Wang Jin


Wang Jin
b. 1962, Datong, Shanxi
Performance, installation artist
After gaining admission to the China Art Academy (see art academies) in 1983, Wang graduated in 1987 with a specialization in traditional figurative painting. He began teaching at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Design, quitting in 1992 to start a career as an independent artist. From the very beginning, his works focused on social change as reflected by China’s course towards market reform, commenting on the effects of massive commercialization in Chinese urban life by means of performance art. His first work, Wall (1992), proved to be his most powerful visual trope and critical vehicle. Wang’s oeuvre, in fact, is an individual response to the complex dilemmas of modern civilization, as expressed in Knocking at the Door (1993), where he painted the image of the US currency on seven original bricks from the Forbidden City on site, thus juxtaposing materialistic and cultural symbols. In 1994 he realized Battling the Flood—Red Flag Canal and Red: Beijing—Kowloon, where red is used as a central concept embedding past, present and future. The first is an environmental project where he poured 25kg of red mineral pigment into the irrigation canal in Lin county, Henan, while the second was performed by covering with red paint a 200-metre section of the railroad outside of Beijing.
Later works show his ongoing investigation of the effect of rapid social changes and the transitory nature of traditions, like Ice. Central Plain (1996), a monumental installation consisting of a 30-metre-long wall made of 600 ice blocks containing a survival kit of desirable goods that he built across a newly opened shopping mall in the city of Zhengzhou. His works have been featured in ‘Inside Out: New Chinese Art’ at Asia Society, New York and San Francisco MoMA in 1998, ‘Contemporary Chinese Art’ at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (1997), ‘A Chinese Dream’, Yanhuang Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing (1997) and the Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou (2002).
Dematté, Monica (1999). ‘Wang Jin’. In La Biennale di Venezia, 48a Esposizione d’Arte, d’Apertutto, Aperto Over All. La Biennale di Venezia: Marsilio, 186–9.
Dewar, Susan (1997). ‘In the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Wang Jin and Feng Jiali’. ART Asia-Pacific 15:66–73.
Gao, Minglu (1998). ‘From Elite to Small Man: The Many Faces of a Transitional Avant-Garde in Mainland China’. In idem (ed.), Inside Out: New Chinese Art (exhibition catalogue). Berkeley: University of California Press, 149–66.
BEATRICE LEANZA

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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