A Yang Xinguang Solo Exhibition
Dates: 8 November – 21 December
Time: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 18:00
Opening: 8 November, 16:00-18:00
Place: Boers-Li Gallery, Caochangdi No. A-8
Boers-Li Gallery is pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Yang Xinguang solo show in our Gallery II space from 8 November to 21 December 2008. The show, entitled Consumed, is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Beijing and will expand the artist’s enquiries into form and materiality in a showcase of new sculptural works in wood and earth.
Yang Xinguang, a Beijing-based artist born in Hunan province in 1980, is a graduate of the sculpture academy of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Through his participation in a series of group exhibitions across China, he has earned a reputation as one of the strongest exemplars of a reemerging sculptural sense among the younger generations of artists in China. His work truly represents a break with dominant modes of production in today, much more suited to the current climate of recession and consolidation than to the false sheen of the recent bubble.
Occupying a unique role in the dialectic of contemporary art history, Yang Xinguang steps back from both descriptive work on everyday life and protest work in the realm of politics. Instead, his introspective works recall the discourses of both American minimalist sculpture in terms of their phenomenological relationship with the body of the spectator and arte povera in terms of their openness towards material and space.
Yang Xinguang’s works often involve wood, earth, and stone as their primary materials. Despite the process-oriented nature of their production, the emphasis remains on a final, finished product (although one differentiated from a unitary commodity); that is to say, all marks of production remain with the piece itself.
This exhibition will include primarily new works in the artist’s signature styles: stone formations, organic earthen shapes, wooden hooks, bored stones, shaved timbers, logs, and two-dimensional woodcarvings. We find, for example, a set of wooden hooks hung from the ceiling. Shiny and perfectly shaped, these forms evolved naturally along the innate structural lines of the chosen pieces of wood. Only after he had finished his whittling did Yang Xinguang realize that these hooks—intended to represent those used to hang meat—took on the texture of bones, implying a bizarre connection between life and death that evolved during the artist’s process of experimentation.
The primary themes interrogated in these pieces involve the language of form and the nature of materiality. Form, here, is a language. Like human language in its Saussurian conception, form in these works is never a simple tool. Although it can be used to mold the material object in a certain sense, it can also shape the scriptor through a process of mutual overdetermination. This form reflects the role of desire in the processing of any material, with the conscious act of the artist as the necessary supplement that reveals and destroys the cultural value attached to the object itself.
The artist emphasizes, however, that his process is largely one of researching material through form, or an exploration into the natural properties of the material. In this sense, these works are as much a pursuit of an “original” state of nature as they are an interrogation of the possibility of a transformation of this origin by the institutions of art. Just as Yang Xinguang exposes the cultural connotations and constructions of materiality by allowing his hand to be guided by certain “innate” properties of the material itself, the viewer is always aware that meaning is attached to material as the hand of the artist alters its shape.
It is curious, then, that the artist refuses to offer conceptual readings of his work before its final shape appears; indeed, Yang Xinguang is often himself unaware which in direction his material will take him. Calling into question the subjectivity and responsibility of the artist, this de-emphasized style of subjective production balances on the line between the social and the “primitive” (a marked space of solitude beyond the boundaries of self-conscious cultural reference).
In this way, it could be said that these sculptures have a tendency to leave space beside. Despite the fact that their construction relies heavily on the interplay of positive and negative space and often consist largely of empty air, an observer may note that this emptiness is in fact consumed by form—the language of materiality.
For more information on the coming exhibition, please contact us: