It is my great pleasure to attend this seminar. My speech is titled “A Micro-Art-History in Macro-Art-History”, in which I will elaborate on the following points:
1. Artistic and cultural sentiments;
2. Art and academic review;
3. Art and meaningful attempts;
4. Various forms of ideological flow and the collision of thoughts.
Triumph Gallery has very strong cultural sentiments. Founded in 2007, it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Amongst the ups and downs of art development, Triumph Gallery as a commercial art institute is becoming more academic in the study of contemporary art. It is not alone; there is a trend that commercial organizations begin to involve themselves in cultural studies.
Triumph Gallery begins its review of art history with the manuscript. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the “Reform and Opening-up Policy” in China. During these 40 years, contemporary art history is closely related to the four-decade of development. The artists selected for this manuscript exhibition have already gone down in art history, and because of this, their manuscripts are more meaningful for our study. Folk wisdom is also supplementary to art history, which is very much in line with the characteristics of space.
This exhibition is also a meaningful attempt. We used to care more about the grand art history. With the string of research exhibitions of manuscripts at United Art Museum, we now have a tendency to be engaged with the micro-art-history, which can enrich the macro-art-history. At the same time, art galleries and institutions will pay more attention to the collection of selected works, which are not created out of thin air, but based on many manuscripts.
Many exhibitions in the West are organized with one work as the center, and the series of manuscripts associated with the work may constitute an exhibition. In the exhibition, the creating process of the work will be revealed, as well as its ideology and wisdom. For art museums, the collection of such manuscripts will be intensified. However, art museums tend to focus on the collection of individual works, but they are lacking in the collection of the minutiae in the artists’ creation process, including the early period, the mid-term, and even the future. In this aspect, Hunan Museum has set an example worth learning from. It has not only collected Fang Lijun’s finished works, but also the paper, paint and brushed that he used. In contrast, most other museums are still keen on owning an artist’s final works, and do not care much about collecting items that artists used in different periods of creation, such as their cups, brushes, easels and the like. Therefore, the study of manuscripts will prompt collectors to make a meaningful turn. For example, art museums will expand their collection to include items that are personally relevant to the artists, such as their diploma, study notes, meal tickets, books they read, English language certificate, etc.; these are inseparable from art.
Manuscripts are transient, segmented, fragmentary, accidental, instantaneous, and at the same time a flash of thought and inspiration. This is its true state. In the manuscript, there are many wonderful details, which will be gone once it’s enlarged. When the works of different types of artists (10 artists) are placed together, an exchange of ideas can be discerned, metaphorically reflecting the changes in thoughts in today’s social progress and the transformations in way of life and artistic expression brought about by the social, political, cultural and economic restructuring.
Back to these manuscripts, you can clearly trace the way of thinking of each artist, and how they differentiate in their influence on future development. These various forms of manuscripts are also an early manifestation of the artists’ upcoming works. They are able to give true expression to the artists’ thoughts. I think this kind of manuscripts are worth studying and are more meaningful.