The manuscript, from the narrow point of view, specifically refers to the variety of small compositions by the artist based on specific creative ideas; from a broader perspective however, it should also include the relevant texts and visual materials, such as sketches, photos, etc. Compared with the formal art creation, the narrower sense of manuscript features improvisation, casualness, small sizes and shorter production time. Nevertheless, they are inherently valuable for appreciation. It has been well-documented that Western art historians have always paid special attention to the manuscripts of famous artists for three reasons. First, studies of manuscripts help better reveal the meaning and connotation of specific works; second, manuscript studies help us understand how the artist solved different problems, and how they inherited or recreated tradition in an effective manner; third, signs of evolution can be detected in terms of artistic concepts or media in different ages.
Over the years, the significance of manuscripts has not only driven the appearance of quality research papers in the Western academic circles, but also led to a string of exhibitions of manuscripts in a considerable number of galleries and museums in the west. As a result, these manuscripts, having been well promoted both academically and publicly, have become as well-known and valuable as the completed works. In contrast, China is an entirely different picture. We have been inclined to devote more energy on the finished works rather than the unfinished ones. Few scholars are engaged in manuscript studies, and manuscript exhibitions at galleries or art institutes, even of famous artists, are rare. However, facts are sufficient to show that the manuscript as part of the creation process, constitutes an unalienable part of academic research, without which we can hardly involve ourselves in the creative minds of the artists, let alone to form a panorama of their thinking process, a lack that will inevitably be a shame to the studies of art creation and art history.
Therefore, it is in the hope of engaging more scholars in manuscript studies that TriumphArt Space decides to hold the First Chinese Contemporary Manuscript Research Exhibition on the occasion of its tenth anniversary of establishment. We would be delighted if this exhibition could spark the interest among scholars in the study of manuscripts by Chinese contemporary artists, and inspire the emergence of more relevant articles and exhibitions. However, due to limited space, only 10 Chinese contemporary artists have been selected for their manuscripts. As planned, this series of exhibitions will be held on an annual basis, and each exhibition will invite 10 well-known Chinese contemporary artists to participate. We sincerely hope that our efforts will continue to get strong support from all of you!
As those familiar with the evolution of Chinese contemporary art will agree, the 10 participating artists are all of them iconic figures who have made remarkable achievements in Chinese contemporary painting, sculpture, installation, performance art and photography. Studies on their manuscripts will undoubtedly chart a new course for Chinese contemporary art research and art history writing. More importantly, peers from the Chinese contemporary art field might be inspired to make further references upon what we are doing. In this sense, although we’re just taking off on a trial basis, I believe that we are driving a meaningful cause, and will continue to work for it with all our hearts.