Studio visit: Wang Jianwei

The Beijing-based contemporary artist takes us on an exclusive tour of the space he describes as his ‘farm’ while discussing the challenge of ‘comprehending the incomprehensible’

‘A big part of my work is about continually questioning what art is,’ explains Wang Jianwei, the Beijing-based contemporary artist who is celebrated across the world for his experiments in new media, performance and installation art.

‘The “known” part is what we should challenge the most,’ he continues. ‘However, this is the hardest part for an artist to transcend… The hardest part is how you challenge the system while resisting the latent temptation of being recognised by others.’

As he takes us around his studio — a space he likens to ‘a farm, as all things here are alive and have a soul’ — the artist reveals more about his process. ‘My daily work could be over 10 hours,’ he explains. ‘When I start to work with my hands, with a wood or a metal, I call this process “contemplation”.’ He discusses the creation of a new piece, and explains the thinking behind Distance, a tower constructed from 407 abandoned cabinets.

‘The intertwining relationship between our daily lives and politics deeply intrigues me,’ Wang Jianwei reveals. ‘The challenge is how to comprehend something incomprehensible.’