Pace London presents Wang Guangle

Wang Guangle by Zhang Fanglei


Running until 16 April 2016, Pace London presents Yellow, the first solo exhibition of work by the very talented abstract painter Wang Guangle in Europe.

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 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 Mandarin, Yellow is both a colloquial reference to pornography and to the Imperial colour.

The exhibition also showcases some of the artist’s iconic 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.

“China has been struggling to be modernized for the past century; from to be westernized till to realize that the nation has to resolve its tradition, and this progress is far from ending. The concept of the “Coffin Paint” series is based on how I modernize a vanished burial tradition. A person’s attitude when making the determinate decision to face its own and lone death, and be able to undertake the uniqueness and individuality of his/her own, thus to enter to a real state of living. The meaning of time is an attitude that connect one’s future and past that make one consistent. I need to use a never-before form to describe the thoughts. If I used any existing forms, it would attach an existing meaning in some kind.” Wang Guangle said, ahead of his exhibition.

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. The result is mesmerizing.




Images: Copyright Wang Guangle, Courtesy Pace London