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The Art of Perception (Guo Hongwei), by Edward M. Gomez

Pareidolia 幻想性错视, 2019 Watercolor on paper 纸本水彩

101.5 x 66.5 cm (40 x 26 in)

Traditionally, in the West, serious art history likes its art made from durable stuff that withstands — or defies — the passage of time. Stone, bronze, oil on canvas, or even Corten steel — such materials often command attention, while certain kinds of drawings or works on paper may be regarded, however unfairly, as somehow possessing less heft.

Consider watercolors: With their inherently delicate, even fugitive-feeling wisps of color and strange luminosity, which sometimes seems to radiate out from pigment-soaked washes, works made with watercolor on paper can feel lightweight to viewers who favor the meat-and-potatoes solidness of oil painting. Never mind that, in the hands of such disparate artists as J.M.W. Turner, John Marin, or Yayoi Kusama, watercolor can become a remarkably expressive, potent, imagination-expanding medium.

The contemporary Chinese artist Guo Hongwei was born in Sichuan in 1982 and studied oil painting at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, from which he graduated in 2004. Over the course of his career, beyond his specialized training, he has explored very different media, from video to watercolor; now, he is focusing on the latter medium in Guo Hongwei: Pareidolia, an exhibition on view through April 4 at Chambers Fine Art’s new location on the Lower East Side.

- Edward M. Gomez