The Yunnanese Way

Guan Yuda and He Libin

The Yunnanese Way: The 2nd Dialogue of “Inscape On The Spot” Art Exhibition

Guan Yuda (Curator, Art Critic, Professor of Art and Design College of Yunnan University),
Luo Fei (Gallery Director and Curator of TCG Nordica Gallery)
He Libin (Artist, Curator)
Lei Yan (Artist)
Li Youjie (Artist)

Time: 2009, May 17
Add: Kunming Dandi Coffee

Translated by: Wu Yuerong
Proofreaded by: Anders Gustafsson

Professor Guan Yuda (hereinafter referred to as Guan ):

“…modernity is actually the starting point for an inquiry into the relationship between man and nature, people and life itself. Modernity transformed the Western culture. It also saw the emergence of a civil society, and the transformation of people’s daily lives.

In fact, I see this happening in Yunnan as well, mainly through two important developments. One is the early ‘Shen Community’, and artists such as Mao Xuhui. Their landscape paintings was a way of escaping the mainstream ideology. According to the provisions of revolutionary realism, you could only paint peasants, soldiers and ideological motives. And if at that time you wanted to deviate from the mainstream, painting scenery was the best way. That way, you would not break the ideological taboos, but you could put your own consciousness into the art. This was the beginning of modernism and self-conscious art in Yunnan. Mao Xuhui were to bring in subjectivity; and this is modernity. This point is very important, because it is also the reason that he saw a kind of religious loneliness inside Gui Shan. I think this is the main sense of involvement, of ‘Inscape’. And this subjectivity is the most crucial point.”
But I think we should not exaggurate the fact that the experiments of “Kunming Impressionist School” was earlier than Mao Xuhui. Because almost all artists painted landscape in Yunnan at that time; that was a way of life. And many people still do. Secondly, Yunnan itself is far away from the political and cultural center. That’s why Ding Shaoguang, Jiang Tiefeng, and also Wang Xiaobo went to De Hong (note: a town close to the Burmese border). Through the closeness of nature they could escape the mainstream ideology. It is similar with today’s tourism. They came there either to escape the harm from the ideological and commercial capitalism, or to heal their wounds and seek consolation in the landscape. But I think this is a sociological phenomenon. The discussion of art history in terms of subjective consciousness or awakening, and to truly grasp the origins of the modern landscape, is the main point of interest here. Continue reading