The Ancient Stage — A Great Shock.
Chen zhiguang is a principled person with independent thinking and actions, he never plays his cards in a normal way. His works are always surprising and attractive. When you have the first sight at one of his works, it’s hard to anticipate his next works.
The groups of the ants are his earliest sculptural works which indicated his low profile of initiation. The ants show his concern with the tiny trifle things. Once the tiny creature, the commonest and the most noteless ants, were amplified to a monster size and then an unexpected effect came into being. And, of course, the shining stainless steel can not hide his willful rebelling ideas and somewhat tricksy psychology. As it is well-known that the misuse of the stainless steel in the city sculpture has turned this kind of material into a dangerous and futureless one. But started from the ants, Chen zhiguang has been using the stainless steel as the sculptural material focusing on seeking the mirror surface effect, which seems to convey a deliberate challenge.
That group of stainless steel giant ants joined some important exhibitions and later in 2005 in Shanghai’s Hundred Years of Sculpture Exhibition, a new group of stainless steel forged ancient girls in a Band appeared. The humanism has been strengthened in Chen’s works, symbolized by the transform from animals to persons, especially to ancient figures. Modern material and ancient figures formed an extreme contrast ; the work turned the sculptor’s interest from the Pop style of ants to the history contents.
In October, 2006, the elaborate Ancient Stage created by Chen zhiguang ceremonially exhibited in Songzhuang, the elements of animals and figures disappeared but “matter” existed. This is another shock, which indicates a turning point of Chen’s creation. His former works can be regarded as an exploring transition stage and then Ancient Stage helps him to find out a corresponding relationship among materials, creative ideas, personal experience and interest which thickened his works.
Ancient Stage makes the people have a feeling of shock.
Firstly, it’s the force from copying that makes the people have a feeling of the omnipotent technology of copying. In an era filled with technology and instrumental ration, the force of copying is touchable and it mixes reality with virtuality. The copy of a real ancient architecture based on the original shape indicated the sculptor’s inner enthusiasm and extreme fierceness in hard working.
Facing the giant shocking metal reproduction, we can have a very complicated feeling: it’s real and weird; it’s closed to us as real material but it’s far away from us because of its disuniting effect caused by the material transform, which often puzzles us.
Shock also comes from the details of Ancient Stage. Every part of it has become enrichment for its elaborate forging. The details with body temperature of history and presence become icy after the transform of materials, which urge us to cast away the mediate on the past to face the feelingless material ration.
But, it is really an archaized material-transformed stage. Once the relationship among the size and the dissociation of the prototype and mimic has been set up, it truly could be a special “ new and old, technical and historical” scene. It can continue its history by containing authentic actors performance, and it can recode history and realism, model and duplication, life and art, reality and virtuality, causing different kinds of imaginary space and illustrating possibilities.
A good work of art should always be such a piece that it has to face many historical, cultural and social problems. But the way of its cut-in is not as simple and obvious as an either-or one. An ancient stage that experienced many changes shows us its significance of existence, and the metal stage copied by modern material endowed it with a further significance. A duplicated stage faces the extending of modern life, which makes it a fancy existence. It is a stage that the people can enter and perform on it. It is also a stage that satisfy our imaginary to history in a fantastic and authentic way.
But after all, it’s only a virtual Ancient Stage, an Ancient Stage which shocked us.