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沪申画廊 北京 Shanghai Gallery of Art (Beijing)
2015.01.11 Sun - 2015.03.20 Fri
Opening Exhibition
01/11/2015 17:00
The Temple Collection 23, Shatan Beijie, Dongcheng District, Beijing 中国北京东城区沙滩北街嵩祝院23号东景缘
Tel: 8621 - 6321 5757 Ext 8765
Opening Hours
Email: floria.xu@on-the-bund.com

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SGA & The Temple Collection | Gao Weigang | Return Journey | 1. 11, 2015
[Press Release]

A Site-specific Project by Artist Gao Weigang

Curators: Josef Ng, Jessie Xie

January 11 – March 20, 2015

OPENING RECEPTION: Sunday, January 11, 5 – 7 pm

The Temple Collection 23, Shatan Beijie, Dongcheng District, Beijing

Though wisdom is common, the many live as if they have wisdom of their own. The way upward and the way downward is one and the same.

—— Burnt Norton, T.S. Eliot

上 Up 3 不锈钢钛金 Stainless Steel Titanium   250(W) x 200(D) x 400(H) Ed 1:3 2014

Time is condensed in the burnt rose garden in Eliot’s poem: Yet the enchainment of past and future woven in the weakness of the changing body protects mankind from heaven and damnation. The poem begins with two epigraphs taken from the fragments of Heraclitus (c.535 – c.475 BCE), talking in a murmuring way, about time and salvation. Old as these topics are, they still confuse the modern souls, and even ignite increasing desires and disputes.

For this moment, let us just see everything as a paradox.

上 Up 5 不锈钢钛金 Stainless Steel Titanium  300 (H) x 200 (W) Ed 1:3 last edition 2014

Zhizhu Temple, similar to the rose garden, suffered a big fire but fortunately survived. To choose here as the site-specific venue, inevitably, would have to contend with the sense of time inherent to the space – the time of the past. Beneath the red doors and tiled walls is a period of history over six hundred years, within which there are both people’s reverence toward belief, and vestiges of the various social transformations. Damage, rupture and decay incurred during the process of each revolution become a moment of stillness in this ever-evolving world. After browsing through the chapters of the past, we would eventually, under the guidance of time, recur to the present moment. People used to wander in and around the temple, entrusting their hopes for the future lives, as the reality was too cruel to bear. Then for now, in the present moment, what reality we are faced with?

Each person who wants to reach the Temple will have to walk along a narrow pathway, at the end of which is the high fence of the Temple, warding off the reality. The world surrounded by the fence is extremely close to the center of power while truly far away from the residents living outside. Destiny and assets collectively lead to a huge disparity in people’s means of status, dividing the current reality into two seemingly contrasting divisions – undisguised and so true. The unbalanced phenomenon outside and inside the spaces constitutes the social context of this solo project. Artist Gao Weigang is unwilling to yield to the significance of history imposed onto the Temple but choosing to confront the present reality. This relational attitude to space, one that is responsive to context and not overly associated with objecthood, ensured continuity and stability.

Over a relatively short period of his career and time, a particular narrative has taken shape around Gao’s attachment to materials and their tendencies. The work of the artist distinguishes itself by rigorously cleaving the conceptual and the material. Stair is a favorite motif. Size and scale also matter to Gao, who does not shy away from the monumental. In other words, of what is specific to his chosen medium, its traditions and its history, the artworks he produces and the discourse they generate plugs into and gratefully enlivens a broader and critical dialogue about what intermingling of conceptual and material is and can be.

The illusion aroused by the appearance and the misjudgment made upon limited experience often leads us to a journey that will never come true. By taking advantage of the tendency indicated by the exhibited artworks, the meanings imposed onto the objects, plus the significant features of the temple venue, Gao manages to create riddles within the space of existence that is brimming with conflicts and contrasts. There are works grow out across the exterior, covering the roof and rooms, and the immediate entrance.

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In front of the highly unbalanced reality, the artist doesn’t appear to comply with the standpoint as an observer to express his care or criticism. Neither does he have the intention to judge right from wrong or to figure out the karma, not to mention altering the reality. The denotation of the metaphor is by no means to point out an approach to go forward. On the contrary, the artist creates false impressions, one after another, enticing people to go astray. Without turning a hair, he leaves us with the interrogations into the reality and ourselves.

Does the appearance we see worthy our believing and struggling for it? Who can we resort to while trapped by the present, and where is the way out on earth?

The “reality” we perceive in this project is subject to question. It is presented in a realistic but fragmented manner. As far as Gao is concerned, to make up a “reality” by fragments is a problematic vice. However, we are so easily to be convinced by proof hereby acquired and to clench to them as some kind of truth. Descend, at the gate to the monastery, consists of various geometries. The monumental shape props up the roof, radiating the splendor of wisdom. We were educated that everything in the world, from landscape to galaxy, from human beings to machines, could be portrayed through these standard geometrical solids. In the hope to rule the world according to our will, people invent these models to construct a simplified world that is easy to understand. A ridiculous fact is that in front of the real nature, the man-made world and its accessories all appear to be so feeble and precarious. It’s exactly like the “backbone” right in front of us, so easy to collapse.

When confronting with the disproportion, we always fuss about the gains and losses at the two ends of scales, but it seldom occurs to us where the leverage point is? We may be able to capture Gao’s contemplation from his reflected materials, an element constantly appearing in his oeuvre. It gives us, those who happen to pass by or stop for a while, the chance to confront ourselves and to review the journey we have conquered. This kind of introspection runs through this project, and in an understated way, remind us of their preciousness which is almost neglected. Return, as Gao’s first foray into sound installation, manages to regress the missing element of the current environment. Such a subtle and even unperceivable approach implies a return to the origin, a philosophical consolation initiated by Boethius (c.480- c.524 AD).

Time is irreversible. So is life. The ancient temple stands there, quiet and solemn. How should we make a return journey?

Artist Biography: 

An intensely versatile artist whose works employ a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation and performance, Gao Weigang evades categorization of his artworks into a particular genre. His language makes each piece both the apparatus and the product of experiment, transforming objects so they break through the audience’s natural and ideological perceptions of the material world. Gao’s creations are also personal: they are milestones in the artist’s quest of self-reflection and a constant re-examination of himself. Despite the many artistic forms and materials Gao Weigang adopts and the great aesthetic variations throughout his works, they all reflect his intention to challenge the viewer’s accustomed visual culture with a sense of humor and an overriding hint of skepticism. Whether it is painting, sculpture or installation, the artist manages to retain a strong sense of medium-specificity, prompting questions to the audiences to rethink about how accurate their common knowledge and perception is.

Born in Heilongjiang Province, China in 1976, Gao Weigang graduated from the Tianjing Academy of Fine Arts, majored in Oil painting. He currently lives and works in Beijing. Widely exhibiting across the Mainland China as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and New York City. His works have been collected by many art institutions and foundations with worldwide reputation such as The Burger Collection in Switzerland, The DSL Collection in Paris, France; Long Museum in Shanghai, China; White Rabbit Collection in Sydney, Australia; Yuz Museum in Jakarta, Indonesia; and Louis Vuitton Group in Hong Kong, etc. Gao Weigang was awarded winner of “Art Futures” in Art HK 2011 in recognition of his artistry and the originality of his work.

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