INSIGHTS | Conversation with artist Evelyn Taocheng Wang and gallerist Nick Terra (Fons Welters)

At Art Brussels 2020, Amsterdam-based gallery Fons Welters will present a SOLO by Evelyn Taocheng Wang, who recently showed at S.M.A.K. in Ghent. As part of Art Brussels Insights, we spoke with both the artist and the gallerist about their upcoming presentation at the fair.

Conversation with artist Evelyn Taocheng Wang and Nick Terra, director of Fons Welters
By Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte.

What are you going to show in your upcoming presentation at Art Brussels?
ETW: I will be showing the Spreading Elegance project that I developed for the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims. It is a series in which I gave away my wardrobe of clothing by French fashion brand Agnes B. In exchange, I received letters from the recipients of the clothing, who are mostly artists, about what elegance means for them. I used these letters to create an installation. I made drawings of the pieces of clothing to go together with the letters in a series of table sculptures, as well as a series of banners in which the unique handwriting of the letters was blown up into large format. Additionally, I added a few drawings on Agnes B. clothing, such as a leather jacket or a trench coat.

What are the issues or questions at the centre of your practice?
ETW: With references to both social networks and great literature, I look at the notion of identity as a moving concept, intrinsically linked to space and time.

You were born in Chengdu, China, and currently live in the Netherlands. How did moving to Europe influence your artistic expression?
ETW: I live in Rotterdam and now partly also in Mönchengladbach. Moving to the EU was not my own decision. I went to school in Germany at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt am Main, and then had a two-year residency in Amsterdam. I started to make video, film and installations when I was in Germany. These formalities are with me all the time, although I keep the cultural practices of my background and where I came from in the 1990s in China. 

You had a solo exhibition at the S.M.A.K. in Ghent in 2019. What does Belgium and its art scene mean to you?
ETW: It opens new views for me to see the local art scene, Belgium’s art practices and culture system. It means a great support for my international artistic practices.  

What other projects are coming up for you?
ETW: I have a solo project coming up in Vienna at KevinSpace in March. I will give a final presentation of my German residency at the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach in April, as well as at the ABN AMRO Art Award at the Hermitage in Amsterdam and Kunstverein für Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf this summer. My work will also be part of the major Global(e) Resistance exhibition of recent acquisitions at the Centre Pompidou.

How did you discover (the work of) Evelyn Taocheng Wang?
NT: Fons got to know Evelyn’s work when she was at De Ateliers, here in Amsterdam. From that point on, they stayed in touch and it evolved into a first show and collaboration. I got to know her work through the gallery, before I started working here.

Why did you choose her work for a SOLO at Art Brussels 2020?
NT: We chose Art Brussels to present Evelyn’s work since she had a presentation at S.M.A.K last year and also a large solo at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims at the end of 2019. The Belgian market is of course close to ours, but it is not always directly related to the Dutch market. In the Netherlands, Evelyn’s work is already well known and well collected by institutions and private collectors. Internationally, she is also making big steps, so we decided to bring the work to Brussels to introduce it there as well.

Do you have any advice for young, aspiring art collectors?
NT: See as many shows as you can. Go outside of your city or country and ask the prices of everything. All this is to make sure you build up an archive from which you can develop your own taste, as well as a reference to get to know how art is priced. Buy work as well, because collecting is not something you choose: it grabs you and does not let you go once you’ve started. So, learning about it is best done by buying things, including things that you might not be interested in anymore in a few years’ time. That is all part of the process.  

Find out more about the other SOLO projects at Art Brussels 2020.

1-9. Exhibition view, Spreading Elegance: Evelyn Taocheng Wang, FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, 2019
Photo: Martin Argyroglo
Courtesy Carlos|Ishikawa, London and Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam

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