王宁徳 WANGNINGDE

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Some Days

Some Days is the product of many years’ effort; I believe that Wang Ningde expended much patience and energy to complete it. Consideration of this group of works gives one a feeling of the conscious thought and understanding activity that Wang Ningde put into the creation of it, rather than the usual intuition with which an artist approaches their work. This is because he has strongly emphasized the quality of expression within narrative.

To mature readers, there’s something almost offensive about the young artist Wang Ningde, perhaps it is a gene that creates unique inner drama, a kind of inner hysteria and unhealthy feeling, that kind of conflicted extreme paradox of playfulness and abandonment. Therefore, Some Days is a mature work. Within, we can see the convictions of Ningde as an artist, a full combination of enthusiasm, confidence, and wit—he patiently, compulsively, and not-so-politely makes you trust him. He wishes to cut off the unceasing flood of images today, to return to a certain area of the language of photography, to reintroduce the grammar of the silence and stillness of the image.  

There is seemingly an original text that can be found in Wang Ningde’s works. On the one hand, it seems to go back to the problem of Chinese cultural memory; on the other hand, the memories described in the works are obviously fictional in nature, hiding the fact of the artist’s construction in the narrative. This causes the narrative to break from facing him and instead reveals a more open side, while dramatically increasing the profundity of the language of the works. 

Owing to his emphasis on an individual tone, Wang Ningde has rejected photography’s usual points of expression. Looking at his works there seems to be a clear sense of narrative. Within his narrative are obvious signs of tampering and fiction, and yet there are facts implied as well. His works clearly focus on the event narration itself. In the combined resources of love and hate, suffering and atonement that he brings, he also raises memories that need to be recognized and named by our culture; this is another layer of meaning that follows.

The work Some Days describes the totality of a period of adolescence already lost, a husband and wife who clearly see the happy illusion of their love shattered, excellent camouflage and cold reality; it is about the states of youth, sexuality, growing up, and the dangers therein. The figures’ empty expressions and refusal to make eye contact disturb the viewer’s confidence—by inward gaze, Wang Ningde observes the viewer; viewing captures gaze. In his works, the signifier and signified cannot coherently compose an integrated chain of meaning, cannot discourse from one particular point of view, and they cannot be distinguished from each other. He seems to resurrect dead images, juxtapose them and finally rearrange them into new combinations.

I have noticed that there is a tender side to Wang Ningde’s works as well. This warmth clearly filters through the many layers of national tragedy fostered by the collective unconscious familiar to us. With his moving psychological narrative he shares the story and symbols with the understanding insider. In a kind of reconstructed narrative grammar, he uses metaphors and imagination to once again clean up these strands and memories and open them to face humanity. 

Guo Xiaoyan