Wang Keping

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

798 Art District - Beijing - China
09/27/2013 - 01/05/2014

Born in the year of the founding of the People’s Republic, Wang Keping has borne witness through his art, to the contemporary world. Since he first started making wooden sculptures in 1978, exhibiting prominently with China’s first contemporary art movement, The Stars, in 1979, art for him has remained above all a means of seeking freedom and a way of voicing hope.

His early works were radical departures from sculpture as it had been practiced, at once formal innovations torqued from everyday materials and angry shouts to a society on the verge of transformation. A self-trained outsider first by circumstance, and later by choice, he has spent a lifetime searching out the figurative possibilities of a single material, drawing endlessly nuanced variations from a solitary medium. In Paris since 1984, he has honed a language of gestural figuration, wrought of physical labor, subject to natural processes, hovering just beyond the brink of abstraction.

A sculped forms, these objects conjure a world of references which they simultaneously reject: do not think of a Han dynasty burial figure, nor of Constantin Brancusi, nor the long and fraught dialogue between tribal and Modernism. This are archetypes – women, men, couples, birds, forms – that exist beyond language. Repeating and mutating over the decades, they become something else altogether: a testament to a distinctly and universally human will of spirit and acumen of hand.

This exhibition, Wang Keping’s first in his native Beijing, offers a glimpse into the figurative world of a man who has seen, and who continues to see.

Philip Tinari, director of the UCCA, Beijing.

Wang Keping, solo exhibition 2013 : UCCA Beijing
photo : Michel Lunardelli

exhibition's view