One large-scale canvas that was covered only in colored pencil underpainting took up an entire wall of Tang Contemporary’s booth at The Armory Show. The canvas was surrounded by flying flecks of color, the same colors that should be on the painting instead of around it. It was just a simple landscape scene, a valley surrounded by green hills that led the eye off into the distance, but spreading the paint everywhere keeps you inside the booth instead of letting you escape into the scene like typical paintings intend.
A scattered, abstract way of interpreting absence versus presence, the piece is titled “A painting-Landscape,” and was created by contemporary Chinese artist Wang Yuyang in 2010.
The piece mimics the Dr. Suessian notion of smacking color right off of the objects they belong to – you can almost see the artist finishing the landscape, hating it, and then KERSPLAT! He slams the canvas against the wall and paints flies everywhere. Of course, the canvas can’t be left completely empty since then there would be no correlation between the colors and what they used to represent, so the pale outlines and colors remain within the 85 x 55 cm rectangle.
There’s a connection between past and present, what used to be and what is now, all compared to what should be. Societal standards are overrated.
A miniature version of what the painting was intended to look like stood beside it, allowing viewers to compare color with the lack of it, although it’s hard to tell if this painting was ever really completed or just filled in with computers. Similar to one of those cube-scaling projects each art class has on its curriculum, the miniature version lets your eyes fill in the appropriate emptinesses of its older brother scene whose paint has flown the coop.
If you look close, you can see that all the little flecks of paint aren’t just oil and water, they have a plasticity to them that makes them more substantial than if they’d just been merged and flowed across a landscape scene. Each individual shade of green, yellow, gray, white, blue and black stands independently – defiantly almost, refusing to become part of the whole and wanting its own space on the wall to be noticed by passing viewers.
Tiny colored flecks even fall on the floor beneath the painting, bringing this contemporary art piece all the way to your feet.
Wang Yuyang is a 34-year-old contemporary Chinese artist whose work deals with technology and our relationship to it, along with the aesthetics of brokenness and pilings of material waste.
“I like the traditional Chinese philosophy because it talks about the relationship between 1 and 0, on and off, black and white, something and nothing,” Yuyang explained, “My works explore this connection.” He is also particularly interested in exploring what he calls “the zero state” – an emptiness filled with nothing but silence and stillness.
For more of Wang Yuyang’s work, see his bio pages from the galleries who represent him, White Rabbit and Boers-Li.