Conveying the invisible truths through art with Wantian Cui
Wantian Cui has loved art since he was child and ever since aspired to become a painter. At the age of nine, he won a painting contest and already in high school he held his first art exhibition. Due to family circumstances and other factors, he was essentially self-taught by learning a great deal of Chinese and Western art achievements more widely and freely, breaking away from Soviet art teaching style in Chinese art schools which he was not heavily influenced by. As an undergraduate, he majored in literature and afterwards, by sliver of hope, decided to switch to economics, where he earned a PhD and became an economics professor. Meet Wantian Cui and read about his story.
Palazzo Bembo | Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice?
In addition to my academic career, I have been a successful entrepreneur in the computer and health technology industries for over 20 years and I am one of the industry's most prominent figures. These experiences and backgrounds have provided me with greater historical knowledge and experience of the times than the average artist, as well as a deeper appreciation of this economic era of entrepreneurship and innovation, allowing me greater freedom to innovate in the arts using technological methods. I am also objectively free from the pressure to earn a living through art, and as a truly independent artist I am able to create art with greater purity and independence. No matter what type of career I have pursued over the years, I have never given up on my artistic aspirations, constantly seeking to innovate and develop art forms, and obsessing over the creation of great works of historical value and societal significance. Over the past decade, I have consistently participated in a variety of art events and exhibitions, garnering widespread support and acclaim.
How does your work fit and respond to the theme of this year’s edition of Personal Structures, ‘reflections’?
The current state of the world's truth is "eclosion in progress," per my definition. Today's world is at a turning point, a new phase in the history of the universe, and the term "eclosion" is intended to emphasise the changing nature of the current world as opposed to the previous one, which was neither a general nor a fundamental change, but rather one that maintained the status quo. This transformation is analogous to the butterfly's metamorphosis from a chrysalis to a fully-feathered butterfly; they are intrinsically linked, but have transformed into an entirely different and more beautiful species. In Chinese Taoist philosophy, eclosion refers to the process of transforming from mortal to immortal through cultivation, a positive outcome of cultivation, a transformation into immortality, or the cultivation of sainthood. I am also optimistic about the future of humanity. I do not believe that the outlook for tomorrow is bleak in light of the problems and challenges of today. In contrast, I believe that tomorrow's eclosion will be an improvement over today's.
Palazzo Bembo | Photo credits: Riccardo Grassetti
In PS software, eclosion is the fusion of different layers overlaid to create a vignetting effect, which accurately reflects a certain characteristic of the contemporary world; all pieces of data and forces are interwoven, superimposed, and fused together, all types of possibilities and uncertainties are seeking possible certainties, and every element of the world is involved in the eclosion symbiosis process. Eclosion, therefore is a form of symbiotic evolution, as opposed to a generic evolutionary process. It is an evolutionary leap with never-before-seen capabilities.
Is there a different approach between the works exhibited at Palazzo Bembo and the ones present at Palazzo Mora?
My artistic style is founded on the idea of eclosion. I characterise this style as truth-factualism, which I consider to be the reality of the modern world. Both at Bembo and Mora I attempted to imitate my eclosion style series. Both rooms are decorated by historical artists with a mixture of religious and realistic scenes.
In Bembo's room, I have redefined Picasso in the language of "eclosion," depicting this modern art master in an entirely new artistic and visual way: a magnificent body resembling coloured mountains and rocks, demonstrating Picasso's natural regal and divine qualities.
"The Miracle in the Office" illustrates my intention to join the sacred and the profane by superimposing various elements and themes. This can be seen in the shadow of a Gothic church window reflected at the end of a modern office, reflecting my desire to unite the sacred and profane.
Painting in the middle: "The Miracle in the Office" by Wantian Cui | Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
In "Time to Repentance" the Hebrew letters of "Hallelujah" float in a window-like image, heightening the visual illusion and sense of dissonance, which are accentuated by the central Van Gogh chair and the distant computer screen displaying Bible passages. It can be seen that a red carpet, resembling a flame, fills the space in the center with the green color of life, that is, oxygen, indicating only through repentance can there be life.
Time to Repentance by Wantian Cui
In "The Supper at Emmaus" I attempted to create a dialogue between time and space by projecting Jesus and his disciples by Caravaggio. I projected Caravaggio's Jesus and his disciples onto the background of an overlapping church and office, emphasising and reproducing the actual presence of God with the effect of glass reflections and reflections, and dissolving the figures into the image.
I have placed a sculpture titled "My brain raped" in this room to emphasise the fact that our brains are being raped by the information media of the world. For the sake of the future, I urge us to stop brainwashing our children. Through a bomb in the form of a male genital inserted into the ear, the work symbolises the forced indoctrination and brainwashing of all individuals by the various informational media of contemporary society. I used over 5,000 surveillance cameras to demonstrate that humans are constantly under surveillance and that the luminous nervous system in the brain is connected to the fibre optic inside the bomb, vividly demonstrating the profound involvement and influence of information technology and digitalization on humans oppression.
Painting in the middle: "The Supper at Emmaus" by Wantian Cui | Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
Sculpture 'My brain raped' by Wantian Cui | Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
There is a greater emphasis on dialogue with history in Mora's work, as evidenced by the use of Freud's portrait of Francis Bacon, new interpretations of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper series, and the icon series, which all seek to create new possibilities for the future by drawing on bodies that have existed in the past. I wanted to emphasise that the present is based on the history of the past, in almost the same way that a butterfly with wings shares the same genes as a caterpillar.
In “The Last Supper Triptych” I combined easel painting and installation art for the first time to create a visual perception that is subversive through the use of multiple perspectives. On the left is an original production of Leonardo da Vinci's drawing in a perspective-distorted frame, the oblique perspective distorting the space; in the middle, the choice of mirror reflection allows history and reality to interact; the main work is a blue “Last Supper” hand-painted using the innovative technique of eclosion. ”The Last Supper”, which seems to have traversed the Middle Ages and the Industrial Age, has now entered the virtual reality realm. Time and space interact and are superimposed; the dinner continues, but at different times. Timelines and spatial axes are distorted by our visual perceptions, illusion and reality superimposed and merged in a pair of eyes; reflecting the viewer on a white steel mirror, allowing the viewer to participate and see themselves in a new light.
"The Last Supper Triptych" by Wantian Cui | Photo credits: Federico Vespignani
Why is it important for you to exhibit in Venice with the European Cultural Centre?
I am extremely grateful to the European Cultural Centre for the exhibition platform and value their respect and tolerance for artists as they provide a genuine platform for artists to exhibit their work with passion. The team that I have interacted with is extremely professional and devoted, with a particular love and understanding of art as well as a complete dedication to the artists and the exhibitions. Three times in a row, I've participated in the exhibition and each time I've felt ecstatic and fulfilled. The team at the ECC has exerted a great deal of extra effort to inspire those who appreciate art, particularly in light of the epidemic's difficulties. Simultaneously, they have become more egalitarian and welcoming to various types of artists from various regions, and also offer a robust exchange programme that makes artists feel at home.
Your art always refers to a very intimate and personal experience while also touching on universal and collective issues. What is the message you aim to spread and what is the language you use for this purpose?
I believe the two greatest traditions in the history of art are exposing the truth of history and revealing the truth of reality. As an artist, you must answer the questions "What is the truth of the world as you see it?" and “How do you articulate the truth?”. My answer would be the fundamental premise of all worthwhile art. This concept is known as "truth-factualism".
Modern technology has enlightened us to the fact that what we see is not the whole truth, and that I must express the truth through art. What then would be the truth?
First, the truth is that the real world is the world in which we participate and interact, the world in which consciousness and matter coexist. We cannot merely represent a self-sufficient participant or a world independent of the world. Me, you, the viewer, objects, the world, anyone and/or anything, are integrated, interacting and superimposed. This contends the century-long debate between so-called figurative realism and abstract expressionism. What figurative and abstract art seek to express is the artist's perception of the truth, and the truth is the essence.
Palazzo Bembo | Photo credits: Riccardo Grassetti
Secondly, the truth is that there is more than just the visible me in space and time, there are multiple me's co-existing at the same time and superimposed to co-exist in a space and time because our consciousness participates in the creation of space and time. How can I express people's multiple identities and cognitive challenges? This is the truth I attempt to convey through my art.
And thirdly, the truth is that multiple universes of time, multiple substances, and multiple forms of life coexist in reality. The invisible universe is significantly larger than the visible universe, and dark matter, spirit worlds, and other phenomena exist in our time and space. The world in front of us is not only the world as it appears in the camera, but also a world of superimposed and fused space-time dimensions.
This is the honesty and discovery of 'truth-factualism' rather than abstract expressionist ideas and colour blocks. Good artists are sincere and honest in their expression of the truth. I wish to convey truths that are not visible to the naked eye but can be understood. I wish to emphasise the disordered, yet organic, multidimensional space-time of superposition and fusion, which I refer to as the "feathered" world. The reality that I represent is the truth that resides at the edge of space-time, in the process of transformation between space-time and time, where you have me and I have you. The plume is distinct from ordinary change; it is a change with direction and direction, a qualitative change, a transformation and symbiosis, implying the coexistence of multiple space-times and multiple forms.
I want to bring out the "reality" that exists but is not fully visible to the human eye, to visualise and reproduce it, this is not so-called post-surrealism, this is truth-factualism, this is the most real reality.
You can visit Wantian Cui's exhibitions at both Palazzo Mora and Palazzo Bembo until the 27th of November or discover his work by exploring the virtual tours online. Discover more about the artist on his profile online.