The largest art organization in West Japan, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is designed by world-famed architect Tadao Ando, and led by director Yutaka Mino, who is not only dedicated to lifelong research on China's Cizhou kiln, but also highly conversant with Chinese culture, with a broad, diverse perspective on global contemporary art. In a space specially designed by Keisuke Toyoda of Noiz Architects, who once apprenticed with Tadao Ando, the Hyogo Museum presents Out of the Mountains, a large-scale retrospective of Chinese artist Wang Huaiqing in late 2015.
This retrospective is another look back on Wang's artistic journey since his solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum (2010) and Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2012). The exhibition comprises signature pieces from the past 60 years, following the creative threads that weave through Wang’s work in two- and three-dimensionality, and forming a picture of spirit, sentiment, and aesthetics which parallels his fluid art practice.
A constant contemplation on his upbringing and native culture lies in the core of Wang’s art practice. From his early works such as Houses (1987), which derives from the Shaoxing architecture style prevalent in Zhejiang Province, to Head of the Household (2000), which draws inspiration from the Ming-dynasty furniture, until recently The Maze (2013), the artist segues between form and formlessness, building a lucid and veracious interpretation of traditional culture and its rebirth against a contemporary backdrop. His large installation piece Out of the Mountains (2012) consists of six plane black blocks, tiered and stacked to form the mountain in his mind’s eye, with a trail of wood blocks he hacked off extending away from the wall, combining and transforming two- and three-dimensionality into a path of spirituality. When it comes to his installation work, “bending” and “stacking,” instead of “sculpting” and “molding,” are Wang’s usual methods, perhaps due to a desire to explore the poetic nature of artistic creation.
His latest series Secrets of the Secret (2015) stands as a reflection on personal history and memory, laying a path that leads to spiritual innocence. The series of paintings exudes an overarching sense of self-discipline, self-reflection, and self-consciousness that is not only unbound by the East-West dialogue, but also breaks shackles of figurativism and abstractism. Just as director Mino once states, “[Wang Huaiqing] struck me as a warrior who for 70 long years has been engaging with his own paintings, fighting some tough battles, and at the same time, as a kind man with an air of serenity and a calming warmth.”
This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to dissect Wang’s distinctive aesthetics, while unveiling the individual dialogue between the artist and life, where the creation of art transcends disciplinarity and substantiality, allowing a complete emancipation from conventionality and formalism.