10,000 Believers Sun Jianwei Solo Show
June 11th, 2011 - July 24th, 2011
With his latest body of work, Sun Jianwei takes us into the incense heavy haze of a Buddhist cave. His multilayered paintings render objects in a dark, obscure light – challenging the eye to pick out what is real and what is a product of the imagination.
This new series of paintings enter into the shifting and often amorphous territory of faith, using Buddhist iconography – lotus flowers, Buddhist statuary and religious pilgrims — to convey ideas about purity, ethical behavior, desire and it’s antagonistic partner, self control.
Sun’s interest in this subject was piqued by a trip to Longmen Grottoes and the Leshan Buddha. He was fascinated by the skill of the carvers – their ability to convey the concepts of Buddhism not through realistic narrative paintings (such as those found in Christianity) but through stylized carvings of gods.
His depictions of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas often obscure facial features in an attempt to deprive the viewer of details – a purposeful act to convey a sense of the unknown. Sun also incorporates a sculptural element into his technique using modeling paste to build up reliefs on the canvas. His complex painting language involves layering of acrylic washes on top of canvas, application of modeling paste, and finally a thin layer of diluted oils which are applied to certain areas of the painting. What emerges is a deep and variegated canvas which yields different results from far away as it does from up close. In a sense, Sun’s abstract and complex paintings parallel both the mysteries and complexities of Buddhism itself.