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Wang Guangle (王光樂)

Coffin 140915

2014

90 cm (h) x 90 cm (l) x 15 cm (d)

Acrylic on canvas

The title Coffin Paint—its Chinese title translates literally as “lacquer of longevity”—carries serious sentimental and cultural connotations.
As with the Coffin Paint series, each painting is provided with a numeric title indicating the year, month, and day of its completion. Each stroke of paint signifies a moment in time, an amalgamation of gesture, which in completion becomes a meditation on temporality. Wang reveals, “the most important thing is not the ‘what’ of painting, but the ‘how.’”
The Coffin Paint series was inspired by a burial tradition he witnessed while growing up in Fujian province, southern China, where it is customary for the elderly to cope with their impending mortality by acquiring a casket and painting it in red lacquer, adding a coat of paint every year on the same date as a celebration of longevity. A meditative symbol of acceptance and preparation, the coffin can incur several years’ worth of paint layers up until the moment of a person’s passing. In this way, Wang’s method evokes a strong metaphor, relating to Chinese cultural identity as much as it relates to conceptual art practices.

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