Chambers Fine Art is pleased to present a solo presentation of new work by artist Wu Jian’an. This will be the US debut of Wu’s series of artworks created from water-buffalo hide entitled 'Shadows of Knives – Plain Faces', first conceived for Wu’s recent solo exhibition 'Of the Infinite Mind' at the Guardian Art Center in Beijing.
The title 'Of the Infinite Mind' (“Wu Wang”) takes its origin from Chinese philosopher Zhu Xi’s 'The Texts and Annotations of the Four Books'. In the context of Chinese Confucianism, “Wu Wang” is not only synonymous with “truth”, but also refers to the ideal state of perfect clarity of mind and purity of heart. When creating 'Shadows of Knives – Plain Faces', Wu Jian’an used various sharp weapons to stab, slice and puncture soaked buffalo hide, tapping into a ‘violent and destructive’ subconscious nature within himself. The action and resulting catharsis was an attempt to access this ideal state of "Wu Wang".
Commenting on the process, the artist said: “Creating is often accompanied by expectation and fear, because you are not sure if you can make it, or even what the result will look like. However, the lack of control in the outcome is the most magical part of art."
To Wu Jian’an, at first glance the resulting artworks bore a resemblance to ancient African or Southeast Asian masks, stimulating a feeling of kinship with these ancient human civilizations. He completed the artworks by painting each ‘mask’ in bright colors, imbuing each with an otherworldly intensity.
Wu Jian’an was born in Beijing in 1980. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2005 and is currently a professor at CAFA’s School of Experimental Art. His works have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the 4th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum in Beijing, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Prince Kung’s Palace Museum, and Beijing Minsheng Contemporary Art Museum. Wu was one of the artists featured at the 57th Venice Biennale China Pavilion in 2017, and was selected to participate in the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale with his 500 Brushstrokes series.