“If I am to paint, I will paint the passage of time itself … which concerns the essence of my life.”
Born Songxi, Fujian, 1976
In northern Fujian, people used to buy a coffin when they turned 60. They kept it at home and each year painted it with red lacquer to celebrate their survival and remind them of their impending death. “Each year they’d add another layer, until they died,” Wang Guangle says. As a child, he saw his grandfather painting his coffin, and the memory inspired his Coffin Paint series. Placing his canvas on the floor, the artist uses a house painter’s brush to apply a broad stripe of acrylic paint twice a day. Each stripe is painted over the last, covering all but its top and bottom edges, which appear as narrow lines. As the stripes build up, the pairs of lines (or sometimes rings) march toward the centre of the canvas, while at the edges the paint begins to fold and buckle in an almost sculptural solidification of time.