Wang Shugang, Cao ní ma, 2012, Bronze, 150x110x60 cm
WEI GUAN (encircle + look)
For the third solo exhibition of Wang Shugang (*1960) at Alexander Ochs, the conceptual approach of the artist is brought to the center of attention through the series of works exhibited. With his smaller scale bronze cast figures of seemingly uniform serial portraits, Wang joins many Chinese artists of his generation concerned with the central theme surrounding the individual and society. Wang uses the play, often with ironic and sexualized references, to serve as an indicator for the social structure and social paradigm shift in his country.
Wang's neon letter installation gives insight into the subtlety with which he describes existing conditions and actively put these into question. The seventeen Chinese characters on the front wall of the gallery can be translated into: 'In this country, there are only things you cannot imagine - but nothing you cannot do!' Even if 'this country' is not named directly, the lettering alone makes the reference to China easily recognizable and remains untold enough to allow for the mental transfer.
The bronze sculpture 'Cao ní ma', is a llama-like animal with a naked rider which resembles representations of Christ's entry into Jerusalem more than a grand equestrian statue, and this not merely through its proportions. The work also directly refers to a similarly staged self-portrait by Ai Weiwei, in which he is sitting on a llama. The title of Wang's sculpture translates literally into 'Grass-Mud-Horse', however with almost the same pronunciation and written with different characters, it can translate to 'Fuck Your Mother'. This transcribed insult formula is well-known in China in regards to Internet censorship and its circumvention. The grin of both the animal and the man in his lascivious sitting position underlines the brazen mockery of and self-confident response to such restrictions.
On the yard in front of the gallery, eight squatting figures made of red plastic are taking part in a peculiar meeting: Facing each other in a circle, each participant is ultimately only looking at themselves and is being observed by the other individuals, who are ultimately not individuals at all. In this sense, the exhibition title, Wei Guan, which means to 'encircle' or 'look', refers to the thematic encirclement of the conditions in general and more particularly to the introspective look that the view on the social environment incorporates.