Shi Guowei: The “Force” Field of Reality

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Everything is reality for me. My work begins with reality and moves between multiple realities, between watching, and through an action of painting, finally presenting another reality.

Neither the visible reality nor the individual subjective reality is the final goal. What I do is based on the work between reality and reality, constantly stretching and pulling — obscuring, manipulating, distorting, re-creating the reality or hiding intentions…… Finding a point of focus between reality and reality.

For the early works (2014-2021), I tried scattered, flat compositions to reduce the sense of narrative brought by camera. I wanted to make a piece of a scene seemingly ordinary but not quite right, then to create an unfamiliarity in the perception of reality. During this period, I focused on the effect of color on perception. The eyes can capture far more colors than a camera does. All these subtle color variations affect how we feel. Later, I made more attempts on color, such as assigning the three primary colors to a scene so that the bright colors constantly juxtapose to each other, and finally become into an uncharacteristic shade of grey.

Over the past three years (for this solo exhibition), I have strengthened the painting element based on the continuing rationale of my previous works. If the image is a stage, the painting is an actor, which can interpret or obscure the image, or even fabricate another reality.

The nature of Altay region of Xinjiang is beautiful in summer. However, I did not want to pay too much attention to the scenery because it was too beautiful, just like a piece of sweet but cloying candy, which only has a sweet taste in the mouth, but at the same time being monotonous and even a bit disappointing. I vaguely felt that there must be something more touching to me hidden under this beautiful appearance. Until one day I saw the wool of shepherds, or more precisely it should be piles of wool. That was shepherds’ main source of livelihood. They bundled up wool that they had shaved and stacked it on top of each other in large piles, waiting for vendors to come and collect. Those piles of wool were like silent tombstones in the meadow. These sad piles of wool left a deep unease in my heart. I have no way to explain why I felt that way, but I did feel the sad shiver. Therefore, I photographed those wool piles. Then I displayed this work “Wool” as a monument. Its size must be big enough to show that kind of aura. The inscription is these wools, the furs that previously had a life. I have to paint the wools one by one. The work is a monument composed of wool.

The interactions of reality create multiple semantics. The reality contains multiple dimensions such as memory, position, culture, and cognition. After all, reality is subjective and moves with the mind.

The background image of the ” Mountain Massif” is a common rock structure created by the cooling lava. The image is full of traces of lava, like blood vessels. In the painting, I have kept a part of the appearance of rocks and used dark green and blue as a base to set off the blood and bone-like forms. It seems to be the skin of an unknown creature, which is alive.

Although ” Mountain Massif” and ” Flesh Cliff” are both taken from almost the same geologic landscape, they express the two states of life, “being dead” and “being alive”.

Time is the container of reality. “Scene A B” is a diptych of images recorded in a mountain area in California, USA. At that time, I had an inexplicable feeling about this area, so I recorded it and enlarged it. But I have been hesitant to do so. Due to the long period of time, the memory gradually faded. For several times, I was still at a loss when facing the image. Until I returned from the Great Khingan region. I participated in a residency program to investigate the living condition of Ewenki ethnic group in the Great Khingan region in the northeastern part of China. Many things touched me during the trip. When I came back and faced the picture again, I had the impulse to create. I made a disorderly and unconventional division of the picture, filling the overexposed rock surface with the flowing blue color, depicting the trees and rocks with blood red color, replacing the original moss with reindeer fur, and covering the original rock surface with animal guts……. Finally, I got a cruel, illusory, and disorganized scene. Like the forgotten tribe, they live in the crack of an intricate modern society, and they will be endlessly stretched, squeezed, and changed ……

These two works together reproduce a hunting.
“Archaeology A” is another material approach that continues the basic rationale of my work.

I first use a photochemical reaction to transfer a real-life scene onto linen. Then I cover the image with oil paint and slowly use a brush to pick out the image as I remember it, as if I were using a brush to carefully remove the dirt around an antique. After a long period of work, I ended up with this exceptional result. It is at once a scene that exists objectively but has been artificially covered with colors that do not belong to it, yet are logical. The ambiguous, poorly defined result is the focus of my attention.

Therefore, the medium or the working method is not the most important thing for me. How to generate gap and relationship between realities through my intervention is what I am interested in. Each layer of reality is essential and must be revealed, so that the reality can generate a field of “force” between each other.