| A GIANT
ARRAY---Wu Liang (Featured Art Critic)
Abstract artists do not necessarily excel in abstract thinking. Most of them, indeed, are people who rely heavily on intuition. They enjoy being guided by experiences in life. We may try to understand their works through understanding their lives, yet, it is likely that our personal experiences may mislead us to some extent. So, is it possible for someone to learn about abstract art through an abstract painting? The answer is it is just like pondering about philosophical questions by looking at clouds above. That is to say, you should not take it literally and assume that the answers to the questions are actually hiding behind the clouds, and in fact, what is up above in the sky is just one of the examples in the vast world that you may use to illustrate the answers to those philosophical questions. That is to say, we may, in a subtle way, find philosophical truths through the presence of clouds, and for the same reason, we feel free to speak of our imaginations by transforming and translating them into emblems. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) believed that each object is an emblem in itself and can neither be experienced nor interpreted. He said, "It (each object) is like a mystery. It reveals the basics of its own presence and nature." It is very true. It is simply impossible to explain a painting, especially an abstract painting, yet, it is possible for us to find words to express how we feel about a painting. It is universally true that every one of us has feelings and they are just subjective and may differ from one person to another. It is particularly true if we just consider the case when viewers look at paintings. The process of the making an abstract painting may continue even though it is physically completed, it will not stop as long as it is capable of causing the viewers to feel new feelings. Artworks, like clouds, are capable of extending their mysteries by the nourishing of the new feelings they bring to the viewers.
Yehan Wang is generally and naturally considered to be one of the many examples in the abstract art world which is just like an organism is considered to be one of the examples in the universe. The artist has set up a unique system for the handling of painting materials and painstakingly searched and successfully invented the ways to ensure smooth operation within the system. He has restored the painting materials to thing-in-itself-a gluey, thick and adhesive substance which capable of concealing, or even a sort of substance for filling or solidifying purpose-in order to eliminate the painting flavour. Yehan will by no means make himself a servant to forms. He discards skills, and stresses solely on the relationship, rule and space between the materials contributing to the final product including the surface, the patch, the brightness and shades, and finally, the texture. Yehan refuses to endow his works with complex connotations. It looks as if he has transformed the creation of artworks into the kind of repetitive task that Sisyphus is bound to complete, or into a meaningless self-growing process. The process starts with emptiness, followed by the blossoming of elements, dots, embryos, patches and structures as its turn comes, until these elements fill the space, cause the inner explosion and, eventually, overflow. It looks as if he can sail smoothly till the end of the world if only he can find the primal drive he needs. And there in his destination, the world displayed before him is no more than a stippled painting. The painting materials, which are of the thing-in-itself nature, do not appear in paintings in form of metaphor, but in form of dense arrays. The artist matches, plasters, drips, shovels, presses and scrapes the pigments into wedge-shapes and let them overlap or nestle against one another, allow them to criss-cross and separate just as they are about to combine. The colors slowly stick together and come alive to give out energy. The form, though still in a formless status, begins to show. The colors begin to shimmer. The patches, shoulder to shoulder with one another, are like the piano keys which are settled comfortably and closely on a piano one by one; whereas the painting itself is like a piano uncontrolled. You may feel the way you want to feel towards the painting with some imagination. The artist has now created the clouds for you to apply your analogy and to give meanings to at your freewill. What you see now is all it has. The creation process for the artist behind each work is gone forever and thus the final piece is all that truly counts. One bears no responsibility in trying to understand the artist and his motives behind his work, all that matters are the feelings evoked through his final product. Yet, no matter what those feelings are, one can never detach themselves from the huge and unique array that the artist has created through the use of wedge-shaped symbols. Only when you know a particular feature of a plant that it will become distinguishable in the forest, similarly, this unique array is what allows you to distinguish the works of Yehan from the numerous other abstract works available within the art world.
The artists who create abstract symbols like dots, lines, surfaces, or geometric patterns like triangles, rectangles and circles etc. are not responsible for the meanings we impose on them. Though it seems a common practice for artists to explain the reasons, regardless how strange they may sound, behind their obsession with particular kinds of abstract symbol or form, Yehan remains resilient in leaving his viewers with the freedom to feel and to interpret his works. This, in one hand, helps the viewer to understand that the works of Yehan are not bound to the queries derived from contemporary art; on the other hand, it leaves the door open to the viewers to freely associate his works as they may choose. However, the habit of concluding the meaning of a painting upon the first glance will nonetheless distort the way one feels about contemporary art, and the drawback brought about by the freedom to interpretation, which eventually causes to unjustified criticism, is usually closely related to their limited experiences. This is thus a paradox for which the debate rages on as to whether critics should ever give their opinion of an artistic piece. Artists are, indeed, the lucky ones. They may remain silent as they wish. It is the privilege artists should enjoy.
Yehan is quiet and quick by nature. With intuition and stubbornness, he has gradually come to the giant array. Perhaps he himself has no idea of the inside world of this array, neither do we. We in fact know no more than what we are able to see and feel for ourselves at this moment. But Yehan tells us one thing, "there are no intrinsic characteristics hidden in my works, what you see on the surface are intrinsic in itself". In other words, it is possible that the characteristics, or the secret, are merely a fabrication. If it is the case, then, from the surface of those arrays, we can only see words, and the composition of words, but not a speech; we can see gaps pushed against one another, but no underlying space as these are all laid out evenly on the surface. The relationship of the canvas and the pigments are the only real facts of paintings. You can never know where on the canvas the artist started to paint first as if the creation has no beginning or no end. To paint such a painting is like to self-entertain with words incapable of presenting a whole idea, or like to take minor steps onto a journey without destination, or to partake in the process of creating a living thing behind a closed door. The huge array is self-governing and condensed and the meaning of which carries no relation to the outside world. It is capable of self-propagating and it bears a will to live, which is undetectable, and the presence of its own¡strictly speaking, the works of Yehan are not to be interpreted.