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Hollis C. Taggart

The works of Chinese artist Wan Liya offer many paradoxes, and there is far more here than meets the eye.  Born in QingDao, China in 1960’s, Wan is a product of eastern thought, Zen principles, and Buddhist philosophies, and yet, his paintings exhibit many aspects founded in 20th century western art.  His paintings are imbued with rich primary colors, creating moods and sensations.  The American color field artists, like Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler, elicited similar emotional response through color, but by very different means.  Unlike Frankenthaler’s use of diluted color pigments poured onto unprimed canvasses, Wan’s work’s are structured through texture, as well as color and pattern. The methodologies are almost opposite; the effects very similar. Wan is perhaps more aligned with “action” painting because he manipulates the canvas itself, and allows the paint to find its own place, its own texture, its own pattern, and its own blended colors. Wan would say he is an instrument, applying the paint, folding the canvas in patterns and the final product is the result of the laws of nature.  Patterns and colors emerge from an incidental process. The final painting is a vision ultimately created by chance, by nature, by expectations that can never be exact or known. The possible outcome and combinations in each and every painting are literally infinite. 

Wan’s work can bring to mind the multi-layered, scraped surfaces with blended paint coloration, texture and  pattern found in Gerhardt Richter’s work, an artist Wan greatly admires.  Although the methods of the two artists are totally different, the visual outcome has similarities. Both artist’s works evoke transcendent emotional states much like Rothko achieved 60 years ago, but through very different means. In these works, the common thread is this : the subject matter is the subjective experience of color itself, nothing else.

So in the end, Wan is a combination of east and west, a global artist. In his work he uses his own intuition, his own impulse, deciding what colors to apply and where to apply them on the canvas. Then he manipulates the canvases , folding in various patterns, interacting with the canvas support. But then he relies on Nature to produce the final stroke, to complete the human process. He sees the process as man and nature working together. The outcome is very beautiful symphony of color, texture and pattern, made by nature , as well as by man.

Hollis C. Taggart
Owner of Hollis C. Taggart Galleries in New York

 

 

 

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