Why would any of us take up the challenge of the genuine language of fine art when we are bombarded by so many iconic alternatives? Why dwell on vocabulary such as the selection of line or color? Why trouble ourselves with whether an artist’s choices function as a timeless window?
Wang Qi Feng’s work over the last decade demands to be viewed in the context of these questions and it is of little consolation that he refuses to define himself as an artist. The selection of paintings in the current exhibition, even with the constraints of limited space, might at first appear to be a open exploration of expressive forms - an artist trying to find his voice. Not true. The linear structure, the selection of color and the use of pictorial interruption, for example, all follow rules of measured consistency.
Consider some of Wang’s repeated pictorial themes - the blue horizon, the intrusion of abstraction or the descending mountain facade. These recur representationally both in Western and Classical Chinese (non-perspectival) terms but also in the vocabulary of flattened formalism. Individual works may reference celebrated moments of expression in the plastic arts but this is by no means a pedantic conceptual exercise. Wang is in command of his terms and his clarity comes from their consistent and uncompromising application. The result are works of extraordinary unique deftness and honesty neither seduced by the iconic nor stained by reference or repetition.
In the current market art is a gravity defying phenomenon pleading for a key to accessibility. For those in search of instant enlightenment, there is plenty on offer. Take your pick from the Zen menu of flat, cartooned, polemical or sprayed on digestible nuggets. Those seeking engagement with work in the longer term may see themselves losing a war of attrition. Wang’s beautiful cache of expression may not permanently stall the inevitable but contributes mightily to the vision of what art might be.