Zheng Wenxin’s work is comparable to an archaeologist who rediscovers, documents and studies the moments shared by her friends on social media. The action of painting is useful for her to interpret and convey the feelings she has with the virtual space: too flat and vast. In fact, this ‘reality’ very often gives us a wrong and hasty perception, a lot of information is veiled or completely obscured.
She transfers the rapid flow of events on scroll with an abstract style as if to capture that moment. Her long carpet of colors is a concentration of emotions perhaps already forgotten by those who have made them public on the Chinese platform WeChat.
She has always focused on the psychology of the individual throughout the years of her artistic practice. What interests her today is the extraordinary speed with which technology in China is growing from year to year. The quantity of images available to us has made this instrument the new source of inspiration; as she says: “This is another kind of painting still life”. This is the contemporaneity that she is living and she is conscious that all this can change within a few years.
The artist chooses one single day, takes only the date and place of the post and paints everything she sees without preferences: most of the photos she encounters are selfies. And it is through this randomness that she realizes the labile distinction between what is private and public in the life of her friends. Sometimes the images she paints are very intimate scenes of the individual. On the artist’s part there is a suspension of judgment. She does not deliver a criticism but a desire to restore that tension between what we see and what we think we see.
Her brushstrokes do not want to faithfully represent all she sees; it is almost impossible for the viewers to reconstruct a direct connection with the photos or to trace the source because she only captures the sensations, the words, the perception of the colors. The figures in the paintings look like silhouettes. They are distorted. They are like masks.
It is a combination of fields of colors and geometric lines, almost cubist, that create a continuous flow. This is effective for returning the typical noise and fragments of social media. The two-dimensionality is also an aspect that she takes back from the mobile screen, and for this paradoxically she can be considered a realistic artist. The titles of her art work, which are coordinates of the place where the posts are published, can be cryptically a key to enter works.
The pictorial composition is a set of images apparently disconnected but must be grasped as a film of confused memories, like a dreamlike video of images.
With the Pilotenkueche project she has adopted – not only the scroll – but also a new experiment in materials: a series of small square alluminum plates portraying the rapid life stories.
The difficult challenge for Zheng Wenxin is to transmit these new social relationships with the ‘old’ artistic medium of painting.
written by Silvia Zandomeneghi
See Wenxin’s work in the upcoming exhibitions
Saturday 17 August
Friday 20 September
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program