steel, multi-layer board, aluminium, metallic paint, serigraph
32 x 110 x 170 cm
A secret is contained within the meticulously crafted abstract pieces of Shi Yong’s ‘Let All Potential Be Internally Resolved Using Beautiful Form’ (2015). Disillusioned with the relentless pressure of the international art market, the artist took a hiatus saying, “At that time, the whole art circle and contemporary art system was running like a huge machine.” He returned eight years later with a much-anticipated solo exhibition of sculptures that mystified his audience. These colourful, highly refined, abstract sculptures are made from building and interior decoration materials — timber, plywood, polyethylene, steel, aluminium, plastic, paint, and wallpaper. Distracted by the play of hues, lines, and shapes, it takes a moment for viewers to notice that a line of text runs through these highly formalised sculptures. However, the text is completely indecipherable, dissected by a thick aluminium strip exactly 18cm high across all the various shapes. Embedded within the works are approximately 3000 words of a mysterious story told by the artist of a personal encounter that he is unwilling to share. The story is divided across the 25 pieces, yet no one will ever be able to see or know the full story. Shi describes the work as “a game where space, material and language are either controlling or being controlled.” Yet he continues, “What can really manipulate us is not the decorated layer that you see, but the invisible fact that it is unseen and everywhere.” Using gestures of “cutting”, “erasing”, and “hiding”, Shi Yong becomes the mastermind controlling these beautiful forms – making us wonder if what you see is really what you get.