“I want to bring viewers into the realm of the imagination, and then find where scars lie.”
Born 1970, Ganyu, Jiangsu. Lives and works in Changzhou, Jiangsu
At first glance, Dong Wensheng’s prints look like straightforward photographs of ordinary scenes or objects, but many have an odd or eerie aspect—a missing finger joint, as in The Convert No. 1, or a surreal twist, as in 201212 (2012) or Mayflowers (2014). His artful editing blurs the lines between painting, installation and film to create pictures that often resemble stills from a mystery or horror movie (he also makes video art). In the Chinese Garden series (2005), for example, he inserts bizarre interlopers—deer, horses, naked people—into the walled gardens of Changzhou, whose decaying beauty he sees as a metaphor for China’s heritage. A protégé of Zhou Xiaohu, Dong Wensheng names among his influences traditional Chinese art, porcelain and poetry, as well as physics, Nietzsche, and Robert Rauschenberg. His work echoes Freud’s observation that the uncanny is “nothing new or alien, but something which … has become alienated from [the mind] only through the process of repression”.