Xue Tao Interview: Contemporary Art in Yunnan

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artist Xue Tao, photo by Luo Fei

Xue Tao Interview: Contemporary Art in Yunnan

December 27, 2012, Loft Arts Community, Kunming
Luo Fei (abbreviated below as “Luo”): TCG Nordica Gallery Curator
Xue Tao (abbreviated below as “Xue): Artist
He Libin (abbreviated below as “He”): Curator and Director, Dean of Oil Painting Department, School of Art, Yunnan Art Institute

I.Setting Out from Yunnan

Luo Fei: You were one of the first off-canvas artists in Yunnan. You founded the Red Heart Commune in Dali, Yunnan Province, in 1994, and the Migratory Sky Art Space in Beijing in 2005. You have always been promoting interaction between Yunnan artists in the outside world, and have witnessed the beginnings and development of Yunnan artists born in the 70s. Please tell us a bit about what the situation was like when you founded the Red Heart Commune.

Xue Tao: I first entered the studio to learn painting in 1989, in my first year of middle school, and I graduated high school and took the university entrance exams in 1994. Most of my classmates at the studio got married and had kids after graduation, and basically stopped doing art. It wasn’t like today, when you test into the art academy after a few months. Back then, it was normal to keep testing for four to five years. I felt that after working so hard to test into an art program, it would be a shame to give it up. I should persevere in doing what I liked. So I formed a commune together with Lan Qinglun, Duan Yusong and Shi Zhimin. We didn’t know about the 85 New Wave at the time, and had only seen Scar Art in the magazines. We were all young artists in Dali, and we formed this group to help each other to continue with our passion. We had regular events such as exhibitions and exchanges, but we didn’t have a clear creative direction. In 1997 we started getting more members such as Su Yabi and Liu Kun. At the time, the only exhibitions in Kunming were for the Artists Association. We held our first exhibition in 1997. Our second exhibition, in 2000, was held at the Yunnan Art Academy Museum. Chen Changwei and a few others also joined. Later, we went on to hold an exhibition every two years, in a biennial format, which was influenced by the fad for biennial exhibitions at the time.

Luo: You founded the Migratory Sky Art Space in 2005. Is it still there?

Xue: Beginning in 2002, there were a lot more exhibitions in China, especially after the Loft was founded. In 2003, I did the Shadow New Media Exhibition with Xiang Weixing and a few others. You came to help for that one. Then, we held the Cry Sheep Exhibition at the Red Banana Gallery and Nordica. In 2003, we went to Shanghai for the Spring Art Salon, holding the Altitude Sickness Exhibition. Things were taking off in China, and everyone was actively taking part. That’s because after the 85 New Wave and “Post 89,” things had gone silent in the Chinese art scene. From the 90s to 2000, everything was quiet, and then suddenly a new energy burst forth in 2000. Chen Changwei, He Libin, He Jia and I stayed in Shanghai for a long time, interacting with artists from all over. Once our enthusiasm was let out, it couldn’t be pulled back in. Everyone had this impulse, this feeling that something big was about to happen in the Chinese art scene, though we didn’t know what it was.

In 2004, He Jia and I went to Beijing, to the Binhe Neighborhood in Tongxian, which was one of the places artists had gathered after the Yuanmingyuan Artist Village was scattered. At the time, some of the Yuanmingyuan painters had been sent back to their hometowns, some of the ones with money had bought houses in Songzhuang, and others had moved into the Binhe Neighborhood. He Yunchang was there, as were most of the key members of the Kitsch Art scene. But I started wondering what I was doing there. If I wanted the settled neighborhood life, I was already doing fine in Kunming, with a salary and insurance. That’s not what I quit my job in Kunming for. Later, I went to Suojia Village and set up a space, one set up with money from Yunnan artists. It was called Migratory Sky. I wanted to make a platform for Yunnan in Beijing.

Half a year after I set it up, they started demolishing Suojia Village. City officials said they were cleaning up the city’s image, knocking down buildings that weren’t up to code. Suojia Village fit the bill. I had just quit my job and borrowed money to set up this art space, and now, right at the beginning, I was facing a tragedy. When the demolition team came, everyone was asleep, and they made a big commotion as they came. We were surrounded by court officials, police and bulldozers.

云南艺术家在上海
Artists Xue Tao, Shi Zhimin, Chen Changwei, He Jia, He Libin in Shanghai, 2003

Luo: They didn’t notify you beforehand?

Xue: There was a notice, telling us to knock down the buildings ourselves by a certain date. Of course, no one did, because we had just built them. Then, they suddenly showed up and demolished them. The first one they knocked down was Shang Yang’s studio. His wife fainted, and was taken away in an ambulance. He’s a very famous and respected artist in China. All kinds of people lived in that art zone, including Tan Ping, who was the Vice Dean of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. But it didn’t matter. The political atmosphere in Beijing was too thick. When we saw that they would even knock down Shang Yang’s place, we all knew the game was up. Migratory Sky split up after the demotion.

Luo: Were you compensated?

Xue: No. We were lucky we weren’t fined. We had built it right across from the Village Council, on land rented from the village. The land used to be a graveyard, and they couldn’t do anything with it. It was just a bunch of weeds when we got there. The village was of course happy when we came to use it. We brought them income. Migratory Sky held two exhibitions, the first being an open studio exhibition, and the second being the Entertainment First Exhibition. There were about a hundred people at Suojia Village then, with artists from about a dozen countries. There were very few artist studios in the 798 Art Zone at the time, and people were even saying that 798 was slated for demolition.

Luo: You recently wrote a preface for an exhibition on post-70s Yunnan artists, using the term “non-stream” to describe them. You wrote, “Non-stream is a state that is neither mainstream nor non-mainstream, a state outside of the streams. This is an outstanding feature of Yunnan artists.” Is this an awkward predicament, or is it about finding one’s own way?

Xue: It’s a bit of both. It depends on what Yunnan artists want for themselves. If they hope to enter into the mainstream, then it’s an awkward predicament. If they don’t hope to enter into the mainstream, then it means they are finding their own path. But only the artist knows. Everyone else just sees them staying outside of the stream. Regional and cultural factors in Yunnan have kept many people outside of specific trends or streams. In Beijing, it is very clear. You are either mainstream or non-mainstream. If you want to fight the mainstream, you have to either step aside or form your own stream. Yunnan artists are none of the above. They don’t enter into the stream or resist it, and they don’t have any other stance either.

王军行为
Wang Jun Performance “Kunming, I’m gone”, 2006

Luo: Their goals are unclear.

Xue: Right. They’re unclear. If they were clear, then in most cases, they would leave Kunming, at least for a while. That has been the case with the past few generations of influential artists since the 85 New Wave.

Luo: You went to Beijing in 2004 to seek out better development, and watched as the Chinese art market exploded in 2006, and as it fell after the 2008 financial crisis. You have experienced Chinese art as it had no market, then had a flourishing market, and then bottomed out. As an artist, how do you understand the connection between artistic creation and the economic environment?

Xue: This is a headache for me. Yunnan is too quiet. There are no surprises here. I went to Beijing to find surprises. Though there weren’t many galleries in Beijing at the time, I had a premonition that something was about to happen, so I quit my job and went. At the time, Chinese artists were all chasing after the “big face paintings,” painting in the style of Yue Minjun and Fang Lijun, with kitschy colors. It was the same with sculpture, with everyone working in fiberglass and automobile paint. Art made in this way saw certain market returns, and I was sometimes swept up in it too, but I pulled out. I was very conflicted. You need to have a market to survive, but the market is too tempting.

In 2007, the artists were all crazy. Artists in Beijing from 2006 to 2008 were the luckiest artists in the world, because every year, there were two months of exhibition opening banquets every single day, which was heaven for artists who had been surviving on steamed buns up to that point. As long as you were an artist, you would get a lot of invitations. That is because the market was good, and the galleries were all looking for resources, so they were very nice to all the artists. It didn’t matter what kind of art you were making. As long as you were an artist, you were treated with a certain amount of respect. In those days, I basically slept till the afternoon, when I would head out for an exhibition banquet, with the galleries covering late night barbecue, karaoke, bars, the works. The artists had it great. In April and May, then again in September and October, there was food to be had every day of the week, and on weekends for the rest of the year. Sometimes I had no idea whose exhibition it was or who was footing the bill.

Luo: Stuff like this can’t happen in Yunnan. Even though manna isn’t falling from the sky, the sky isn’t going to fall down and crush anyone either. The great ups and downs of the art market didn’t affect most artists here.

Xue: These daily banquets wouldn’t happen anywhere else. There were a lot of foreign artists in Beijing at the time who were jealous of the Chinese artists, who by the age of 30 were renting studios by the acre rather than by the square meter. Their studios were big enough to park a small airplane. Think about it. In another nation’s capital, if an artist had a studio that was several hundred square meters, even a few acres, it would mean he was an important artist. In Beijing it was easy. It didn’t cost much at all. A lot of artists saw their entire destiny change in a single night in 2006 or 2007. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, everyone started shrinking their studios, and it all entered into a slump.

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Xue Tao’s installation “Compatriot” 2011

II. Open Language

Luo: Let’s talk about your artworks. You twist newspaper into ropes or compress it into shapes like blocks and balls. Some of your artworks are quite large. Do you make them yourself, or with assistants?

Xue: I was making them on my own at first, but as the market got better, I started hiring assistants. There’s a couple that helps me a lot. The man is a renovation worker, and welds the frames for me. The woman is in charge of twisting the newspapers.

Luo: Where do you get the newspapers?

Xue: I get them from a newspaper distributor. They recycle the ones that don’t circulate, and I get my newspapers from them. Sometimes I get them from newsstands.

Luo: Do you categorize them once you get them?

Xue: I don’t. I just make selections. It has to be stiff copperplate paper. If it rips when you fold it, I can’t use it. It has to be thin copperplate or coated paper. It has to be easy to crumple, but it can’t tear too easily.

Luo: Looking at your works over the past few years, the first thing one notices about your work is that it’s non-functional. Second, it doesn’t have a direct, easily-understood meaning. Third, your work is anti-formal. These traits are reminiscent of Arte Povera. Where do you get your inspiration?

Xue: An Italian artist once showed me an artwork made from twisted-up newspapers. I thought it was mine, because I had made some with English newspapers, but it was actually the work of an Arte Povera artist in his fifties. When you twist a newspaper up into a rope, it all comes out in that shape. I think, however, that mine is a bit different. My art has gone through roughly three phases. At first, it was the basic feel for the material, and then I treated it as a modeling technique. In the third phase, I treat it as a language. The reason I use newspaper is that it’s cheap, easy to obtain and convenient.

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Xue Tao, “A Bunch of…” 2006

Luo: Your early works mainly imitated forms, such as the sun, flowers, pillars and the like. When we get to your rope works, we see that you have already cast off the modernist framework of form to pursue anti-form, alienation and individualized language. You emphasize a clear form, but do not consciously reveal your conceptual references.

Xue: Right. By 2011, I had entered into a state I was rather satisfied with. Before, I was doing modern art or postmodern art, but now I have truly come to understand contemporary art. At first, you submit to modeling and material, and now modeling and material submit to you. In terms of technique, I also feel increasingly free.

Luo: What is your view on the connection between your artworks and Arte Povera?

Xue: My own creative trajectory has been akin to learning the breadth of art history, but when I really set out to create, I don’t think about any particular schools of art or art history. If you do think about such things, the creative process will not be a joyful one. If, after completing something, you discover that something similar already exists, I think that is normal. It demonstrates that between civilizations and art, there is more potential for human communication. As for the Arte Povera artists, I don’t concern myself much with what they are doing or thinking. I’ve been to Turin and Milan, where Arte Povera began, and I have seen their works, only to discover that we are not quite the same.

Luo: In the narrow sense, Arte Povera is postmodern Italian art from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. It was an art movement that arose in response to the drastic social changes and political schisms taking place in Italy at the time. Arte Povera artists presented found objects in dramatic ways to criticize consumerism, seek new ways of intervening in the world, and challenge the traditional order and aesthetics. This movement had a profound impact on contemporary art concepts and methods around the world. Let’s return to the previous question. Do you think that Yunnan possesses certain resources or value that it can provide to contemporary artists in today’s globalized context?

Xue: To ask whether or not Yunnan artists can provide more meaningful references is like asking what Chinese artists can provide for the world. I would be hard pressed, using my own abilities, to answer this question, because I think it is unclear whether or not Yunnan can provide contemporary art with a new model, new methods, new concepts or a new condition. This must be answered by history and time. As an individual, I am infinitesimal. I cannot transcend time and space to see the results.

Luo: How do you maintain a flow between your increasingly rich international experience and your inherent Dali experience? For instance, how do you bring your experience of globalization to Dali, and how do you bring your local experience into the contemporary context?

Xue: This is an important question, one many artists must ponder. I think that contemporary art is an extremely open language mode, one which gives artists great freedom. Just to have this language, however, is not the end. What matters is what you say with it. In global contemporary art, I have learned this language mode and method of interaction, allowing me to interact with people from different countries and different language backgrounds. As a Yunnanese born in Dali, or as an Easterner, my interest and understanding of handcrafting and Zen Buddhism is infused into my art. Some people may use contemporary art to express sociological or scientific matters, but I think that my own expression is more religious.

Luo: This calls to mind Mono-ha, because Mono-ha also used everyday objects, while they drew spiritual resources from Zen and Shinto to explore the relationships between something and nothingness, between man and thing, thing and space, man and space, referencing materiality. Arte Povera was more directed towards social criticism.

Xue: My art is none of the above. It may appear similar, but when placed together, they are quite different. Neither Mono-ha nor Arte Povera are as produced as my art. The difference is in this production aspect. The production aspect of Mono-ha is concealed, secondary, with the emphasis placed on materiality itself. My artworks highlight the production process.

Luo: You make the energy of vast amounts of highly repetitive labor come to rest on ordinary materials.

Xue: Right. I am most satisfied and interested in the production process. What people see is not an object, but a production process. There is a massive amount of manual labor within. As I understand Buddhism, Mono-ha and Arte Povera, Mono-ha is about “emptiness” while Arte Povera is about “substance,” while Buddhism is neither emptiness nor substance. What is expressed in the end is the “non-duality of emptiness and substance.” I see Mono-ha as a philosophized understanding of religion. Its understanding of Zen and the Dao is philosophical. Buddhism is neither philosophy nor wisdom. Zen is different. In India, Zen is called “dhyana.” Zen cannot be explained. If it can be explained, then it is something different. It is just like all of these ropes I have made. I can’t explain clearly what they are, but in the end, I am satisfied. It feels right.

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Xue Tao, “State of the Union Message” 2012

III. The State of Art in Yunnan

He Libin: In recent years, the Chinese contemporary art market has been aggressively encroaching on young Yunnan artists. The situation is not as good as it was in 2000, much less the 1980s.

Xue: When the Red Heart Commune first began, a lot of the artists were making installation art. At the time, Shi Zhimin used glass, X-ray plates and acrylic to make his graduate thesis work. He was placed under investigation, and in the end barely got his degree.
hen Changwei and Duan Yisong all worked in installation art. In those days, a lot of people were making experimental artworks. For instance Ning Zhi, who was from the same graduating class as us in 1998, was also making installation art. The young people were basically all working in off-canvas art and conceptual photography, but later on, they all basically stopped.

Luo: After the market picked up, most people shifted to canvas painting. The last time a lot of Yunnan artists were making experimental art together was with Jianghu in 2005 and 2006.

He: When the market began to dominate art in 2006, artists came to see their positions and goals more clearly. Of course, the end of Jianghu in 2006 had nothing to do with the market.

Luo: As post-70s artists, do you think there are any clear shared characteristics among post-70s Yunnan artists?

Xue: A lot of the post-70s artists are multi-talented. For instance, Wu Yiqiang, Shi Jing, He Jia and Zhang Tian all work in painting, performance art and installations.

He: If we’re looking at it based on time, I think that the post-70s generation is in a rather anxious mental state, and this finds expression in their artworks. Post-80s artists find ways to dispel this sense of anxiety. Older artists have a clearer connection to the ideology of the state. They are imprinted by the state.

Luo: I feel that Xue Tao’s creative experience is quite representative of the post-70s artists. This generation got started in the traditional art academies, learning colors and modelling. They then went through the modernist enlightenment, self-awakening and the artist group movement. Then they entered into contemporary art within the patterns of globalization, using individualized language and spirit to express artistic concern within the context of globalization. Among earlier Yunnan artists, very few truly entered into contemporary artistic language, with most artists born in the 50s and 60s absorbing modernism or pacing about between modern and postmodern in a quest for Chinese schemas and the expression of the Chinese experience. Their contributions are mainly connected to the post-Cold War unification of the international economy, the collectivist narrative of modern Chinese society and resistance to the same. Their advancement of contemporary artistic concepts was highly limited, and that is why, after they were successful, the only thing they brought, aside from insight into success, was modernist sentiments left over from the 85 New Wave. They didn’t engage in much exploration of artistic concepts. Some artists are creating contemporary art at the same time they are painting Impressionist or Romanticist landscapes. I can understand that as they satisfy increasing domestic demand, they don’t have to focus so much on export as with contemporary art, but this phenomenon shows that they are lost and conflicted about their individual artistic mission. That is not to say, of course, that one cannot create artworks for the masses; that is another issue altogether.

Xue: The “85” artists basically work within a modernist context. Some artists of the post-60s generation entered into the contemporary, such as He Yunchang. As for the post-80s generation, the question is whether or not they’re interested in art in the first place.

Luo: A lot of post-80s artists have been influenced by the individual icon methodology and success schemes. Artistic concepts have been flattened and fragmented, many of them secondhand in the first place. They need to raise their individual character.

He: You raised the question of whether or not Yunnan could provide contemporary art with new possibilities. At this point, I’m not optimistic. Yunnan has its own culture that is markedly different from that of the Central Plain. In fact, southwestern Chinese art as a whole is different from that of other regions. For instance, it places more emphasis on expressiveness, temporality and spiritual experience. The artworks are more closely connected to nature. Setting out from a regional perspective, it is possible that Yunnan can produce something of value, but the future isn’t so clear.

Xue: Among the art spaces in Yunnan that do true contemporary art, TCG Nordica is one, then there’s Liu Lifen’s Contemporary Yunnan, as well as the Lijiang Studio. These three art spaces all have strong international backgrounds. There are also a few individuals who engage in contemporary art creation and curation, but that’s it. Statistically speaking, it is very small, and the role such small numbers can play is very limited. If we took those away, Yunnan would basically be a desert, with nothing but the modernist influence left behind from the 85 period. Kunming still ranks up there with some of the big contemporary art cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Chongqing, mainly because most cities lack contemporary art spaces that are truly rooted in their localities. Why are there so few? It is because there is no demand. If there was more demand, then there would be more. This shows that China is not prepared to enter into the contemporary art context. It hasn’t prepared at all; it is simply making the preliminary preparations.

宁智装置
Ning Zhi, “The Manifesto”, 2000

Luo: The Chinese language academic scene has dubbed the last century of change as the modern transition, the transformation from a traditional society to a modern civilizational order supported by core modern values (freedom, reason and individual rights) and run according to market economics, democratic government and the ethnic nation-state. Critic Zha Changping describes contemporary China as a mixed modern society, where the premodern, modern, postmodern and alternative modern are mixed together, often interlocking and overlapping. This shows that China is not prepared to enter into the globalized world. It tends to view the world with a nationalist, clan-based worldview rather than universal values. One of the missions of Chinese contemporary art is to take part in promoting China’s modern transition.

Everyone knows that Yunnan is richly endowed geographically, ecologically and culturally. The key is for artists to change their vision and language. Today’s scene has developed into an ecosystem comprised of nature, society and culture, and when we look at this scene, we must keep in mind the pressing rural issues of land and left-behind children, the disparity of wealth and environmental issues. Beyond direct concern for social justice, even in artistic form, we must engage in a transformation of traditional aesthetic taste, of observational methods and concepts. Otherwise, we will always be in a state of cultural dislocation and chaos.

Translated by Jeff Crosby

本文中文原文:http://blog.luofei.org/2013/01/interview-xue-tao-contemporary-art-in-yunnan/

赫尔马的传奇故事

hilmar-works000 hilmar-works00 anne-works

下午挪威艺术家马赫尔(Hilmar Fredriksen)和安娜(Anne Rolfsen)夫妇与部分本地艺术家碰面交流,这是一个令人激动的下午,艺术家们谈论各自的作品,谈论上世纪60年代以来的艺术运动,那个年代的杜塞尔多夫,艺术和艺术家的意义,艺术家的生存与婚姻,宗教,文化,今日世界所面临的挑战……

在进驻期间,赫尔马把创库艺术家工作室丢弃的一些物品信手拈来成为艺术:把残缺的石膏脚趾和扫帚放在一起,为一幅普通的面具加一粒痣在下巴上成为“毛”,把一座废弃多年的展示台变成可做冬夏转换的地景艺术……赫尔马的艺术哲学是,在现成物上做最少的加工,使其成为艺术。最好的艺术是那种看了之后让人哑口无言的艺术。 Continue reading “赫尔马的传奇故事”

郭鹏:看上去很旧

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《过来人 未来佛》(局部)

看上去很旧——郭鹏访谈

文/罗菲

我和郭鹏(郭棚)大约是2001年在昆明云南艺术学院认识,那时他刚进校学雕塑,我在读版画二年级。后来我们成为密友,常常在一起探讨艺术,相互就作品方案和效果展开激烈讨论,有时还会全程录音,制作成文档。那时我们身边有这样一群年轻艺术家,乐于接受他人敏锐的批评,把坦诚的争辩当做美德。但有时这也会发展成对批评近乎偏执的需求。十年后仍然如此,郭鹏会经常特别谦虚地发来他的近作,希望听到我的批评意见(我想他也会给其他批评家发出类似的“批评邀请”),并且要印在自己的展览画册上。他何以对自己如此不留情面,按他的解释,希望从“他者”那里听到更多声音(他的口语词汇表里有大量的学术术语,我想他要说的只是“他人”),这样才能走出“自我”的世界。当然,我想他也把坦诚批评当做友谊的记号吧。

关于郭鹏的生活,也需略提一下。因为在我们认识的十余载里,他一直是在物质生活方面要求特别少的艺术家,过着规律的起居生活。即便09年从昆明搬到了北京,仍然过着简朴的生活,有时我们会开玩笑说他过的是老年人生活。但这种简朴规律的生活方式和内敛的气质,对他的艺术起着至关重要的作用。

石器

岔路

1

2012年6月,我到北京办事,暂住郭鹏在北京望京的公寓。6月5日上午,坐在他家客厅,也是一家温馨的儿童绘本工作室,由他太太主持。屋子的装饰很像幼儿园,我坐在“幼儿园”的课桌上,一边翻看郭鹏的近作,一边有了以下谈话。

罗菲:你近些年的照片里基本都是物,比如风景、石头、绳子、鞋子等物件,很少有人出现。刚才提到,你觉得这可能跟你从小不太擅长人际关系有关。

郭鹏:是的,记得读小学时每周有班会活动,每个人要说出谁是自己的好朋友。老师点到我,问“郭鹏,你的好朋友是谁?”我当时站起来,环视四周,脑袋一片空白,随便了说一个名字“邓飞”。那同学一下就楞住了,老师问他是不是郭鹏的好朋友,他反应很快,说是的,我们平时在一起玩。下课后,他拉着我问“我们要不要做好朋友啊?”,我说那试一试吧。后来不了了之,没做成。我看到很多人都有一种陌生感,常常一个人坐在窗户边看同学们跳啊闹啊。

罗菲:只是坐着发呆?

郭鹏:是的,我也不知道他们为什么那么高兴。用我妈的话说,我就是整天“茫起”(四川话,意为闷声不出气)。她担心我出问题,一直到现在都这样,担心我有抑郁症。她常说“别那么深沉,有什么就跟妈说,或者我带你出去转转”。她说我有个毛病,就是喜欢一个人闷着。其实我自己知道我这不是什么问题。

罗菲:因此艺术成了一个出口,或者说让这种“发呆”转化成了审美里成为一种“欣赏”,也就是静观,是这样吗?

郭鹏:我觉得和一个物体相处,和一个房间独处。或者喜欢一个东西,拿在手里把玩。这种感觉很踏实,很有安全感。特别是一个人坐在屋里,不开灯。小芳(郭鹏之妻)说我一天到晚不说话,隐瞒着什么。但我就是不想说,觉得很吵。我觉得独处是最踏实的时刻。整个下午在工作室,不做作品,不看书,就坐着发呆,很踏实的感觉。那是一种最真实的状态,大脑里什么都没想的时候,特别真实、平和。

当我面对人的时候,总要去想怎么做,结合经验、判断或期待,这种感觉很累。我觉得人简单一点就好了。人最基本的生存条件其实很简单,其他很多东西都是外在的。今天很多人都被外在事物绑架了,太在乎外在的东西。那怎样回到本真的状态呢?人饥饿时面对自己是最真实的,当人都吃饱了,基本生活都没问题的情况下,整个人类如何更良性更平和地生活下去?我想这需要一种良性的、持续的、向善的、永恒的系统。

罗菲:这种趋于安稳,缺乏社交渴望和无为的心态,在转换为艺术经验时,可能变得很有用。

郭鹏:这种状态是基于生存已经解决,我们面对生命外在系统和需要时而产生的。真正的问题是,如何面对自我,而不是和别人见面。

人饿的时候是最诚实的时候,当这个解决之后,各种问题就开始发生了。我在想,我们能否把人的生活降低到一个很基本的状态,自己如何和自己相处。很多人总是要找到不同的人和事来填满自己,我自己所向往的是很质朴的生活方式。我最近出去看了很多展览,特别是新媒体,视觉技术非常炫。可我在反思,到底有没有一种质朴的语言和方式来传递很优秀的理念。我相信质朴和平实会给人一种力量。现在很多作品停留在外在的材料和技术上,我觉得原始的内在信念会有更强的力量。回到生活,也是一样。我自己越来越喜欢顾德新的作品,还有刘建华老师的作品,很质朴很直接的东西传递出重要的信息。这个时代做加法很容易,做减法却很难。

罗菲:你刚才讲到人饿的时候是最诚实的,因为饱暖思淫欲。那什么是饥饿?是身体层面上的,还是心智层面上的,或是灵性层面的?身体的饥饿感动物都会感受到,而心灵里的饥饿对人来说往往察觉不到,并且会加以掩饰。

郭鹏:一个有健康心智的人在饿和不饿的时候都能面对自己,而现在是饱了之后就不面对自己了,是不健全的。我认为最首要的是如何诚实的面对自己,我相信做艺术可以帮助我们重新诚实的面对自我,至少对我是有效的。艺术是认识自我的方式和通道,是超验的。我的作品只是我面对自己的方式,不是为了获得别人的欣赏和赞美,是“为而不有”。

尘埃-山

尘埃-瓶子

2

郭鹏最早用黑白摄影方式创作始于2001年,他用一寸黑白照片为载体,记录路边遇见的恋人,为他们拍照,随后手工冲洗出来,染色并修剪相片花边,附上贺词寄去给他们。这种怀旧的摄影形式,在智能手机摄影流行的今天看来,具有更温馨的人情味,和照片作为物质的唯一性,令人更加珍惜。

郭鹏一直采用老照片的样式,延续至今。只是后来画面中的人物在他的视野中逐渐减少,从拍摄恋人到玩偶,从杂志模特到银屏里的人物角色,照片上渐渐取而代之的是越来越多的园林景观、风景、物件、各种现实的局部,仿佛构成梦境中半虚半实的世界。和恋物不同,郭鹏对物件的凝视并非基于对物质的崇拜。按艺术家本人的观点,是他与世界相处的方式,他称之为“相处美学”。

另一个变化是,2012年前的许多作品,他都有用浓郁的荧光绿、桃红等色彩为照片染色,似乎要为现实赋予某种生机盎然的魔幻般气质,正如上世纪六七十年代我们的父辈为黑白照片上的人化妆一样。而最近的作品,越加走向素色,只为照片抹上淡淡的茶色或铜绿色。加上艺术家在照片上人为处理的皱褶与划痕,使得照片看上去很旧,一种静观美学的特征。

“静观”是美学和艺术心理学的术语。按《辞海》解释:“静观,美术用语,也称‘观照’。指在无所为而为中对审美对象进行审视。西方美学家认为,在审美观照中,对象孤立绝缘,主体则持超然态度,不关心物质利害和道德,也无任何概念活动。此时客体与主体交融,物我两忘,消除现实的各种束缚于界限,达到一种恬静的怡然自得的境界。”在郭鹏的摄影中,这种单个物体的绝缘状态和作品本身给人的恬静感,正是一种静观传统里的实践。

罗菲:我觉得你所拍摄的对象都被有意识地孤立抽离出来,无论是局部还是整体。与环境似乎没有明确的关系,成为孤立的客观物。

郭鹏:从视觉上讲这是所需要的效果,但被抽离出来也是最本质的状态。“物无自性,皆随因缘生灭”。应该回到最本质。

罗菲:你相信有本质?

郭鹏:我始终相信万事万物都是一个个孤立的个体,当然它们在一起的时候就会发生关系,这是一种相对的关系。作为个体来说,这是首要和本质的。

罗菲:你更看重个体的存在感,多过整体生态或事物之间相互关联。

郭鹏:我不是忽略整体生态或事物之间的相互关联,只是我们被外在的很多东西所束缚。就好像我们使用智能手机和互联网,导致人和人聚会的时候状况发生变化,都在玩手机发微博。我认为应该有节制,当代社会恰恰本末倒置。那些外在事物,我不会成为它的奴隶,它也不会成为我的奴隶。

在传统摄影的世界观里,它们往往否认独幅照片之间的相互联系和延续性,但赋予每一刻某种神秘特质。后来这种世界观越来越受到挑战,最典型的可能要数英国画家大卫·霍克尼在上世纪80年代用宝丽来相机拍摄的“全景照片”,他通过一系列照片拼贴方式来打破独幅照片的局限(如《梨花盛开的公路》,1986年),由此改变了画家的观看方式。

我回顾郭鹏的创作线索也注意到,尽管他所拍摄的物体多显得孤立又绝缘,但在展示方式上他一直都保持着照片的某种组合形式,无论是在影集里呈现(非平面意义上的组合),还是以照片墙或一组照片呈现。他都通过照片组合的形式,为每一个细微物体赋予了整体的意义,最典型的比如近期《拾弃》里四百多张碎石照片组成的太湖石。另外,他也通过重复的形式来提升物体的整体重量,强化独立的存在感(哪怕只是局部),比如《是无等等》里的佛手、《过来人 未来佛》里的佛像等。

DSC_0560
《过来人 未来佛》

3

摄影的发明强化了人类的时间意识和记忆。尤其在数码时代之前,照片是脆弱的物件,容易损坏或丢失,摄影工业和相关产业也一直在抵抗这种脆弱。直到数字化时代的到来,只要将图片保存在正常运行的硬盘,或上传到互联网,照片再也不会因为时间而黯然。世界以数据形式进入永恒。

但摄影终究是一门挽歌艺术,一门黄昏艺术。所有照片都“使人想到死”,因为它见证的是一个必死的世界,天下万物都有定时的世界。“生有时,死有时;拆毁有时,建造有时;哭有时,笑有时;哀恸有时,跳舞有时;抛掷石头有时,堆聚石头有时;静默有时,言语有时……神造万物,各按其时成为美好,又将永生安置在世人心里”(《传道书》三章)。摄影始终在见证世界万物的脆弱性。有意思的是,郭鹏所拍摄的很多对象都具有一定程度上的文化符号意味,比如假山石、庭院、睡莲、竹、佛像、大桥、太湖石等等,这是否揭示着文化的脆弱性与永恒性之间的张力呢?

在摄影中,人们把这一刻冻结下来,见证时间无情的流逝。摄影企图透过展示脆弱和有限来接触认领另一个世界——永恒。而郭鹏通过有意识地强化照片的脆弱本质,让当下变得更加令人珍惜。这个看上去很旧的世界,在另一个的层面上,也可以说,看上去它或将永远。

罗菲:注意到你很多作品都是环境的细节,一枚石头、一条绳子、锁芯、开关、丢弃的鞋、一本书、一片影子……这些是记忆吗?是为了记录发生过的故事吗?

郭鹏:只是一个个被触动的瞬间,我再看它的时候会想起这个是这里或那里,有时也忘了,对我来说摄影不是为了一个记录。

罗菲:那是为了什么?

郭鹏:一生有很多瞬间,有的会打动你,有的会保留,或希望持续。

罗菲:那这即是记录,把瞬间作为画面凝固,显影出来。

郭鹏:“摄影”对于我来说其实是一个“意识转换器”,他将我拍摄的对象的“物质属性”转换为了“意识属性”让我便于携带并与之“相处”。就像我的钱包里会放着亲人的照片一样,不时会取出端详把玩。就这样它们时刻伴随着我,时间一长照片上自然便留下了些许划痕。我的创作是基于这样的一个层面而展开。所以我更多会考虑怎样相处,我怎样获取一个东西,怎样观悟。好些照片都是以前拍的又拿出来,反复做。摄影给了我一个便利,这拓展了我与“物”的关系,给了我重新面对这个世界以及重新面对自我的可能。我从中可以摄取某些东西,我要感谢摄影。

罗菲:因此你更注重照片的后期处理,前期变得越来越简单,最早我记得你是用胶片拍,自己在暗房里洗。现在就用普通数码卡片机拍摄,印出来再慢慢地反反复复地处理,而不是一次性让作品成型。

郭鹏:是,像刚才那个照片是08年在丽江拍的,但去年才拿出来做。有的照片处理完了摆着,过一段时间看看觉得又可以做点什么,这样反反复复。因为不同的时间拿出来感受不一样,有不同的反应,是一种内省式的体悟和坚持。

罗菲:我理解有点像美学层面上的反刍行为,吃进去,消化一点,拿出来又吃。

郭鹏:消化、吸收和相处需要一个过程,就像水土不服需要一个过程来调整。

罗菲:同时你的照片上有很多人为制作的陈旧感,刮痕、撕痕、破损等,一种刻意造成的伤残、遗忘和美丽的孤寂感。这个效果是在反复制作、把玩、收起来的过程中产生的。

郭鹏:我希望和事物有更深更多的接触。空间转换为可以被阅读的时间。我并没有刻意去追求那种所谓的旧,那些“旧”是自然相处后所留下的痕迹,时间在物体上的呈现,这个痕迹是一个过程,时间转换为可以触摸的空间。时间与过程是我关注的核心,这是一个无始无终的过程。

光点

4

郭鹏说,他希望提供一个认识这个世界的新方式。这是一个宏大的目标,在不断的收集、凝视和相处中,通过摄影,那个安详而隐蔽的世界或将从这个世界显影出来。这个过程令人欣喜,这是艺术的恩惠。至于我们能否从摄影中得到认识世界的新方式,我想,郭鹏不会放弃这个理想。

这篇文章是受郭鹏的“批评邀请”,为他即将在北京的个展而作。这篇文字最初是大约一年前的一次随性访谈,但郭鹏强烈希望听到我的意见,而不只是他自己说。于是又在那篇访谈基础上加入了我对他作品的一些反应和思考,遗憾没有批评,只是我与他和他的照片之间的一种相处吧。

2013年5月20日,昆明

陈梵元、冯贤波访谈

冯贤波水墨作品
冯贤波水墨作品

按:这篇访谈是为陈梵元、冯贤波将于3月16日在TCG诺地卡举办的展览而作,提前发布出来与大家分享。预祝各位春节快乐!

陈梵元、冯贤波访谈

时间:2013年1月29日下午
地点:昆明TCG诺地卡画廊

罗菲(以下简称“罗”):请你们俩介绍下自己的经历。

冯贤波(以下简称“冯”):我初中开始接触书法艺术,那时很喜欢看一些老先生写书法,高中开始正式投身昭通的杨眉老师门下学习绘画,才知道原来这些学科可以考大学,以前一直想当个医生什么的,学了才发现特别喜欢书法和国画,也发现自己的志向更贴近这个方向。后来去报考了中国美院的书法专业,到美院读书的时候才发现,我连什么是写字,什么是书法都分辨不清楚,和身边的同学相比,我简直就是一个门外汉。
后来慢慢就赶上大家的进度了。到二年级的时候我的篆书还比较出类拔萃,这也得益于汪永江和吕金柱两位良师的耐心指导,整体来说美院老师留给我的最大影响就是敬业精神。论文指导老师看你的文章小到连标点符号的错误都会给你提示出来,回云南这几年我没有发现哪个大学的老师对自己的学生有类似的责任体现。
我的书法偏重追求比较古朴、稚拙的方向,取法比较多的如:钟鼎文、秦诏版、汉金文等等。毕业后在浙江美术出版社工作了两年,也经常到杭州的几个学校去代课,才发现创作和教学之间乐趣太多了,可以相互促进。
国画我更关注元代,元四家中特别崇拜倪瓒,他的山水格调非常“高古”。离现实非常远,苍凉古朴、静穆萧疏,具有对时代的超越性价值。我们今天很多作品都是往世俗方向靠,迎合受众,只要多数人觉得漂亮的就去表现。缺乏的正是倪瓒那种超越世俗化,功利化,物质化的精神取向。

陈梵元(以下简称“陈”):我走上这条路可能源于小学二、三年级就表现出来的书写特长,一直受到周围同学、老师、领导的鼓励,在这种自豪感中慢慢确立了想要成为一名书法家的信念。因为从小生活在农村,直到十五岁以后才真正开始接触毛笔字帖,开始了解书法,才知道有欧、柳、颜、赵以至于更多的书法经典。1997年,我被分配到昆明工作,从此有了很好学习的条件。而此时恰逢现代书法最热火的时候,《现代书法》杂志开拓了我的视野,本能地我更倾向于现代书法。我喜欢新鲜事物,对很多未知的东西有强烈的好奇心。现代书法有明显的西方形式构成的影响,而对此我了解非常有限。平面设计是一条很好的学习途径,强调创新性思维并运用于视觉表现,这正是我想要的。2010年,我进入中国书法院进修,对传统这座宝库才有了更为全面的认识。更有幸的是在北京的那段时间认识了现代书法的先锋人物魏立刚老师,进入他的国际书象学社学习。实际上我这十多年的学习历程是循着传统书法到现代书法,再到现代书象这条线一路走过来的。此次展览我的大部分作品已经脱离了汉字本身,我个人认为应该归到现代书象一类。 Continue reading “陈梵元、冯贤波访谈”

薛滔访谈:当代艺术在云南

艺术家薛滔
艺术家薛滔,摄影:罗菲

薛滔访谈:当代艺术在云南

时间:2012年12月27日下午
地点:昆明创库
罗菲:TCG诺地卡画廊策展人
薛滔:艺术家
和丽斌:艺术家、策展人、云南艺术学院美术学院油画系主任

一、从云南出发

罗:你是云南最早做非架上艺术的艺术家之一, 1994年在大理创办红心社,2005年在北京创建“候鸟天空”艺术空间,一直推动云南艺术家与外界的联络,见证了云南 70后艺术家的整体起步到发展。请介绍下当时发起红星社的状况。

薛:我1989年进入画室学画画,那时在读初一,1994年高中毕业考大学。我们之前在画室一起学画画的人,大多数毕业后就结婚生子,没搞艺术了。那时不像现在,突击三个月考美术,那时考四五年都很正常。我觉得那么努力考艺术,最后没有坚持下去太可惜了,喜欢的东西应该坚持。兰庆伦、段义松、石志民等,我们组成一个社团。当时还不知道八五新潮 ,只是从杂志上看过伤痕美术 。都是大理的艺术青年,作为一个社团主要是为了帮助大家把这个爱好继续下去,定期做活动、展览、交流,但没有明确创作方向。1997年后成员就多了,苏亚碧、刘琨他们加入进来。当时昆明除了美协的展览,其他展览一个也没有。我们1997年第一次做展览,2000年第二次展览在云南艺术学院美术馆,陈长伟他们加入进来。后来每两年有一次,以双年展的方式,也是受当时双年展模式的影响。

罗:05年做了“候鸟天空”艺术空间,这个还在吗?

薛:2002年后昆明的展览就多了,尤其是有了创库以后。2003年和向卫星他们一起做“影子”新媒体展,当时你也过来帮忙。然后在红香蕉画廊、诺地卡展过“羊来了”。2003年我们去上海参加春季艺术沙龙,做了一个“高原反应”的展览,2004年在上海多伦美术馆做了“紫外线”展览。当时中国有一种萌动,艺术家都在积极活动。因为中国艺术界经历八五思潮,再到“后89” ,之后就黯淡了。1990年代到2000年是沉寂的状态,2000年之后突然有一种力量在爆发。陈长伟、和丽斌、和嘉我们当时在上海停留很长时间,和各地艺术家接触。人的激情一旦打开就收不住了,大家都有一股冲动,感觉到中国艺术界即将发生大事,但不知道是什么。
2004年我与和嘉去了北京,在通县滨河小区,那是圆明园画家村解散之后的一个聚集地。当时圆明园的画家一部分被遣送回原籍,一部分有钱的去宋庄买房,还有一部分搬到通县滨河小区。何云昌当时在那里,艳俗艺术的主要成员都在那里。可我想,我干嘛来这里,如果我为了过小区生活,我在昆明就可以过得很好,有工资,有保险,我辞职来北京不是为了这个。后来就去到索家村弄一个空间,是云南艺术家集资做的一个空间,就是“候鸟天空”,想在北京做一个云南的窗口。
成立半年之后,索家村就开始拆房子了,市领导整顿市容,拆违章建筑,索家村就属于此列。我刚刚辞掉工作,借了钱来做艺术空间,结果才开始就面临悲剧。后来拆迁队来了,大家都还在睡觉,听到轰隆隆来拆房子。法院、法警、城管、警察、大型挖掘机把我们全部围起来。 Continue reading “薛滔访谈:当代艺术在云南”