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Banal Dreams and Poetic Realities

Sep 30 - Oct 21, 2023

Dawei Wang

Treasure seekers

2023, Oil colored on canvas

18 x 14 in. (45 x 35 cm.)

Shin Haus is thrilled to present Banal Dreams and Poetic Realities, by Brooklyn-based visual artist, Dawei Wang. During the Covid-19 pandemic, his works established its presence by greatly resonating with the isolated public. Over the years, his oeuvre has shifted in materials, yet his themes of solitude and silence of urban life in recent light palettes have enraptured audiences into a dreamlike reality.

Banal Dreams and Poetic Realities showcases the fantasy of Western Life. His choice of colors and soft play with line brings an almost ethereal aesthetic to his pieces. Although the delicate light blues, light greens and light pinks evoke purity the works themselves depict solemn narratives. Dawei’s vast and open space coinciding with defined, rendered forms suggest a void, however the layout of the composition bridges the void with curiosity. The viewer’s perspective and curiosity to delve into a parallel world creates the narrative. Always retrospective, these pieces offer familiarity and self-discovery to all its audiences.

Dawei Wang’s early artistic practice mainly referred to observations and the banality of life. Being from Shanghai, he became a foreigner once he moved to the United States. This transition forced him to grapple with alienation and introversion. These new conflicts are exposed in most of his works as he aims to address the silence and isolation of contemporary metropolitan life. His most favorite pensive states are when people are sitting still, absent-mindedness, or extreme relaxation leading to forgetfulness. Another artist who shared the same subject in the “banality of life” was Vilhelm Hammershoi. Famous for his muted tones and mysterious ambience, Hammershoi would paint backs of women and eerie interiors questioning the viewer as to what was happening in the scene. This is also the case for Wang’s exhibition as we question the fusion between strangers and their environment aimed to depict citylife.

Starting out with observational mundane activities in earlier works, the pandemic simultaneously erased the people from the streets and Dawei’s main subjects. Works now became borrowed narratives. To fuel his imagination, novels inspired pieces such as “Waiting Room” and “In and Out”. Raymond Carver’s minimalist writing style offered the most freedom in imagining the plotlines juxtaposed to Wang’s personal life. Another inspiration was Edward Hopper. Described as a “keen observer of the everyday”, Hopper incorporated poetic nuances leading to narrative interpretations in his paintings of American life. Similarly to Hopper, Wang also takes inspiration from written word to depict mysterious ordinariness. At its core, the artist creates an inviting dreamlike world through a simple and pure blend of light tones combining reality with fantasy. While it portrays Western cultural aspects, all the works derive from identity and perspective. Just as the artist reclaims his identity, come find yours at Banal Dreams and Poetic Realities showcases.

“When I create work with more life experiences, that "fantasy of the Western world" will emerge in my head and remind me that "the fantasy" does exist. This interesting fact became a constant proof of my identity as a foreigner. But it also encouraged me to reclaim my identity in this foreign land.” – Dawei Wang

Born in 1984 in Shanghai, China, Dawei Wang has had extensive study in the arts from a young age. With both a BA in Fine Arts and a MFA in Painting, Dawei has held five solo exhibitions at Keyi Gallery(2021) and FQ Projects(2017, 2014, 2013, 2011). He has also been exhibited in nine group exhibitions: Fou Gallery(2023), Touchstone Gallery(2020), Upstream Gallery(2020), FQ Projects Summer Show(2017, 2015, 2013), FQ Projects(2010, 2009), and MOCA(2009). His works have also been featured in multiple international art fairs such as Art021(2015), BolognaFiere SH Contemporary(2014), Art Stage Singapore(2013), SH Contemporary International Art Fair(2012, 2009), and Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Art Show(2011). As an international artist, Wang has been sought out and published by Booooooom(2023, 2021), Art Reveal(2020), MIND(2017), That’s Shanghai(2015), Art World(2011), and Time Out Shanghai (2010).