Review: Every Artist Should Have A Solo Show

An uneven but compelling power move from emerging new media artist Wang Xin

Shanghai-based artist Wang Xin’s fourth show is a meta meditation on the working practices and social behaviours of the contemporary artist in China. It’s also very pink, a continuation of the artist’s ongoing Rose-Color series exploring the hue as a symbol of power.

Every Artist is compelling in the way it plays with art world codes, but its pervasive self-referential irony can be off-putting at points. One of the less engaging pieces, consisting of three LED light boxes hung crudely from the ceiling with chains and hooks, is called ‘How Much For These Beautiful Digital Drawings?’. Taken out of context, the title sounds like an earnest question from a starving artist; within the show it feels like a sneering inside joke. (The punchline: 7,000USD.)


Wang Xin’s work is most interesting when most interactive: the show’s standout pieces share a participatory, almost sadomasochistic angle. ‘We Create Future Artists Here’ is a swinging metal chair positioned far too close to a TV screen blaring a painfully pink video loop. ‘Aura Restoration 1.0’ is a small, fluorescent-lit box that the viewer can fold into, part sensory deprivation tank and part tanning bed. The eponymous work is a video game in which you move a small pink ball around an apocalyptically destroyed version of the exhibition; it’s supplemented by a machine that shoots plastic balls at you while you play. The power dynamics between artist, viewer, and potential patron are thoughtfully blurred in these immersive pieces.


While the interactive nature of the work can feel muted within the sparsely appointed gallery space, Every Artist is nevertheless more thought-provoking, and certainly much more fun than the art fair fodder made by many of Wang Xin’s post-’80s contemporaries. And De Sarthe does an admirable job of showcasing her work, which consciously challenges the spaces and structures in which it’s presented.


Wang Xin: Every Artist Should Have a Solo Show, De Sarthe Beijing, until May 29, full event details

  • 4 out of 5 stars