Tian Tian Wang
Exhibition View

The theme of fire dominates Tian Tian Wang´s work. The site of the fire, often a house of or a mountain, seems to accept - if only reluctantly - the flames that have encroached upon it. Wanting to express the pristine, metaphysical symbolism of fire in her paintings rather than the physical sensation of burning, Tian Tian Wang emphasizes the extraordinary contrast between looking at a house on fire and the profound silence that surrounds the actuality of the destruction. In seeking a more erudite and pure perception of the unsettling dance of fire and smoke, Tian Tian Wang acknowledges that fire undergoes constant changes in color and shape, and that it likewise alters the image of what it engulfs. The artist`s reverence for mountains and volcanoes, which are also depicted in her paintings, stems from the fact that they are equally unconfined forces. By isolating these figures from nature and recognizing their power, Tian Tian Wang presents them as both, a gentle component of the natural environment and a potentially intimidating one. This potential imbues Tian Tian Wang´s paintings with a narrative that plays in the gap between nature and our changing conceptualization of it. In these works, a mountain can be a foreground character or a scenic backdrop.

With her work, Tian Tian Wang provokes viewers in a delicate, albeit ironical sense, insisting they question their way of thinking, without abandoning their first impressions of her paintings. Tian Tian Wang´s ability to create a dialogue between the objects she paints and untouched space that surrounds them is both, novel and unassuming; it allows for interpretative playfulness when approaching her work, despite its tone of great severity.

Saskia Neumann - Catalogue text 53rd Venice Biennale