DE SARTHE is pleased to present A/S/L, its second solo exhibition for Beijing-based artist Wang Jiajia featuring a new body of mixed media works on canvas. Utilizing a recurring motif of vivid, large, and beast-like pupils throughout the exhibition, A/S/L contemplates the displacement of one’s vision from the physical body, caused by the contemporary and digital modes of seeing. A/S/L opens 18 March and runs through 29 April.
An abbreviation of the phrase “Age/Sex/Location,” the question “A/S/L?” was briefly used early 2000s chatrooms and instant messaging platforms. In a time before profile pictures existed, this simple three-letter exchange provided a direct understanding of the person on the other side of the computer, traversing countries via cyberspace, enabling human connection in an unprecedented way.
However, as social technology developed under the guise of global communication, virtual interactions have developed complete dissociation from real-life circumstances. Untethered by the obstacles and severities of physical reality, the human consciousness is extended and made capable of omnipresence via a single Internet browser. The result is a disconnection between the observer and the observed. With the ability to see and reach far beyond one’s geographic location, the question of ‘A/S/L’ has also become increasingly irrelevant. Yet, in a turn of events through which the desire for physical contact has risen, the artist once again recalls this simple phrase in his conception of this exhibition.
Influenced by art history, traditional Chinese painting, retro video games, and Internet culture, Wang Jiajia’s artworks are imbued with a strong personality characterized by vivid colours and gestural abstractions, facilitated by the artist’s impasto technique. Drawing inspiration from video games, the eyes portrayed within Wang Jiajia’s artworks are reminiscent of the final bosses that stand ready to bring players to their doom. Peering out from thickets of paint with menace and authority, an exchange of gazes occurs as viewers encounter each work. This involuntary confrontation forces an awareness vis-à-vis the intimate spatial relationship between the artwork and the viewer, in which both are placed in relation to the other. Though aesthetically referencing the digital world in all its overwhelming saturation, chaos, fluidity, and conflict, Wang Jiajia’s artworks in A/S/L, via its compulsory interaction with the viewer, anchors its recipient within their physical surroundings.