Arts preview: Wang Yefeng's art is rooted in self-discovery

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 12:04am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 4:17pm

Art Projects Gallery


Artist Wang Yefeng believes that to produce interesting works, creative people must be obsessed with the question of who they are. "If I want to analyse something in my artwork, there's no better subject than myself," he says.

This is especially true when artists travel abroad. While many who move overseas attempt to understand and immerse themselves in a new culture, Wang says he prefers to spend the time getting to know himself better.

His quest for self-discovery is behind his two video installations, which, alongside some sculptures and prints, will be showcased in his upcoming exhibition at the Art Projects Gallery at PMQ in Central.

A Figure (2009) is composed of duplicated images of Wang's nude body posed and arranged with reference to Renaissance paintings, a subject he learned about on the mainland. Well-Disciplined Kids (2012) is a six-channel video piece featuring a group of expressionless babies in a chaotic backdrop filled with tanks, jet fighters, and female bodies in pornographic poses.

Wang and the bodies in each work look to be wearing deer antlers on their heads. But Wang explains that the headpiece is, in fact, a combination of a pig skull and a deer antler; this symbolises a dragon, and therefore Wang's Chinese inheritance.

Wang's decision to map his own face digitally onto that of the babies in Well-Disciplined Kids is another example of how his works "contain fragments from the society I live in … [which] assist me with the process of exploration".

Born in 1984, the Shanghai native graduated from the school of sculpture at Shanghai University, and went on to complete a master's degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the US.

There, he was exposed to creating art using new media, an approach which fascinated him because it allows him to "explore the alluring possibilities, but also work with its problematic limitations".

"The digital virtual world is cold and isolated, but never lacking in fun," says Wang, an assistant professor who's leading the digital media programme at Rhode Island College in Providence, US.

One of Wang's techniques is to render the movement of animation at a very slow speed. "At first glance, the audience may not notice any movement, as they move really slowly," says Wang.

"I do that intentionally, as I want to reserve this bizarre realisation for those who take time to linger and observe. It may impose a kind of anxiety on the viewers, but that's what makes my works intriguing."

Art Projects Gallery, 5/F, Block A, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, daily, 11am-8pm. August 9-24. Inquiries: 3485 5336