Exhibition ABN AMRO Art Award winner Evelyn Taocheng Wang

The ninth ABN AMRO Art Award is granted to Evelyn Taocheng Wang. In doing so, the jury has opted for an artist whose mysterious and seductive work refers in a unique manner to issues concerning gender, power structures and identity – and the degree to which identity is culturally determined.

Wang (Chengdu, China, 1981) studied at the St├Ądelschule in Frankfurt and held a residency at De Ateliers in Amsterdam after graduating from art school in China. Her drawings, videos, performances and installations draw from a classically traditional Chinese style combined with a more conceptualist approach, and take as a point of departure her personal history, including her acquaintance and experience with Western culture.

The jury is moved by the way in which Wang associatively links the autobiographical with the mythical, fairy tales, literature and (art) history. While creating stories that blur the distinction between fiction and reality, acts of transformation into imaginary characters permeate her work: for instance, she has identified with the alien and ambiguous fairy-tale princess Kaguya; invoked the Chinese writer Eileen Chang via the quoting of her feminist writings; and purchased clothing from the French label agn├Ęs b. in an effort to approach the image of her ‘ideal woman’: Virginia Woolf.

Via these different voices, Wang draws surprising parallels between diverse worlds, continually presenting new, broadened perspectives on desire, transformation, and socially and culturally determined norms and values. But ultimately, it is Wang's virtuosity of style and her strong sense of combining various materials and objects that in the jury's opinion lure the viewer into that rich and ambiguous world. In her drawings, notable for their traditional Chinese composition, she conjures up apparently anecdotal scenes based on her own experiences and the stories of others. Dreamlike images of elegant women and flowers sit alongside depictions of frogs and body parts served on a platter. Those who look longer often discover dark, suggestive and complex situations, which Wang frequently provides with highly poetic commentary. This gives rise to stratified images, seductive and confusing, confronting the viewer with their own desires and discomfort. Wang manages, according to the jury, to link her personal experiences to socially relevant discussions, providing her work both autonomy and social significance. Illustrative of this are various works produced while employed at a Chinese massage salon in Amsterdam.

The descriptions and drawings of the encounters and conversations ‒ which often led to awkward situations ‒ are as explicit as they are humorous, and at the same time they open a window onto the social and economic dilemmas in which young Chinese women, dreaming of a future, can find themselves here. Beyond merely pointing out these dilemmas, in institutional installations Wang relates them to the transparency of the flow of funds within the museum.

The ABN AMRO Art Award is intended as a stimulus for talent in the Netherlands. The quality and singularity of the work are principal criteria for selection. Evelyn Taocheng Wang is a talented artist who has been consistently convincing in major exhibitions within the country and abroad. Her oeuvre is rich and sharp-edged, portraying dilemmas of the contemporary moment in original and intriguing ways. Furthermore, Wang’s work continues to display a marked development, and the jury is pleased to find this a choice moment to support that development in granting her the ninth ABN AMRO Art Award. the country and abroad. Her oeuvre is rich and sharp-edged, portraying dilemmas of the contemporary moment in original and intriguing ways. Furthermore, Wang’s work continues to display a marked development, and the jury is pleased to find this a choice moment to support that development in granting her the ninth ABN AMRO Art Award.