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The Limits of Vision

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At 16:30, Aug 11st, 2018, hosted by the internationally-renowned artist Xu Bing, the exhibition The Limits of Vision by Yang Hongwei was opened in Zhuzhong Art Museum.


Artist Yang Hongwei said that to appreciate arts requires our sense of eyes, which relates to the first topic of this exhibition – “vision”; “Limits” means how I challenge people’s visionary limitations on the identification of images, as well as artistic techniques and languages. In conclusion, The Limits of Vision includes not only sense of vision and experience but also the artistic language.


















At the end of 1990s, Yang Hongwei was inspired by computers when he was doing designing work: the computer screen was formed by thousands and thousands of pixel matrixes, so can the printmaking be disintegrated and dissembled into a new pixels?


In addition to the inspiration of movable-type printing, Yang starts his creation. “Pixel Analysis” aims to build a pixel database like a computer backstage. Currently, he is intending to make thousands and thousands of pixels (which he calls pixel module) by hands. Every module is made by pearwood block in different sizes. With wood-carving knives, they will be cut into different grayish color levels ranging from 1%-99%. Then these modules will be composed in thousands of ways together to form various pictures.


Pixel Analysis No.6 is composed with 2264 pixels. What is on the left is the famous painting Stones by Calm Trees and Stream with Hills in the Distance by Guo Xi in Song Dynasty. What is on the right is the Bathing Woman by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a western impressionism painter. Both of the pictures are composed by 2264 pixels in different permutation and combination. With pixels, Yang makes different pictures.


The host, a world-renowned artist Xu Bing talked about Yang’s work: “The pixels have different degrees of grayish colors. They can be composed to form the portrait of a man and also that of his wife, as well as any picture that varies. It’s like gene database. What he creates is not simply an art work but a system or a method. He creates a new grammar of an ancient language. It creates a new art grammar and has largely extended the possibility of artistic expression of printmaking.


From the prospect of themes, his works varies from Chinese traditional landscape painting to western oil paintings like Mona Lisa, Les Grandes Baigneuses of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. What’s more, Pixels Analysis No.10 (Yalta Conference) created on basis of the historical event is also included.











Yalta Conference is a summit meeting held from Feb. 4th to Feb.11st of 1945 with the attendance of three countries—America (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) Britain (Winston Churchill) and Soviet Union (Joseph Visarionovic Stalin). Held in Yalta Palace in Crimea Peninsula in the north of the Black Sea, it is a important summit meeting in the middle of the WWII, concerned with the share of benefit of each side and the arrangement and the peace keeping after the war.


With the permutation and recombination of the pixels, Yang has reproduced the scene at the time.


From the works exhibited, we can see that Yang not only uses pixels to represent a picture, but also combines printmaking with cultural symbols, historical events, which is an attempt to explore the limit and the meaning of “vision”. These attempts can be found in every series of his works. For example, Yang has displays the whole process of creating Mona Lisa with pixels through 13 pictures in order.


















As for Crystal Portrait, by placing the acrylic blocks in different forms, the image of the Virgin Mary is represented. Such works are highly sensitive to the angle of watching. Different angles result to different images.





World-renowned scholar Liu He wrote in the preface of the exhibition: “So, what can people see in these works? A Mona Lisa in pixels? A landscape painting of Guo Xi from Song Dynasty? Or an image of the Buddism goddess Guanyin which has been reproduced by different medias?


At first glance, every work is found to refer to a famous western painting, or an ancient Chinese literati work. But looking closer, you will find that it is not that simple.


It turns out that the artist makes the best of pixels and their shadows to explore the possibilities of picture construction, with different medias, as means that it is a reproduction of the images rather than simple copies of the famous works. Maybe, the lights and shadows of pixels can help people see the nature of contemporary arts and help them cognize the limits of our eyes.











Water, Origin of All Things & The Untitled



This exhibition has also shown some other groups of works created by Yang when he studied on printmaking. Water, Origin of All things is created on a large plank, on which the artist carved countless small dots.


The artist said that these repetitive actions have helped me find peace. The sound generated by knife cutting wood is like the sound made by Buddhist monks hitting wooden fish.


The sound sets me into a status that the ego and the feeling of gravity are all gone, and my mind falls into peace. In this stage, you are cut off from all the distractions of life and focus on only the carving.














Comparing to the abstract expression of Water, Origin of All Things, the concrete expression of The Untitled and Narration of the Process has presented Yang’s thoughts and imagination of life, society and human world.


Through these exaggerated images, we feel the way that we have entered into a different world. The desires, emotions and group relations conveyed in the works present the author’s imagination on one hand and the section of the real society on the other hand.











-About Artists-



Yang Hongwei

Deputy Director of Printmaking Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts

Professor, Master Instructor, Artist


Born in Tianjin in 1968

Graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2008 with a master's degree

Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in 2014

Visiting Artist at Cornell University in 2015

Graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2015 with a Phd’s degree


Solo Exhibition

2016 “Element·Purity Analysis”, Global Center of Columbia University, Beijing, China

2015 “Element·Purity Analysis”, Meeting Space, Beijing, China

2012 “Ebbing” Exhibition in three cities: White Space, Beijing; White Night Gallery, Chengdu; Huayi Gallery, Guangzhou

2012 “Injury”, Today Art Museum, Beijing

2008 “Wild”, Whitespace, Beijing

2008 “Out of Wood”, Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

2006 “Deeds and Traces”, Three Plus Three Gallery, Beijing

2003 “Yang Hongwei Colorful Wood Engraving Exhibition”, Art Museum, Shanghai

2001, “Yang Hongwei's Black and White Wood Engraving Exhibition”, Art Museum, Shanghai


Group Exhibition

2018 “China Tour - Scarcity Collection”, Netherlands

2017 “International Wood Engraving and Document Exhibition”, Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing, China

2017 “A Flying Swallow Leaves No Shadow in the Icy Lake”, Eslite, Suzhou, China

2016 “India Biennale”, Cochin India

2016 “Yinchuan Biennial”, Yinchuan China

2016 “Teaching Professions - Exhibition of Experimental Art Years”, Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China

2015 “Wen Xin Xiu Xi”, Sotheby's New York Center, New York, USA

2015 “Myth, Narration, Imagination - 2015 Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition”, Shenzhen, China

2014 “1+ N Printmaking Style”, Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, China

"Small Logic - Language Coding and Language Expression of Contemporary Art", Parkview Gree Gallery, Beijing, China

“Mapping Madness DRAW”, Intermediate Art Museum, Beijing, China

2013 “Mind Acts upon Mind”, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, China

“The Second Stand of Mind Acts upon Mind”, Yue Art Museum, Beijing, China

"Single Straight", Guanlan Printmaking Base, Shenzhen, China

 “The Exhibition of Teachers' Works of the Central Academy of Fine Arts”, Central Academy of Fine Arts Art Museum, Beijing, China

2012 “Xinjiang Biennial”, Xinjiang Art Museum, Urumqi, China

“The Power of Modeling”, London, United Kingdom

 “Shanghai International Printmaking Exhibition”, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China

2011 “Multiple Impressions”, University of Michigan Museum of Art, USA

 "The Second Chinese Contemporary Printmaking Academic Print - Concepts", Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

“A schema for printmaking:, Contemporary by Angela Li, Hong Kong China

2010 “Exhibition of Teachers' Works of the Central Academy of Fine Arts”, Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China

2009 “Yi Style Exhibition”, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

2008 “Sign Exhibition of Prints”, Desen Gallery, Beijing, China

2007 "Chinese and Foreign Famous Prints Exhibition", 3+3 Art Space, Beijing, China

2006 “Guanlan International Print Biennial”, Guanlan Printmaking Base, Shenzhen, China

 “The First Chinese Contemporary College Print Invitation Exhibition”, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

2004 “Korea International Print Biennial”, Seoul, Korea

“The 17th National Print Art Exhibition”, Guizhou Provincial Art Museum, Guizhou, China

2003 "Open Age-Anniversary Exhibition of National Art Museum of China", National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

“Beijing International Print Biennial”, Yanhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China

  “The First Graduation Exhibition of Central Academy of Fine Arts”, Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China

2002 "Exhibition of Contemporary Eight Persons ", Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

  “The 16th National Print Art Exhibition”, Anhui Provincial Art Museum, Hefei, China

“The 10th Taiwan International Print and Sketch Biennale”, Taipei, Taiwan

2001 “Shanghai Print Invitation Exhibition”, Er Dongqiang Art Center, Shanghai, China

2000 “The 15th National Print Exhibition”, Guangdong Provincial Art Museum, Guangzhou, China

1996 “The 13th National Print Exhibition”, Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, Nanjing, China



Israel Contemporary Art Foundation, Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Columbia University, Cornell University Art Museum, New Jersey State Cultural Center, United Kingdom Wood Engraving Foundation, China Art Museum, Today Art Museum, Sichuan Art Museum, Guangdong Art Museum , Guanshanyue Art Museum, Anhui Provincial Art Museum, Yanhuang Art Museum, Yue Art Museum, Guanlan Printmaking Base, Shanghai Haishan Art Center, Shanghai Er Dongqiang Printmaking Center, and other domestic and foreign institutions and private collections of various countries.