A white line bisects a space of intense blackness. Two curving lines – whose geometries differ slightly – sit in sublime misalignment balancing an all-consuming emptiness. The viewer is drawn in, and, as if standing on the edge of a great abyss, struggles against the vertiginous desire to fall into the deep black. The feeling is almost overwhelming... and then, there is the line. Simply drawn it confidently reasserts itself, drawing attention once again to the surface and pushing the viewer back from the brink. Still the nothingness perseveres as does the unnerving and unconscious desire to allow oneself be enveloped by it. In just one painting, and with a few brushstrokes, the artist Wang Jian has made manifest what written and spoken language has been unable to articulate: the universal struggle between the Void and the not-void.
Nothingness was not, the existent was not;
Darkness was hidden by darkness…
That which became was enveloped by the Void
The exhibition, curated by Adrian George, London-based writer, lecturer and Senior Curator with the British Government Art Collection, takes as its starting point a 4000-year-old Rig-Vedic poem known as the Hymn of Non-Eternity. Reflecting on Wang Jian’s extensive body of work and research material this exhibition brings together photography, works on paper and large-scale oil paintings to interrogate the origins of Wang Jian’s explorations in metaphysics, Chinese Maximalism (after Gao Minglu) and international minimalism.
Born 1972, Handan, Hebei Province. 2003 completed Plastic Arts Studio course at the Chinese Painting Department, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). Lives and works in Beijing.
As a young adult Wang Jian worked as a train driver while following a period of self-directed study – reading extensively on literature, art, history and Zen. In 1996 he moved to Beijing to pursue his art career. He has worked an editor, TV director, art director and designer and completed his studies at the influential China Central Academy of Fine Art in 2003. His work, both abstract and minimal, references his early exploration of Eastern philosophies and demonstrates in its maturity an sophistication, his growing interests in Western poetry and sociology.