Things – New Works by Guo Hongwei

In the development of my work I am constantly seeking ¡®voided objects¡¯: subjects that do not accommodate the commonplace reflex of extending meaning beyond themselves or generating narratives in the manner of a still frame in a movie.

I have tried to avoid subject matter in which the true focus of the work lies beyond what is visible.

Ultimately, in my painting I am interested in process of painting itself and in exploring a deeper sense of quality lying within the details. Thus, my focus is most clearly trained on the visible surface of the work.

These ¡®things¡¯ are the results of this recent juncture.

In the current series I have sought, temporarily, to take a distance from the molding and concocting involved in painting human subjects and to focus on still life objects that posses a more simple structure and form. I find that the most usual daily objects, when closely observed subjects, can reveal a very appropriate logic in their sense of form. This logic includes the great appeal of symmetry and geometry, of continuous repletion and of strange and sometimes cruel angles. The thing that adds more meaning for me is that, beyond the beauty and simplicity of these forms, the subject does not labor under superfluous words or multiple mental associations. They do not demand rigorous depictions of overly complex structural forms.

This means that my role becomes much reduced. That is simply to paint: to daub; to dilute pigment with varnish; to create detail; to grasp at a sense of quality; to create even transitions and linkages; to use pigment and other media to fill forms which need to be filled. To paint as though painting abstract forms.

Finally, varnish becomes a medium which solidifies onto the canvas, not only merging the brush marks but allowing the painted subject to emerge and reflect the light like crystallized, secreted colloid substances. I favor painterly media that display innate quality. These functions as intermediary between the pigment and what is placed on the canvas: it becomes the agent that transforms the pigment into the painting. I avoid hard edges and definitive brush strokes. The catalyzing agent in my work becomes the moistening and mutation produced by liquid on the canvas. While hard edges and definitive brush strokes represent a version of certitude I prefer to base my work on the unknowable, the uncontrollable or on the chance encounter of substances.

My basic aims are simple. I seek to distance the content of the painted image from the extraneous. I choose simple subjects that satisfy the most basic visual impulse ¨C that of appealing to the eye. I hope to satisfy myself in a work that exploits the vagaries of the accidental and the uncontrollable and that brims with a certain kind of physical pleasure.

Guo Hongwei, Beijing, October 2009

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