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Wang Guangle (b. 1976)
Coffin Paints 110409
signed in Chinese; titled in Chinese (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
146 x 146 cm. (57 1/2 x 57 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2011
Cheng Xin Dong Publishing House, Beijing 798 Impression, Beijing, China, February 2012 (illustrated, pp. 28 - 29).
Taiwan, Taipei, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Beijing 798 Impression, February 26 - March 1, 2012.

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

Lot Essay

Wang Guangle graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts Oil Painting Studio 1, Beijing, having been taught by Yang Feiyun. Wang is a significant figure in N12, an artist collective formed by graduates of CAFA. In his creative pursuit of spiritual detachment and emotional liberation, Wang Guangle has broken free from the limitations of Realism and liberated himself from the restraint of the 'object' with his minimalist-like mechanised painting lexicon.
From 2006, Wang Guangle has concentrated on his Coffin Paint series: inspired by a custom in his native Fujian Province in which the elderly, year after year, paint their own coffins until they eventually depart from this world. This prolonged ritualistic activity gave Wang Guangle cause to reflect on the meaning of time and life itself. His application of paint recalls the daily chants of Zen Buddhism, as he combines time and his collected thoughts into an oriental philosophy of life. Condensing his artistic creativity onto the surface of the painting, he embarks, like an ascetic monk, on a spiritual exploration. The process by which colour is applied to works in the Coffin Paint series, such as Coffin Paints 110409 (Lot 120), is complex. Having prepared the surface with a foundation coat, layer upon layer of polychrome pigments are then applied. Over time, a purely mono or dichromatic visual effect appears as the unique colours build up. The dilution and blending of pigments in Wang Guangle's schematic mode of expression echoes that of Sol LeWitt, the great master who, in the 1960s, combined concepts from minimalism and conceptual art. Both artists employ lines, colours, and patterns to give to the viewer an abstract work into which one's own experiences can be read.
The crossroad of giving and receiving, be it the artist's creative process or the enjoyment of the viewer, serves as a means by which the abstract painting can be understood. The title of this work, Coffin Paints 110409, underscores the concept of time. As the brush passes across the surface of the painting, the repeatedly daubed acrylic paints collect to reveal rich deep veins which resemble the rings of a tree. It is through the concept of 'measure' that the artist records the constancy of time. The acrylic, thin and quick to dry, is a pertinent vehicle through which to convey the passing of time. As the acrylic drips down the edges of the painting, extending to all four sides, it reveals a sense of uncertainty and hints at the impossibility that this work could be reproduced. Wang Guangle uses the physicality of the painting to give expression to the abstract nature of time; at the same time, he presents to the viewer the connection of rational thought and perceptions of life.

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