Wang One Of China’s Top Contemporary Photographers And Conceptual Artists
Running through February 18, Wang Qingsong‘s new exhibition, “Happy New Year,” reflects the artist’s knack for subtle humor, large-scale installation, and wry cynicism. Occupying three spaces at Beijing’s Tang Contemporary Art, the exhibition also showcases Wang’s multidisciplinary approach to art, encompassing sculpture, installation and photography — the latter of which propelled Wang Qingsong to fame in the late 1990s. Filling the nearly 450-square-meter main gallery at Tang Contemporary Art, visitors are first greeted by 3,000 sickly sweet, colorful balloons, with which they are encouraged to interact. Giving the room a particularly over-the-top feel, decorations hung from the 12-foot ceiling celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Day and the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Making their way into the second room, visitors encounter a very different scene: a barbed-wire spider web festooned with boxes, bottles, stationery and assorted garbage. Placed in the corner is a second-hand wheelchair upon which guests can sit and reflect on the clash between the playfulness of the main hall and the bleakness of the second.
The transition from joyful to morose progresses fully by the third room, where three of Wang Qingsong’s large-scale photographic works — “Home” (2005), “Poisonous Spider” (2005) and “Goddess” (2011) — hang. “Home” takes visitors into a dilapidated, trash-filled house, Wang’s statement on rampant development and changing domestic norms in modern China. “Poisonous Spider” depicts the artist trapped on a massive wire spider web, surrounded by the detritus of daily life. “Goddess” puts guests face-to-face with the Statue of Liberty, surrounded by yawning bamboo scaffolds and donning a Mao suit, with chickens wandering nearby in an apparent wasteland.
The critical eye towards consumerism and modern society we see reflected in the works in Wang’s sardonically titled “Happy New Year” exhibition continue along the same lines as much of his recent work. As Wang Qingsong told Jing Daily last year, much of his recent output has been aimed not simply at consumption, which he considers an unavoidable part of modern life, but of exaggerated consumption and wastefulness, which he sees as detrimental to society as a whole. Said Wang:
My work is not really critical towards “China today,” but rather takes a skeptical attitude toward exaggerated consumption. A lot of things are not actually that good, but their worth is amplified by propaganda, and people believe that they must have these things in order to reflect their social identities. This kind of logic has caused a lot of exaggerated consumption and blind waste. Early on, my work reflected more on China’s national culture, and changes in the modern cultural context.
“Happy New Year” at Tang Contemporary Art
Through February 18, 2012
Gate No.2, 798 Factory
Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing