"TO ME, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FOLLOWING AND BREAKING RULES IS NOT SO GREAT. IT IS FINE AS LONG AS IT IS DONE WITH SINCERITY. I DO NOT PAINT FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVICING SOMEONE SUPERIOR. I PAINT WHAT CONCERNS ME HERE AND NOW" – WANG XINGWEI
Wang Xingwei rejects elitism in art. Since the mid 1990s, he started appropriating classic works from art history and experimented with them in terms of concept, style, and format on a massive scale. After 2000, the visual resources from which he drew inspiration broadened considerably. The couple in Untitled (Small Rowboat) (Lot 161) made repeated appearance in his works during this period. They became regular characters who frolicked in a drama staged by Wang Xingwei. The character models were borrowed from popular magazines from China during the 1980s – in order to fill blank pages, publishers often inserted random illustrations. Wang Xingwei appropriated these canned comic book characters, and he further reduced, exaggerated, and distorted their modelling. At first glance, Untitled (Small Rowboat) looks like romantic scene, but the male character is eerily positioned outside of the boat. Engrossed in playing his part seriously, he does not seem to be aware of the situation. Whimsical and absurd scenes highlight Wang Xingwei's unique visual perception and wit. In this age of image overload, he uses irrational imageries to awaken the desensitised viewers. His intentional contradictions compel the viewers to examine the nature of painting.