Yang Xinguang: The Unknown Depth of the Woods

2017. 05. 19-07. 08

Beijing Commune is pleased to announce the opening of Yang Xinguang’s second solo exhibition “The Unknown Depth of the

Woods” at the gallery on May 19th, 2017. The exhibition will last through July 8th, 2017.

Yang Xinguang is adept at incorporating natural materials such as grass, wood, soil and stone in his work as medium—materials that are routinely endowed with an aura closely linked to the Chinse literati tradition. But Yang does not directly employ these exalted elements to invoke the notion of tradition or to immerse in it; on the contrary, Yang plays a contemporary role and alienates this tradition which has come to signify a standard body of sentiments, a parallel process for him to reconstruct the relation between the self and the word.

Besides the use of natural materials throughout the works, another remarkable feature of the exhibition is its extensive use of industrial materials, including aluminum-plastic panels, barbed wire, stainless steel, and automotive rubber inner tubes, among others. These materials have frequented Yang’s works in recent years, and here conjure a magical tension with the natural materials in form. In the group of works located on the left side of the gallery, the natural and the artificial play against each other: they seem to be imitating nature imageries in the literati tradition, while at the same time ridiculing the sublimity and despair that are often implicit in such constructed views of “nature.” In Fox-tails, a fragment of nature is freed from being the object of poetic expressions and instead become a living subject with feelings and emotions. Composed solely of glass treated with different glassforming techniques, Glass Intestine is a work where “broken intestines” — a literary metaphor for deep grief — adopt a figurative form to appear amidst a mountain range as often seen in traditional ink paintings. Meanwhile in Green, a work composed of stainless steel, the pattern of a welter of smog are in fact the result of the damage deliberately imposed with an industrial mixer’s grinding wheel. Meanwhile in the middle of the gallery, Black-White Twigs and The Hollow Cube stand in a more rational, architectural posture, despite the mix of real and artificial twigs of varying sizes inserted into the structures. In Black, Power Twisters and Rubber Wheels and Twigs, three installations on the right side of the gallery, the invocation of “nature” becomes increasingly opaque, giving way to the body as the representation of “self”: this evident in the figure of the artist in a fight with his shadow, the twigs wrapped in black rubber on the floor calling to mind distorted, twitching limbs, and in the allusion of a body between severed power twisters. This figure of the self, suspended beyond intelligible meanings by the artist, counters the exhibition title with riddle and bewilderment.

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