“I don’t want to make a Hollywood film. Most of all, I want to find a unique image in life: I want to take risks.”

Born Beijing, 1960

Wang Gongxin trained as a painter in the socialist-realist style, and even after seeing video art for the first time—during a stay in New York in the 1980s with his wife Lin Tianmiao—he hesitated to abandon the brush. But after the strict controls he was used to, video art offered a freedom he couldn’t resist. Back in China, he became one of the driving forces in the avant-garde movement, turning his home, and later a corner of a relative’s restaurant, into a gallery where fellow artists could meet and show their work. Wang Gongxin’s conceptual videos explore the boundary between reality and its replicas by turning seemingly ordinary situations upside down, and inverting viewers’ expectations as well. In the case of Dinner Table (2006), a Chinese banquet—projected onto a steeply tilted white table—slides slowly upwards into thin air. As the critic Pi Li observes, Wang Gongxin’s work “doesn’t escape reality, but many of his pieces make reality just a little lighter.”



 

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