Pace London opens a solo exhibition of pioneering artist Wang Guangle
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Pace London opens a solo exhibition of pioneering artist Wang Guangle
Installation view.

LONDON.- Pace Gallery is presenting a solo exhibition of pioneering artist, Wang Guangle. On view 1 April – 4 May, Wang Guangle: Faded Colours showcases a suite of new paintings by one of China’s preeminent contemporary abstract painters.

For nearly two decades Wang Guangle has devoted his artistic practice to exploring the abstract nature of the language of art, and how the artist, as the protagonist of this ancient practice, uses it to deal with the internal and external world. Though trained in classical oil painting, Wang’s distinctive process-based paintings are driven by his intention to translate an abstract sense of time and death into a tangible experience. The artist’s process is rooted in repetition; his systematic layering of acrylic paint over canvas creates enigmatic colour gradations and textured surfaces. For Wang, the act of painting is a meditative, daily exercise akin to Eastern spiritual practices. His paintings are meticulously built-up layer by layer over days and months until he deems them finished, titling them after their date of completion. Through these works, Wang discursively challenges the old adage that ‘one cannot step into the same river twice’, commenting on the perception of repetition on a rational and cognitive level. This reflection informs his artistic approach.

Wang Guangle: Faded Colours, the artist’s second exhibition in London, features two styles of painting. Works such as 220123 and 220222 have a horizontal emphasis that recall specific spaces and moments in time: the blurring of mist and fog or the fall of dusk. In these works, Wang tapers the paintings from the sides, further exaggerating the downward fade of pigment and exposing the painting’s edge.

In works such as 220227 or 220225, Wang applies paint in the same even layers but moves gradually and evenly towards the centre until the rectangular form becomes a trapezoid, transforming the paintings into portals that belie their two-dimensionality. Through his idiosyncratic use of colour and form, Wang’s paintings create an illusionistic sense of depth that simultaneously recedes and protrudes from the wall. The seamless blending of opposing colours – pink and silver, red and brown – imbues these paintings with a vivid and engrossing visual power while also symbolising the merging of the immaterial and material, form and time.

Wang Guangle’s canvases are sites of contradiction. The precise, methodical application of paint creates a quasisculptural quality in the paintings, not quite two or three dimensional. Wang’s paintings simultaneously draw attention to the flatness of the picture plane and the canvas’s rich illusory capacity. Through his process, imagery and language of formalism, Wang’s work speaks at once to philosophical ideas of temporality and to the basic application of paint. It is in these liminal spaces between that Wang is most interested.

Wang Guangle (b. 1976, Songxi, Fujian Province, China), a pioneer of abstract and conceptual painting among his generation, studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he began exploring the potential of the painting surface as integral to his work. In 2003, he co-founded N12, a collective of twelve fellow graduates who began showing together as a means of securing exhibition space at a time when emerging Chinese art had yet to assert its place in the art market or critical discourse. The group came to represent a generation of diverse artists who developed their work two decades after the Cultural Revolution, unified by a break from formal representation toward individual expression. Wang quickly garnered critical praise for his process-based paintings, wherein the artist translates abstract qualities of the world—such as the passage of time—into paint, simultaneously referring to the materiality of the medium and the act of painting through abstraction and repetition. In April 2021, Wang Guangle opened his fourth solo exhibition at Beijing Commune titled Waves.

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