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The reined desire of free expressions of people experienced an intensive let-out with the reform and opening-up of China in the late 1970s. The artists, as individuals, have started to release their complicated moods, which used to be strictly forbidden, about the period that just lapsed. We can see that, in this process, “time” has exerted different effects on society and art. The first two decades since the reform and opening-up were a new era for the country, during which China received increasing attentions from the world and its influence on international society kept expanding. In this period, paintings with strong narrative quality have experienced full development, and the dimension of time seemed to be eliminated in such narrative stories depicted in these paintings. In the mid and late part of the 1990s, the concept of “time” for the Chinese was re-defined along with the change of the social values. With the gradual recovery of the nation’s self-confidence, the culture and history reflected on individual artists begin to emerge, and “time”, as an essential form of perception has been approached widely by artists. Art in China is switching its focus from presenting instantaneous social realities to the exploration of constancy. This is the evidence showing the growth of cultural confidence and social development. In this sense, Wang Guangle has undoubtedly established himself as an example with special significance in the younger generation of China’s art scene.

 

Wang Guangle began to attract wide attention with his series painting Terrazzo, and Coffin Paint, his later series of painting about time, deepens the impression of his art on his audience. The restrained, fundamental practice of a non-narrative art in the Terrazzo series has developed into a calm meditation on life, something destined to fade away finally. This is not a gradual progression of his art from one phase to another, but rather, something abstracted and distilled from the experience of “living through”. Terrazzo can be regarded as a plain description of the material, cheap and commonly seen in everyday life, used widely as floor tiles for its solid and stable quality in China. It was picked by Wang Guangle as a subject to carry out a most basic drill of form that precisely reflects everyday life. In the Coffin Paint series, the artist becomes more assured in his drills of form and pushes his study even further. The time dimension of the “experience” has been continuously extended in the mentality about life and history behind his paintings, and the “drill” begins to assume more significance. The accidental dots protruding from the surface of the “Coffin Paint” are hints of the slow progression of the artist’s work of “experiencing”, through which Wang Guangle appreciates the meaning of “time” over and over with continuous, mechanical repetition of a same movement on one surface. And the status and aesthetics of such a process is perceived by the viewers on the finished “Coffin Paint”. There was a time when only the final result on canvas matters, however, today, the “process” of art is considered part of the form and an important element of an artwork. The form of time, culture and history is understood and revealed in the process of Wang Guangle’s partial covering of each layers of paint on his paintings. The work he shows this time in the solo show at Beijing Commune carries his uniformed process of form to a further extend.

 

In the development of China’s contemporary art, there is always a prominent clue: the exploration about the relationship between the individuals and the society. The art of the “New Generation” (the group of artists generally born in the 1960s and emerged in the the 1990s in China who broke away from the shackle of socialist tradition in content and form of art and started their own practice of painting by depicting the reality they experienced and felt as individuals), which is primarily the presentation of social reality, has actually realized the “social form” of art. The social reflections on individuals have been revealed in fragments of everyday life. For Wang Guangle and his peers who are even younger than the “new generation”, art with dramatized scenes no longer excite them. Instead, they keep moving on in the quest of the depth of time behind the fleeting scenes of drama. In his paintings, Wang Guangle turns the conceptual quest into an entity of time. For him, time is something even larger, a process that the periods with dramatized realities are finally compressed with no difference. Each period, covering its predecessors partially and to be covered partially by the next, leaves only a narrow edge in the history. In the laborious process of brushing layers and layers of paint onto one surface, Wang Guangle experiences the inner relationship between man and form. This experience is devoid of reason or any intellectual element. The increasing “lines” formed on the shrinking “surface” in the process are, in fact, the measurement of the time consumed, and history deposits and emerges from this process.

 

This is the second solo show of Wang Guangle at Beijing Commune. In the repetitive, uniformed process the artist conducts for form, the new aesthetics in his art practice seems to become more certain and absolute.