Xi'an Conversations

    • Date
      2016.02.28 15:00-17:00
    • Guest
      Liang Yuanwei
    • Moderator
      Karen Smith
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The System of Painting as Meaning and Possibility

The title of Liang Yuanwei’s exhibition refers to the process of creating the works presented here, a suite of 16 paintings of various dimensions, each completed in the year leading up to the exhibition. The paintings relate to each other in sequential form one to the next, such that from the first to the last, and the artist’s concept comes full circle, having arrived at a new, elevated level of clarity.
We might also understand the reference to oval as a circular path through the exhibition; one that the artist has designed for us, for there is one specific route through the paintings, which she asks us to follow. Thus, in pre-ordained fashion, viewers are instructed to move through the exhibition in accordance with the number sequence inscribed beneath each painting, through one to sixteen. The goal here is to hand viewers the tools to accompany Liang Yuanwei on the journey she took to create the paintings, and to experience a similar process of discovery. This should include visitors becoming aware of the shifts and inflections of progress in the language as it evolved, and of the occasional awkward moment when the artist was wrong-footed, as texture, tonality and combinations of colour resulted in unanticipated effects. The full journey of this process is rounded out by the presence of three early works from 2005 to 2008, located in the small room at the end point of the exhibition. These are variously unfinished and illustrate how decisions were taken in the early stages of this approach. 
Liang Yuanwei draws inspiration from a broad range of influences including Sol LeWit, Francisco Goya, Italian frescoes, Gabriel Orozco, and Jasper Johns. Significant here is that research is an essential part of the process by which a possible aesthetic system is constructed. Compositions appear similar, being built around a particular pattern usually taken from a textile. The building process of each painting unfolds section by section across and down the canvas, replicating the techniques of 15th century frescoes. “My paintings are my own little universe of materials, purposes and techniques,” she says. “Words make it sound simple, but the process is not.” That process requires skill, patience and discipline.

Liang Yuanwei was born in Xi’an in 1977. She received a BA degree from the Department of Graphic Design, School of Design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1999, and a Master’s degree in 2004. In 2004, she began to work as a teaching assistant continuing to 2006 when she started her career as an independent artist. She remains a member of the influential art group N12.


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