Relativism: A Flying Bird is Motionless
Source:chambersfineart.com Date: 2009-01-05 Size:
 Artwork Born in Sichuan in 1958, Wang Jianwei is widely recognized as one of the most innovative video and multi media artists working today. He was the first Chinese artist to be represented in Documenta in 1997 and was the official Chinese representative of China at the 2002 Sao Paolo Bie

 Artwork

Born in Sichuan in 1958, Wang Jianwei is widely recognized as one of the most innovative video and multi media artists working today. He was the first Chinese artist to be represented in Documenta in 1997 and was the official Chinese representative of China at the 2002 Sao Paolo Biennale.

Like many of his contemporaries, his education was interrupted during the Cultural Revolution. After graduating from the China Art Academy in Hangzhou in 1987, he was well known as a proponent of so-called "Scar Painting" and accepted as one of the most talented painters of his generation, but after 1990 his work changed radically.

Unlike many of his contemporaries who responded viscerally to the visual aspects of Western art while ignoring its deeper meanings, Wang Jianwei was more inclined to seek out its philosophical and theoretical underpinnings. As critic Jonathan Napack has characterized his development during this crucial period: "In a sense his personal development mirrored the larger direction of Chinese art, from Socialist realism to a rather simplistic humanism towards a sophisticated but very local form of conceptualism. In the most literal terms, Wang went from the easel to the laboratory, producing a series of works that claimed art as a form of experimental knowledge."

Building on the foundation of the conceptual works of the early 1990s, Wang began a series of video and multi media works that continue to this day. "Living Elsewhere" (1999) is an investigation into the fate of an abandoned luxury apartment building outside Chengdu that had been taken over by a group of landless peasants. One of his most haunting and demanding works, this contrasts with the theatrical flair of a multi media work such as "Ceremony," performed in Beijing, Paris and London in 2003. Described as a "rumination on historical memory and political necessity," the piece is based on an incident from the medieval novel "The Three Kingdoms."

For Wang Jianwei, each exhibition is an occasion to explore new territory and the present exhibition is no exception. A multi media presentation incorporating video, photography and installation, Relativism: A Flying Bird is Motionless will continue lines of investigation that have preoccupied his thinking for the last decade. While individual works have been seen in recent exhibitions including How Latitude Becomes Form: Art in a Global Age at the Walker Art Center and Between Past and Future at the International Center of Photography, New York, this will be the first opportunity for an American audience to experience Wang Jianwei's work in all its complexity.

[Editor] Zhang Shuo

    Artintern