Born in Shanghai in 1960, Wang Tiande graduated from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in 1988. While many young artists turned to Western models for inspiration during this period in which the political and artistic legacy of Mao Tse Tung was being increasingly questioned, a significant number of young artists including Gu Wenda, Xu Bing and Wang Tiande pursued the same goal while working within and subverting traditional Chinese modes of expression. Wang Tiande has said: "I was cut off for years from the west, and developed my craft in relative isolation. I struggled to find creative inspiration from deeply rooted traditions. While my friends turned to oil painting, I redefined ink painting and calligraphy, the most value-laden of China 's art forms."
After a series of works in the early 1990s in which he investigated the formal and symbolic possibilities of a circular format - the Round Series - Wang Tiande frequently used traditional Chinese motifs such as the fan and Chinese robes as the format for works in which the traditional technique of ink painting is radically transformed. Not satisfied with the smooth, absorbent surface of pristine sheets of paper, he has submitted the hallowed material to various abuses, including creasing, tearing and burning. Such virtuosity results in surface of unparalleled suggestive power, simultaneously suggesting the continuing presence of idealized landscape in the Chinese imagination and the destructive forces of modern civilization.
Wang Tiande first came to the attention of American collectors in 1998 when his installation Ink Banquet was included in the ground breaking exhibition of Chinese contemporary art, Inside Out, held at Asia Society and PS1. In this installation a round table set for a banquet surrounded by chairs was completely covered in ink-splashed paper. Moving beyond the rugged surfaces of his two-dimensional works, Wang transformed objects from the real world into strangely hybrid forms.
The current exhibition at Chambers Fine Art includes works from two new series, the Digital Series of 2002 and The Chinese Robe Series of 2003. In the former calligraphic inscriptions executed in running script are glimpsed through Chinese hand-made paper, the surface of which is inscribed with abstract forms burnt into the material. In the latter, the hanging robes are used as the surface for calligraphic gestures. Associated with the traditional culture of China that was swept away by the Cultural Revolution, the robe form is used as the bearer of barely legible messages that reveal its tenuous position in the technologically advanced China of the twenty-first century.