A delicate haze of diagonal brushstrokes draws a thin veil between the viewer and the newscaster depicted in Wang Guangle’s News no. 1, recalling the black and white static that flickers across the old television screens. The details of the image cannot be clearly discerned, but the subject is clear: a reporter dressed smartly in suit and tie, frozen mid-speech in the middle of a broadcast, his identity obscured and rendered indistinguishable.
The methodical, detail-oriented process used to create this image is characteristic of Wang’s early works. The artist grew up in a small town in Fujian where he studied sketching and traditional Chinese painting, before enrolling in the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. There he joined the oil painting department, but frustrated by repetitive and restrictive classes, he began spending afternoons sketching and painting subjects of his own choosing. It was during this period before his graduation in 2000 that he developed a consummate interest in the painting process as a means of capturing time.
This work, painted the year after Wang’s graduation from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, clearly showcases the evolution of his painting style away from realism and towards a more profound style of abstraction. Unlike many of his classmates and colleagues, Wang is uninterested in examining contemporary reality. “There is so much focus on the development of our country, the changes in society, the impact of history… My work isn’t a reaction against this fast pace of change, but it reflects my personal relationship with time.” By highlighting the durational and labour-intensive processes required to produce each work, Wang emphasizes the significance of time as a key element in his artistic process.
Much like his later Terrazzo and Coffin Paint Series, News no. 1 showcases Wang’s consummate skill as a painter, while displaying his preoccupation with memory and chronology. News broadcasts may be associated with accuracy and timeliness, but the moment captured here is imperfect and a relic of the past, granted immortality by the painstaking labor of the artist’s hand.