This photograph is part of a series that documents a performance by Wang Peng, in which he uses his nude body to print ink onto the xuan paper that is typical in the practice of calligraphy. Here, the artist is covered in black ink and kneels with his hands supporting his body. Imprints of his body, face, and hand are visible on a white sheet, and a basin of black ink stands at right. At the time of the performance, Wang was attending a high school affiliated with the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. His performance was a spontaneous act resulting from frustration with the emphasis placed on technical skill in art education, and it is the first known nude performance in China. Nudity in art was considered illicit, particularly after the Anti–Spiritual Pollution Campaign, launched in 1983 to curb liberal Western ideas. Wang performed in private with the assistance of two classmates: Li Tianyuan took photographs and Chen Kemei smeared ink onto Wang’s body. Fearful of the reaction to his work, Wang did not display these photographs until the early 1990s, and he retrieved the ink prints for mounting only in 2006. After this performance, Wang continued his art education and resumed performance in the mid-1990s.
Wang Peng (born 1964, Jinan) graduated from the Mural Department of the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1988. He is known for his experimental artistic practice that encompasses installation, performance, video, and new media art. His personal experience is often the starting point for his creative process. He lives and works in New York and Beijing.