rich symbolic images.