inscribed title, medium and size; signed in Chinese (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
180 x 160 cm. (70 7/8 x 63 in.)
Painted in 2009
Private Collection, Asia
Daxiang Art Space, Field, Taipei, Taiwan, 2009 (illustrated, p. 35)
Himalayas Art Museum, Shanghai, China, Fly Through the Troposphere: Memo of the New Generation Painting, 2011
(illustrated, p. 261)
Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, The Boundaries of Order, 2015 (illustrated, p. 237)
Taipei, Taiwan, Daxiang Art Space, Field, 2009.
Beijing, China, Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Fly Through the Troposphere: Memo of the New Generation Painting, 2011.
Beijing, China, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, The Boundaries of Order, 2015.

Lot Essay

"This is a story about time." – Wang Guangle

Wang Guangle’s work has always been characterized by a sense of tranquility and mystery. From his “Terrazzo Series” which documents the passage of time by faithfully rendering every-day objects to his “Coffin Paint Series” which borrows the funeral customs of his hometown and looks into temporality, to his latest “Untitled Series” which expands upon his previous series and explores the relationship between time and space, all of Wang’s works have been concentrating on the duration of time. Nevertheless, one will also notice Wang’s gradual stylistic development throughout his series paintings.

In 090917, Wang begins to paint with white from the edges of the canvas; between each layer of white, he adds in a small amount of burgundy as he gradually paints towards the center of the canvas. Overtime, the purplish colour becomes darker and more saturated which creates a tunnel-like effect and evokes a perspectival sense of depth. The dark center leads our eyes deep into the painting, while there seems to be a door at the end of the tunnel which blocks the spatial expansion within the pictorial space. Viewing the work from afar, viewers will be immersed and awed by the monumental scale of the painting as if we are standing in front of a door which leads to the unknown; closely examining the work, the visible layers of paints and brushstrokes turn into noticeable traces of the fleeting time.

During the Renaissance, artists regarded painting as a window on the world, in which one could represent a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional canvas. Yet Frank Stella’s Black Paintings created in the late 1950s challenge the notion by emphasizing the flatness of the canvas, which calls attention to the two-dimensionality of the pictorial plane. Wang’s Untitled Series certainly shares many similarities with Frank Stella’s works; both artists adopt an accurate, systematic and rational method of working and prioritise the process of making. However, Wang seeks to recreate spatial depth on the flat canvas through abstraction and to discuss time by demonstrating his process of painting. Wang once said: “Space is visible, yet time is not. When we are looking at the painting, we can only see space, but it reminds us of time. To emphasize time is to emphasize the metaphysical aspect of the painting, that is to say the imaginative feature of the work. Viewers are fully aware of the space they occupy, but it is difficult to experience time at the moment as it can only be perceived by looking at watches or juxtaposing two spaces. My emphasis on time highlights the invisible element of my art. As time goes by, I begin to realise that space is only a small part of time.”

In 090917 , Wang merely adjusts the brightness of the colour. Grading from white on the edges to pink and burgundy towards the centre, the work brings to mind the sublimity and solemnity of the monumental paintings in Mark Rothko’s Chapel . While Rothko’s black paintings are able to arouse sadness, Wang’s 090917 deliberately rejects any personal feelings, narratives or even the title of the work, so that time becomes the sole matter of significance. Indeed, the work visualizes the invisible time and becomes an evidence of the “time once passed by”.

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