The Pompidou Centre, Paris, recently acquired a Wang Keping sculpture

The Society of friends of the National Museum of Modern Art has acquired l’Étreinte (2010-2014), a Wang Keping sculpture in cherry wood. Based in France for several decades, this Chinese dissident artist is one of the pioneers in contemporary art of the Middle Empire.

Wang Keping with Xing Xing co-founder, Ai Weiwei

Wang Keping's friend and co-founder of the Chinese avant-garde Stars Group (Xing Xing 星星), Ai Weiwei, underlines the historical revelance of Wang Keping within the history of contemporary art in China :

"Wang Keping creates a work of remarkable originality. Within that Xing Xing exhibition (the infamous non-authorised exhibition in Beijing, 1979)  his works were the most impactful, they instantly gave off the primitive force of wood sculpture, and with an indirect social message... If we might say that the Xing Xing exhibition of 1979 was the first time contemporary art in Chinese showed its face of demanding freedom of expression, thus opening a window to subsequent artistic manifestations, it was the work of Wang Keping that shone like a beacon through that window. He was just such a central figure to that group in the 70s, to the Xing Xing exhibition, and the democratic movement we were engaged upon."

More anecdotal, Ai Weiwei adds : 

"Following a visit from Wang Keping during my time in New York, I went to see him in Paris. It had a great impact on me. His entire studio was filled with artworks, everyday he would continue working on his new sculptures. His daily life and personal appearance were like an extension on the uncompleted aspect of his works. At that time he had no gallery, no exhibitions, yet even under these circumstances he threw himself with tireless energy into his work. To put things differently, he obtained great stimulation from his work, conversely oblivious to other interests in his daily life. His life was simple to the extreme: it was normal for an apple to compose his daily meal, this left a great impact on me."

Wang Keping with fellow artists and spectators during the 1979 Xing Xing exhibition in China, subsequently dismantled by the authorities

Translated text © Maison Bleu Studio