Art@Site Weigang Gao Maze California

Weigang Gao



The Donum Estate
In this land I see mainly horizontals: the fields, the horizon, the clouds.
Now something strange happens.
Maze by Gao Weigang has verticals. The same high tubes are standing close to each other.
I come closer. These tubes are placed on a row. They form a square. While walking I see that there are also rows in the inner form. Between the rows I see the background.
I get to know the tubes.
I walk between the tubes. What are these tubes saying? Do they want to show a labyrinthine pattern? Do they want to confuse me in a hedge maze? I go where the tubes lead me to.
I am familiar with the tubes.
The rhythm of the space sets my mind at ease. The path goes to the left. The path goes to the right. This route is clear. This route has s beginning and an end.
I like to walk again between the tubes the route of Maze by Gao Weigang.
By Theo,

In dit land zie ik vooral horizontalen: de velden, de horizon, de wolken.
Nu gebeurt er iets vreemds.
Maze door Gao Weigang heeft verticalen. Allemaal dezelfde hoge buizen dicht op elkaar.
Ik kom dichterbij. Deze buizen staan op een rij. Zij vormen een vierkant. Tijdens de wandeling zie ik dat zij ook rijen aan de binnenkant vormen. Tussen de rijen door zie ik de verte.
Ik wordt bekend met de buizen.
Ik loop tussen de buizen door. Wat zeggen de buizen? Willen zij een labyrintisch patroon laten zien? Willen zij mij in verwarring brengen in een doolhof? Ik laat mij leiden en volg het pad.
Ik ben vertrouwd met de buizen.
Het ritme van de ruimte stelt mij gerust. Het pad gaat linksaf. Het pad gaat rechtsaf. Deze route is duidelijk. Deze route heeft een begin en een einde.
Graag loop ik nogmaals tussen de buizen de route van Maze door Gao Weigang.
Door Theo,

The Donum Estate by YouTube:
The work creates an optical illusion: From the outside, viewers have no idea what the structure is, and its elements shifts with the light; from the inside, the grid forms both a pathway and a prison, as viewers look out at the world through the bars.
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'I am not into unnecessary artificial designs,' says the artist. 'For me, it is too reminiscent of the way people always give children too much guidance and explanations, which frustrates me. It is easier to understand and express simple things. Life is complicated enough.'
The general idea behind his work, says the art"to explore the idea of life as a constant struggle, especially in the face of temptation and so-called victory, when it is difficult for us to see our own weakness and hypocrisy."
The artist created 'Maze' out of a matrix of brass-coated stainless steel tubes that reflect the surrounding landscape. The work creates an optical illusion: from the outside, viewers have no idea what the structure is, and its elements shift with the light. From the inside, the grid forms both a pathway and a prison, as viewers look out at the world through the steel bars. The work is more playful than political though and reminds us that we see nature through a grid of our own making, whether through technology, through the window of a car, or looking at a photograph or painting of nature.
The Chinese artist Gao Weigang is best known as a sculptor and installation artist. He works with metals such as stainless steel and gold, and represents everyday elements or objects that are taken out of their usual context. His sculptures range from a staircase leading nowhere, to a ladder made of forged stainless steel and gold, to a jackhammer hanging from a ceiling, to sipecific installations that engage the viewer, such as his 'Maze' at Donum. His work challenges us to question what we see before us and to rethink the accuracy of our common knowledge and perception.
A decade or so ago, while in Beijing, he decided to show his work to the artist-activist Ai Weiwei. The two became friends, and in 2008, Ai gave Gao his first exhibition: at the China Art Archives and Warehouse in Caochangdi. Gao considers Ai his mentor and his favorite living artist, so it is particularly appropriate that the works of both artists meet at Donum.
Gao Weigang was born in the coal-mining city of Jixi, in China’s Heilongjiang province. As a child, he preferred to be on his own and doodle in the courtyard of the compound where he and his family lived. He learned painting from an uncle who encouraged him to attend art school. So after high school, Gao was admitted to the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts.
Later, and for many years, he taught oil painting in Tianjin, before moving into makulpture and installation. 'I became bored with painting, as I was too familiar with it,' he has said. 'I can paint an object easily, but that is it. There is nothing new to it. What’s more, a painting cannot express everything clearly. So I decided to choose installation as a new vehicle to express my ideas in a different manner.'
From the beginning, the artist wide-ranging practice implicates a nod to Contemporary Constructivism1 - minimal, pure, mysterious - as well as something more esoteric: he has brought elements such as light, recorded sound, and text into his work to link disparate forms and narratives. With their varied shifts in scale, sensory disorientation and mismatched objects, Gao’s manipulation of these seemingly random elements developed into a tight formal vocabulary. From obscuration to withdrawal, the Beijing-based artist uses the tension between material and surface, and between two and three-dimensional space, to address the physical presence of where viewers are encouraged and invited to move into and through.
This interplay between permeability and obstruction that collapse borders and invites transgression find its strongest manifestation in the main work that dominates and engages with the architecture of the gallery. Named after the exhibition title, the defining feature is its defiance of gravity. Comprised of 50 pieces, the installation is bound together by interlocking step-like forms, and hung like a giant serpent; suspended at various heights and angles, literally stretching across the majority of the gallery. Held in place by thin metal wires which possess a threatening precariousness as if Gao is playing with contrasts of heft and weightlessness, the imposing presence of unexpected symmetry transforms an arduous process into visual poetry. Biding their time, the intricate modular structures have effectively colonized the main areas of the gallery – if not just yet the sky.
In these long undulating swaths of mirrored stainless sel, punctuated by the diffusion of its golden hue, Gao has extended one of his signature motifs, the stair, as a point of reference, not only by alluding to the exhibition title but also by exploiting the dialectical relationship between opacity and transparency. He brings the gallery into full play and submerges the viewer into endless web of reflections, which distort, unsettle and reconfigure our spatial logic. The work floats freely, and yet creates additional obstacles to negotiate. Much is made of the expressive quality of this installation and the result not only changes the viewer’s perception of the gallery space but through its reflective materiality, also leave them with fractional and partial views of the other exhibiting artworks.
The interplay between image production and mediation also appears in the form of several sculptures and mixed-media works. Here, unlike the imposing presence of the overarching installation, Gao has transformed the tough materials of stainless steel and titanium io something delicate; conveying a sense of precarious balance that belies its solidity.