Magazine article Artforum International

Liang Yuanwei: Ocat Xi'an Contemporary Art Center

Magazine article Artforum International

Liang Yuanwei: Ocat Xi'an Contemporary Art Center

Article excerpt

Liang Yuanwei

OCAT XI'AN CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER

At first, it is difficult to see what is different about Liang Yuanwei's new oil paintings. In the series titled "Oval," 2014-15, the artist employs her signature method, meticulously interpreting patterns lifted from found textiles. Liang doesn't produce preliminary sketches or drafts; rather, she allows the design to materialize in the accumulation of palpable, impressionistic brushstrokes. But unlike her previous fabric-inspired paintings, these sixteen canvases can be read as a single, multifaceted work.

Titled in sequence from Oval 1 to Oval 16, the works evince eight months of the artist's labor and document her development of a painterly lexicon. They share a motif--sprays of tea roses and wintersweet--but the appropriated patterns are incidental, merely vehicles for her experiments with paint. These works reward many kinds of viewing. From afar, the patterns cohere, but when seen up close, the images break down to reveal that each petal or leaf is a single brushstroke, a record of the artist's movement in space and time. Liang's pictorial obfuscation is evident only when closely observed, but an intimate encounter also reveals the range of her mark-making, which is in some passages quick and confident, and in others hesitant and patient.

"Oval" represents the artist's departure from purely aesthetic concerns as she shifts her focus to painterly processes and materials. A full day of labor is required to complete only a small portion of each canvas. Once begun, work cannot be abandoned, or the consistency of her material changes and cannot be manipulated to achieve the desired effect. This series clearly lays out the artist's technical experimentation: Her approach to any given canvas is consistent, and each features a different interplay of color, form, and texture. …

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