The Financial Times’s Francis Hodgson finds a new interest in Chinese photographer Wang Qingsong:
The contemporary Chinese artist Wang Qingsong has achieved some startling prices at auction and figured in several important shows. Until recently I was troubled a little by the excessive simplicity of his work. His practice is to make large tableaux, each with a relatively direct message, often about the collision of Chinese and western culture. Once grasped, there was no real reason ever to look again. They were posters, graphically pleasing but unitary. I had formed the view that Wang Qingsong was rather like old Chinese porcelain that was simplified for export. But he has now made a work that retains that poster-like directness but has shed any semblance of simplicity.
“The History of Monuments”, displayed in a church in Arles, is a frieze more than 40 metres long and more than a metre tall. It contains figures grouped to remake famous statues. Here is a “Victory of Samothrace”, there a Statue of Liberty. Three Graces, a Laocoön. Two different Davids (Donatello, Michelangelo). “The Burghers of Calais” … Wang has used pleasantly silly props – the Laocoön, for example, wrestles with flexible tubes from vacuum cleaners, doing duty as snakes. His humour has always been a part of his armoury. The figures are human models and they take their positions in shaped holes cut in a backdrop to fit them. […] It’s a huge thing, physically and in the references it delights in, and marks a step change for Wang in intelligence and daring.
Arles the Fun of the Fair (Financial Times)