Dissociate (Extracted)
Wang Deren

Born in the 1960s, Wang Xiaosong can not get rid of the influence of that particular period which is characterized by both romanticism and critical realism. For his recent works that are infused with this romantic and critical-realist flavour, Wang is worthy of a great master of art. However, when I am asked to describe his artwork, there is certainly some difficulty to do so. One may see Wang’s works as either abstract or figurative, but all these views are inaccurate. I regard his paintings as having an abstract figurative style. Although my definition, when spoken or heard, sounds contradictory, it is a relatively accurate depiction of his works.

Take one of Wang Xiaosong’s works as an example. At first glance, it is a quasi-abstract work which consists of a group of Chinese characters. They are ideographs made stereo with oil paint. That is a general impression. If you observe the painting’s details, you will find certain parts of some Chinese characters that are similar to holes made by an eraser rubbed hard into paper. Then if you take a closer look, another layer is unveiled under these holes through which all that you behold are women’s reproductive organs. It is only until this moment of experience can people get some understanding of what Wang tries to convey in this work. All the abstract Chinese characters suddenly return to their original status. Then you understand — it is an artwork on women. It is thus that we can imagine these characters can turn into figurative objects, and these figurative objects can also turn into abstract characters. This is a cultural game requiring wisdom. After examining this work, I cannot help thinking of certain children’s behaviours. When they forget some characters, children would replace them with pictures. Their acts comply with the law of ideographs.

Herein lies Wang Xiaosong’s wisdom. His paintings contain two layers - a foreground and a background. Between them is where I find the dramatic visual effects of theatrical plays. Wang’s abstract and figurative expressions have reached such elaborateness that when appreciating the foreground and background of his paintings, I can fully feel a magical soporific effect. Such a magical effect can completely achieve mutual transition between the abstract and the figurative through which a mystical-abstract and magical-figurative atmosphere is created.

In this way, the predicament in the description of his paintings is effectively overcome, and at the same time a psychotherapy is provided, thus in semantics, giving rise to many magical senses: Can I say this is an figurative work? Yes. Meanwhile, I can also ask another question, “Isn’t this an figurative work?” No. it isn’t. By this means, I can have a perfectly enjoyable experience of a high degree of opposition and unity. The same can be done with the relationship between women’s reproductive organs and the characters. I can point at a woman’s reproductive organ in this painting, asking “Is this a character?” Yes. “Isn’t this a character?” No. Then the questions and answers can draw a perfect conclusion. Such a mechanism of aesthetics gives no final judgment as if running in a circular link without an end to be found. The predicament about Wang’s painting offers a high level of cultural and aesthetic interest, so he is able to induce the soporific effect through his painting.

Let’s look at another of Wang’s work. Get near to it and take a closer look, and you will find out the background is Tiananmen, with a flat, huge, white, 人 shaped pattern in front of it. If the work is viewed from a distance, the area in front of Tiananmen seems to be covered in fluffy snow. However, when you observe the details, you will discover the fluffy snow is actually thickly dotted human figures, small, floating in a boundless grey world. This artwork also leaves people in a kind of illusion and meditation, the so-called contradictory feelings. This can be regarded as a surrealist work, but with a strong critical consciousness. Both abstract artwork and critical realism seem totally unrelated, but they are combined perfectly in Wang’s paintings. Is there anyone who has ever thought of criticizing reality through the abstract? This idea is itself contradictory and seems impossible. However, Wang has easily accomplished that through his integration of both.

Thus, I can say Wang Xiaosong, influenced by romanticism and critical realism, has exerted the same influence on his works. His abilities to handle the binary opposition and the contradictory feelings aroused by his paintings can lead to illusions, on which people have to meditate. It is not difficult to see his artistic talent in intensifying contradictions while overcoming extreme romanticism, as well as his spirit of freedom and transcendence.