“I did not want my work to have multiple meanings, but to be very simple.”

Born Anshan City, Liaoning, 1971

Ye Sen is an inveterate experimentalist. He sees art as an opportunity to “take reason and logic to the limit.” With the series that includes Analysis No. 4 (2009), he took wood and the tradition of wood-carving to their limits as well. Without adding anything, only subtracting, he set out to make wood look as if it wasn’t wood at all, and to carve a single log in such a way that, while its ends remained wood, its centre became (apparently) something else. Viewers’ astonishment suggests he succeeded. Six dark chains hang between, and are seemingly screwed into, two apparently separate slabs of tree trunk. But though the chains look like iron, they and their supports are one continuous piece of jichimu, or chicken-wing wood, from Cambodia. “The chains are a symbol of restriction, like the limits society and habit place on our thinking,” the artist says. “They also symbolise connections, the fact that we are all related.”



 

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