Wang Shugang, Dog, 2012, 96x110x25cm, Bronze and Mixed Media, 3 editions
For this exhibition of Wang Shugang (*1960) at Alexander Ochs, the conceptual approach of the artist is brought to the center of attention through the series of works exhibited. With his smaller scale bronze cast figures of seemingly uniform serial portraits, Wang joins many Chinese artists of his generation concerned with the central theme surrounding the individual and society. Wang uses the play, often with ironic and sexualized references, to serve as an indicator for the social structure and social paradigm shift in his country.
Wang's neon letter installation gives insight into the subtlety with which he describes existing conditions and actively put these into question. The seventeen Chinese characters can be translated into: 'In this country, there are only things you cannot imagine - but nothing you cannot do!' Even if 'this country' is not named directly, the lettering alone makes the reference to China easily recognizable and remains untold enough to allow for the mental transfer.
The facial features of the dog display an expression of submissive innocence that through its exaggeration could cause skepticism at first - this animal seems to be all too human. Around the neck of the sculpture, three neon characters suggest that this dog does not bite humans. This indication does not alleviate the distrust that is triggered by the mannerism of the dog. Dog raises questions: Who is subordinate to who, how threats are veiled on the outside and how to confront this situation - questions, that are relevant beyond the situation in China.
The bronze sculpture Cao Ní Ma, is a llama-like animal with a naked rider which resembles representations of Christ's entry into Jerusalem more than a grand equestrian statue, and this not merely through its proportions. The title of the sculpture translates literally into 'Grass-Mud-Horse', however with almost the same pronunciation and written with different characters, it can translate to 'Fuck Your Mother'. This transcribed insult formula is well-known in China in regards to Internet censorship and its circumvention. The grin of both the animal and the man in his lascivious sitting position underlines the brazen mockery of and self-confident response to such restrictions.
The exhibition title, Wei Guan, which means to 'encircle' or 'look', refers to the thematic encirclement of the conditions in general and more particularly to the introspective look that the view on the social environment incorporates.