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The Rite of Spring

Wang You

MASSIMODECARLO is pleased to present Chinese artist Wang You’s project with the gallery in Beijing, entitled The Rite of Spring.

27.04.2023 | 23.07.2023
Beijing Permanent Space

As a self-taught artist, Wang You’s art touches people with keen sensitivity, bright and lively colours, as well as free and innocent visual elements. The scenes and characters she portrays often have a strong sense of theatricality, intertwined with realistic narratives and illusory fantasies. With extremely detailed observations, she paints drunken friends, strangers passing by, and teddy bears abandoned in corners for a long time… She pays attention to the complex and ever-changing human emotions around her, such as sensitivity, uncertainty, desire, and fear.

The Rite of Spring continues the artist’s treatment of these pictorial themes whilst directing her attention to dance and music, and her relationship as a ballet dancer with her paintings. The Rite of Spring is a ballet and orchestral concert by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, written between 1910 and 1913. Its wild primitiveness was questioned by mainstream society at the time and is now seen as the beginning of neoclassical music. “The first time I saw The Rite of Spring was the performance of Pina Bausch (1940-2009), which totally shocked me. I felt my heart was about to jump out of my chest. Barbaric vitality and collective hypnotic carnival can be presented in a ballet! It can be so unbridled, completely independent from elegance."

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Unlike before, most characters in this exhibition are dancers that Wang You has never seen. “Although I paint dancers, I don’t portray the difficult dance movements and gestures, nor do I draw the best moments. I wanted to paint a neutral state, an offstage state, a state with no cameras surrounding. The dancers' bodies are their faces. They do not need to use too many facial expressions to express themselves, so I try to paint their fingertips with the same sincerity as drawing their eyes, where the emotions and feelings are also present: fragile, sad, neurotic, powerful, spirited, ambitious…” Just like in The Rite of Spring, there is no splendid clothing or spectacular scenery: it purely praises human instincts and nature.

Wang You has empathetic feelings when depicting the characters. “I learned ballet when I was a child. I understand the dancers' bodies and the pain. With the same muscle memory, I paint with confidence. Even when there were deformations sometimes, I know how to change and I know where the joints are.” Through dramatic imagination and her personal background as a dancer, Wang You integrates these two experiences into her work, creating a unique language and style of her own.

The Artist

Wang You