Close Reading

Geng Jianyi at Shanghart is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: The Chinese superstar known for his grin takes a sober look at a book.

The Chinese artist Geng Jianyi became a star in the 1980s for giant, splashy paintings of his own grinning face, but he’s done plenty of more sober, conceptual work as well. At Shanghart Gallery’s new Singapore space, he’s showing a piece where he’s taken a battered old notebook and, in an extraordinary act of homage, has hand copied each and every one of its page in colored pencils, recording every bit of damage the paper has suffered. In a sense he’s remade a humble object, point for point, but in the key of art. Maybe this is Geng’s version of close reading.

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