城市如旷野空荡荡

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布展结束时,加里森却犹豫那些画是否被照得太亮。我们有过几次沟通,按常规照明,一幅中等尺寸的画至少需要两盏灯,左右各一盏,尽量做到画面光线均匀,没有暗角,拍证件照那样端正,拒绝情绪渲染。这次也一样,可加里森觉得太亮了,让画面太寡没有气氛。我说,就像打了闪光灯的照片?他说对,就是那种感觉。后来一幅画改为一盏灯,打在画面中心或画面中有光的地方。整个展厅暗下来许多,突然变得“浪漫”起来——我们开玩笑说。

他说上帝看这座城市也是这样,是专注地看着,那些熙熙攘攘的房子就是祂的羊群,我们的故事就是房子的灵魂。

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在那幅最大的作品前加里森想加点什么,开始想到一堆砖头泥土,我们去附近拆迁废墟上转了转,觉得可能不合适。后来改为挂一盏15瓦的灯泡,还加了一个调节器,让灯光彻底浓缩下来,留下精湛透亮的灯丝。整个气场因此骤然凝固起来。

画面由192块15*15厘米的木板油画组成,总共255*191厘米大。画面是俯瞰的老式居民楼的场景,层层叠叠的太阳能热水器、阳台、窗户、旧绿色的遮阳篷。整个昏黄的调子让我想起傍晚时刻,家家户户开始烧饭,路上挤满了庸庸碌碌回家的汽车电单车自行车和行人。有一些窗户里始终黑漆漆的,主人显然还未到家。这幅相比其他作品而言在气氛上更具浓郁的生活气息。

加里森觉得,那微弱的光就是人们的盼望,虽然微弱,却照亮了所有的人。那也是真理,极其耀眼,让人不可推诿。

光,是加里森画面中象征上帝真理与希望的重要图式,也是基督教艺术里除了十字架以外第二个最具代表象征上帝的符号。

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越看越觉得,加里森把城市画成了旷野。

这里虽有难以磨灭的生活痕迹,高楼林立,秩序井然,但那些高楼大厦、违章建筑、城中村、路灯、窗户、阳台、雨棚、太阳能热水器都像石头和杂草一样,杳无生机。像有一张潮湿发霉的抹布捂着一座城,难受得喘不过气来。

人们无法从这座城市获得满足和滋养,自然不是因为人们无法从中找到人文主义式的故乡情怀、童年坐标或文化养分,而是因为人心在认识终极的上帝之前,注定是空荡荡的,苦而又枯。

那些被拆除的房子,正预示着每一个人的命运,终有一天都要被拆除——你我都会死!那么,我们将要去哪儿?

如果没有一位终极的充满爱的上帝,一切问题都经不住追问。如果我们至终不能信靠这位上帝,一切思索追寻学识和敬虔都将斯文扫地。

PS. 加里森“细胞的渴望”展将持续到3月31日,欢迎各位前来观展!再次感谢大家昨晚捧场,这是前所未有的盛况,一场奇妙的见证。

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“细胞的渴望”加里森个展及评论

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细胞的渴望
——TCG诺地卡画廊进驻艺术家加里森(美国)个人油画作品展

策展人:罗菲
翻译:马睿奇(R. Orion Martin 美国)
展览开幕酒会:2012年2月25日,晚上8点
展览日期:2012年2月25日——3月31日
展出地点:昆明市西坝路101号,创库艺术主题社区,TCG诺地卡画廊
电话:0871-4114692
网址:www.tcgnordica.com
邮件:info@tcgnordica.com

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新闻稿

美国艺术家加里森2011年9月来到昆明进驻TCG诺地卡画廊,为期6个月,展出作品全部是他在昆明期间完成的,与城市构造以及人内心的渴望紧密相关,也从中不难看出昆明这些年不断拆迁建设的状况。
展览名为“细胞的渴望”,加里森认为一个细胞的复杂程度堪比一座昆明城,它有自己的规律、中心、交通枢纽和生命。一个人的指尖上包含着十万个细胞,就是十万座城。照此推算,我们发现你我的身体简直就是一个生物奇迹!加里森特别惊叹并着迷于生命的华丽,造物的奇妙。这开启了一种思考,一种眼界。
本次展览作品将总共展出三十余件不同尺寸和材料的绘画作品,以一个美国人的眼睛看昆明城,透过画中的城市反思我们的生存状况与内心深处的渴望。
展览将于2月25日晚上8点在创库TCG诺地卡画廊开幕,展览将持续到3月31日。

相关阅读:
加里森的简历
对话加里森:艺术家的工作就应该给社会充电!

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《看哪这城!》

文/罗菲

jonathan-painting14美国艺术家加里森2011年9月来到昆明进驻TCG诺地卡画廊,为期6个月,展出作品全部是他在昆明期间完成的,与城市紧密相关。在加里森来昆之前,他读过一篇科普文章,里面说一个细胞的复杂程度堪比一座纽约城,它有自己的规律、中心、交通枢纽和生命。简言之,你自己的指尖上包含着十万个细胞,就是十万座城。照此推算,我们发现你我的身体简直就是一个生物奇迹!加里森特别惊叹并着迷于生命的华丽,创造的奇妙。这样精密复杂奢华的构造岂能说没有一位设计师?这开启了一种思考,一种眼界,更源自一种信仰。

加里森对城市兴趣浓厚,他拿着一块电脑主板说:这难道不是一座城吗?你看,这儿有高楼、那儿有小区、超市……在新近的这批油画里,全是昆明城的景致,如果留心看,大多是城中村或老式小区的房子。加里森是一个怀旧的人,这可能跟他8岁时在北京生活十年的中国记忆有关。

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画中的那些房子——俯瞰、远眺、凝视,城市或拥挤或倒置或倾斜,或全景或片段。这座陌生的城市给他带来许多灵感,一方面是关于城市的复杂结构与细胞的关系,另一方面关注人的渴望。因此他的画也大致分作这两类,一类基于前者,其中一组作品画在较大尺寸的布面上,房子挨着房子,密密麻麻,熙熙攘攘的太阳能热水器,在灰蒙蒙的天空下,仿佛暴雨将至。还有从楼房窗户上零星反射斑斑点点的光芒,仿佛正预言着某件即将发生的大事。这组作品的画面整体都罩在方框格子底下,加里森认为,如此复杂的城市如果没有一种力量来托住它,早就爆炸了,正如原子失去凝聚力就会像原子弹爆炸一样,而格子象征着某种带着秩序意识的能量将一切纷繁复杂拿捏在一起。这类画面也同样绘制在一些小板材上,以及192个方木块上,它们像是从魔方里一个个抽离出来。这几组作品都代表着加里森所理解的城市与细胞之间的关联。城市不只是一个方便的、物质的、消费的社区,更是一个生命群体的集合,那里有秩序、有灵魂、有情绪、有思索、有故事,它们居住在那一栋栋房子里,一个时刻上演幸福生活,时刻可能爆炸的地方,倘若没有一种力量在保守维系。

加里森对城市的忧患意识来自犹太先知以赛亚,《旧约•以赛亚书》记载道,

“地上悲哀衰残, 世界败落衰残; 地上居高位的人也败落了。地被其上的居民污秽; 因为他们犯了律法, 废了律例,背了永约。所以,地被咒诅吞灭; 住在其上的显为有罪。 地上的居民被火焚烧, 剩下的人稀少。”(赛24:4-6)

这一段预言世界不再遵守上帝律法,不再拥有公平和正义之后,世界将为此付出代价,成为一个混乱不堪颓败的世界,也是悲剧的根本原因,再也没有任何一个所谓的成功人士能独善其身。这种对现世的忧患意识与中国古代士大夫的“先天下之忧而忧”的胸怀十分接近。但以赛亚和其他犹太先知并非热衷于毁灭的虚无主义者,他们在看到人类因罪恶被上帝公义审判之后总有救赎,因此随后写到,

“那时,聋子必听见这书上的话;盲人的眼必从迷蒙黑暗中看见。困苦的人必因耶和华增添欢喜,人间贫穷的必因以色列的圣者快乐。因为残暴的人归于无有,傲慢的人已经灭绝,一切存心作恶的都被剪除。”(赛29:18-20)

这是犹太启示文学末世论的特点,先知对未来公义国度的渴望与对现实罪恶施以刑罚的主题交替出现。

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我想这样一种双重视野也影响到加里森的绘画,除了一部分关于城市灰暗颓败的局面,也有关于人心渴望的画面。那组以渴望为主题的画面没有了之前框框条条的分割,远远的望着这座我们身处的城市,头上的天空、云层、微光。看上去非常平静、日常、没有特别、没有脾气。在房子里面,我们在那儿住着。在天空下,我们在那儿活着。一切秩序井然,只是略显心事重重。

作家史铁生先生在他的书中写到:艺术或文学,不要做成生活的侍从或帮腔,要像侦探,从任何流畅的秩序里听见磕磕绊绊的声音,在任何熟悉的地方看出陌生。

我相信这是艺术或文学在任何时代的价值所在,我们不需要从艺术中再次肯定人类的进步、成就和骄傲,再次颂扬这座宜居的城市,却无视贫乏、破碎、罪恶与渴望。加里森说,艺术要让人看见真相,并给人希望。

在这些作品中有这样一张画,棕褐色调子,在一堵墙后面抬头望见一栋楼,恰成一个角度,露出一片锋锐的天空,和稀薄的云,像是另一个国度正顺时针方向缓缓展开。当这一刻发生的时候,我们的心留意到了吗?

完稿于2012年2月15日
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The Cell’s Longing: Jonathan Aumen solo exhibition

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The Cell’s Longing
——TCG Nordica resident artist Jonathan Aumen(US)’s solo exhibition

Curator: Luo Fei
Exhibition Opening: 8pm, 25th of Feb, 2012
Exhibition duration: 25th of Feb – 31st of March, 2012
Address: TCG Nordica Gallery, Chuangku, Xibalu 101, Kunming
Tel: 0871-4114692
Website: www.tcgnordica.com
Email: info@tcgnordica.com

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Press Release

American artist Jonathan Aumen arrived in Kunming in September 2011 for an artist residency at TCG Nordica gallery. The works on display were all completed during the following six months of his residency in Kunming and all of them are intimately focused on the city, its people, and their inner longings. They also relate to the continuous demolition and relocation situation present in Kunming in recent years.

Before he arrived in Kunming, Aumen read a popular science article that said that a single cell is just as functionally complex as a city the size of Kunming. It has its own laws of operation, centers, transport hubs, and lives. In short, your very own finger tip contains 100,000 cells.  If you continue  this train of thought and do the math, we find the human body is a biological wonder and the complexity mind-blowing.  Aumen was stunned and captivated by the beauty and wonder of life. In light of this extravagant complexity, how can one argue that there was no designer? This inspires a train of thought and a scope of work.

TCG Nordica will display Aumen’s more than 30 oil paintings in different sizes during this exhibition, from the eyes of an American, that look through the city to reflect on our living conditions and inner longings.

The exhibition opening will be 8 pm, 25th of Feb at TCG Nordica, Chuangku(loft), exhibit until 31st of March.

Related posts:
Jonathan Aumen’s CV
Interview Jonathan Aumen: An artist’s responsibility is to recharge society

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The Cell’s Longing

Luo Fei

jonathan-painting14American artist Jonathan Aumen arrived in Kunming in September 2011 for an artist residency at TCG Nordica gallery. The works on display here were all completed during the following six months of his residency in Kunming and all of them are intimately focused on the city. Before he arrived in Kunming, Aumen read a popular science article that said that a single cell is just as functionally complex as a city the size of Kunming. It has its own laws of operation, centers, transport hubs, and lives. In short, your very own finger tip contains 100,000 cells.  If you continue  this train of thought and do the math, we find the human body is a biological wonder and the complexity mind-blowing.  Aumen was stunned and captivated by the beauty and wonder of this knowledge. In light of this extravagant complexity, how can one argue that there was no designer? This began a train of thought and a scope of work, but it truly originates in a belief.

Aumen’s interest in cities is deep. Upon finding a computer motherboard he said, “Isn’t this a city? Look, here are the buildings, here are the districts, the factories…” His newest works all feature views of Kunming. If you look carefully, you will notice that the majority are slums or traditional homes from old-fashioned districts. Aumen is a nostalgic person, possibly because he is influenced by the memories from when, at the age of eight, he lived in Beijing for ten years.

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In the paintings there are many houses – whether from above, from a distance, in our gaze, whether crowded or inverted or askew, whether a panoramic view or a fragment. This unfamiliar city gives Aumen much insight; first into the relationship between the complex structure of a cell and a city, but also into the longings of people. Consequently, his works can roughly be divided into two groups that focus, respectively, on these two themes. The first group features a series of expansive paintings in which apartments are densely packed together and solar water heaters are bustling with activity, all of it under a cloud-filled sky that suggests a coming storm. From the windows come sparkling bits of radiant light, as if prophesying that within moments, something important will occur. These paintings are organized in the form of grid. Aumen believes that if there wasn’t something supporting this complex city, it would have already exploded, just like atomic explosions occur when atoms lose their cohesiveness. Therefore, the grid represents a certain kind of conscious energy that holds together all the varied bits and pieces. This sort image is also transcribed onto 192 square pieces of wood that appear as if drawn from a Rubik’s cube. These groups of works all stand for Aumen’s understanding of the relationship between city and cell.

A city is not merely a community of convenience, materiality, and consumption, but rather a gathering of living beings. It has order. It has soul. It has moods, contemplations, and stories. They live in these towering apartments, one moment blissful, and the next moment they would be destroyed, if not for some force holding them together.

Aumen’s premonition of urban crisis is informed by the Jewish prophet Isaiah (Old Testament, Book of Isaiah), who says,

“The earth turns gaunt and gray, the world silent and sad, sky and land lifeless, colorless. Earth Polluted by Its Very Own People. Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, disruptedits order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant. Therefore a curse, like a cancer, ravages the earth. Its people pay the price of their sacrilege. They dwindle away, dying out one by one.”(Isaiah 24:4-6)

This excerpt prophesies that when the world no longer respects the laws of God, when there is no longer justice and rectitude, the world will pay a price and become a place of terrible decline and corruption. There will be no possibility to uplift oneself from the midst of squalor, due to the fundamentally fallen nature of the world. This premonition of crisis is reminiscent of “Be concerned about the affairs of state before others”, a traditional mindset among Chinese scholar officials that refers to the cultivation of a forward-looking awareness of approaching threats.
But Isaiah and other Jewish prophets were not overcome by a destructive nihilism. Rather, they noted that after God judged human’s for their sins, there was always the possibility of redemption. Therefore, shortly following the above passage, the Book of Isaiah reads,

“At that time the deaf will hear word-for-word what’s been written. After a lifetime in the dark, the blind will see. The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God, the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel. For there’ll be no more gangs on the street. Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species. Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean will never be heard of again”(Isaiah 29:18-20)

Notable in this Jewish scripture is that two themes, the punishment of sin and the longing for a coming righteous kingdom, alternate throughout the work.

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I think these two views influence Aumen’s painting. In addition to works which focus on the darkness of urban decay, there are also scenes depicting one’s heart’s desire. This group of images is not broken up by the restricting image of the grid. They gaze into the distance at the city around us, with a slight glimmer coming through the layered clouds over our heads. They seem quite peaceful and every day, without any particular temperament. Within the house, we dwell. Below the sky, we live. Everything is in order, but one has the feels that their heart is heavy.

Chinese writer Shi Tiesheng writes,

“Whether art or literature, one need not be and imperial attendant or vocal promoter. One needs to be a detective, listening to the rocky voice in the otherwise flowing order, looking at every familiar place as if it was strange.”

I believe that in any age, this is the value of art. We don’t need art to confirm once again the progress, accomplishments, and arrogance of human beings. Nor do we need to sing once more the praises of the pleasantly livable city, all the while neglecting that which is lacking, that which is broken, the sins and longings. Aumen says, art must let one look upon the truth, and give them hope.

In this collection there is one painting where, as we peak behind a dark brown wall, we raise our heads to see a building, and from that exact point of view we see a sharp sliver of sky mediated by thin clouds. It is as if another kingdom is emerging clockwise little by little. In the moment it occurs, do we feel it in our hearts?

Written February 11, 2012
Kunming
translated by R. Orion Martin (US) 

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Interview Jonathan Aumen: An artist’s responsibility is to recharge society

Interview Jonathan Aumen: An artist’s responsibility is to recharge society
by Luo Fei, TCG Nordica gallery curator

Time: 10am, 7th of Jan, 2012
At: TCG Nordica Gallery
Jonathan Aumen: TCG Nordica resident artist (since Sep 2011, see artist CV)

1, You moved to China with your family when you were eight and lived here for ten years. Can you talk about your impressions from that time?

My parents were English teachers at the time, starting in Tianjin and then relocating to Beijing. My childhood was like a storybook, very colorful. I frequently hung out with old men doing what they did. This consisted of keeping birds as pets, flying kites, fighting crickets and many other things. I was always captivated by the stories that the old people would tell me. That was when there weren’t a lot of foreigners around and Chinese people were super curious about us and our lives. Life here was completely different from my home in the state of Virginia back in the United States, but I jumped immediately in the deep end. My most important experience, however, was studying under a private art tutor, a strict teacher from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. I studied under him for three years before I graduated from high school.

2, There is a significant difference between the China of the 90’s and the China of today. What are your thoughts about the changes?

I’m a full-on idealist. I always think on memories of yesterday. You can spy shadows of yesterday’s China but the differences are significant. China has become very materialistic and has emulated the habit of the west by placing too much of an emphasis on possessions. In addition, many historic buildings and hutongs have been torn down, both in Beijing and Kunming, namely the Flower and Bird market. This is a shame.

Its comparatively like ripping up old family picture albums. There are now also a lot of electric scooters. Not many bicycle bells can be heard. I like the sound of bicycle bells. The speed at which things have developed has given society more comfortable conditions but has not given them a sense of their own culture and identity. Chinese don’t seem to know what their identity is because their identity has been pulled out from underneath them or placed in a dusty museum. This seems to be a universal problem, though. We all ask the questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Therefore, we as human beings look for an identity in whatever seems fitting at the time.

3, Kunming’s “The Loft” is China’s earliest art community. When it was established in 2002 there were more than 30 artists residing there. However, it did not become an art industry model for society. As a result, many artists relocated to other cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Some decided to stay put. What are your thoughts regarding the Kunming art scene?

I feel like The Loft is like a minority community. It’s somewhat isolated from the outside art world and has not yet become commercialized. The artists there are warm and friendly and welcome visitors inside their studios. It doesn’t seem all about the money or the fame. There seems to be a rich soil to develop as an artist. It’s slow and quiet there. You can choose to be alone or to talk and be with people. It seems like the only problem with the Loft is that there is not sufficient exposure.

4, There was recently a pretty serious fire at the Loft. You were the first to discover the fire and also helped rescue some paintings after breaking into one of the artists’ studios in fear his work would be destroyed. Some of the artists suffered pretty significant loss from the fire. Works and studios were burned. Can you share some thoughts with us regarding this situation?

First of all, the newspapers and tv exaggerated quite a bit calling me a hero. I’m not a hero. I simply did what I did because of God and the love he has given me for others. I hadn’t known Tang Zhigang for that long but had the desire to help him. There really is nothing to brag about. A lot of people look at catastrophes and think that God is judging the earth. Ironically a lot of Christians have this view. I believe that although God is righteous and judges us for sin he is also equally loving. He can turn bad situations into good. Sometimes God allows bad things (bad things being a result of the sin of mankind) to happen so we can be blown away by his creativity. I believe he allowed this fire to show all us at The Loft and in Kunming that our lives have no guarantee and our material possessions are not eternal. Tomorrow is not promised.

5, What does it mean to be a Christian to you?

It means I am a child of God. It means the spirit of God is within me empowering me to love others. It is to be a light in the darkness. Light is the truth. This is an absolute identity. This is the rock I stand on, my foundation. Christianity isn’t a crutch. It’s not here to give people an easier or happier life. After becoming a Christian life gets more difficult in my opinion. That being said, I believe that God gives us his own power and peace that surpasses understanding to help us trudge through the mud of life as it were.

6, Are there any conflicts you deal with regularly being both a Christian and an artist? How do you balance these two identities?

Of course there are many conflicts. I am a sinner and a very weak person in and of myself. The most difficult thing is putting Jesus first in my life. There are times where I focus too much on my art and forget temporarily why I am actually doing art. My purpose in doing art is to enjoy God and his creation and also be a magnifying glass, making his glories known to the people around me. I’ve noticed that as I’ve been busy preparing for my show , working at the studio and then coming home to work, I’ve neglected time with my wife. The order of importance in my life is as follows: God, my wife, and then my art. Loving my wife is a picture of how Jesus loves us his children. The aim is to love my wife like he loves her. This is far more important to me than my art. I pray for more grace and the ability to make this a reality. A lot of artists love their art far more than they love their own family. The way balance comes in this area is through prayer and reading the Bible, letting the truth soak in to my heart and change me. Getting together with other Christians is important too so that I can be both challenged and encouraged.

7, When the fire took place I saw you were working on a painting that looked a lot like smoke rising from buildings. A lot of people, especially artists, were saying that you were some kind of prophet. Maybe they were just joking but do you think an artist is to be a prophet of sorts?

I was not purposefully painting a picture of burning buildings. It was actually a painting of a development in Kunming being torn down and a cloud of dust arising from it. Honestly though, I really want to be a prophet of sorts. A prophet of truth, Gods truth. Prophets are courageous, direct, and completely honest. In Old Testament times the message brought from prophets usually made people uncomfortable or even afraid. This was because a lot of prophetic messages had to do with turning away from sin and seeking the Lords way again. This is really interesting. When I arrived to my studio at the Loft I noticed there were ten words written on my door: “We must tell the truth, even if the truth hurts.” I didn’t realize that this phrase would embody a lot of the paintings I would paint. People don’t like to hear the truth about a lot of things. Its more comfortable to ignore things sometimes. For instance I’ve told people in the past that they have no guarantee that they will live until tomorrow. They could be hit by a car on the way home and die. People are afraid to die. Chinese are especially superstitious and don’t like hearing how they could realistically and possibly die. We all will die.

8, Recently a famous Chinese art critic said: “The main characteristic of contemporary art is the lack of belief. Artists believe they are themselves gods when we talk about faith or belief…… If contemporary artists want to devote themselves to religion they must say farewell to their art otherwise they will they will neither be a good religious person or a good contemporary artist.” How do you feel about this statement?

First of all, what is contemporary art? Bare minimum it just means art that is happening now. Traditional art used to be contemporary art in its own day. Contemporary art doesn’t have to be marked by lack of belief. If one says contemporary art is marked by lack of belief, isn’t this in turn a belief? Many artists believe there are no absolutes. This belief is automatically a self-contradiction. Saying there are no absolutes is an absolute. Our reality is extremely complex. Think about atoms, molecules, water, our very bodies. Who holds these intricate constructions together? One has to ask him or herself: “Is there a Creator?” When we see a Mercedes Benz on the street or a plane in the air we automatically deduce that these were made by people or a factory of people. We then look at a human being, a far more complex creation, and we emphatically state that it had no creator. In the past there have been artists who have been very counter-cultural. Van Gogh for instance never sold a single painting to someone other than his brother. Being a Christian artist is the epitome of being counter cultural. It’s like constantly swimming upstream. You have to swim hard. Christian artists have the responsibility of communicating truth. Artists that don’t believe in God have a longing that their art can never completely satisfy.

9, There have been all different sorts of roles that artists have played throughout the centuries. Artists have also crossed paths with many different cultures or ways of life. For instance, in antiquity artists were more craftsmen while modern artists played the role of bohemians leaving there normal everyday to revolt against traditions and become nomads. Some artists played at being wizards living very mysterious lives and even communicating with spirits. Today’s artist plays more of an intellectual role and feels a responsibility toward guiding culture and the public arena. Under the influence of POP art many artists have turned to fashioning a kind of pop star persona and have escaped into the world of entertainment and fashion. This makes them feel more successful and glorified by the public. Now artwork not only depends on the actual physical art work but the physical action of the artist too. Clearly we see that art in and of itself cannot fulfill our deepest human need. There is a deeper need. How do you feel?

What is the function of an artist? If life is meaningless then what is the point of creating art? A lot of artists feel no responsibility to society or their fellow man. I believe the artist has a crucial responsibility. This responsibility is to communicate the truth about our reality and to bring hope to a hopeless world. Most everyone appreciates beauty. Why is this? Because we see in a beautiful landscape or a fantastic creature a greater power. I believe this greater power is God. He manifests or reveals himself and his characteristics through his creation. Just like my art work reveals personal characteristics or thoughts. We are like batteries that get recharged by things that are beautiful, things that are great. I believe the artists responsibility is to recharge and heal society. Many contemporary artists are all about shocking people. Does shocking people do any good unless it is accompanied by truth and worth?

10, In the Christian view there is the world now and the world that is to come. God will come again to earth and establish his kingdom. He will make all things new. Do you think the role of the artist is any different now in the present than it will be in the new kingdom?

Our biggest responsibility as Christians right now is to spread the truth of the gospel. Gospel literally means “good news.” The good news is that God came to earth in the form of a man, JESUS, to pay the penalty of our sin. Through his sacrifice we have received forgiveness and eternal life. This is the best news ever! Right now I’m excited about telling other people about that through my art. In the heavenly kingdom that God will establish one day on earth our responsibility as artists will be to enjoy and explore the wonders of God. They are eternal. In eternity one responsibility or joy. Right now at the present time two.

11, You’ve said before that the forward or literary introduction to your show is more important than your paintings. You hope that the article will light a fire underneath the viewers. I hope I can attain this goal. But the interesting thing is that you put the forward above your pieces. A lot of artists are against a description of their work. They resist putting their work in a box. How do you view the relationship between art and art criticism?

There are many methods to express the many facets of truth of one idea. Music, more than visual art, for me has quite an immediate effect on influencing my emotions. This is ironic because I’m such a visual person. A perfect analogy of this instant effect is how they administer IV’s at local Chinese hospitals. The effect is much faster. Looking at paintings takes time. We ingest through the eyes and digest in the heart and mind. Music is so powerful because it combines objective logic or words with emotional sound. Film in my opinion is the most powerful art medium for me because it combines writing, visual art, and music. A movie can leaving a lasting impression and move us greatly. A lot of artists believe their work is most important and all the attention must be put on the actual painting rather than the truth. I think truth is far more important. I believe art and art criticism is like a marriage relationship. One needs the other. No fighting.

12 How do you view the relationship between form and concept?

There is a very important relationship between the two. A lot of artists make conceptual art but many of the forms are weak. When a concept has weak form it is like a sculpture made out of cotton. Its easy to blow away or blow over. Form is language. If you have an idea but can’t communicate it or can’t form your thought into language then the idea is only useful to you. There are many people researching this question. My understanding is a simple and humble one. I feel like concept and form are like two railroad tracks. They work together and always meet in the horizon.

13, You focus on the city in your work and how it is very similar to and as equally complex as the cell. You talk about this all the time and seem fascinated by this complexity and the power that holds it all together. Would you like to talk more about this?

When I look at the buildings of Kunming I can’t separate them from people. I’m not just saying people live in them but when I look at the buildings they remind me of people. All the life and stories that go on inside are the spirit of the building. One thing that I’m grateful for and that I think many people besides artists are grateful for is that we like to think below the epidermis. The other day I was thinking about mosquitoes and thinking that if I walked outside one day and saw the mosquitoes the size of a car how terrifying and terrific that would be. We need to force ourselves to see beauty in the simple things. Because a lot of the times it’s the simple things that are most complex. When we see these complexities we are compelled to admire. I’m hoping people not only admire their reality but also think about the future of this reality and the demands that places on us. Personally I love feeling small when I contemplate these truths. I can’t separate any part of creation from an admiration and awe for Creator God.

14, Your works seem to contain some sort of hidden revelation. Do you feel Christian artists work should have this dimension to it?

Thank you for your accolade. I’m really not a very mature artist and am still searching for my own personal form. I don’t believe my work is super amazing but I will unabashedly take pride in the truth that I wish to communicate. I don’t think Christian art has to have some sort of cosmic revelation in it but I do believe that the work should have some sort of truth that would point the viewer to God like a road sign. It’s funny because even if an atheist paints something that is true it still points to God. All truth is God’s truth whether it comes from the mouth of a monster or a monk.

15, If you chose a piece of scripture to describe your artistic view and work what would it be?

My favorite thing about creating is that I get to spend many hours contemplating the beauty of God. This is a privilege I do not take for granted. All my five senses are still intact. I’d like to offer two scriptures if I may. The first has to do exactly with this contemplation and enjoyment. The second has to do with the plight of the human race. This second scripture relates more to my larger canvases where as the smaller ones communicate more of a sense of longing.
I ask only one thing Lord, let me live every day of my life to see how wonderful you are and contemplate your beauty.” Psalm 27:4

The earth turns gaunt and gray, the world silent and sad, sky and land lifeless, colorless. Earth Polluted by Its Very Own People.  Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, Disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant. Therefore a curse, like a cancer, ravages the earth. Its people pay the price of their sacrilege. They dwindle away, dying out one by one.” Isaiah 24:4-6

本文中文阅读:http://blog.luofei.org/2012/01/interview-jonathan-aumen/

对话加里森:艺术家的工作就应该给社会充电!

对话加里森:艺术家的工作就应该给社会充电!
罗菲(TCG诺地卡画廊策展人)

时间:2012年1月7日上午10点
地点:TCG诺地卡画廊
加里森:Jonathan Aumen(美国),TCG诺地卡画廊进驻艺术家(自2011/9,查看艺术家简历

1,你8岁的时候和家人移居中国十年(1988-1998),先说说那时的印象吧?

起初是跟父母来,他们在中国教英语。先在天津农村,后来到北京,那时的生活就像一本精彩的故事书,好多故事好多颜色,我常和老头一起玩,玩鸟、放风筝、斗蛐蛐。我对老头老太太特别感兴趣,听他们的故事。那时候中国人对外国人特别好奇特别友好。这和我在佛吉尼亚的生活差别很大,但我一下就跳进了中国这口池子。当然最重要是跟中央美院的一位老师学画,高中毕业前在家学了三年。

2,现在的中国与90年代的中国有巨大的差异,你怎么看待中国的剧变和发展?

我是一个理想主义者,我会老想以前。现在的中国也能看到以前的影子,但区别还是很大。我觉得中国人现在更物质主义了,对钱更疯狂了,好像吸收了西方的坏习惯。还有就是看不到古建筑了,北京拆了好多好多胡同,昆明也在拆花鸟市场,我觉得太可惜了,就像亲手撕掉亲人的照片一样。另外昆明的电动车太多了,我很喜欢自行车铃铛的声音。这样的飞速发展,生活更好了,但没有美没有文化,会对人有很大的影响。好像人们不知道自己是谁,身份迷失了。这也是一个当代普遍的问题,我是谁?我从哪里来?不知道,因此人们会不断找各种身份来确立自己。

3,昆明创库是中国最早的艺术社区, 02年成立的时候有三十多位艺术家进驻,但这里没有形成产业化的模式,因此好些艺术家选择去北京等地方发展,也有部分选择留下来,你怎么看昆明的艺术状况?

我感觉昆明创库像个少数民族社区,有点孤立于外界,艺术也没有商品化。这里的艺术家很热情友好,接待慕名而来的访客,这里似乎不是为了金钱或名声。创库的土壤很有营养,可以帮助人们称为艺术家。这里安静、缓慢,你可以选择独处也可以和人在一起。唯一的遗憾是,这里的曝光率太低。

4,前段时间昆明创库火灾的时候你立了大功,第一个发现灾情,又一直在帮其他艺术家抢救作品,有的艺术家损失惨重,能否更多分享下你对这次事件的看法?

首先报纸有点夸张了,我不是英雄,这是上帝给我的能力和愿望。我认识唐志冈的时间并不长,就想去帮他,我自己没什么值得骄傲的。好多人看惨剧发生时会觉得是上帝在审判世界,这也包括许多基督徒。可我觉得上帝有公义也同时爱世人。有时,祂能让坏事变好事,我觉得这火灾是祂允许的,让我们看到我们所崇拜的物质世界完全没有保障。明天并没有被允诺。

5,作为一名基督徒,对你来说意味着什么?

意味着我是上帝的孩子。意味着上帝在我里面让我有能力去爱其他人。意味着在黑暗中的光,光就是真理。这是一个绝对的身份,是我所站立的磐石。基督教不是一把残疾人的拐杖,只是帮人有更容易或更开心的生活,而是生命本身。在我看来,当你成为基督徒以后,生活不是更容易,而是更难了。但你将从上帝那里得到祂自己的力量和平安可以胜过这些,带领我们越过生活的泥潭。

6,作为基督徒同时又是艺术家,你觉得这两个身份是否冲突?怎么协调二者?

当然有冲突,我是罪人,软弱的人。最难就是把耶稣放在生命的首位,偶尔我会太专注在我的艺术上,那一刻我会忘记了我为什么要做艺术。然而我做艺术是要显出上帝的荣耀和真理,这也是我生活的原因。最近因为要做展览,我在工作室和家里都画画,我发现给太太的时间很少,然而我生活的优先秩序是:上帝、太太,然后是艺术。我爱我的太太也是耶稣爱我们的一种表现,我要学会爱她就像耶稣完全爱她一样,这比我的艺术更重要。我祈求有更多恩典和能力可以去实现这个。好多艺术家爱他们的艺术事业比爱他们的家人更多。我觉得保持两个身份平衡的办法就是保持每日的读经与祷告,让我和我的心被真理所改变。当然还有跟其他基督徒在一起分享过团契生活,彼此挑战和鼓励也很重要。

7,着火的时候你在画一张和失火现场几乎一模一样的油画,后来好些本地艺术家都很惊叹,说你是个神人或先知,也许他们只是开玩笑。那你认为艺术家也是一种先知吗?

我画的不是火灾,而是昆明拆房子扬起的尘土。其实我特别想当上帝的先知,我希望我的画有先知的作用。先知就是很直接很勇敢跟人说一些真理和上帝的话。旧约时代的先知,人们不喜欢他们说的话,人们很难受,因为先知对罪敏感。有意思的是,我看到我工作室门上有人写过这样一句话:我们必须要讲出真理哪怕真理会伤到我们。可是人不想讲真理,忽略真理会更舒服,比如人都会死,可中国人很怕死很迷信,比如他们不喜欢听到出门可能会被车撞死的话。但这是可能发生的!我们都会死去!

8,中国一位著名的批评家最近说“当代艺术的基本特征是不信仰;如果说信仰,当代艺术家都以自我为上帝……当代艺术家如果归依宗教,就不能不告别当代艺术,否则两不着调”。你怎么看?

首先当代艺术到底是什么?至少它是一种当下正在发生的艺术,传统艺术以前也是当代的。当代艺术也不是必然意味着不信仰,如果说当代艺术就是不信仰,这也是一种信仰,对吗?好多画家以为没有绝对,他们说没有绝对,然而这个理念本身就是一种绝对,这其实是打自己的嘴巴。事实的构造非常复杂,原子、分子、水……是谁在维持,谁给的力量?这得问是不是有个创造者?我们看路上有奔驰、天上有飞机,就知道这是人创造的。可是我们看到了一个人,比一辆汽车精彩复杂得多,可我们竟不会承认有个创造者、设计者!其实自古以来很多艺术家都是与社会逆流而行的,他们和世界潮流不一样,比如梵高,一辈子没卖过画,除了卖给他的兄弟。我觉得成为基督徒的艺术家是非常难的,是文化的反击者,因为你所相信的和绝大多数人不一样,你在逆流中必须使劲游。基督徒艺术家有一个责任,就是传播真理。不信上帝的画家也有渴求,但他们自己的画和追求的东西满足不了他们的心。

9,不同的时代和社会对艺术家的身份和功能有不同的看法,常常和其他角色交叉。比如古代艺术家一般都是匠人、手艺人,强调超强的动手能力;现代艺术家愿意扮作波希米亚人,放逐生活、反叛传统、冒险;有的艺术家像巫师,生活和作品都保持神秘感、甚至通灵;今天有许多艺术家愿意扮作知识分子,对文化和公共领域有负担;在流行文化影响下,更有许多艺术家愿意将自己看作名流,进入娱乐和时尚界,因为这能给人带来荣誉感成就感……这说明了艺术创作要影响社会不是只靠作品,还需要其他行动。同时也说明艺术本身不能满足艺术家内心的需要,还有更深的需要。你怎么看呢?

艺术家的作用是什么?如果这个身份没有意义干嘛做啊?好多人认为没有对他人的责任,对邻居的责任,对社会的责任。我觉得艺术家对社会有很大的责任,就是显明出事实的真理,然后给人希望。比如人们都崇尚美的事物,我们喜欢去风景漂亮的地方欣赏美。为什么呢?因为我们能感觉到美里面有一种更大的力量,就像我们是电池,看到了美的画和风景我们就被充电一样。艺术家的工作就应该给社会充电!现在好多艺术家就想吓人,有价值吗?我觉得没有。

10,在基督教的时间观里有现世和永恒的分别,你认为基督徒艺术家在现世,以及永恒中的角色、使命有区别吗?

现在我们最大的责任就是传福音。所谓福音就是好消息,这好消息是说上帝以人的样式来到世界上为我们人的罪承受刑罚,那人就是耶稣,借着他的牺牲我们被完全宽恕并享有永生,这永远是最好的消息!现在我们通过艺术表达福音并赞美上帝,而天国在地上完全建立的时候我们就要享受上帝的荣耀和快乐了。在现世我们有两个责任,永恒中只有一个责任。

11,你曾说展览前言甚至比你的作品更重要,你希望文章能让人感觉他们屁股底下有火在烧一样,我真希望我能达到你要的这个效果。但有意思的是,你强调文章的作用比自己的作品更重要。而有的艺术家反对阐释,他们认为观众应该自己去感受作品而不需要别人教导,你觉得艺术与艺术评论的关系应该怎样的?

我觉得不同的方法可以表达一个意思的不同方面。当然,绘画不像音乐那样很快让人感受到变化,就像中国的医院很喜欢给人打吊针,因为那个比吃药更快。但看画是需要慢慢看慢慢研究的,音乐更富感情,而话语可以既有逻辑也有感情。为什么电影在今天更影响人,因为它有看的、听的、有话语,因此电影是最有力量的艺术。好多艺术家认为自己的艺术是最好的,最需要被关注,但我认为真理是最重要的。我觉得艺术和艺术评论之间的关系就如一场婚姻,需要彼此的帮助,而不是对抗。

12,你怎么看艺术的形式和观念之间的关系?

它们之间有很重要的关系。很多人做观念艺术,但很多形式没有质量,当艺术没有形式的时候,观念就像棉花一样不稳定,随风而去了。形式即语言,有想法说不出来也等于零。其实好多人在研究这个,我理解得非常简单。我认为形式和观念就像两条线,它们总会在地平线远处相遇。

13,你在作品中关注城市,你提到城市与细胞一样复杂,但又非常有机地组合、运转、靠一种强大的力量维系着这个整体,否则就会崩溃或爆炸。

我看昆明那么多房子,那么多人,似乎房子就是人,里面的生活就是城市的灵魂。我们越往深处去思想现实就越有意思,比如很多人讨厌蚊子,但如果一只蚊子跟一辆车一样大那多精彩啊!我们需要迫使自己去观察那些简单事物中的美。因为往往那些简单事物都相当复杂。我们观察世界复杂的构造、被造的原因、以及将来会发生的事,这会让我们叹服。当我思想这些情况时,我感觉自己十分渺小。我因此感到自己和上帝的关系是分不开的。

14,你的作品隐含一种启示性,作为基督徒的艺术家是否会特别看重这种能力?

谢谢你夸奖我,我不是一个十分成熟的画家,我还在找我的形式和风格。我不觉得我的画很伟大,但我可以很骄傲地说,我讲的真理很伟大!我觉得基督徒艺术家不是必须讲启示,但一定要有一种真理,它就像路标,把观者指引到上帝那儿。有趣的是,哪怕一位无神论画家的作品当中包含真理,也同样会指向上帝。因为所有的真理都是是从上帝那儿来的,无论说出真理的是一个妖怪还是修士。

15,如果用一段圣经来描述你的艺术观和作品,你愿意选择哪段?

我愿意用诗篇27章4节作为我生活和创作的目的,“有一件事,我曾求耶和华,我仍要寻求, 就是一生一世住在耶和华的殿中, 瞻仰他的荣美,在他的殿宇里求问。
另外,我用以赛亚书24章4-6节来描述人类的困境,也是我即将展出的大画幅作品的内容,我觉得十分恰当,而小画幅作品更多关于我们的渴求。“地上悲哀衰残, 世界败落衰残; 地上居高位的人也败落了。地被其上的居民污秽; 因为他们犯了律法, 废了律例,背了永约。所以,地被咒诅吞灭; 住在其上的显为有罪。 地上的居民被火焚烧, 剩下的人稀少。