主题：陈文波 顔磊 梁远苇 李姝睿 刘文涛 刘韡 陈杰 谢墨凛
新作：丁立人 陈晗 葛辉 张武运 张慧明
Issue No. 63(2010)
Theme: Visual Structure
Academic Host: Sun Dongdong
A.T: Chen Wenbo, Yan Lei, Liang Yuanwei, Li Shurui, Liu Wentao, Liu Wei , Chen Jie, Xie Moling
A.N: Ding Liren, Chen Han, Ge Hui, Zhang Wuyun, Zhang Huiming
学术主持：孙冬冬 Academic Host: SUN Dongdong
The Chinese contemporary art is in the process of an important change, the significance of which is yet to arouse the concern of more people. Therefore so far it still remains to be a “consensus” among the quite few artists, who, though void of the intention of raising an artistic movement with a definite proposition, chorused in their manifestation of interests in the “vision” itself in their artistic practices of respective directions, offering us a chance to witness some sign of Chinese contemporary art that distinguishes itself from the last generation. Instead of serving as the echo of an established theme of “Chinese” image, their works actively or spontaneously participate in the construction of the objective world, without abstaining from revealing the aspect of materiality of themselves. In correspondence, once we viewers regard the vision as a basic standpoint or a totalized viewpoint, as a perceived behavior, the complexity of its operation mechanism and the logic of its validation mechanism will be consequently highlighted one by one during the viewing.
In fact, at the moment more and more artists started to put their emphasis on the “live feeling” of works, repeatedly verifying the natural relation between the vision and the body. It should be noted that the circle of Chinese contemporary art had more than once reaffirmed the value of this mode of viewing – the most famous round of practices being the “Post-Sensibility” Exhibition series from the end of 20th century to the start of the 21st century – but so far as the present situation is concerned, the so-called “visuality” still remains to be an eyeball-catching gimmick, even in the works of some artists who put focus on the “live feeling”, showing no difference in function from the lighting that shines on the works in the exhibition hall. The approach of diluting the vision into the text of cultural research is just as common as the visual factors drifting away from the grammatical structure of the works. As for the trans-boundary research on the subject of vision in the non-artistic field, with great humility, the author also needs to point out one of his most “awkward” expressions while commenting on the artistic works – that most of his words cannot serve as the criteria to judge the significance of the artistic works in their own fields, or rather that the artistic works only play the role of a characteristic research material in the academic study of the non-artistic field. The reason to mention those two points is not to rectify the deviation of their approaches, but rather to set two landmarks for the discussion of this special, one being scientific, the other cultural. The no man’s land between the two landmarks is where the important change of Chinese contemporary art is taking place, for the vision will no longer just accept an identity and exhibit a habit when it has become the critical link in the professional thinking of the practices of artists. Even though the final outcomes may sometimes seem similar or identical, the vision, which takes part in the construction of works as a linguistic element, in fact has an entirely different face.
To give a more explicit picture, I specifically chose the “painting” works of eight artists for analysis and comparison. Their works seem to possess the habitually-presumed tendency of formalism, which is most prone to be rebuked in the sense of ideology whether in history or at present – yet the reproach is always mixed with an insistent grievance resulting from the difficulty in getting involved with the inside “amusement” of art. Though compared with the unpredictable and capricious battle of ethics, formalism appears to be much more real and self-disciplined. Nevertheless, the frame of formalism is insufficient to support the present discussion about the vision, for in the end the vision simmers down to the perceived behavior related to our bodies, always drifting among different subjects, thus inevitably tainted with the habits or prejudices of individuals, groups and the society, a point which sensitive artists never fail to catch, along with the relation between the vision and the formalism.. Therefore, their works is more of awakening our bodies from the daily state than pleasing our senses.
Among the eight artists, CHEN Wenbo is the first to make such an attempt, capturing the relationship between the “materialized” psychology and the surface features of vision during the transition period of Chinese society with his instincts and experiences. But most discussions on his works still stay within the frames, like some relationship between “light”, “physical image” and the vision – whether on his earlier Vitamin series or his recent paintings – yet underestimating his intention of trans-media consciousness in his practices of recent years. From dissecting the original rectangle frame into irregular forms by hitting a golf ball through the picture, to constructing the frame according to the shape of pyramid, the approach could be interpreted as catering to the vision itself, a summon for experience, yet it was no longer the virtual “images” that finally achieve this goal, but rather the transformation into real objects through those methods. This also proves CHEN’s statement about the significance of the textuality of images to his works – when the “image text” retreats into a texture, the eyes will start to focus on “it” as a whole.
To the contrary, LI Shurui, who was once the assistant of CHEN Wenbo, has increasingly exhibited in her works a determination to enter the “pure visual” world. Her most known work is the “light”-themed painting, its visual illusion created through colorful dots from spray guns will be easily linked to a sub-cultural life style, and the life experience which accompanies the “vision” could be described as “evading the significant and dwelling on the trivial”. However, when the body shrinks inwardly into the dimension of flesh, its freedom obtains an unprecedented advocation, achieving a reversed self-recognition. Therefore, the vision in LI Shurui’s works always tosses between space and void, acquiring a kind of psychological dimension to some extent, resembling some kind of personal whispers facing away from the outside world, mixed with some self-protection. This is exactly what distinguishes the “nausea” of LI’s works from the similar senses of YAN Lei’s Chasing Light series, which correspond to a set of logics of vanity fair, and succeed the Aureola series. The visual factor of the two series is in fact a symbol, a sign, a conceptual certification of individual’s operational ability in the social field. The most prominent feature is that it put focus on the outward radiation of “brightness” as well as the centralized “hierarchy” form, both of which are closely related to YAN Lei’s identity as an artist. Like the aforementioned three artists, LIU Wentao also give sufficient concern for “light” in his works, what’s different is that LIU Wentao’s “light” is manifested to be a kind of real material reflection. He uses pencil to repeatedly draw lines along the structure of form on the multi-dimensional canvas, finally producing a material surface that diffuses light. Its obscure feature and the visual vacillation between the two dimensions and the three dimensions jointly sustain the rights of senses.
LIU Wei’s paintings always bring visually a feeling of “deja-vu”, due to his of constant dispatching of vision and fine-tuning the visual features of his works on the level of experience, which refers to an information field comprised of numerous factors like the material environment, cultural context, concepts and mode of viewing, etc. Therefore, LIU Wei’s practice in painting is an activity outside the “painting”, more like making devices in the manner, a feature particularly distinguished in his recent work Yes! This Is All, which succeeds in restoring his (including our) “experience” interference that cannot be shielded using a “conceptual” visual surface feature. What’s interesting is that the graphic feature of complexity and sequence presented in LIANG Yuanwei’s Fragments of Life will be easily associated with some popular production mode of art (with YAN Lei and LIU Wei as its representatives), possibly due to her works’ resemblance to wallpapers (decorations of industrial production). However, LIANG Yuanwei finished every piece through the manner of experience (work/endurance), even actively reinforcing and extending this experience by broadening the canvas. The beautiful vision accompanied by the dull production mode and the gradually reduced chroma on the canvas looking like the sun’s reflection against the wall, the romantic representation is indeed a “punch-card machine”. From this perspective, we come to understand CHEN Jie’s doubts on painting – a professional reflection, resulting in his reproduction of the other side of professional painting using hands of other people in his Limited Painting. First he lay down a set of working methods so that people without any training in painting could handle this by following the procedure until all the grids were filled with colors. The colors in every grid seems totally meaningless, just like a bit, but as a whole are integrated into a quite orderly form by our eyes once all the grids are filled. The whole process starts with inexperienced flurry, through skilled excitement and ends up with bored body reflexes. Compared with his earlier painting works, this series carries with it a feeling of ease though accompanied with a sense of self-mockery. Unlike CHEN Jie’s professional reflection, on one hand XIE Molin has gained a self-recognition in the cross cooperation between the development of automatic painting machine and the technology, but on the other hand, he has undoubtedly placed “painting” into the relationship between tools of production and objects of production, resulting in a definite quality criterion for the judgment of “vision”. By then, the materiality that revolves the art world will be fully exposed and look more real than ever, but with the probable result of machine usurping “painting’s” position in the hall of art.
I don’t want to conceal my personal preference towards these works. I may be wrong, but I don’t deem this personal feeling to be stupid, because of my unwillingness to hollow my own body with knowledge and thinking and disregard these “visual” things’ recognition of themselves, in order to embrace a concept like some people. The mission for the “vision” to shoulder, if any, is to enter a kind of experience and discover over and over the subject inside the structure.