Tongji Philip Qian's current practice examines his desire to balance the inspirations he garners from Sol LeWitt and John Cage. He terms it “the element of systematic chance.” In his work, Qian follows LeWitt to endorse a rigid approach as he conceptually polishes instructions and echoes Cage to remove his personality and taste to accentuate chance as he physically produces the work. He frames and controls the incorporation of chance rigorously, and chance operations (such as dice rolling, clock watching, and I Ching consulting) only start and end at specific moments according to his detailed instructions. Further, Qian is fascinated with the threshold between claiming and renouncing his artist position: he clings to his artistic perspective when he refines his systems, but once he senses that his subjectivity embedded in his rules is starting to degrade, he progresses to the role of a craftsman who objectively executes the instructions without any judgement. In other words, Qian does not prioritize visual “beauty” or “metaphors” in the final imagery. He aims to create aesthetics in his systems.
       The seemingly contradicting energy between rigor and chance greatly refines Qian's perception of art. To him, adopting systems proposes combinations and honoring chance liberates the work for chaotic but insightful dynamics, and more significantly, his experimentation to achieve an in-between ideal prompts him to embrace how incidents of the unexpected can inform his artistic perspective. As a result, Qian's latest practice pushes the limit of definition: he explores the potential of rotation and excessive carving in printmaking, and he also emphasizes printmaking-specific vocabularies like edition numbers and treats them as either direct subject matters or indirect abstract shapes for his painting. Qian believes that his celebration of such experimental inquiries in a cross-disciplinary fashion promotes his artistic versatility.
        Ultimately, Tongji Philip Qian’s work highlights his interest in examining the element of chance, systematizing it, and finally freeing it.
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