Apartment Block Life: Squatters
Neon, substructure: white paint on wood, 103 x 107 x 15 cm. Edition 2/7. Courtesy ALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN | BEIJING
Sculptor Wang Shugang, born in Beijing in 1960, lived for ten years in Germany's Ruhr region, where he came to know both freedom and loneliness. After returning to Beijing at age 40, he was confronted with the very opposite, and the artist harvests his forms from this ambivalence of cultural experience.
Over the past nine years, Wang has created several basic sculptural forms that apparently emerge from the tradition of European figuration of twentieth-century realism while also dealing with Buddhist iconography or the triviality of Chinese everyday culture: the sweeping monk, the Lama, the 'Seated One', the ball player. From this highly reduced repertoire in the colors red, white, and bronze, the artist develops a language that plays with the cultural difference resulting from the material, as well as questioning the canons of both the West and Far East alike.
The red of the Buddhist monks is on the one hand an industrially produced paint, that at the same time corresponds to the red of the Chinese Communist Party. The white in the form of neon light exaggerates the 'enlightened' Lama, while the artist also creates this motif (including the supporting columns) using white marble. In so doing, the artist initiates two things: the image and support present a united formulation, and the notion of the 'saint' in the reception of Buddhism in the West is caricatured. The repetition and lining up in a group creates 'brands' comparable to serially produced industrial products. In the height of the columns, the artist cites Egyptian as well as neoclassical forms of presentation, and questions the Western notion of the individual genius that has been so prominent since the Enlightenment.
Wang Shugang's serially created sculptures never appear alone - the artist installs series, couples, or circular arrangements - but despite the collective reference, each sculpture presents the idea of an isolated existence.
The exhibition CIRCLES shows eight different sculpture groups.