Wang Lifeng’s artistic trajectory is distinctive and unique in Chinese contemporary art. While many of his compatriots have focused on exploring cynicism expressed in the vocabulary of Pop Art, Wang mines history both real and imagined to concatenate past, present and future in his own personal idiom. An impresario of mixed media, he creates abstract compositions from which readable cultural signifiers emerge.
Fragments of silk commingle with old documents amid Wang’s expressive oil painting on the canvases. His careful juxtaposition and injection of his own gesture tell us that he is not attempting an objective narration but rather uniting collective memory and personal imagination.
Wang’s uniqueness lies in his ability to remain focused on the iconography of China’s past while simultaneously inventing a new visual language in which to portray it. He embraces ambiguity and paradox and transforms them into tools with which he forges his own subjective view of history.
裴大利 Tally Beck
The expressions of historical events, knowledge and meaning all have specific contexts: their own historical environments. The originality of Wang Lifeng lies in his utilization of visual imagery to construct a historical environment, laying bare deep layers and connotations of the meaning of historical fact. The meaning of cultural history lies in the fact that it exists in intelligible things—things we understand, including the true and the false. Wang Lifeng does not cater to the tastes of his audiences but challenges them.
He does not attempt to speak for cultural history; however, he allows cultural history to speak through him with its own unique rhythm, flavour and individual temperament. Consequently, just by looking at the wispy, faint imagery in Wang Lifeng’s pieces, one realizes what is being presented is anti-narration demanding introspection. Imagery portrays the autonomy of aesthetics and history’s twinkling symbolism—a concept painstakingly pursued by Wang Lifeng that makes his work so unique and multi-faceted. Each of his series (The Great Han Dynasty, The Great Song Dynasty or The Great Ming Dynasty) has been highly purified and distilled leaving behind only the feelings and mood of the main body: quiet but forceful, sorrowful yet brilliant, sincere yet dispirited almost to the point of despair. What it reveals is an artist highly attuned and skilled at portraying culture and history through imagery.