Curator: Lei Ming
Magician Space is delighted to present artist Guan Yong’s solo exhibition “Introverted Illusionism”. It’s Guan Yong’s first solo exhibition at Magician Space.
Working and exploring repetitively and tirelessly around the same and simple subject matters has been the way in which Guan Yong has been practicing art in recent years. Once he embarks on a subject matter, he would spend a lot of time on it. At his studio, there are many works that await to be furthered or are undeniably failed. The paints, smudges, and corrections left on canvas bear witness to the passing of time and the extension of his consciousness. At times, he repetitiously edits a work of art, other times, he works on a few paintings simultaneously. There, the subject and the gaze, confrontation and conspiracy, consciousness and materials, are placed within the same site of tension, where time becomes compressed, elongated, fragmented, and overlapped, and eventually integrated into the works of art. The subject matter in this sense implies a structure, a starting point from which sentimentalities, sensibilities, bodily rhythms, actions and other arbitrary factors usher the artist’s internal consciousness onto the canvas. The true obstacles of its realization however are the necessity of an appropriate structure that would capture one’s consciousness of being in a trance.
The discovery of the artist’s subject matter is somewhat arbitrary. For example, Landscape (2017) was inspired by a random encounter in his travels, and in his own words, “This bewildering encounter seemed rather familiar.” Six Persimmons (2018) came from a memorable experience of tea ceremony in Japan a decade ago, and it was the activity of persimmon-picking with friends last year that allowed the artist to finally make the connection to his earlier memory, along with visual components of Mu Xi, Giorgio Morandi, Suprematism, and Japanese tea ceremony, etc. As he believes, “Memories are not forgotten but stored” and the subject matter is the key that opens this box of memories. The iconographies he has adopted have little to do with semantics than they do in contributing to building a kind of Gestalt, “a temporary structure” that would suffice to support the sensibilities.
This kind of temporary structure allows everchanging or even clashing sensibilities to co-exist and become the container of his blossoming conscience. Hence, the formation and discovery of this structure become the only possibility that resists the sensibilities under the constrains of ideologies (of art history, politics, mass media, etc.). At the same time, the formation of such structure from random encounters conveys a strong sense of the present, that does not shape into any kind of grammar or power of discourse. In Guan Yong’s process of playful exploration, the impossible historical logic was invented, while inspirations sparked along with subjective rejections. This was the important reason for his re-preposition of “modernism”: as a kind of temperate radicality, a kind of noncommittal and full rejection, a common cultural strategy for the traditional literati – to resist the current trend by reminiscing the forgotten (hence under-estimated) cultural traditions. Only then, one’s senses are part and parcel to this newly invented structure would they be safely stored. It is within this temporarily invented structure, the individual and cultural anxieties would be momentarily pacified to provide a space for self-statements and the condition for continuous self-investigation. This crafty and vengeful pictorial system destructs any kind of historical discourse, where personal sensibilities would be conjured and assembled in this non-existent space and for the individual to detach and escape from ideologies.