Shadow of the Moon 2022.11.05 - 2023.01.14
At Once Ancient and Fresh
Written by Dr. Shen Qilan
Tactility seeks form to embrace; our fingers search for something to touch.
The sense of touch evokes something so ancient, buried deep within us. Mao Guanshuai’s works awaken this sense of touch.
Before language, before thought, the sense of touch structures our world even if we fail to perceive it conceptually.
Mao Guanshuai’s works arouse our tactile urge, we want to touch them and feel them. There’s a special relationship between sculpture and the physical world. There are sensations that only touch can communicate. The sculptors fingers left the sculpture, and we desire to make the connection. Impossible to put into words, these feelings, subtle, complex, intense- are the secrets hidden in the deepest part of our sense of self.
In modern societies, our sense of touch is obscured, shoved out of the way by our conceptual awareness. We become ever farther removed from our bodies, ever more disembodied, except for the sliding of our fingers across phone screens. Visual culture dominates society, it can be hard to remember our selves before language and reason. Our gaze, rapidly sizing up artworks, persons and places, has become the primary sense by which we assign value. Mao Guanshuai’s work brings us back to the special value provided by touch and sculpture, something fresh at the same time as it is primordial, an old and fresh touch is born. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the human touch is something essential to life itself, something which cultivates the sensibility of the soul. Mao Guanshuai's works are intended to reawaken our hunger for touch. At the moment that we desire to touch something, a certain knowledge of life is reawakened. Tactility carries feelings that cannot be expressed in words, unspoken messages surging in the body, and the most intimate relationships and emotions.
The realm that touch can reach is beyond language, wider than sight, and silent.
Mao Guanshuai never disturbs forms unless he can find a form better than the one which already exists, never disturb the materiality of an object. When he opens the interior of an object, it is in search for an ideal. In every detail of the work, you can feel the sensuous materiality, the polishing that the object has undergone to achieve this form. The artist pours his own physicality into the material to form an artistic language all of its own. His tactility seeks a perfect form in contentment and frustration, forming an exciting and unsayable life force, old and new.
The physicality and sense of life of Mao Guanshuai’s work stems from the fact that it is existence. Rather than representing existence, the artist awakens ancient impulses which have been paralyzed by our modern perceptions, with a sharp contemporary energy that increases our perception and cognition into a more concentrated presence.
The infinity of the work is not in the material itself, but in the sense of touch awoken inside of our bodies. These works can be rubbed over and over again, because the perceptions that they evoke are inexhaustible.