Real and Natural, 2014, three-channel HD video (b/w, sound), 13'49"

“Reality is never more than an allurement to an unknown element in quest of which we can never progress very far.” (Proust)

Vanitas is based on a peculiar merge between two late-19th century literature masterpieces: Theodore Fontane’s Effi Briest and Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin. But literature is only one trivial layer in this convoluted world Tuo Wang builds up with his mastery of understanding different mediums, methodologies, and artistic languages, and of migrating and bridging between them. Unlike most narratives in which questions are answered in the end, in Vanitas, a labyrinth unfolds itself as the story climaxes, until both the spectators and the performers lose their ability to differentiate reality and fantasy. In his video rendering of this labyrinthine work, Wang interviews the literary characters as well as a university literature professor. When people from different realities and angles talk about the same classic plot (of female adultery), enchantment and disillusioning are woven together. It is worth noting that when the actor and actress of the characters narrate their roles, they are asked by the artist to fill in the stories with details of their own emotional and sensorial experience from past intimacies and traumas. The dividing line fades away between staging and automatism—two far ends among all the methods in storytelling. But aren’t all performances the sum of performance and improvisation? In Vanitas, while the territory of human desire is proven again to be boundless, the boundaries between theatre, documentary, biography and fiction are unprecedentedly transgressed.     
—Hanlu Zhang

Tuo Wang transformed two 19th century European literatures—Effi Briest and Thérèse Raquin—placed them into a current social context. Wang develops a process combining interview, reality show and the theatre of absurd to construct a maze of melodrama. In this video, Wang interviews people with predesigned questions based on the literatures. This manipulation secretly directs the responses of interviewees’ into a situation where they use their real lived experiences, intimate relationship and traumas to retell the stories of two hundred years ago. The video starts with a man and a woman presenting their monologues seemingly in a stream of consciousness -- their unhappy marriage, adultery and murder. Actually, what the man narrates reproduces the story of Effi Briest, while the woman's tale is set on Thérèse Raquin. Wang’s practice seeks to develop a discourse on how present ideology is derived from its historical context and continues to adapt to constantly changing conditions.   

Questions for America, 2014, single channel HD video, 12'49"
Questions for America, 2014, single channel HD video, 12'49"

Two Trapped Bears, 2014, two-channel HD video, 10'50"

                                                                                                                                                                           Divergent, 2017, oil on canvas, 75 x 75 inches

Pride, 2017, oil on canvas, 75 x 75 inches                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                   Duel, 2017, oil on canvas, 75 x 75 inches
         Pride-Lucas Cranach the Younger's "Delilah Cut Samson's Hair",
         Valentin de Boulogne's "Judith Beheading Holofernes"
         and Artemisia Gentileschi's "Yael Killing Sisera"

         2014, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Divergent-Alexandre Cabanel's "Paolo and Francesca"             
and "Pyramus and Thisbe",            

2014, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 44 inches            

Selling Slaves in Rome,
2014, photoshop collage, size variable 
                                                                                                                                                                                     Phryne revealed before the Areopagus,
                                                                                                                                                                                       2014, photoshop collage, size variable