Gao Xiang: Seeking an Eastern Method

Gao Xiang: Seeking an Eastern Method

Gao Xiang is a visual artist, a professor of oil painting at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts and a scholar of the modern Italian painter Giorgio Morandi
June 21, 2013, TCG Nordica Gallery
* This interview was published in the book To Start from Art by Shanghai Joint Publishing house in 2014, author: Luo Fei.

Gao Xiang, “The Dreams: To Feed The Tiger”, 160×120cm, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 2015

Luo Fei: I think that you are a unique artist in Yunnan. You paint oil paintings, carry out research and engage in certain cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural art projects. I remember when I first arrived in Kunming in 2000, you were making installations.

Gao Xiang: Right. Before 2000, I created a series of installations. I wanted to make transparent artworks connected to Ming dynasty furniture, which I did using Plexiglas. I was very enthusiastic about installation art at the time, but the artworks cost a lot to make. One table, including materials and labor, cost nearly 20,000 yuan.

Luo: Did you sell it?

Gao: It has remained in my studio (laughs).

Luo: At the time, there were quite a few Kunming artists engaged in installation and performance art, such as Xiang Weixing, Zhang Chongxia, Ning Zhi and Jiang Jing. It was around the year 2000 that performance and installation art were being spread around China, and a lot of young artists were drawn in. It seemed as if using these mediums gave the artists a critical, independent attitude.

Gao: I was very enthusiastic at the time. There was a sense of freshness to it. That experience was very important, and it provided me with inspiration in my painting, spurring me to deal with the relationship between space and painting, with such approaches as painting on Plexiglas.

Luo: Since 2005, you have been painting a series of horses on round pieces of Plexiglas.

Gao: Right. That is in order to explore painting in space. Making installation art brought me in contact with the third dimension, and so I started wondering whether or not painting could also touch space, rather than merely being hung on a wall. I had a good opportunity in 2005, which was to travel to Kirstiansand in southern Norway. It was a contemporary art event to celebrate the centennial of Norway’s independence. Artists from ten countries participated, and I was recommended by Nordica. The organizer wanted us to create outdoor artworks, and I was thinking I could paint on Plexiglas, that it would be really cool to integrate it with the plants in the garden and the sea in the distance. I gained the most that time from working for long periods with Western artists. I learned a lot about Western contemporary art by talking and working with them, and that gave me a true understanding and feeling for their conceptual and performance artworks.

Gao Xiang, “The Dreams: Who is The Doll”, 220 x 300 x 60cm, Glass,Acrylic,Aluminium Frame, Kristiansand, Norway, 2005

Luo: How do you decide what contemporary art is?

Gao: I think there are many basic factors in contemporary art. It can be judged in terms of time or subject matter, or in terms of the idea of the artwork or the medium used. There are at least three or four comprehensive factors through which one can judge whether or not something is contemporary art.

Luo: I remember you painted night scenes for a while.

Gao: Yes, it was called Why Have Night Scenes Become so Alluring? I painted it between 2001 and 2003. I painted this series of night scenes at the same time I was making installations. There were about twenty of them, and they weren’t very big. I was doing a lot of bar-hopping at the time, and I caught a certain feel for the scenes of the night. I wanted to express it.

Luo: How did you end up painting horses? The horse is a classic form in Chinese traditional painting.

Gao: Right. Many ancient and modern Chinese painters have painted horses, painters such as Xu Beihong[1] and Li Gonglin.[2] It was by chance, however, that I ended up painting horses. One day, when I was painting “dolls,” I suddenly added a horse to the picture. I think it was a subconscious experiment. It felt mysterious. I didn’t really know anything about horses at the time; I was just trying to create the atmosphere of the painting. Of course, now I have painted many of them, and my horses have taken on symbolism. Sometimes it is femininity, sometimes it represents nature and sometimes myself.

Gao Xiang, “The Dreams: Lookout”, 180x80cm, Oil on Canvas, 2010

Luo: In the Dolls series, we always saw the figures of “big women” together with “little men.” I don’t think we ever saw “little women” with “big men.” Why is that?

Gao: Actually, much like my decision to paint horses, I didn’t really think about it. It’s just that there were a few times that I painted the men a bit smaller, and it felt interesting. There was this sense of freshness that is difficult to describe. I then started painting the men smaller and smaller, and it was fun. It fit with the feeling I was pursuing.

Luo: What was the feeling?

Gao: Very comfortable, very harmonious, but with latent discord and contradiction. All of my works feel very comfortable and harmonious in terms of color.

Luo: There is a feel to your paintings that is poetic, dreamlike and somewhat dramatic. How do these three come together?

Gao: I think it may be connected to my life experience or my artistic experience. For instance, the sense of theatre or drama is connected to the Southeast Asian art project I took part in from 2002 to 2004 – the Mekong River Project.

Luo: Did you do stage design?

Gao: This was a project connected to the National Theater in New York and sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. Each installment brought together about twenty artists from various regions and fields such as dance, music, cinema, theater, choreography, folk puppetry and visual art. For instance, in 2004, I went to Cambodia for a month with famous Yunnan dancer Wen Hui.

Luo: What was your role in this?

Gao: They didn’t actually care what I did. I ended up being a part of the performance.

Luo: You performed?

Gao: I can perform if I want, but I don’t think it’s one of my strengths. At first, I was having a lot of trouble, thinking about how to integrate painting into a temporal artwork, so I didn’t know what to do. Later, when they performed, I would sit to the side and paint, using light to project the painting onto a big screen. My painting would change to the music, the dance and the story, so that they would fuse together in time. These experience have extended onto my painting and now play a role in it.

Luo: Your art has been exhibited internationally quite a bit in recent years. What do Westerners think of your art?

Gao: They mainly think it’s interesting, seeing something they don’t often see.

Luo: The artist list for your last exhibition in Canada included the Gao Brothers, Zhang Huan, Gu Wenda and Cao Fei. Their works contain clear social themes.

Gao: Right. Last year, a group exhibition I took part in at a Paris gallery included works by Ai Weiwei, Cai Guoqiang and Sui Jianguo. Cai Guoqiang’s work is different, but the other artists’ works have heavy sociological elements, touching directly on social issues. The Canadian and French curators thought that my Dolls series contained concealed social issues, such as issues about gender status or psychological gender balancing. My artworks actually aren’t so direct. They are more of a psychological response and experience. The other artists might strike at issues more directly, while I propose my individual mental perceptions.

Luo: The attitude of your artworks is not so direct, and focuses more on visual perceptions such as aesthetics.

Gao: This is perhaps connected to my experiences learning art. I am obsessed with the ontological aspects of art, for instance artistic form, colors, modeling. Their abstract visual effect can influence human perception and emotion. Of course, this has been emphasized in modernist era artworks, but I think that this is one of the most alluring aspects of art, something that is close to the power of visual art itself. It is very important to me.

Luo: Compared to the conceptual, you are more interested in aesthetic experience and visual pleasure.

Gao: I think that the perception of artistic form can allow the artwork to speak for itself. Actually, something I have always wanted to do is see if I can fuse the aesthetic experience, conceptuality and sociology so that they speak together.

Luo: Who would you say is a good model for this?

Gao: In Western contemporary art, there is Mimmo Paladino, Enzo Cucchi, Anselm Kiefer and Luc Tuymans. Their work has achieved an appropriate integration between their experiences of contemporary society, cultural traits, personalized artistic concepts and artistic language. When there are only “concepts” without visual transformation or highly developed artistic language, then the resulting artworks are mere propaganda posters. If they are just textual concepts, then it is better to let the philosophers and sociologists write them. The artist’s work should employ the appeal of visual language.

Luo: Is your focus on artistic ontology what led you to research Morandi?[3]

Gao: Yes. His artworks are very important in terms of the ontology of art. Of course, he is also conceptual. I think that he is a rather successful modern artist in this regard. For instance, most people focus on the color, forms and linguistic rendering of the bottles, but through these, you discover that his concepts are connected to his religious faith. He was a very pious catholic. He went to mass every Sunday. He lived a simple life, like that of a monk.

Gao Xiang, “The Dreams: Trojan Horse”, 180 x 80cm, Oil on Canvas 2010

Luo: This is a lot like the traditional monastic painters of China.

Gao: Yes, but because of their different religions and worldviews, their starting points and resulting expressions were different. Morandi was more directed at God in the sky. China’s monastic painters were connected to Daoism and Zen, aimed more at nature, the fusion between man and nature or the wanderings of the individual. Morandi’s painting was aimed directly at God. These were highly religious paintings for modernism.

Luo: Did he carefully collect those bottles?

Gao: He did. He personally purchased over a hundred bottles and jars. When he brought them home, he would sometimes treat them. For instance, he would take a chocolate jar, and treat it according to the color he wanted, perhaps painting it white, blue or brown.

Luo: Were those bottles from his own time, or were they antiques?

Gao: They were quite normal, water jugs and chocolate jars.

Luo: This is quite different from Chinese literati. Literati figures had a tradition of collecting various types of vessels, such as porcelain vases and bronze vessels, and they cared a lot about their eras and origins.

Gao: I think that Morandi was actually a lot like Chinese literati painters. Some of the more refined literati painters paid much attention to the mundane, discovering truths within ordinary things. This is quite like Zen.

Luo: Which literati painters?

Gao: For instance, Bada Shanren[4] and the Four Monks[5] all painted very ordinary things around them such as squashes, vegetables, lotus flowers and birds. The things Morandi collected were very normal, part of ordinary life.

Luo: We can also see from Morandi’s living arrangements that he led a very simple life.

Gao: It was very simple, even for his three sisters. I have gone through their closets, and none of them owned a single brightly-colored dress. Few people visit his old home, and I was the first Chines person to do so; I may be the last as well (laughs). The house was very simple, no different from that of your average farmer. When he built this house in 1956, however, he was already a very rich man. He could have lived a very luxurious life. He had no material desires at all. When Museo Morandi was sifting through his library, they found many blank checks among his books. These were given by the buyers of his paintings. He could fill these checks out however he pleased, within certain limits, and redeem them immediately, but he was using them as bookmarks (laughs).

Luo: Within Catholic ascetic traditions, there is the belief that simplicity is wealth. The simpler your external life, the richer your inner life.

Gao: His later studio was a bit bigger, but it was still only 40 square meters. His earlier home in Bologna was only nine square meters, including his studio. His material life was very simple, but he enjoyed great spiritual wealth.

Luo: Let’s get back to your artworks. I think that your art has a certain Eastern quality.

Gao: Thank you for that complement (laughs). To me, that is quite a compliment. As a student and later as an artist, I have visited many Western countries, and I gradually came to understand that I must seek out inspiration from Eastern traditional ideas or aesthetics in order to create artworks with originality.

Luo: What experiences does this inspiration draw from?

Gao: The first source is aesthetic ideas. For instance, in traditional Chinese painting, you often find very lofty metaphysical meaning. Also, I draw from the figurative schemas of traditional Chinese art. These two things are both quite far from Western classical, modern and contemporary art. I think this is a good thing, particularly in this era of globalization. Without this distance, we would all become the same, losing the artistic value that is rooted in individualization. That is a fundamental view for me. From the East, I seek out forms, perceptual methods and inner spirit that differ from those in the West.

Luo: Give me an example.

Gao: For instance, Chinese painting focuses a lot on emptiness, which is quite different from Western aesthetics. Chinese people view the blankness in the picture as the sky or as water, but in reality it is just blankness. Westerners with no experience of Chinese traditional painting may think that it is an unfinished painting, a sketch, and that the blankness has no meaning. The Eastern tradition also places a lot of emphasis on aesthetic experience that transcends reality. For instance, very few Chinese paintings of the last 2000 years depict war scenes, but we all know that China was no less warlike in this period than any Western nations, with battles of great size and brutality that produced profound memories. The Chinese never expressed these brutal memories. Their expressions are of ideal states, even fairy realms that transcend this suffering.

Luo: You are saying that this spiritual mindset needs to be expressed in contemporary art.

Gao: Actually, this Eastern transcendent state is particularly precious in our increasingly materialistic and ever-accelerating contemporary society. This was done long ago in Japan and Korea, so many Western critics believe that Japan and Korea are today’s inheritors of Eastern Zen aesthetics. For instance, the Japanese Mono-ha School[6] approaches art from Zen philosophy. I think that Chinese contemporary art has paid little attention to this type of artistic path in the last twenty years.

Luo: This is connected to the overall progression of society. Japan and Korea completed the modernist transition of their societies long ago. China overall is still in a pre-modern period. The greater backdrop determines how far an artist can go.

Gao: I really agree with that. This is connected to the state of a society’s development. Of course, I’m not saying that any contemporary art that draws from Eastern philosophy is good, just that I think this path has value.

Luo: Let’s talk about life. You’ve been working in both Kunming and Beijing over the past few years. What are your impressions of these two cities?

Gao: I have a pretty big studio in Beijing, where I can paint large paintings. When I’m back in Kunming, I have a studio at the Yuan Xiaocen Museum, where I can paint smaller paintings. Beijing is China’s cultural center, and you can see world-class exhibitions and artworks there. But the natural environment in Beijing is very poor. It is very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. Life is rough there. Kunming is very livable, very comfortable. You really feel like you’re living. But there’s a distinct lack of cultural exchange there. Beijing is a lot more vibrant.

Luo: Do you think that you create better art in Beijing or Kunming?

Gao: That’s an interesting question (laughs). I think that a little more than half of my best works are created in Beijing.

Luo: It would seem that artists need pressure (laughs).

Gao: Right. Beijing is full of passion, and it’s also constantly giving you stimulation and pressure.

Luo: Thank you for giving this interview. I really enjoyed talking with you today.


[1] Xu Beihong (1895-1953), originally Xu Shoukang, was a Chinese modern painter and art educator. A forefather of modern Chinese art, Xu was known not only for his paintings of galloping horses but also for his ability to fuse Chinese and Western painting techniques to create a unique artistic style.
[2] Li Gonglin (1049-1106) was a painter in the Northern Song dynasty. His surviving works include Five Horses and Herding at Lin Wei Yan.
[3] Gao Xiang, Quiet Observation of Space, People’s Fine Arts Press, 2011. This book researches the work of 20th century Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, seeking out the roots of his artistic style through analysis of his painting forms, artistic views and attitudes towards the world in order to assess the artistic value of Morandi’s paintings.
[4] Bada Shanren (ca. 1626-1705), born Zhu Di, was from Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, and lived during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Bada was a member of the Ming dynasty royal family and a famous painter, one of the “Four Monks” of early Qing dynasty painting.
[5] The Four Monks were four Buddhist monk painters from the late Ming and early Qing dynasty. All were adept at landscape painting and were highly expressive in their work. They preferred innovation over imitation. The four monks were Yuan Qi (also known as Shi Tao, 1642-1718), Zhu Da (also known as Bada Shanren, ca. 1624-1705), Kun Can (1612-1692) and Zhe Jiang (monk name Hong Ren, 1610-1664).
[6] Mono-ha was a Japanese school of modern art that emerged between 1968 and 1971.


Translated by Jeff Crosby
阅读本文中文内容

对话高翔:寻找东方方式

高翔,《梦 — 舍身饲虎》,布面油画,丙烯,160×120cm,2015

对话高翔:寻找东方方式
高翔  //  视觉艺术家,中央美术学院油画专业博士,意大利现代画家乔尔乔·莫兰迪(Giorgio Morandi)的研究者。
罗菲  //  策展人  艺术家
* 本文收录于罗菲著《从艺术出发——中国当代艺术随笔与访谈》,2014年上海三联书店出版

※ ※ ※
时间:2013年6月21日
地点:昆明TCG诺地卡画廊
※ ※ ※

罗菲(以下简称罗):我觉得你在云南是一个很特别的艺术家,你画油画,做研究,也参与一些跨界、跨文化的艺术项目。我记得2000年我刚到昆明的时候,你在做装置。

高翔(以下简称高):对,2000年前后我做过一批装置。我想做一些和明代家具有关的透明性作品,采用机玻璃。那时对做装置有很大的热情,但作品的花销很高,有一张桌子,成本连工时费就近两万元。

罗:后来有卖掉吗?

高:后来一直在我画室里(笑)。

罗:当时昆明有一拨做装置和行为的艺术家,比如向卫星、张琼飞、张仲夏、宁智、姜静等。2000年前后正是行为、装置在国内受广泛传播的时期,获得年轻艺术家的青睐。使用这种媒介似乎给人带来一种批判和独立的态度。

高:我们当时主要是因为热情,有新鲜感。那段经历很重要,我做了两年装置,这也给我在绘画上一些启发,促使我尝试处理绘画与空间的关系,比如在有机玻璃上画画。

罗:你从2005年以来一直创作一组在圆形有机玻璃上画的马。

高:对,那是想在空间里探索绘画。因为做装置让我触及到三维空间,我就想绘画能否也触及到空间,而不只是挂在墙上。2005年有个比较好的机会,去了挪威南部的克里斯蒂安桑(Kristiansand)。那是挪威独立一百周年的国际当代艺术活动,有十多个国家的艺术家去,我是诺地卡推荐去的。主办方希望我们多做些户外的作品,我就考虑用有机玻璃来画画,如果能和花园里的树木,以及远处的大海结合起来就很棒了。那次给我最大的收获是跟西方艺术家一起工作很长时间,通过闲聊和工作对西方当代艺术了解了很多,能真正理解并体会他们做的观念艺术和行为作品。

罗:你判断当代艺术的参照是什么?

高:我觉得当代艺术有好几个基本元素,比如从时间、题材来判断,从作品理念以及媒介来判断,至少有三四个综合因素可以判断是否是当代艺术。

罗:我记得你画过一个时期的夜景。

高:对,叫《为什么夜景变得如此迷人?》,是2001至2003年间画的。我在做装置的同时也在画这批夜景作品。尺寸都不太大,总共二十多张吧。因为那段时间经常泡吧,对晚上的景象有种特别的感受,想去表达。

罗:那后来是怎么转向画马?马是中国传统绘画里非常经典的一个形象。

高:对,中国古代和近代画马的画家很多,比如徐悲鸿 ,李公麟 等。但我画马很偶然,我在画“玩偶”的时候突然在画面里加入了马,我觉得是一种无意识的尝试,有种神秘感。其实那时我对马也没有什么认识,只是为了营造一种画面的气氛。当然,画多了,我的马就有多种象征,有时是女性,有时代表自然,有时是自己。

罗:在“玩偶”系列中都是“大女人”的形象,和很小的男人的组合,好像没有“小女人”和“大男人”组合。为什么会这样处理?

高:其实跟画马有点像,我也没考虑过,就是一两次画男人的时候其身体尺寸画小了点,反而觉得有意思,有种说不出来的新鲜感。后来就把男人缩得越来越小,觉得很好玩,符合我想要的感觉。

罗:什么感觉?

高:很舒服,很和谐。但又有种潜在的不和谐与矛盾。我的画作从色彩上看着都很舒服,很和谐。

罗:我从你的画中看到一种诗意的、梦境的,同时也是剧场的感觉,这三者如何在一起的?

高:我觉得可能跟我的生活经历有关系,或者说跟我的艺术经历有关。比如舞台感、剧场感,跟我2002年到2004年间参加东南亚的艺术项目——湄公河计划的经历有关。

罗:你做舞美吗?

高:这个项目是纽约国家舞蹈大剧院下属的一个项目,是洛克菲勒基金会资助的,每次都有各个领域的二十多位艺术家参加,舞蹈、音乐、电影、戏剧、编导、民间玩偶艺术家、视觉艺术家等等。如2004年,和我同去柬埔寨一个月的就有云南籍的著名当代舞蹈家文慧。

罗:你在里面的角色是什么?

高:其实他们无所谓我做什么,后来我参与到舞台演出的部分。

罗:表演?

高:我也可以表演,如果我愿意的话,但我觉得我很不擅长这个。所以我一开始比较头疼,我老在想绘画作品如何跟时间性的作品结合起来。一开始我不知道我要做什么。后来在他们表演的时候,我就在旁边画画,用灯光投影仪,在玻璃纸上画,把画投到巨大的幕布或者背景上。我的画跟随音乐、舞蹈和剧情同时变化,让它们在时间里融合。这些经历也延续到我的绘画上,并且发生了作用。

高翔,《梦 – 谁是玩偶》,玻璃、丙稀、不锈钢架,挪威利斯塔,2005

罗:你的作品最近几年常在国际上展出,西方人怎么评价你的作品?

高:他们首先觉得有意思,看到了不常见的东西。

罗:你上次参加加拿大一个展览的名单里有高氏兄弟、张洹、谷文达、曹斐等,他们的作品都具有非常明确的社会议题。

高:对,我去年在巴黎一个画廊参加的群展上,还有艾未未、蔡国强、隋建国等艺术家的作品参加。蔡国强的作品是另有不同,其他艺术家作品里社会学份量比较重,直接针对社会问题。加拿大和法国的策展人觉得我那个“玩偶”系列里有隐藏的社会问题,就是男女之间的社会地位或心理平衡问题。我的作品其实不是那么直接,是一种心理上的回答与体会。可能他们直接采取抨击的态度,我是提出个人心理感受。

罗:你的作品态度不是那么直接,更注重观看的感受,比如审美。

高:这可能跟我学艺术的经历有关系,我对艺术本体的东西比较迷恋,比如艺术形式、色彩、造型等,它们自身的抽象视觉效果就能对人的感觉和情绪产生影响。当然这在现代主义时期的作品中被强调,但我觉得这是艺术主要的魅力之一,更贴近视觉艺术本身的力量,对我自己来说很重要。

罗:和观念性相比,你更看重审美体验,视觉愉悦。

高:我觉得艺术形式的感受能让作品自己说话。其实我一直想做的是,审美体验与观念性,以及社会学方面能否很好地结合起来,这三方面同时发出声音。

罗:你觉得谁是这样的典范?

高:以当代西方绘画来看,如米莫·帕拉迪诺(Mimmo Paladino)、恩佐·库基(Enzo Cucchi 1949—)、安塞姆·基弗(Anselm Kiefer)、吕克•图伊曼斯(LucTuymans)等等。他们的作品将自己对当代社会的体验,民族的文化特征,个性化的艺术观念和艺术语言做了恰当的结合。只有“观念”,没有视觉上的转换,和较高水准的艺术语言,作品就是简单的宣传画。如果只是文字上的观念,不如让哲学家、社会学家来写。艺术家的作品应发挥视觉语言的感染力。

高翔,《梦 — 眺望》,布面油画,180x80cm,2010

罗:正因为你看重艺术本体,所以你去研究莫兰迪 ?

高翔:对,他的作品在艺术本体上很重要。当然,他也有观念性。我觉得他是在这一块上做得比较成功的现代艺术家。比如大多数人看他作品的色彩、形体,处理瓶子的语言方法。可透过这些你也会发现他的观念,即跟他的宗教信仰有关,他是非常非常虔诚的天主教徒,每个星期天都去做礼拜。生活简单,像是一个修士。

罗:这跟中国传统的僧人画家很接近。

高:是。但因为宗教、世界观不一样,他们的出发点和表现出来的结果也不一样。他更多还是直接指向天上的上帝。中国僧侣画家跟道教、禅宗有关,更多指向自然,人与自然结合,或个人逍遥。而莫兰迪的画直接指向上帝,是现代主义里非常宗教的绘画。

罗:他那些瓶子是精心收集的吗?

高:是的。他自己买过一百多件瓶子罐子。他买回来有时还会再处理,比如巧克力罐子,他会根据自己想要的颜色来处理,比如涂上白色、蓝色、赭石色。

罗:这些罐子都是他那个时代的,还是有古董?

高:其实都是平常人家用的,比如蓄水罐,巧克力罐。

罗:这一点跟中国文人很不一样,中国文人有收藏各类容器的传统,比如瓷瓶、青铜器什么的,而且特别讲究年代、出处等品相。

高:我觉得莫兰迪跟中国文人画比较接近,层次比较高的中国文人画家还是注重日常性,从平凡事物发现真理,这一点比较接近禅宗。

罗:比如哪些文人画家?

高:比如八大 、四僧 ,他们画的都很平常,都是身边的瓜果、蔬菜、荷花、鸟。莫兰迪收藏的东西都很生活化,很一般。

罗:从莫兰迪家居安排也可以看出来,他生活非常简朴。

高:太简朴了,包括他三个妹妹,我都翻过她们的衣柜,她们没有艳丽的衣裙。访问他故居的人很少,我是第一个去的中国人,不知道是不是最后一个中国人去(笑)。房子非常简朴,跟一般农民房子没任何区别。但在1956年他盖这个房子的时候他已经很有钱了,如果他想奢华一把的话,完全是可以的。他对物质真没什么欲望,当时莫兰迪博物馆在整理他的书籍时,发现书里面有好些没有填写数额的空白支票,是人家买他画的时候给的,随便填(有上限),而且可以立马兑现。但他就当一个书签用,哈哈(笑)。

罗:在天主教简朴操练的传统里有这样一种信念:简朴即丰盛。你外在生活越简单,你内在生命就越丰盛。

高:他后来的画室大一点,也才40平米,他以前在博洛尼亚的房间才9个平米,画室也在里面。他在物质上简朴,精神上却非常富足。

罗:回到你的作品,我觉得在你的作品里有一种东方品格在里面。

高:谢谢你的表扬(笑)!这个对我来说是比较大的表扬。从我学画到后来做艺术家,去西方国家也多,我渐渐明白需要从东方传统理念或美学里寻找一种灵感,否则很难创造出有原创性的作品来。

高翔,《梦 — 木马计》,布面油画,180 x 80cm,2010

罗:这种灵感主要来自什么经验?

高:一是审美理念,比如中国传统绘画里会看重比较高的形而上精神内涵,另一个是形象图式。这两样跟西方古典、现代或当代都有比较大的距离,我觉得这个距离很好,尤其在全球化时代,没有这个距离我们就会变得雷同,丧失了艺术基于个性化的价值,这是我的基本立场吧。我要从东方寻找到区别于西方的形式、感受方式以及内在精神。

罗:举个例子。

高:比如中国画讲究空,这跟西方的审美有很大差异。中国人把画面中的空白理解为一片天空、一片水,但其实是空白的。这对没有中国传统绘画经验的西方人来说,他们会觉得这幅画没画完,是一张草图,空白没有什么意义。东方传统也比较注重超越现实的审美经验,比如中国两千多年的绘画史上很少出现战争场面,但大家都知道中国这两千多年来不比西方哪个国家的战争少,而且规模大、残酷、记忆深刻。但中国人从不表现这种痛苦的记忆,他们要表现超越于痛苦的理想状态,甚至是仙境。

罗:你是说这种精神境界需要在当代艺术中表现出来。

高:其实东方超然的精神境界在我们日益物质化,生活节奏日益加快的当代社会,尤其珍贵!这个日本和韩国早就做了,所以很多西方艺术评论家认为日本和韩国是东方禅宗美学的继承者。比如日本的物派(Mono-ha) 是从禅宗哲学出发来做艺术。我觉得中国当代艺术前面二十多年对这类艺术道路很没有重视。

罗:这跟整个社会进程有关,日本韩国早就完成了现代性社会转型。中国总体上还处在前现代(Premodern)时期。整个舞台背景决定了艺术家能走多远。

高:对,我非常同意,这跟社会发展状态有关系。当然我也不是说只要是东方哲学的当代艺术就很好,我只是觉得这是很有价值的一条路。

罗:聊聊生活,你这几年在昆明、北京两地工作,对这两座城市有何感想?

高:我在北京有一间比较大的工作室,可以画大画。回来昆明我在袁晓岑博物馆有间工作室,可以画一些小画。北京是中国的文化中心,可以看到世界级最好的展览和作品。但北京自然环境太恶劣,冬天很冷,夏天很热,生活很粗糙。昆明比较生活化,很舒服,感觉你生活了,你活着,但这里文化交流还是比较贫乏,北京更有活力。

罗:你自认为比较好的作品是在昆明还是北京创作的?

高:你这个问题很有意思(笑)。好像我一半以上比较好的作品都是在北京创作的。

罗:看来艺术家是要有压力(笑)。

高:对,北京充满激情,也给你不断刺激和压力。

罗:谢谢你接受采访,今天跟你聊得很高兴。

魔幻·表现——云南当代表现性绘画邀请展”学术研讨会(上)

时间:2017年5月4日 20:20—22:20
​地点:108智库美术馆(昆明昆建路5号,108智库间)
​参与人员:​毛旭辉、唐志冈、武俊、陈群杰、​薛滔、罗菲、和丽斌、林善文、​梁劲芸、杜龙琪、常雄、陶发、​王乐、丁章玉、龚如迅、周威全、​母江林、岩完、王蓓、张旭、曹静妹
​摄影:陈远亮、贺锦艺
​录音整理:张旭
​编辑:和丽斌

薛滔: 尊敬的各位老师,各位朋友,我们今天晚上在这里举行一个座谈,关于这次五三青年艺术节的主题:“魔幻·表现——云南当代表现性绘画邀请展”的一些话题,我们可以分享一下各自的想法。罗菲和我作为主持,和丽斌一会儿会详细解释这次展览主题的构想,我先做一个开场。

在我的理解当中云南当代艺术是有历史传承的,在座的几位老师,几位前辈是历史的见证者和创造者。从30年代甚至更早一点,在谈现代艺术时云南就参与其中,这可以说是和中国同步的。在后来的80、90年代,甚至是2000年,每一次重大的艺术转变,包括艺术社区、最早的艺术群体事件等等,云南都没有缺席,云南与整个中国现代艺术和当代艺术的发展是同步的,我们有一种很强烈的参与感和现场感。这种自信心与喜悦的心情,当然与在座各位的前辈的努力是分不开的。今天在座的有前辈的艺术家,还有一些更年轻的朋友,这也是我认为云南当代艺术有希望或者是值得关注的一个原因,因为如果年龄结构或者是从事当代艺术的群体和结构过于单一的话,必然会一个时期出现断层,对整个生态的建立以及对事件的延续会有影响。从今天现场展出的作品以及来宾的年龄和身份结构上来看,云南的当代艺术的结构是完整的,至少这个让我觉得在云南这个领域里面,当代艺术是可以被持续的发酵下去的,它不会变成一个瞬间就消失的事件,它是有生命力的,这是这几年来我对云南当代艺术的感受。这个问题并不是一天两天就能思考出来的,大家都知道,我们在谈论云南的当代艺术是从前辈的经验、我们的经验以及更年轻的朋友的经验之中得来的,我们花了很多的精力去谈论这个问题,当然这个结论必须要有合理的依据的。刚才我说的这两点:一个是历史的传承性,一个是结构的立体性,当然这两点不足以说明全部问题。作为开场,我只是简单的介绍一下我的感受,作为云南当代艺术工作者的一员,我觉得是很欣慰的,也蛮幸运的。

接下来我们会有三个话题,我先把题目说一下,具体到讨论的时候我们再展开讨论题目是否能够成立。

第一个是魔幻表现是不是一种绘画语言,它能不能成为一种表现主义的新的形式。第二个是云南表现性绘画有没有自身语言的独特性。第三个是有没有一种云南表现性绘画及地域性艺术谱系的自足与不足。前面两个是我想到的,是从绘画语言本身的角度来谈论问题。最后一个是罗菲提出来的,他的重点可能更偏向于艺术谱系的完整与建构。从不同的角度展开对五三话题结合起来的讨论,话题的主题讨论之后会有一个自由交流的环节,在整个过程当中会由罗菲来主持。

首先,我们请策展人来阐述一下“魔幻·表现”这个名称与这次艺术节之间的关系,以及展厅里的这些作品的一些详细构想。

和丽斌: 我先简单的介绍一下我策划这次展览的一些起因。首先从一个艺术家的角色来说,我的艺术创作一直和表现主义有很深的关系。有时候把自己当成一个旁观者来看,表现主义为什么在中国有这么深的影响力,为什么有那么多的艺术家在用这种语言来进行创作?具体到云南的艺术传统与现实,表现主义绘画占了非常重要的比重,比较明显的是从80年代毛旭辉老师他们这一代开始,这个脉络就一直是很明显的存在,在中国当代艺术的语境下也有很重要的影响。虽然云南也有一些艺术家从事过波普、艳俗、卡通等艺术形态的创作,但它不如表现主义那么持久,师承脉络那么长。我策划这个展览一是想在这个过程里面理清我的疑问,另外是想借助这个展览的契机,把80年代到今天近30年的表现性绘画的现象做一个客观的呈现。我自己不去判断它是好或是不好,我们尽可能的把它真实的呈现出来,把这些现象通过相对比较突出的艺术家个体的创作成果连接起来,变成表现性绘画发展的一个链条呈现给大家,既可以帮助我理清一些问题,也期待给关心这个现象的观众呈现一些可以探讨的话题。据我所知云南还没有专门梳理表现性绘画的展览,借五三青年艺术节这个契机,我个人期待它变成一个有计划的课题,能不断的通过展览、艺术家个案的研究、工作室的访谈包括做一些影像视频的资料记录,把它建构成一个系统的、可分享的成果。这个成果既是可以进入大学教学体系,成为帮助更年轻一代的艺术家了解历史的一个文献或教材,又可以帮助社会公众参考和观察,这个是我大致的想法。

这次展览的名称“魔幻·表现”是我觉得的云南的表现性绘画所具有的特点。中国的现实就是很魔幻的,它有很多不可思议的、荒诞的色彩。另外,云南自古以来的文化传统也有很强的魔幻的色彩,与自然、神话有很深的血缘关系,它一直延续下来不曾间断。第三,在当代艺术里面,艺术家对感觉、感受的表达带有一种预言性和超现实主义的倾向,我觉得这也是今天的一种新神话,可能在若干年以后,它就变成另外一种传统的神话,艺术本身就有一种可以编造神话的魔力。基于我观察到的这三点,所以展览题目叫“魔幻·表现——云南当代表现性绘画邀请展”,这个邀请展仅仅是从我观察到的一个线索去发现各种艺术家,然后集合成一个展览。由于展厅的展线有限,我只能根据展线的长度来考虑艺术家的人数,每位艺术家基本上都是一件作品,有一些艺术家作品的尺寸比较小,是由几件组合展出的。我个人挺期待以后还能继续这个话题的研究,可以有更好、更大的艺术空间来呈现更深入的研究成果。

薛滔:我们现在邀请一些嘉宾进行发言,这个环节由罗菲来主持.

罗菲:我听了策展人和老师的介绍知道这是一个很有野心的一个项目,和老师想通过展览来梳理80年代以来的表现主义绘画在云南的传承和发展。虽然从体量上来看这是一个小型展览,但这只是一个开始。当我们回顾80年代,中国艺术家通过展览和图录最早接触到表现主义,同时,表现主义背后的哲学思想,比如存在主义哲学也在同时期被引进到国内,这形成了当时部分艺术家的思想资源。我们知道当时毛旭辉老师是很早从事表现主义绘画实践的,同时他也有很多沉思,写了大量的书简和随笔。我们也想请毛旭辉老师跟我们分享一下对这个展览的想法,以及表现主义绘画在你创作中是一个怎样的位置?

毛旭辉:我参加过不少研讨会,但是能真正谈论纯粹事情的本质的不是很多。我来参加这次研讨会是出于对和丽斌、薛滔、罗菲他们的信任,这个信任感是来自他们在民间活动的能力,在中国这么多年我还是比较相信民间力量的,因为这种东西比较纯粹。另外有点感慨时光的流逝,一不小心就是前辈了,像老唐、老武我们几个是从80年代一起走过来的,当时坐在研讨会、展览会里面,别人是我们的前辈,但是现在我们就变成前辈了,还是有一点感慨。我对这次展览的主题表现主义比较感兴趣,虽然表现主义是一个外来的词汇,但是它确实是和中国有很深的渊源,表现主义最早就是出现在中国民族危亡的时候,在中国的30、40年代,鲁迅先生一手把德国表现主义推到了中国来,他直接培养和扶持了左翼木刻运动,那个时代的作品非常有感染力,他们是真正的表现主义的艺术。我觉得在中国表现主义的第二个高潮是在70年代末80年代初,就是文化大革命结束之后中国又迎来了一个社会巨大变化的时期,就是所谓的新潮美术,表现主义在里边扮演了比较重要的角色。昆明在1986年成立了西南艺术研究群体,从这个群体的作品来看,主要还是倾向表现主义。在中国,这两次表现主义的话题是非常值得探讨的。

下面我谈一下我对表现主义的认识以及由此想到的一些问题:表现主义是以人生的痛苦和国家安危为基础的,看一看中国20世纪 30、40年代被鲁迅速培养和支持的木刻版画,那些社会和人生的苦难和压迫是真实的,极大地影响了当年年轻艺术家的情绪和爆发力。在我看来,如果缺乏以上基础的表现,多少都有些矫情。没有忧患意识,没有对人生苦痛的感受能力,我们最好不要谈表现主义,我们可以谈形式、谈娱乐、谈消费、谈功名,但不要谈表现主义。没有办法,表现主义就是在人类的悲剧中产生的,从它诞生就与人生的境遇和苦难画上了等号,所以我认为表现主义并不适合作为一门学院的课程来安排,仅仅适合作为一个形式被分析和解构,因为所有离开了具体内容的表现都是苍白的,它逐渐把表现主义的本质丢去,你不能安排一个学生或者是一个画家去画表现主义,表现主义只能是一个自发的行为,它是一个生命的直觉,就像诗歌,必须从内心里面涌出,你无法安排一首诗的出现。表现主义最需要的是生命的体验,这个才有表现的可能,但是又不能为了表现而去体验,因为没有人会在生活中选择痛苦压抑,所以只有命运才能选择表现主义的产生。看一看所有伟大的表现主义绘画给予我们的感受是什么,只有不可思议的激情,无法忍受的压抑,难以启齿的卑贱和苦痛才产生表现的力量。往往在这个世界上,不是所谓的美好,而是黑暗唤起了表现主义的热情。

很多艺术家都有表现主义的阶段,或者说在其成长的过程当中产生过表现主义的作品。凡高和席勒是完整的一生,他们都以表现这一个方式燃烧和熄灭,蒙克抑郁的气质却让他在漫长的人生中保持了表现主义的活力,他从没有改变过艺术的初衷,像西南的艺术家潘德海、张晓刚、叶永青、包括我自己在内在80年代都是表现主义画家。但到90年代中期以后都发生了变化,都不再是表现主义者。我本人在1996年之后也就不再表现了,表现也不再成为我画画的焦点,平涂代替了表现。我以为表现主义的创作总是纠缠在社会生活和个人成长的道路上,当创作者与外部世界的矛盾发生变化,表现的意义也就随之改变。对抗、冲突、宣泄是表现所需要的条件,当矛盾消除的时候表现不再存在,尽管你还留恋表现的语言,但表现已成为历史。最近我觉得在中国谈表现主义谈了那么多年,我自己也没有对这个问题有特别的关注,这个应该算我当下对表现主义的思路的一个概括。

这样谈的话我不得不说到两件事情,第一件是刚好在80年代我大学毕业的时候,也就是1982年,我能够在北京看到德国表现主义展览,我是从这个展览受到启发,走上了创作的道路的,这个非常重要。因为当时德国表现主义展览是把德国从1905年成立的侨社一直到青骑士、到康定斯基、最后还有他们的城市新现实主义全部囊括在一个非常完整的展览里边。是这个表现主义展览,让我走出了之前绘画的困境。另外一个值得一提的是1983年在昆明云南省博物馆举办了蒙克的个展,从油画到版画有50多件作品,但是后来,尤其在云南很少有人跟我讨论蒙克的展览,我就发现其实表现主义在云南也很孤独的,它确实不是一个什么所谓的流派,它是每个人内心里面的一个东西。

罗菲:谢谢毛老师慷慨激昂的发言,俨如表现主义宣言,让人非常振奋。当和老师说要梳理云南的表现主义绘画的时候,我脑袋里瞬间冒出了一个问题:我们究竟面对的是作为风格的表现主义还是作为精神的表现主义,我们在谈哪个表现主义?

唐志冈老师有特殊的部队经历,他能够看到体制内不同的东西,从他早期创作一直到现在,有很多基于官僚政治的批判,尤其早期作品运用了表现性绘画语言。我去年写过一篇关于唐老师绘画中的疾病隐喻的文章,我观察到他的观念正在发生一些微妙的转向。下面请唐老师跟大家分享一下。

唐志冈:一直以来,我对表现性绘画的看法并没有所谓精神上和风格上的区别,也就是说,我们并没有一个严格意义上的所谓表现主义,可是在面对近些年来,全国性的表现性绘画盛行的趋势,今天的话题有了存在理由。表现性语言有很强的时代感和地域性,除了西方早期表现主义艺术对云南早期艺术家的影响,云南这个地方因特有的地缘特征,大家比较容易生活在表现性绘画的状态当中。在我个人的经验中,云南的美术教育与创作中一直缺少一个东西,那就是严格意义上的写实主义绘画,这个东西在发达地区占据主导地位,但是在云南一直没有形成过主流,或者说是长期处于弱势。在云南这个地方,原始、质朴、自然中的神性叙事与表现是生命存在与感性表达最为普遍的方法与内容。

我在80年代曾以巜军魂》为题创作过一个系列表现性绘画,这是对自己在那个时期某种特殊生活与精神状态的表现,当时受到过西方表现主义的影响,这种语言方法与那样的一个特殊的经验是高度吻合的,是一种必然的结果。近年来在创作中有一些表现性傾向,也就是罗菲刚谈到的后面一个阶段,这与我个人在这些年的疾病和焦虑情绪有关联,似乎唯有表现性方法,才能够反馈和排解自己内心的不安。这样看,表现性绘画除了地域文化因素外,个人所处时代、面对的生活与问题密不可分。

云南从文化策略上讲还是应该对当代绘画中的表现性问题与发展进行系统的梳理与思考,探讨有利于从整体上的认识与把握。从近些年学生的作品以及今天的情况看,多数还是在样式化层面上,与个体精神性表现的关系不大,当然这也同学院化的表现主义教学有关。通过这次展览,云南表现性绘画的话题在我们这里得到了严肃的对待,我相信,如果云南油画今后还有可能受人瞩目的话,那必定还是这个表現性话题。今天丽斌做了一件很好的事情,这是一次极其有意义的讨论。

罗菲:武俊老师90年代的绘画有很大一部分跟都市人的孤独感、漂泊感有关,也就是对人存在的意义提出问题,这也是一百多年前蒙克面对世纪之交时的焦虑,时代不同我们面临的问题也不同,我们请武老师跟大家分享一下这方面的思考。

武俊:刚刚薛滔在说在云南发展的谱系、脉络,这个可能会有积极的一面。刚才毛老师跟唐老师都谈到了80、90年代表现主义在云南真正的产生与发展,这个谱系里面有一个很重要的元素就是传承。刚才一进展厅,我跟几位调侃了一下说这是师生展,这很正常,这也说明了在我们这个地区,一种艺术思想是不断发展的一个过程。在艺术家的周边其实有辐射效果,刚刚唐老师谈到他的《军魂》,以及曾晓锋的魔幻,那个时候我们还普遍称为是魔幻现实主义,因为它的主题是一个被民族文化套住的角度,它有这样的一个顺承关系。

还有一些艺术家也在摸索,比如说像苏新宏。她画的一些自画像以及在北京时期画一些以马为形象的作品也带有这样的色彩。我们这一代人除了作为艺术家之外也在做传承工作,像丽斌他们也在做新的工作室,当进入到一个双重身份变成艺术家和教育家的时候,自然而然就有新的概念在成长。比如在90年代的教学里面,当时毛旭辉、唐志冈我们几个做了一个工作室,叫二工作室,一直发展到今天有20多年了,在90年代中后期就已经产生了具有表现主义形态的艺术家,比如苏亚碧、颜皎、张俊熙、赵磊明,以及苏新宏门下的张琼飞、阿旺、阿昌,他们当时都是很年轻的艺术家。在90年代这是一个发展的关系,就像刚刚毛老师讲的一样,可能这种精神、维度达不到那种强度,但是他们已经开始在传承了。在80年代不会主动的去提,艺术家不会主动的说我是表现主义艺术家,那时主要是讲我们是现代主义或者说是我们是前卫艺术,从90年代开始就有艺术家说自己是表现主义了,表现主义已经从一种自觉变成一种普遍。

随着时代的变化,70后的艺术家包括薛滔、丽斌等都有表现主义的特点。如果说具体要打标签,在我们这种普遍教育的层面也有谈意向表现、魔幻表现,魔幻表现和意向表现刚才有谈是精神表现和形式表现,这两个表现具体有什么样的特质?魔幻表现与意象表现有什么不同?可能这个也是一个课题。

作为这一辈的研究者,在做这些工作的时候,可能会更好的把握这种关系。魔幻现实是云南特有的观点,就像刚刚唐老师讲的说云南没有主流文化,我做一些文本的时候也会说云南没有写实主义绘画,没有主流绘画,因为云南不产这个。我在我的一本小书《民间天空》里还有过一个断言:云南是一个极富腐蚀性的地方。不管原来的血脉是哪里,你是哪个地方的人,你是吃哪的水长大的,只要你到云南来滚打上几年,你就回不去了。

孙景波回到中央美院后再也进不到主流,因为他的东西里边已经被腐蚀过了。我和陈群杰都有到中央美院学习的经历,如果想回到那种非常标准的,被认为有准确的空间、立体造型的那种状态是回不去了。其实现在有很多人在云南上学,上完学之后就留在了云南,他的整个艺术的发展都和原来的轨道不一样了。这个可能会跟丽斌提出来的魔幻有一定的关系,因为云南的表现不是那么的优雅、高级,它有很多野蛮的东西在里面。我们看陶发的画也会发现有很多魔幻的东西在里面。

罗菲:经武老师一梳理,一看咱们这个名单,确实有师生展的事实,过一会儿我们再回来讨论本土的艺术谱系问题,以及它自身如何在一个更大的全国的乃至全球的环境里自处。下面有请陈群杰老师为我们分享一下关于这个展览的想法。

陈群杰:云南相对于其他的地区来说对美术整体的梳理相对弱了一点,确实应该以表现性这个话题为切入点去主动的认识自己的身份。云南的文化是非常丰富的,丰富到我们找不到一种标准来衡量云南的丰富性,标准的多元化也会带来一种魔幻的感觉。刚才有人说到云南有种野生野长的感觉,确实是这样。

90年代的时候和老武去了中央美院,跑到北京以后回望云南,只看到云南只有两个人站着,一个就是大毛,另一个就是曾晓峰,他们两个都以自己特有的方式站立在西南。2008年诺地卡给我一个机会让我去瑞典,从那时候开始,就把欧洲许多重要的博物馆都跑了一遍。出去之前都是以一种跟随的态度走,到了西方以后就开始考虑作为一个画者自己的文化身份是到底是什么,近两年开始觉得自己应该去参与澄清和建设更加有云南美术特色的文化建设。丽斌的眼力也很刁,把云南目前在这一块儿做得比较突出的艺术家都找了进来。

昨天在开幕式的时候,我听到有人说这会不会成为一种标杆,我们不是就一个作品简单来谈,而是谈地区,这个话题的切入点可以暂时忽略到表现主义这个概念。今年我在云大成立了一个叫表现性绘画的研究生工作室,之前和老师做了很多的探讨,如果只是把主题表现和表现主义放进去的话就会显得非常的窄,我想通过表现性绘画来强调艺术家在艺术创作中的那种主动性。以后在教学中也会介绍一些表现主义的画家,还可以拓宽表现性绘画这种可能性。在今天这种现代与后现代相互交替的文化下,单一肯定是一个问题。

罗菲:表现主义绘画确实在云艺、云大这两个主要的艺术教育根据地,已经通过工作室的形式得到了传承。接下来我们请年轻一代的策展人林善文先生给我们讲讲。

林善文:谈论这个话题,我发现需要有更多的理论背景来支撑, 有几个话题是回避不了的。第一个话题,现在在美术圈里边的最流行的说法就是“表现论”, 这个词语进入到了每一个画家的心里面。很多时候,画家都在强调自己表现了什么。在绘画这个领域里除了表现论还有传达论,再现论等。在哲学在理论的层面中都有很多的讨论。表现,是一个很大的范畴。另外,当外来词语翻译成汉语,中国人就会给它不断的扩充词义,扩充完了的词义会跟西方本来的意思不同。这就是陈群杰老师刚才谈到的他所回避的表现主义和新表现主义的原因,他说表现性绘画,这个主题是比较宽泛的一个主题。在毛旭辉老师的心目中他对表现主义绘画的思想非常明确,他强调悲剧性。但是在一开始的表现主义就已经把马蒂斯那种表现欢乐的绘画纳入其中,而到了后来的德国新表现主义开始与国家的政治环境联系在一起。表现主义和新表现主义是不一样的,有严格的区分。现在我们讨论表现主义的时候要特别注意这一点。

美术史中的(Expressionism)和落地中国后的艺术家接受和演绎的“表现主义”不同。今天我们所谈论的表现主义,变成了一个描述性的概念。表现主义绘画刚开始是以一个先锋的姿态而出现的,当表现主义落地的时候,就像毛旭辉老师不管是在北京看表现主义画展还是看蒙克的展览,当他当运用“表现主义”(Expressionism)的这种语言来创作的时候,在那个时代的语境里边有一定的先锋性,因为中国的政治体制是以写实性、描摹性、主题性创作为主的,这种过于单一的艺术语言并不能满足人们日渐丰富的内心,表现主义绘画的语言跟自己内心想法的传达上更吻合。所以说这种语言方式进入到中国,是带有一定的先锋性的。像毛旭辉、潘德海,他们创作的“生命流”绘画这批作品一下子被人们所接受,是跟带有表现性的绘画语言有关系的。在当代艺术里面其实一直没有把表现主义当成一个重要的话题,因为它还是在绘画语言这个体系里面去讨论的。像尹朝阳的绘画,也是用表现性绘画的手法,但是他是放在“青春残酷”里面,他的作品是放到一定的观念当中去分解,并不是从他的绘画语言去陈述的.

其实,在云南油画并不好卖,尤其是带有表现性的绘画,所以在今天强调表现主义,还是有一定的价值取向的。至少这并不是迎合大众审美趣味的道路。这就像表现主义出来的时候是为了区别印象派、自然主义的那种绘画;新表现主义是对大众艺术、波普艺术的反叛一样。

总体来讲,表现主义可能是个话题,也可能不是个话题。绘画其实到现在有很多的尴尬和问题,绘画相对于新媒体来说带有更多的商品属性。不管怎么画画,它作为一个商品的标签更容易被接受,它的卖相比影像、装置更好。所以说在绘画里面所要思考的还是挺多的。就这个展览本身来说,还是有点偏小型, 就表现性语言来谈论,如果可以更深入的研究这个话题,会让我们对绘画的认识更深一步,对将来的创作有好处。

罗菲:刚刚所讲到的关于中文的问题,中文是一种具备稀释能力的语言,它区别于英文这种精准的语言。当用中文说表现性绘画的时候我们是在说什么,是在说去除表现主义思想框架后的具有表现主义风格倾向的绘画吗?这个问题跟薛滔准备的话题有关系,我们后面讨论。下面有请梁劲芸,她现在正在写的博士论文是“云南当代艺术家群体研究”。

梁劲芸:听了各位老师对表现主义的见解,以及本次活动致力于梳理云南地域内关于绘画在表现主义方向上的发展脉络来看,显然首先确定了表现主义作为一种艺术风格和流派的基础逻辑,既然我们论及某某“主义”,实际上已经做出了一种判断和分类。确实,表现主义绘画在云南的发展显出了一定的师承关系和影响力,这个不可否认。但我觉得“表现主义发展到现在是否还存在着之前表现主义的本质和实质”这个问题在现在来看不是特别重要,因为中国当下的艺术实践在转换成艺术理论的过程中,经常会把西方的一些新词汇、艺术流派等运用到我们现在所在的语境里加以改造,而事实上有很多阐述都在不断更新,对艺术理念的运用是否准确还需要深入地探讨,特别现当代艺术的状况与之前以本质问题来界说的方式已经产生了很大的差异和变化。刚才毛老师所说的“应该回到绘画内心的真实性”我很赞同,对于艺术家的创作而言,不管选择哪一种主义的立场,启用哪一种流派的语言,终归发自内心真实性的表达都是可贵的,也是艺术作品能够打动人心需要具备的一个关键因素。

首先,在云南本土的艺术家中,包括前辈级的非常知名的艺术家,还有年轻的艺术家,其实可以从作品中看出很多人都致力于内心的发掘和表达。大家也谈到云南这一地域有着某些特征和优势,容易产出称为艺术家这种特殊身份的人,比如历代艺术创作当中会无形地植入这种地域情感,一种本能的、在地性的性情和艺术气息。也可以说,其实任何一种艺术创作到后来显现出的真实就是无法离开自己的个人经验,都是经验基础上的表现。所以,是否一定有表现主义这个流派的持续推进,能否准确定义或定位在表现主义的本质特性中来呈现自己的作品面貌,是否还能回归又或是无法释怀表现主义语言的范式等争论或许已经不太重要了。如果去掉“主义”来谈表现,也是现在很多艺术家和理论叙述中泛化而言之的现象,刚才林善文也说到的,现在的艺术可以用绘画形式或其他的形式来表现,很大程度上言说“表现”的价值是可以用任何一种语言来叙述的,落实在怎样表现的问题上,可能比界定什么是表现、如何实施表现主义、如何辨认和标识表现主义风格和流派更为重要。关键在于创作中,艺术家是否还具备自己内心的真实性,以及对周围这种真实文化的体验加之转换成艺术语言的智慧是更为值得考量的。

另外,看到现在艺术家谱系中具有的师承关系,也发现表现性绘画在云南这块土地上的影响力相较明显,特别是在架上绘画领域当中,这可能是跟艺术文脉传承所遇到的时代的特殊性、资讯、文化意识、市场意识这些都有关联,所以我目前在云南没有看到很前沿、很主流、很有文化代表性的艺术样式是具有明确的自身突破性的。应该说,相较用其他媒介进行创作的现当代艺术作品的数量和质量而言,架上绘画在云南还是有一定的优势,主要是在这一领域有一批著名的艺术家,进入艺术史的艺术家,同时,在艺术教育的师承关系上必然也会有一定影响,市场对操作架上绘画的运营与流通更有成熟的经验,这些都促成了绘画在云南地域中的持续地位。当然,在这样一个文化语境里,重新把“魔幻·表现”作为一个课题提出来讨论、研究是很有必要性的,对深入考察地方艺术发展有现实意义,我很支持丽斌。就这个画展而言我们确实只是个开头,一系列问题还有待继续查考讨论。

罗菲:大家都谈到云南艺术家普遍有对表现主义绘画的自觉,同时也有在情感表达方面的一种天然的活力。这几年我通过策展和写作发现到的一个共同特点:在云南的艺术家都普遍有一种对心灵的敏感,对个体心灵在生活中的反馈轨迹的敏感,并转换为艺术语言来表达。我们追溯表现主义的起源,在19世纪末20世纪初,蒙克那一代人在画表现主义的时候是有一种世纪之交的焦虑,不知道世界要发生怎样的变化,当然蒙克个人是严重缺乏安全感的。这样一种个体对绝望的意识,让艺术家意识到个体需要自由,需要被解放。后来解放意识在德国新表现主义里边得到更多的表达。

表现主义从一开始就有着对绝望意识的表达,哲学家克尔凯郭尔提到,人之所以为人,是因为对绝望有意识,人意识到自身的绝望,但并不是深陷绝望中,深陷绝望中的人是不会在创作上有推进的。只有对绝望抱有深刻的认知和拒绝,才有了向希望迈进的可能性。而这种对绝望的意识也是中国当代艺术家所特有的一种现象,也有人把它称作幽暗意识。从左翼运动到八五思潮时期,直到现在,中国艺术家对社会现实的批判,对某种幽暗处境的表达从未间断。

从这个角度来讲,如果说我们把幽暗意识、绝望意识以及衍生出来的解放精神当作表现主义最基本的观念原型,表现主义发展到今天这一百多年,在观念演变上经历了怎样的变化?那种对绝望的警觉,对自由的向往,在消费主义盛行、官僚主义盛行,在全球环境危机,在民族主义与全球化张力中,在民族神话传统中,还能否扮演重要角色?

我们今天讲表现主义,主要是一种描述性的话语,作为风格史里的表现主义的使命已经结束,但是作为一种观念与精神,它进行着自身的演变。比如德国新表现主义对社会政治的批判,就使得表现主义从个人走向公共,并且在当时,新表现主义也是对过度的观念主义的反动。

那么云南的表现主义绘画在观念上已经产生了哪些独特的品格,能给我们展开怎样一种观念图景?比如在今天的表现主义与观念主义是否产生新的关系?表现主义绘画如果不与其他艺术类型的艺术或观念形成互动,是否会走入一个越来越狭窄的自我,越来越抒情的风格化的无病呻吟的状况?这使我突然想到和丽斌在普者黑做过的一个在28米长的画布上实施的《盲山计划》,它是表现主义与行为艺术互相影响的一次冒险。最终,对我个人而言,表现主义绘画的观念演变与推进,是非常值得讨论和期待的。(未完待续)

From Pets to Animals

From Pets to Animals
—— Li Ji’s animal painting and photography

By Luo Fei

Li Ji was known by the art world in the1990s and early 2000 for his series “Ladies and Pets”, which depicted some well-dressed ladies with different animals, implying a delicate interdependent relationship between them. This series is slightly erotic, humorous and yuppie. The ladies and pets in these photos are not actually themselves but roles being shaped by some kind of culture. Besides, since either ladies or pets have been carefully domesticated by their “masters”, they know not only how to please their “masters”, but also how to show their soft and tamed side. However, their “masters” are not in these paintings, because what indeed tame the women to sexy ladies and animals to pets are invisible but ubiquitous consumerism, patriarchalism and anthropocentrism.

For Chinese contemporary art in the 1990’s, the artists were generally vigilant, or could be said as having not yet adapted, to the rise of consumer society, hence they usually expressed severe criticism to the human alienation and physical materialization in the consumer society. Similarly, the world revolved around patriarchal society and anthropocentrism reached its domination and possession by the materialization of women and animals.

Li Ji revealed in this series not only his interest and thoughts about people – the “ladies”, but also his knowledge and extraordinary love to animals – the “pets”. Grown up in a family of intellectuals, Li Ji has shown a strong curiosity about all kinds of knowledge since young especially in biology. He is even more familiar with his mother’s books than herself. His interest in the living conditions of animals around the world is so strong that he always dreams of going to Africa to see the wildlife.

Li Ji started his wildlife discovery in 2009, when he just completed the “Ladies and Pets” series and then photographed wild animals while visiting national parks and nature reserves with his wife in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other domestic places like Yunnan, Tibet, Qinghai, Hoh Xil and so on. In every trip he would return with countless adventurous stories and fantastic wildlife photos, even though he has encountered with the danger of life and death several times.

As an artist, Li Ji responds to the rapid disappearance of wildlife in the world with the conventional means in visual art. From 2009 to 2011, he painted a series of modified masterpieces of Western art history, such as Miller’s “Late Prayer”, Goya’s “May 3rd, 1808 Nightmare” and Manet’s “Lunch on the Grass”, turning these human’s godliness, gallantry and livelihood into a denouncement to the tragedies of the large-scale massacre mankind implemented on wildlife. In this series, by misappropriation and codification to the masterpieces in art history, Li Ji responded to the world’s classic contradictions: Does human develop and evolve at the cost of eliminating animals (especially large animals) ? Furthermore, will this irresponsible and insatiable destruction of anthropocentrism be the final call of mankind in world history? In contrast to his critique of consumerism in the ” Ladies and Pets ” series, the critics and allegories of anthropocentrism are simpler in painting style but are filled with deep compassion.

Artists tell the story of world history with the story of art history. It is interesting that it is the artist – we – this group of Homo sapiens who have the ability to tell the stories, and turn these imaginative things such as art, justice, history ultimately into the common values and social norms. In the view of researchers of contemporary human history, it is precisely because of such a “cultural evolution” about the “cognitive revolution” that begun 70,000 to 30,000 years ago, making Homo sapiens on the road of “gene evolution” leave the animals far behind, and thus began to rule the animals.

In the 18th century, one of the four pioneers of the French enlightenment, Buffon assumed: “Human domination of animals is a lawful rule that can not be destroyed by any revolution. Which is not only a natural right, a power based on some eternal principles … people have thought, so he becomes the master of all creatures without thought at all. “A the same time, aware of the animal’s misfortune: “Let the animals feel uneasy and fearful, let them flee, let them become more wild than the nature is human, because most of the animals are only calm, safe, controllably and unharmfully breathe the air, eat the food on the ground. “(Quoted from Buffon ” Natural History “).

However, the glory of human nature after the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the revolution in science and technology, the expansion of Homo sapiens in the world may have long been not only to disturb the animals but also the earth, including human beings themselves. Of course, from the history of the evolution of the world, the mass extinction of animals did not begin in any campaign in the past two or three hundred years, but began 70,000 years ago with the birth of Homo sapiens. Only the industrial revolution exacerbated the extinction of species, not just terrestrial creatures, but also marine life. So, for those who live today, to record and describe the animals who are expelled by human and are still disappearing, means personal comfort or self-examination and change in human’s own crisis?

In recent years, through trips in the wild nature, Li Ji has photographed the hovering buzzard in the sky, vulture, long tail lobular monkey playing in the jungle, vigilant leopard on the road, brown bears foraging in rubbish, the rare Bengal tiger。。。As Yuval Noah Harari, a contemporary Israeli historian, wrote in his book, A Brief History of Humankind: “From ancient times to the present, the whole animal community has suffered the most important and most damaging power from this group of homo sapiens wandering around and telling the story”. But in Li’s painting and photography, wandering around is no longer the story telling people, but the animals constantly on the alert of people.

Since 2012, Li Ji has created a number of paintings of single small wildlife in the studio, such as African spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, Asian jungle cat and Cambodian bison. These animal images are mainly derived from Li Ji’s own photos or related books, as he tries to avoid the dramatic sense that normally presented in this kind of pictures, to show their daily lives instead. Owing to his understanding of animal habits and physical structures that learnt since his childhood, his modeling ability built up in academic studies, and ability to capture the decisive moments in photography, Li Ji is good at epitomizing and capturing the shapes of different species of animals vividly and accurately, supplemented by some lines and colors, so that these animals are more dynamic and expressive, while maintaining their natural beauty.

As an artist, Li Ji also regards his painting in this stage as an exploration of “return to painting”, which could be interpreted as a balance to the excessive conceptualism in contemporary art world. This idea of returning to media has been expressed by more and more artists in recent years not just in painting, but also in other media such as performance art. Li Ji, however, did not return to the formalism painting which abandoned meaning and cultural functions. He was exploring another possibility of expression contemporary painting.

In the West, ecological criticism has become an urgent proposition both in the field of cultural studies and contemporary art since the 1980s, for people realized that art can not be simply appreciated without common life scenes and cultural connotations. By ecological and ethical criticism, artists, curators and critics re-examine the increasing desertification, and the conflict among natural deterioration, drastic animal extinction and human invasion. Today, this kind of environmental-oriented scrutiny and criticism has become a global theme in contemporary art. In this sense, Li Ji’s animal photography and paintings will provide the most basic textual support for ecological art.

Nowadays, the animals hanging around us are neither domesticated animals nor objectified animals being consumed in “Ladies and Pets”. They wander, forage, seek for a home and try to live together with mankind. At this moment, what are we searching for?

Jun. 16th, 2017

FROM PETS TO ANIMALS – Li Ji Solo Exhibition
2017.07.08 – 08.26 / 10:00 – 18:00
ANART OFOTO Gallery
​2F, Building 13, 50 Moganshan Rd., Shanghai, China

从宠物到动物——有关李季的动物绘画与摄影

从宠物到动物——有关李季的动物绘画与摄影

文/罗 菲

李季在20世纪90年代和2000年初因画“女郎与宠物”系列而被艺术界所知,画里是一些打扮艳丽的女郎和依附在她们身上的各种动物,他们彼此之间维系着微妙的相互依存的关系。这些画作整体带着轻微的情色、幽默和雅痞趣味。画面里的宠物和女郎并非他们自身,而是被某种文化改造后的角色扮演。并且,无论是女郎还是动物,都已经被他们的“主人”精心驯化过,他们知道如何讨好“主人”,也知道如何向“主人”展示自己柔弱乖巧的一面。只是他们的“主人”并不在画里,因为那些塑造女人成女郎,动物成宠物的,是不可见却又无处不在的消费主义、男权社会和人类中心主义。

在20世纪90年代的中国当代艺术叙事里,艺术家们普遍对消费社会的到来保持着警觉,也可以说是尚未适应,他们往往较为激烈的艺术方式批判消费社会里人的异化和身体的物化等问题。男权社会和人类中心主义盛行的世界也是通过对女性的物化和对动物的物化来实现统治和占有的。

对李季而言,除了对“女郎”——人的兴趣和思考,还有他对“宠物”——动物世界的博学与超乎常人的热爱。成长于高级知识分子家庭的他自小对各类学问表现出强烈的好奇,尤其生物学,他对母亲的生物学书籍比母亲自己还谙熟于心。他对世界各地的动物生存状况的兴趣像个心结,以至于他从小的梦想,就是去非洲看野生动物。

李季的野生动物发现之旅始于2009年,那时他阶段性地结束了“女郎与宠物”系列绘画,他和太太先后多次前往印度、尼泊尔、斯里兰卡等地的国家公园、大自然保护区,以及国内的云南、西藏、青海可可西里等地拍摄野生动物。每次出行他都带回无数惊险的故事和精湛而罕见的动物图片,甚至差点几次丢掉性命。他对野生动物的兴趣很多时候难以被身边人所理解,动物世界似乎仅存于偶尔晃过的电视节目和明信片里。在他去过的部分大自然保护区,当地人甚至从未听说之前有过华人造访。

作为艺术家,李季仍然用视觉艺术的传统来回应全球野生动物急剧消失的现状。他在2009年至2011年期间画了一系列以西方艺术史的经典图像改造的绘画,比如米勒的《晚祷》,戈雅的《1808年5月3日夜枪杀起义者》,马奈的《草地上的午餐》,这些关于人类的敬虔、英勇气概、男女生活的画面,全都成了对人类大规模屠杀大型野生动物的悲剧性场景的控诉。在这个系列里,李季以艺术史经典图像的挪用与纂改来回应这个世界自智人诞生以来的经典矛盾:人的演化和发展是否是以消灭动物(尤其大型动物)为代价的?以致更严峻的问题是,这样一种人类中心主义的不负责任的、贪得无厌的破坏,会否成为人类最终在世界历史里的谢幕表演?与他之前在“女郎与宠物”系列里那种艳俗美学和调侃态度批判消费主义不同,这组对人类中心主义的批判与讽喻在绘画风格上更加朴实,却充满深深的悲悯之情。

艺术家用艺术史的故事来讲述世界史的故事。有意思的是,正是艺术家——我们——这群智人,具有讲故事的能力,并且把艺术、正义、历史这些想象的事物,最终变成人类共同的价值和社会规范。在当代人类史研究者看来,正是因为这样一种距今七万至三万年前的“文化演化”的“认知革命”,使得智人在“基因演化”的道路上把动物远远地甩在了后面,并因此开始了对动物的统治。

而在18世纪时期,法国启蒙四大家之一的博物学家布封(Buffon)看来:“人类对动物的统治是一种合法的统治,是任何革命所无法摧毁的,这是精神对物质的统治,这不仅是一种自然权利,一种建立在一些永恒不变的原则基础上的权力……人有思想,因此他便成了根本没有思想的所有生物的主宰。”布封同时也意识到动物的不幸:“让动物们感到不安,避之唯恐不及,让它们四散奔逃,让它们变得比本性野性万分的正是人类,因为大部分动物都只求平静、平安,尽量有节制地、无害地呼吸空气,食用地上的食物。”(引自布封《自然史》)

然而,人性的光辉在经历了启蒙运动、工业革命、科技革命之后,智人在世界上的扩张可能早已不只是让动物不安,甚至让大地也开始不安,包括人类自己也惶恐不安。当然,从世界演进历史来看,人类对动物的大规模灭绝并非始于近两三百年来的某场运动,而是始于七万年前智人的诞生。只是工业革命加剧了物种灭绝,不只是陆地生物,也包括了海洋生物。那么,对于生活在今天的人而言,去记录去描绘那些被人类驱逐且仍在消失的动物,究竟意味着个人意义上的慰藉,还是人类在自身危机中的自省和改变?

近些年,李季游走在野生动物出没的地方,用相机捕捉空中悬停的大鵟、兀鹫,丛林里玩耍的长尾叶猴,路上警觉的花豹,人类垃圾旁觅食的棕熊,还有运气极佳才能偶遇的孟加拉虎……当代以色列历史学家尤瓦尔·赫拉利(Yuval Noah Harari)在《人类简史》里写到:“整个动物界从古至今,最重要也最具破坏性的力量,就是这群四处游荡、讲着故事的智人”。不过在李季的绘画和摄影里,四处游荡的不再是会讲故事的人,而是那些随时提防着人的动物。

自2012年,李季在画室画了许多单个野生动物的小幅画作,如非洲斑鬣狗、灰背胡狼、亚洲丛林猫、柬埔寨野牛。这些动物形象主要源自李季自己拍摄的图片或相关图书,他尽可能避免使用通常动物摄影所追求的那种戏剧感的画面,转而表现它们更为日常的情形。得益于自小对动物习性和构造的了解,得益于他在学院传统中练就的造型能力,还有摄影中练就的捕捉决定性瞬间的功夫,李季总是能十分生动而准确地概括并捕捉那些不同种类动物的形态,辅以一些块面化的色彩与运动态势的线条,让这些动物更具运动感和表现力,同时保持它们自然的美感。

作为艺术家,李季也把这段时期的绘画看作“重返绘画语言”的某种探索,这可以被理解为对当代艺术领域过度观念主义而做出的自我平衡。近些年,这种重返媒介语言的想法在越来越多的艺术家身上表现出来,不只是绘画,也包括行为艺术在内的其他媒介。只是李季并没有在绘画上重返那种去意义、去文化功能的形式主义绘画,他在探索另一种当代绘画表达的可能。

在西方,自20世纪80年代以来,无论在文化研究领域还是当代艺术领域,人们都意识到生态批评成为刻不容缓的命题,艺术无法绕开人们生存的场域和文化内涵而被简单欣赏。艺术家、策展人、批评家通过生态批判、伦理批判来重新审视我们这个日渐荒漠化的环境,审视自然恶化、动物锐减与人类入侵的矛盾。今日,这种基于环境的审视与批判正在成为全球普遍的当代艺术表达议题。在这个意义上,李季的这些摄影与动物画作,将会为生态艺术的叙事提供最基础的文本支持。

如今呈现在我们面前的那些四处游荡的动物,已不再是“女郎与宠物”里被驯化的动物、被物化的动物,不再是被消费的动物。它们在大地上四处游荡,觅食,寻找可安息之处,寻找与人类共处的故事。而此时,人类又在寻找什么?

2017年6月16日

======

FROM PETS TO ANIMALS – Li Ji Solo Exhibition
从宠物到动物 – 李季个展
开幕 / Opening: 2017.07.08 / 16:00
展期 / Duration: 2017.07.08 – 08.26 / 10:00 – 18:00
一个艺术 ANART 全摄影画廊 OFOTO Gallery
​中国上海 莫干山路50号13幢2楼
​2F, Building 13, 50 Moganshan Rd., Shanghai, China