Wang Yigang: Recent works

8 November - 21 December 2018

Mark Borghi is pleased to present a solo exhibition, featuring fourteen paintings by the Chinese Abstract Expressionist artist, Wang Yigang.


 Born in 1961 in Qiqihar, China, Wang Yigang is one of the first generation of Chinese artists influenced by western art. 


In the 1970s and 80s, China started to build diplomatic relations with the U.S. and many other western countries. A younger, artistically driven generation of Chinese artists had suddenly been exposed to western philosophy, art, and music.  It was during this particularly flourishing period that Wang received his formal art education at the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts and graduated with a degree in oil painting in 1986.


Luxun Academy of Fine Arts was first established in 1938 with a clear goal, to cultivate Chinese artists who could paint both politically correct and highly skilled works. However, during the late 1970s and early 80s, artists and artistic institutes turned its back to ideological influence and sought out Cubism, Abstract Art, Expressionism, and Pop Art as their new sources of inspiration.


Wang participated in the seminal group show “National Art Exhibition of the Young Artists” at The National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 1985, the same year that Robert Rauschenberg was exhibited for the first time in China. 


For Wang, to create abstract oil paintings is to express freely and to prove his very own existence. In other words, abstract art is a lifestyle and a way of thinking. Its spirit in individual expression of personal experience and existence, according to Wang, is not just a visual language and style, but also a culture that exerts great influence on post-Mao Chinese artists, including himself.


Wang categorizes his three decades of painting into four main phases. His first attempt on abstract painting during the 1990s primarily absorbed the visual language of American Abstract Expressionism, which can be demonstrated by ABSTRACT N19, the only painting from the 1990s in this exhibition. Created with a vibrant palette, ABSTRACT N19 emphasizes the tension and freedom that one would seem within the seemingly chaos. Some of the brushworks in black and red also have a graffiti flair, which led to his second phase that demonstrates influence from Pop Art. Wang’s “Qianjiang” series in early 2000s translates a traditional Chinese ink wash technique into oil painting, displaying landscape motifs imbedded in thick and versatile oil brush works. As demonstrated by LANDSCAPE Y22, 2014, works from this series are able to display a unique tension between the highly textured oil painting surface in the lower portion and the almost atmospheric poetic “mountain scene” carried out with traditional Chinese ink wash technique. 


The majority of paintings in this exhibition come from Wang’s most recent practices. He calls these works “conceptual abstraction,” as they are the products of his “subconscious creative process.“ His emphasis on a spiritual spontaneity that almost “announces knowledge and culture,” captures the artist’s force of creativity and personal will power.


The artist currently lives in Shenyang, China, and teaches at the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts.