“I need to find a medium that seems emotionless or leaves no emotional traces behind.”
Born 1976, Jixi, Heilongjiang. Lives and works in Beijing
Gao Weigang started as a painter, but soon grew restless. “I was getting bored with painting, as I was too familiar with it,” he has said. “I can paint an object easily, but that is it. There is nothing new to it. What’s more, a painting can not express everything clearly. So I decided to choose installation as a new vehicle to express my ideas in a different manner.” His installations all, in their highly varied ways, poke quiet fun at our routines of seeing. They show us how easily we jump to conclusions, and prompt us to ask why we do so. Superstructure (2010) looks like a staircase that goes nowhere. In fact it is just a strip of bent metal suspended on the wall. So what makes us see it as a staircase? Proportions, angles, shadows—all conforming to our mental image of a staircase. The artist’s trick is to give us these familiar things, with one anomaly: a total depth for these dozen “steps” of 12 cm. Many of his works involve similar sleights of hand: things apparently consistent and certain are abruptly revealed as strange or meaningless. And that, he suggests, is an experience familiar to us all.