Wang Yishu is an artist who widely recognized for his early employment of digital cameras for art practice. The photograpy community used to avoid the “standard” color and “smooth” texture of digital photographs,thus it was slow and hesitate to response to digital photography. Wang’s current accomplishment has been therefore delayed. When smoothness gradually replaced grains as it draws greater attention, he began to participate in some major exhibitions and publications. While Wang’s use of “digitality” as a concept has barely been brought up, the traditional aspects of his photographs were more commonly focused on. This conflict between the digital feature and the tradition waits for the power of time to resolve. It seems that now is the best time to inspect Wang ’s artworks, since digitality has been normal, that is, in photography, the worlds can be smooth, and the colors can be public. Wang has placed himself in this featureless domain for a long time.
Wang Yishu’s photography condenses and solidifies the visible objects in the real world in order to reveal the condition of a hardly noticed object falling into an unknown space. In some of his photographs, some figures are trying to keep balance or on the margin of disequilibrium. In Wang’s other works, the sense of balance formed by composition looks so fragile , which is likely to be broken in a second. The world inside his photographs lacks a continuous steadiness ,thus it requires the viewers to create a new stability by contributing their own feelings. People who are hugely satisfied by Wang’s photographs may feel that they themselves have taken critical parts in constructing the images. Through Wang works, we can find out how sharp a photographer’s visual consciousness can be. He strips off the connection between the subject matter and its secular and moral meanings to create a new possibility of observation and perception.
in Wang Yishu’s works, one can barely find any trace left by the force of western fine art photography. It seems that he is a self-influencing artist. Certainly he acknowledges history of art and photography, as well as the trends in art and the transition of times, but he also recognizes that his photography should, first of all, reflect his sensibility. He posits his works in a large entity. His works have achieved greater flexibility by breaking off from structural constraints such as “themes” or “series”. He doesn’t emphasize on any intention or topic when it comes to exhibitions or publications, but rather takes photographs as material to constructa space that is dedicated to observation and perception. Hence, the viewers are encouraged to find their own way out. Wang hopes that every viewer could find his/her own answer, in other words, discover his/her own path in the world of his photography.
In his monograph Return, which comprised of his works from 2003 to 2009, many of the photographs reflect the bizarre situations in the society that people are experiencing. These photographs shaped Wang’s artistic style at that time. The 2016 monograph Open Ending continues his former artistic style while indicates transitions – his high sensitivities towars the relationship of colors, textures and structure are gradually blending in, and his acute observations toward people are diffusing into the corners. Wang’s source of inspirations shifts from human being to objects, from complexity to delightfulness. More of his new works accumulate and reinforce these transitions into an intense impression. These photographs resemble the cavities on the surface of reality, which is filled with the look of the actual world that is rather independent. In those new photographs, Wang Yishu no longer constructs complex metaphors, instead, a sudden enlightenment towards light, color and shadow. In some settings or moments, Wang uses strobe lights to sculpt or dissect the lighting environment of the space. He produces shadows to disturb the world in the photographs. He is skillful enough to generate a great tension in his photographs, whichabsorb people’s attention rapidly. One can try to explain the tension from many aspects, however, there won’t be any explanation that is able to accurately describe the force flowing inside the images. Our language revolves around his photographs yet unable to penetrate; our sensibility is divided into uncertain forms; and our ability to generalize deprives. While crushing the common visual impression of the world, a world that sets higher demands on the senses is setting in motion.
张君钢 Zhang Jungang