Li Ming, Rendering the Mind, 2017, video still
If there is one artist apt to leave pundits chewing their pencils, it is Wang Jianwei. He is surely the first to have occupied a 2,500-square-meter exhibition hall— indeed any exhibition hall— with several thousand basketballs in the name of art. “He’s complicated,” remarked a curator on recent mention of his name; “Ah, yes,” a young painter replied, with unusual solemnity.
August 8, 2008, was a major day in world history. Coming at the end of a seven-year countdown, it marked the moment when Beijing revealed its ambitions and accomplishments to a watching world. Hours before the drums beat out the final ten seconds in the lead-up to the 8 p.m. opening of the Olympic Games, three men— one Chinese, one Japanese, one Korean, marched from a road just beside the airport expressway in Caochangdi, into a sprawling gallery space.
Song Dong first began working on his series of installations entitled “The Wisdom of the Poor” in 2005. One piece from this series, the large-scale installation Song Dong’s Parapavilion, is to be shown at the Venice Biennale this year. Apart from this upcoming show, none of the works from this series have previously been presented to the public, and, until recently, had been lying forgotten in Song’s Beijing studio in Changping.
Wang Xingwei’s innate disposition led him to an interest in the fragments of deeper spiritual content within the burgeoning new culture. He was not overly driven to external displays of individuality. He did for a time fancy high-end Western clothing, and once cut his hair to resemble an orange soccer ball, but for the most part he was not one to conform to popular trends. That he still wears hand-knit woolen long johns is widely known; Wang seeks his self-definition in the realms of intellect and spirit, not fashion.