Beijing Commune is delighted to present “Carving Silence”, Wang Lijun’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, opening on November 30, 2023. Illuminating Wang’s art practice in reshaping the perception of sculpture, the exhibition title implies a skein of paradoxes between the tangible and the intangible, the seen and the unseen, presence and absence. At the core, the exhibition delves into the reflection upon our interaction with the surroundings. To use the artist’s words, “We always want to create something with a solid sense of existence. Yet we are prone to overlook beings in plain sight.”
A pungent smell prevails in the gallery space, intensified it seemed by the bleak industrial interior. At one end of the exhibition hall, a shadowy shape spreads ominously over the wall to the ceiling. Its untrimmed edges stumbled upon a kinetic form, bearing resemblance to the unchecked creepers. Through chiseling pieces of rubber sheet bit by bit, the artist achieved the morphing effect on the surface with myriad traces of execution. Nonetheless, unlike natural or virtual creatures, the weight of the rubber inclines to detach itself from the wall.
Wang’s work has often incorporated materials with the feature of "heaviness" yet in different ways. In this case, it is the unique "soft heaviness" of the rubber that summoned his hand with chisels. For the artist, divergent from the blatant physical weight of the metal, for example, that possesses a centripetal force absorbing the eyes, the weight of the rubber is visually and sensually inert. Countless gouges made no sound. To this extent, the clinging rubber on the verge of collapsing straddles between a benign disposition and physical intimidation. The evanescent image of the phantom is endowed with substantiality and intensity.
The resilience of rubber composes a strained relation with the “brittleness” of chalks on the other side of the gallery. Chalk, both as a medium and in itself, is often tended with Wang’s personal memories and care as an epitome of vulnerability and ephemerality. However, standing on their tiptoes on the steel bars unfazed by the weather, arrays of tiny chalks in this exhibition showcase a sense of immortality, reminiscent of those in the classical and religious sculptures. Through the technique of scraping, Wang unveils the sedimentary and porous texture of chalk deposits while the powdery nature of chalk in turn blunts the ridges. Piece after piece, the ethereal look encompasses the artist’s time dedicated to the work, or as he himself called it: labour. Nevertheless, in relation to the viewer, these miniatures are frail; they perish once the exhibition ends.