“Thought forms the greatness of man. Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed.”
– French philosopher Pascal
At 15:00 on October 20, 2017, Wang Shaojun’s solo exhibition “It’s Me” opened at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, and it is the third venue following the shows at Taoxichuan Art Museum in Jingdezhen and the Meilun Art Museum in Changsha.
The Modesty “Jue Er” is as Warm & Humid as Jade
Wang Shaojun’s solo exhibition “It’s Me” features more than 300 works, including sculptures, jade, porcelain, seals, watercolors, and sketches, Wang Shaojun’s iconic character “Jue Er” runs through the whole exhibition, the bald man “Jue Er” dresses in either a green shirt, or a Chinese tunic suit, sometimes he is refined and elegant, enjoying some interesting things, and sometimes he leans his head on his hand and frowns, falling into meditation, sometimes he is agile & strong, full of energy … it can’t help the audience to guess that “Jue Er” is the visual image of the heart of the artist Wang Shaojun.
In 2006, the bald man named “Jue Er” was born into the hands of Wang Shaojun. Wang took a temporary post in Xinjiang from 2011 to 2014, where the fresh cultural types and life experiences inspired the artist towards profound thoughts. For the knowledge of the real me, and the thought of the relationships between “me” and society, nature and people, it made the appearances of Wang Shaojun’s works diverse and rich, “Jue Er” appears in both the sculptures, watercolors, and the stationery of traditional Chinese painting & calligraphy, such as jade, seals and so on.
As Yue Jieqiong, the exhibition curator and Director of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Co-Innovation Center for Art Creation and Research, said that, “(Jue Er) was beyond his time, performing like the state of the ancient Chinese gentleman who was as warm & humid as jade. Wang Shaojun is also a modest gentleman, and it was a saying in ancient China that ‘Any gentleman should wear jade, which symbolized the virtues of the gentleman, such as benevolence, wisdom, justice, loyalty, faith, etc.,’ Wang loves jade, and his character is similar to jade, with a gentle appearance & tough innermost being, he is brilliant & restrained, in a low key. (Wang Shaojun’s) work is a presentation of spiritual vision, with a seemingly relaxed screen to imply a questioning and response to life, containing the refined feelings and profound thought of the artist.”
Everyone is “Jue Er”
“Jue Er” is both “me”, and not “me”, which can be considered as both an individual, and many beings, while we have multiple interpretations of this transcendental image.
Pang Maokun addressed the opening ceremony and said that: “Wang Shaojun is an artist who is concerned with society and reality, expressing himself, “his work” is an expression of real ego, true soul, sincere and true life.” The artist combines the traditional Chinese literati spirit with the Western model system, starting from the reflection on self, to examine and inquire of the true mind, and then shapes and confirms an “actual me”, to express the spiritual world of the actual me, also conveying my true view of the world. It can be said that, “Jue Er” is the result of Wang Shaojun’s introspection, while the exhibition of “It’s Me” is research of Wang Shaojun’s artistic career and his life.
The relationship between society and “me”, and the relationship between people and “me” are also the philosophical connotations of Wang Shaojun’s works. In the rapid development of Chinese society, the lack of both the public self-awareness and the loss of actual me leads to a large number of social problems. In the works by Wang Shaojun, there are a variety of styles of the image of “Jue Er”, like people playing different roles in society, facing a variety of social problems, and the audience can find his/her shadow, “Jue Er” is both the artist and any being.
The spectator sees the spirit of the work through “the eyes of others”, namely deep at heart, thus they are able to reflect on and inquire about their own soul, to be a real me; the art image of “Jue Er” becomes Wang Shaojun’s way & method, through this image to awaken people for a spiritual exchange in the era of science & technology, to establish a warm friendship that is full of the glory of humanity and maintaining the enthusiasm for life.
Inquiry of the Heart: “It’s Me”
“‘Jue Er’ is a form and means for Wang Shaojun to realize the artistic value, while ‘Jue Er’ walks through many dimensions of history, culture and reality, conveying the artistic energy, thinking of some current problems while trying to offer the possibility of a solution. The creation and exhibition of the artist does not only finish a batch of works and an exhibition, but also hopes through the works and exhibition to finish a dialogue and exchange, transmitting energy.”
Taking “Jue Er” as the blueprint for the creation of a series of works, there is a relaxed side, which also contains an allegorical metaphor, which is intriguing. Whether it is a sculptural work or a work on paper each creation by Wang Shaojun attracts the spectator to use “the other person’s vision” to know another “me”, namely “actual me”, hidden in the work, and this “actual me” prompts the artist Wang Shaojun, and also reminds the spectator to find the “self” and “actual self”, to be the true me.
And the reason why “I” am able to exist is because people can realize the concept of “I”. It is a grand philosophical proposition, “man is a thinking reed”, the knowledge of “I” is the greatest thing for people. Only when people have the knowledge of “I”, can they inquire everything of the world, to know the actual self, to become the actual self, while Wang Shaojun’s works and exhibitions have taken this great step.
At 16:30 on the opening day, an academic symposium related to the exhibition was held in the art museum. It was hosted by He Guiyan, invited Wang Shaojun, Wang Lin, Pang Maokun, Jiao Xingtao, Yue Jieqiong, Wang Chunchen, Shen Xiaonan, Zeng Yue, Tang Yong, Zou Jianlin, Yin Dan, Dong Hongxia, Jin Shan, Cao Qinghui and Ge Yujun to attend the symposium, and together they had a discussion on the artist and his works, as well as the sculptural creative methods, language forms, etc.
About the Exhibition
Title: It’s Me – Wang Shaojun Art Exhibition (Tour Exhibition · Chongqing)
Duration: October 29 to November 26, 2017
Venue: Art Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
Sponsored by: Central Academy of Fine Arts, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
Co-organizers: Central Academy of Fine Arts Co-Innovation Center for Art Creation and Research on Silk Road, Jingdezhen Towyi Cultural Development Co., Ltd., Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House
Undertaker: Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
Academic Director: Fan Di’an
Curator: Yue Jieqiong
Photo and text by Zhong Yuwei, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO