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AoYang 2018

AOYANG 20 YEARS

Standing in the center of the Chinese city ZhangJiaGang, in front of the AOYANG company buildings, these two monumental sculptures by French artist Jean-Bernard Métais seem so deeply rooted in the land and the heart of this pedestrian square that it feels like they've always been there. Visible from extreme distances, these two exceptional and magnetic objects capture our attention and draw us towards them. We are immediately fascinated by these powerful, gold-colored structures that spin and reach together towards the sky. At closer range, we see that the bicephalous sculptures are composed of a multitude of wings revolving around a conical axis. The intertwining, spinning vortex, which reminds us of the molecular structure of DNA, yet also looks like a huge old-fashioned gold leaf, is pierced by a vertical wing surface that dramatically cuts through the helix. This artistic approach leads us to consider the artwork differently, poetically sliding from the unpredictable universe of plant life towards more a totemic, emblematic and incisive vision of its forms. The two gold leaves, like twin guardians of the site, become banners. As with all the works of art Métais has created on-site in places across the globe, the artist has escaped the grandiloquent illustrative artifice that could have driven this formal commission. A commission that required strict adherence to contractual requirements - most notably, to commemorate and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the commissioning company AOYANG. The sculptures not only bring poetic vision to the architectural environment, they also permanently transform the way the entire urban area is perceived. All you have to do is watch the kids who boisterously play and skate, tracing out figure eights around the two sculptures, approximately 80 meters apart, to understand how this artistic installation has made an impact by making the place fun. All you have to do is hang out a while on this public square to feel the joy and surprise of neighborhood locals who meet up there to have their picture taken in front of the sculptures to finally understand that when public art is pertinent and has a powerful poetic resonance with its environment, it contributes more than just urban ornamentation. The public art Métais has created with AOYANG has the unique and wonderful merit of contributing by profoundly enriching human and social values for everyone who lives in the neighborhood, not to mention for the city as a whole.

Thuan Fang Journalist and art critic for Art Public International Shanghai, China and Boston, USA
November 2018 Translations: Feng He, Jennifer Pinard

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