Imagine coloring in square meters of patterns with a regular pen you write with. A new exhibition at the 1933 complex showcases the work of a self-taught artist Li Wenguang, and that is how he creates art. The title of the exhibition, ZAO, is a Chinese word meaning to chisel and carve.
In the well-lit space, canvases show life-sized geometric patterns similar to those on floor tiles. One sculpture, with partially carved out floor tiles, lays on the floor of the second room. Some of Li’s older works made with paper and tea stains also line the walls.
Though the tile patterns presented appear repetitive, each unit of the compass-rose design varies ever so slightly from the others. Up close, one can see a woven pattern on colored areas — though Li did not use fabric in these pieces. He drew and colored each piece with pens on traditional Chinese paper, mounted it on a canvas, and gave it a glossy surface with resin.
Li Wenguang doesn’t say anything in particular with his art, which makes it hard to analyze his works on a deeper level. However, this exhibition is impactful with its original visual depictions. The gallery representative explains that many graduates of Chinese art academies are strongly influenced by their teachers — if she visits a graduation show, she can identify the instructor of each student based on his or her work. Li’s works stand out from the mainstream style.
If you firmly believe that art must serve a purpose or express an idea, this exhibition is not for you. If you are intrigued by unconventional visual styles, Li Wenguang’s works are worth a look.
WHERE: 1933 — 3F, 611 Liyang Lu, near Haining Lu / 溧阳路611号, 近海宁路
By Amy Yang
[Images via 1933]