Selected works by Wu Shanzhuan

Wu Shanzhuan
Today No Water - Chapter 29

2007

Acrylic and oil based marker on canvas

200 x 300 cm
As one of the leaders of the Chinese Conceptual Movement in 1980s, Wu Shanzhaun was the first artist in China to incorporate textual pop references into his work. Wu’s pivotal 1986 installation, Red Humour International, laid the foundation for his highly idiosyncratic and sophisticated approach to painting, which forgoes image in favour of political jingoism, religious scripture, and advertising slogans.

Wu’s canvases appear as a combination of graffiti and expressionism. Rendered with painterly spontaneity, words, symbols, and diagrams battle for space in a virtual terrain between conveyed meaning and pictorial abstraction. Through the act of artistic negotiation, Wu’s texts become dislocated from their original context and stripped of their cultural signification. Reformed and repackaged as sumptuous fields of colour and texture, his mass media dictates are purified as empty lexicons for new usage and contemplation.

Wu’s unique process of painting as writing is exemplified in his Today No Water series. Conceived as a graphic novel, each canvas is a chapter of a continuous stream of consciousness narrative. These works don’t tell a story per se, but rather present a visual tension between fragmented phrases and images, culminating in dizzying compositions that map out free-style associations of ideas, references, and symbols.
Wu Shanzhuan
Today No Water - Chapter 30

2007

Acrylic and oil based marker on canvas

200 x 300 cm
Wu Shanzhuan
New Artwork No. 1

2008

Acrylic and oil based marker pen on canvas

200 x 300 cm
Approaching the re-systemising of informational structures as an intuitive process, Wu reconstitutes the articulated design of print matter as chaotic overload, his bold logos and by-lines emerge as subconscious expressions, striving for intimate cognition. Muted washes, dabs of colour, hurried gestures, and wayward drizzles overlap, erase, and compete for perspectival hierarchy, suggesting an algorithmic order to the perplexities of individual identity and global communication.
Wu Shanzhuan
New Artwork No. 3

2008

Acrylic and oil based marker pen on canvas

200 x 300 cm

Articles

ART IN REVIEW; Wu Shan Zhuan and Inga Svala Thorsdottir

By Holland Cotter

Wu Shan Zhuan is one of the leading figures of the 1980's pre-Tiananmen Square generation of Chinese Conceptualists, whose art is language-based, often installation-size and international in outlook. His ''Red Humor'' (1986), a landmark piece, took the form of a room whose walls were completely covered with words: Cultural Revolutionary slogans, quotations from Buddhist scripture, snippets of commercial advertising and titles of classic works of Western art history. The results felt politically suggestive but poetic, exhilarated by cultural chaos.

One gets a tantalizing sense of Mr. Wu's continuing and increasingly refined exploration of language in the excerpts from his visual novel titled ''Today No Water: The Power of Ignorance,'' on view in the Cohen show. Each page is a poster-size, chartlike painting filled with words, images and commercial logos set out like mathematical equations, adding up to a zany, stream-of-consciousness mix of autobiography, social history and political commentary. The book is a hugely ambitious undertaking, one that could easily make an absorbing exhibition of its own.

At Cohen, however, it is included in a sampling of several projects, many of them collaborations with Inga Svala Thorsdottir, an Icelandic artist who, like Mr. Wu, lives in Hamburg, Germany. The media range from video to sculpture, and the most striking entry is a large-format photograph from the series ''Vege-Pleasure'' (1996). In it the two artists stand nude in the produce section of a German supermarket, their pose based on Dürer's painting of Adam and Eve. The forbidden fruit has yet to be tasted, but sex is already in the picture, and the expulsion from a genetically engineered Eden will be accompanied by a shopping cart filled with dairy products and junk food.

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Source: nytimes.com