34 Exhibition View of Wang Shaojun Art Exhibition

“My eyes are not anxious when I confront the world, as the external things around me and my inner part are two different worlds. As for external things, I believe there are always noisy changes, while my heart always sleeps in the hot birthplace of art, which enables me to enjoy being peaceful, indifferent to fame and wealth to all eternity. ”

—Wang Shaojun

“Mentality: Wang Shaojun Art Exhibition” was unveiled at CAFA Art Museum on December 27, 2015, the exhibition was presided over by the President of CAFA Fan Di’an, with Song Xie and Wang Huangsheng as curators. It is divided into three sections including “Thing”, “Character” and “Fun”, to comprehensively showcase the art appearance and attitude of Wang Shaojun.

“As Wang Shaojun has developed his art since the beginning of the reform and openingup period, his confession is from the bottom of his heart, this allows people to know about his position on art, especially his mentality in regards art. In the coordinates between the outside world and self mentality, between the cultural situation and self-pursuit, these pairs remain both contradictory while also providing creative tension, Wang Shaojun handles the relationship well between “changes” and “ego”. Not only can it be attributed to academic conditions which are relatively closed but calm in the art academy, but it can also be concluded from his conscious realization in the nature of art. If his works were collocated for appreciation, various forms, thoughts and purposes can be found, though the exploring spirit he persists remains distinct. His refinements of language in art keep everything well joined up and heading toward the internal, so that the constantly deepened thoughts and practices lead to his personalized art style, speaking exactly they merge into his artistic character,” commented by Fan Di’an, President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Deputy Chairman of Chinese Artists Association.

Director of the National Art Museum of China Wu Weishan thought that Wang Shaojun’s endeavors have conveyed art pursuits of middle-age artists from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Wang has made his breakthrough on the basis of traditions since he was strict with his art creations, and he was also courageous to explore and deny himself.

Prof. Sui Jianguo addressed the opening ceremony on behalf of the CAFA Academic Committee and China Sculpture Academy and he believed that Wang Shaojun’s explorations represented the direction of Chinese sculptural development over the past ten years, thus he took a new step forward on the basis of realism sculptures.

“One’s identity can be changed but there is something remains unchangeable just as his art pursuit,” Ma Lu, Dean of CAFA Plastic Arts School, expressed in his speech. He thought this generation of artists graduated from CAFA shared a feature that they sincerely took paintings and sculptures as their way to convey their feelings and ideals.

Lv Pinchang spoke on behalf of CAFA Sculpture School and the Sculpture Art Committee of the Chinese Artists’ Association and he thought that Wang Shaojun has his unique thinking to confront with the developing Oriental and Western cultures, though he never catered to fashionable trends, he managed to find his location and academic direction through his explorations.

Wang Shaojun talked about his feelings at the opening ceremony, “Adequate self-examination and retrospection, makes me gradually believe that people can be honest between the subjective and objective awareness miraculously transformed from spiritual matters. Meanwhile, such miraculous transformations can unexpectedly produce unutterable brilliance! This glory just hides in the ordinary and rustic images of my works. It is conveyed to the audience through my language expression. Based on this, sculptures and paintings with strongly personalized features have been created. Whether in sculptures or in paintings, I have tried to throw in rich humanities, especially with the recognition and expression in the metaphysical characteristics of human thinking, I have cast a strange color in my works, I appreciate and cherish this color! I think the value of these art works is not only reflected in the visual aesthetics, but it is also embodied in the role that it plays in the meaningful creation which enables the viewer to fall into deep meditation.”

Thing
The name of “Thing” marks that the artist is attaching importance to and sensitivity to the regional cultural identity: he is a typical northerner, born in Tianjin and he grew up in Beijing, so he has a special liking for northern culture. This section concentrates on the presentation of the sculptures in the form of realism created by Wang Shaojun before and after the 1990s, giving priority to individual portraits, involving the statues of ancient and modern Chinese and foreign cultural celebrities, as well as the status of all social strata. Cultural celebrities’ statues series was created in the early reform and opening up, the artist mediated on the national and personal historical opportunities and ideological changes, the black and deep expression in the eyes of celebrities is a metaphor which is continuously reflected on by the artist. It echoes the presentation of easel paintings including the watercolors depicting local conditions and customs of Xinjiang as sketched by the artist during the period of his support for Xinjiang from 2011 to 2013; the excerpts of essays about realistic paintings, figurative sculptures, art and reality, etc., written by Wang Shaojun, are alternately presented in between the two art forms, as the presentation of the linguistic work on art thoughts and the creative process of the artist.

This section can be treated as a preface to the exhibition, to present the historical context and changing trajectory of Wang Shaojun’s artistic creation though it can also could be regarded as the tail piece that renders the conclusion after the artist looks back to the past from the present perspective, and focuses on the retrospective while paying attention to current society.

Character
Until now “Character” was originally the name of opera actors with unique skills, it generally refers to outstanding people from all walks of life. This part is a mental diary of watercolors by Wang Shaojun during the period of his support for Xinjiang from 2011 to 2013, and the large and medium-sized sculptures arecreated from these materials. At the same time, it alternately presents the artist’s broad sketches with multi-dimensional perspectives such as life, art, culture, history, reality.
This part presents the new works by Wang Shaojun and also the climax of the exhibition, to intensively present the art thoughts and creative state of the artist, to showcase a special life experience and creative process. These works reveal the artist’s thoughts on the meaning of life and being a man. During a life journey, regardless of whether it is active or passive, or the experience and toughening of the body or soul, it will eventually be transformed into inner spiritual power.

Fun
This section focuses on the presentation of the entertaining works created by the artist over the years, revealing the most secluded and private part of the artist’s life and experience. They are collectively on display in order to respond to people’s bias for collecting including jade carvings or nuclear carvings retained for appreciation over the years. They seem to be traditional, but are not the memory and reshaping of tradition, and they come out of his love of tradition and his instinct, the instinct of life and artistic impulse. In Wang Shaojun’s view, the traditional collectors love things that represent spiritual orientation of the devoted love for one thing, while such spiritual orientation refers to “the noble, moral and accomplished person whose inside equals outside” in Chinese classical culture, it is a requirement and regulation for oneself, so there is the so-called “The noble, moral and accomplished person who will never take jade out without a reason”, “The wise find pleasure in water, the virtuous find pleasure in hills.”
These works are created in the form of traditional collectables, with a connection and similarity to traditional works in the form, but they are not collectables, but the original artistic creation, the reason why they are presented in the form of traditional collectables is that it aims to convey the “mentality” of the artist. This “mentality” can be called the “new literati mentality”, the “mentality” of “new literati mentality”, revealing that the artist absorbs the traditional Chinese culture, penetrating into the depth of the heart and soul, swallowing and vomiting freedom, nature and the natural elements of breathing, thus removing labels and symbols.

The exhibition continues to 18th February, 2016.

Text by Yu Ya, Photo by Yang Yanyuan/CAFA ART INFO

Translated by Sue, Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

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