下地:绘画、观看与交往 ——对许宏翔近作的解读

“In the Field”: Painting, Viewing and Interaction - An Interpretation of Xu Hongxiang's Recent Works


下地:绘画、观看与交往

——对许宏翔近作的解读

       

最近一段时间,关于“绘画本体”的讨论成为了绘画实践和理论批评领域的热门话题。有人认为“绘画”既不是“画物”,也不是“画意”(画观念),而是一种不同于“知识/权利”的一种“认知”,是一种具有“自我指涉”或“元绘画”自觉实践;更有人激进地认为,“绘画本体”不是“画物”和“画意”的同时,也不是“画图像”,不是“形式感”或“物质性”,甚至不是“当代艺术”。在“艺术终结”的时代,这些关于“绘画本体”的讨论在一定程度上让人们重新反思绘画的意义和其独特性,但是以上两种观点也存在着缺陷:前者将“绘画”视为“认知”和“中层结构”的同时,忽略了艺术家个体的日常经验和其所处的社会、时代之间的关系;后者虽然用一系列的否定判断,似乎是以一种形而上学的方式限定了绘画本体的范围,但是就像柏拉图在《大希庇阿斯篇》中描述苏格拉底对“美本身”的讨论一样,最终只能将“绘画”推向神秘主义。

 

许宏翔近期创作的绘画作品和后续的“下地”项目,在一定程度上回应了对“绘画本体”的讨论,在他用绘画的方式重新思考绘画的同时,也将绘画从神秘主义的边缘拉回到了艺术家自身的日常经验、时代背景和社会交往之中。

 

绘画

许宏翔毕业于中央美术学院版画系,良好的学院教育使他对图像的处理、观念表达、绘画制作过程和技巧的掌握十分熟练,这些成为了他毕业后一直以来的绘画创作主题。但是,在他近期作品中这些方面却成为了他反省绘画自身和生活现实的切入点。

 

在此之前,许宏翔的创作是以反思学院教育体系下的绘画为基础展开的。他用溶解剂、油彩和马克笔等多种媒介对印刷在画布上的现成图像进行处理和书写,这种绘画/书写的方式造成了对图像确定性的破坏,而处理/制作的过程则是对于绘画作为一种“结果”的消解。随着创作的深入和对绘画本体的思考,许宏翔开始对“图像”和绘画的“过程”进行反思:绘画不是“画图像”,近年来流行的所谓“图像画绘”问题在于,艺术家对“图像”的选择往往与艺术家自身和现实生活关系比较疏远,因此这种“选择”沦为了一种“趣味”,甚至有时候“图像”会按照自身的逻辑进行演化和发展,以至于艺术家的主体性在“图像画绘”中消失;仅仅对处理/制作“过程”强调无益于对“绘画本体”的追求,最终只能将绘画引向观念艺术和行为艺术。

 

因此,许宏翔开始以绘画的方式认知绘画,用绘画的方式展开对自己绘画创作的谱系学。与王兴伟、王音等画家不同,许宏翔的绘画并不是针对绘画史和某一个画家进行回应,而是通过绘画对自己的绘画进行质疑、反思和批判。值得注意的是,他在完成一张张作品后,又将所有的画并置在墙上,以一种集合的方式进行再次创作,以此来避免“图像”和“趣味”的偶然性,进而达到绘画之间的、人与绘画之间的“内在关系”。这种“并置”与“集合”的创作方式,在空间上形成了一个共时的视觉谱系,在时间上形成了一种自我反思、自我参照和自我生成的绘画谱系,实现了绘画的自我认知,形成了一种关于“绘画的绘画”。

 

观看

如何去理解绘画本身,如何让“画画”避免成为一种形而上学的观念,或是艺术家神秘主义式的“体验”,最好的方式不是通过文字或理论的阐述,而是直接诉诸观众实实在在的观看。

 

20165月,许宏翔开始了自己称为“下地”的艺术项目。他将自己的绘画作品运至童年生活过的地方——长沙城郊的一个小村子,把画挂在他认为与作品存在某种关系的位置,比如房屋的废墟或树上,然后进行拍照和影像记录。此外,他还以“看画”的名义把当地的同学和朋友召集起来,在“看画”同时,在草地上叙旧聊天,俨然一派长沙版的伍德斯托克音乐节的景象。在笔者看来,“下地”项目涉及了两个问题:一是针对具体的展览空间,艺术家认为绘画作品不应该被挂在“白盒子”的墙上,使艺术凌驾于观众和非艺术家之上,而是应该将它们放置于更为多元的公共空间中,让艺术更“接地气”;二是针对“绘画”自身而言,“绘画”不应该是一种“形而上学”,而是与艺术家自身的经历、情感、经历和现实生活发生紧密联系。诚然,“下地”计划并不是简单的移位(Ex-Situ)或是替代空间的项目,更是艺术家通过“下地”将“画画”这一认知和反思过程,带入到现实生活之中。按照艺术家自己的解释,“下地”的目的还在于探索两个“困扰画家的最基本问题”——“画什么”和“怎么画”。在“下地”过程中,艺术家有意识地将作品与其所在的环境发生联系,使绘画作品融入到环境之中,同时绘画作品的物质性又极力地显示着自己的存在以及与周围环境的差异;参与的观众对于艺术家本人非常的熟悉,活动也处于一种平等、和谐的氛围之中,但是这种“陌生”和“强硬”的展览方式使得观众对他们所理解的“艺术”产生了疑问。就在这种种矛盾的张力中,艺术家与观众开始重新审视彼此的关系,观众通过“观看”也开始审视和观察这个特殊的“展览空间”——他们熟悉又陌生的生存环境,甚至审视他们所处的社会与时代。

 

此外,许宏翔将展览现场拍摄下来,形成了一幅幅“画中画”。在这些照片中,艺术家以“绘画”的名义营造出了一个观看的空间,普通的观众与作品在一种无压迫的条件下相遇,平等的观看在此发生;绘画中的图像、色彩关系、笔触以及颜色流淌的痕迹,与现实场景、自然风景之间的界限开始模糊,甚至互相指涉,然而绘画的物质性又强调着自身的存在。这些“画中画”,记录了绘画作品与周围环境的关系,又记录了现场观众的“观看”,从而形成一种关于“观看的观看”。

 

交往

作品《李强》是“下地”项目的延续和升级。李强,是许宏翔童年时的伙伴,没有读过书,但为人憨厚仗义,具有长沙人的豪爽性格。“江湖中人”的他,曾几次进过监狱,现在居住在长沙城郊的安置小区里,结婚生子,没有固定工作,卖槟榔为生。由于多年的分别和生活环境的不同,许宏翔与李强的交集越来越少,只是偶尔在微信朋友圈中彼此看看对方的照片。许宏翔经常把那些他认为有意思的照片下载下来当做绘画的素材,因为这符合他认为的“绘画的准确性”。他为李强画了一张肖像,而后将作品赠予了李强,并希望“绘画”能够以一种其特有的方式来传达他内心复杂的体验和对现实局限的超越。然而对于李强来说,他并不知道“艺术家”究竟要干什么,也不知道“当代艺术”为何物,只知道许宏翔是一个以“画画”为生的兄弟,这幅画是朋友送给他的一件“礼物”——就像他送给许宏翔的槟榔一样。有人将这种通过绘画作品和行为干预社会现实的形式称为“介入”,而笔者认为,许宏翔的行为称作“交往”更为恰当。因为“介入”一词带有明显“精英气质”和艺术家身份的“自豪感”,这注定使艺术品从一开始就凌驾于观众之上;“交往”则不然,它是体现了艺术家放弃了自身的骄傲感和对艺术的解释权,而试图建立一种与观众平等的、无压迫的交流机制。在整个创作过程中,许宏翔通过“绘画”的方式与创作对象/观众建立起来一种平等的“交往”关系,并借助“绘画”来反思朋友间的“交往”。因此,“绘画”与“交往”既互为目的,又互为结果。

 

20169月,许宏翔再次回到长沙,将《李强》这幅作品绘制成一张高9米宽6米的巨型作品,并将其放置在他和李强曾经生活过的、现已因城市化而拆迁的村子遗址上。为了欣赏这张“大画”,人们不得不走到更远地方,或者利用飞行器进行航拍才能进行“观看”。然而,在半荒不荒的空地和远处正在建设中的安置小区的对比下,这幅画与周围环境显得既“突兀”又“和谐”。“突兀”的是在人们习以为常的、已经麻木的环境中出现了一张如此大的绘画作品,“和谐”的是画中城郊青年的种种经历与城市化进程中的种种景观形成了一种呼应。

 

这张“大画”一天后就被拆掉了,工地上的建筑依然在建设,李强依然过着他的生活。这个艺术项目虽然不能改变他实际的生存现状,但他得了一件由“画画”的朋友馈赠的“礼物”,通过这件“礼物”他会想到他的朋友,思考他们的“交往”以及他自己。他的朋友——许宏翔则通过这幅画和这个项目思考自己、反思自己的绘画,以便使绘画更加贴近自己认为的“真实和准确”。

 

 

 

                                 庚坤(清华美院博士、青年美术史学者

写于 201610

  

“In the Field”: Painting, Viewing and Interaction

- An Interpretation of Xu Hongxiang's Recent Works

By Li Gengkun, PhD, Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University/ Young Art History Scholar

Written in October 2016

 

Recently, painting ontology has become a hot topic in the field of painting practice and theoretical criticism. Some people believe that “painting” is neither about object nor idea (or concept), but a distinctive “cognition”, a self-signified or consciously practiced meta-painting different from that of knowledge/right. Some even aggressively agree that the ontological painting is neither an object nor a concept, but they also deny its imagery, formality and materiality, even modernity. In this era crying “art is dead”, these discussions about painting ontology have prompted people to re-examine the meaning and uniqueness of painting. However, there are also flaws in these two viewpoints. By identifying painting as “cognition” and “mid-level structure”, the former overlooks the relationship between the daily experience of individual artists and the society and times in which they live. In the second one, the string of denials seems to demarcate the scope of ontological paintings, but will ultimately push painting to mysticism, just as Plato’s recording of Socrates’ take on beauty in Alcibiades I.

 

Xu Hongxiang's recent paintings and his subsequent project of “In the Field” have to some extent echoed the discussion of painting ontology. Not only has he given a second thought to painting through his practice, but also pulled painting back from the precipice into mysticism to his ordinary experience, historical context and social interaction.

 

About Painting

Graduated from the printmaking department at Central Academy of Fine Arts, Xu Hongxiang benefitted from its fine academic education and was enabled to master the skills of image processing and conceptual expression, which have also been the subject of painting since his graduation. However, in his recent works, these aspects serve as his starting point to reflect on the painting itself and the realities of life.

 

Before this, Xu Hongxiang used to base his creation on his reflection of the paintings under the academic education system. He would process and write on ready-made images printed on canvas by a variety of media such as dissolving agent, oil paint, markers and the like, resulting in the destruction of the definitive image, while the processing/fabrication dissolve the meaning of painting as a finished result. As his dug deeper into the ontology of painting, Xu Hongxiang began to reflect on the “images” and the process of paintings. Painting should not be the drawing of images; the prevailing “image painting” in recent years has led to the alienation between the image that artists choose and their real life. In this light, the choice of image has become a kind of taste. Sometimes the image would evolve and develop according to its own logic, diminishing the artist’s subjectivity in the process. What’s more, the emphasis on processing/fabrication bears no benefit to the pursuit of ontological painting, and would only lead to conceptual and performance art.

 

Therefore, Xu Hongxiang started to recognize painting in the form of painting and started to build a painting genealogy of his own. Unlike Wang Xingwei, Wang Yin and other painters, Xu Hongxiang's paintings are not a response to the history of painting or one certain painter, but a challenge, questioning and criticism of his own paintings. It is worth noting that after completing individual pieces, he would juxtapose all the paintings on the wall and re-create them in a collective manner to avoid the accidental of the image and taste, so as to realize the innate relationship between paintings and between man and painting. This kind of juxtaposition and collective creation forms a synchronic visual genealogy in space, and a genealogy of self-reflection, self-reference and self-generation in time, realizing the self-cognition of painting and something about “painting of painting”.

 

About Viewing

As for how to understand the painting itself and how to prevent painting from becoming a metaphysical concept or the artist's mystical experience, the best way is not through textual or theoretical expounding but through the actual viewing of the audience.

 

In May 2016, Xu Hongxiang started his art project called “In the Field”. He carried his works to a small village on the outskirts of Changsha, the place where he lived during his childhood, hung the pictures where he thought relevant to them, such as on the rubbles or on a tree, and recorded what happened with photography and videos. In addition, he also brought together local classmates and friends in the name of seeing the paintings, chatting about the old days on sitting cross-legged on the grass, a Changsha version of the Woodstock Festival. In my opinion, the project is intended to address two issues. Firstly, in terms of the more specific exhibition space, the artist believes that the painting should not be hung on the wall of the “white box”, appearing to be superior to the audience and non-artist. Instead, they should be placed in a more diverse public space so that art can be more accessible to the public. Secondly, painting is not a form of metaphysics, because art is closely linked with the experiences, emotions and real life of the artist. It is true that the project of “In the Field” is more than a simple form of Ex-Situ or the alternative space; it is attempting to integrate the cognition of painting and reflection on it into real life by way of going “in the field”. According to the artist's own explanation, “In the Field” aims at exploring two “basic questions that plague the artist”— “what to paint” and “how to paint”. The artist made an effort to fit the works into their environment; at the same time, the materiality of the paintings marked themselves out from the place where they were placed. While the participating audience knew the artist while the activity went on in an atmosphere of equality and harmony, such a strange and unnatural way of exhibition cause the audience to question the art they understood. It is in this paradoxical tension that artists and audience began to re-examine their relationships, and through the act of viewing, the audience also began to examine and observe this special exhibition space, which is familiar and strange, as well as the society and times they live in.

 

In addition, the photographs Xu Hongxiang filmed of the exhibition were made into paintings within paintings. In these photographs, the artist creates a space for viewing in the name of painting, and ordinary viewers and works meet under a non-oppressive condition, where equal viewing takes place. The boundaries between the paintings—images, color relations, the brush strokes and the traces of the flowing colors, and the physical scene and natural landscape begin to blur and signify each other, but the materiality of the painting emphasizes its own existence. These paintings within paintings not only record the relationship between the paintings and the surrounding environment, but also the viewing of the audience at the exhibition. As a result, they create “viewing within viewing”.

 

About Interaction

The work of Li Qiang can be seen as the continuation and promotion of the project of “In the Field”. Li Qiang is one of Xu Hongxiang’s childhood friends. He is honest and generous, but he did not receive any education. Endowed with the bold character of Changsha folks, he was even jailed on several occasions, and now lives in a resettlement district on the outskirts of Changsha. He is now married with children and sells betel nuts for a living. Due to years of estrangement and different living environment, they are only able to see pictures of each other on Wechat “moments” (the Chinese version of Twitter), and there is less and less for Xu Hongxiang and Li Qiang to engage each other. Xu Hongxiang would save pictures that he considered interesting to be used as material for painting because this is very much in line with his idea of the painting accuracy. He painted a portrait of Li Qiang and gave the picture to him as a gift, hoping that painting was capable of transcending the limits of reality, and to convey the complicated experience in his heart. However, for Li Qiang, he does not know what the artist is doing or what “contemporary art" means. He only knows that Xu Hongxiang is a good friend of him who lives on drawing pictures, and this painting is given to him by his friend as a gift, just like the betel nuts he gave Xu Hongxiang in return.  Some people call this form of interfering in social reality through paintings and behaviors as “intervention”, but I prefer to see it as a kind of interaction. While the word of intervention is imbued with a sense of elitism and pride in the artist identity, lending superiority to art over the audience, “interaction” reflects the efforts to establish an equal and non-oppressive mechanism with the audience and the abandonment of the pride and the power to interpret art. Throughout the process of creation, Xu Hongxiang builds an equal relationship with the creation object/audience and uses painting to reflect on the interaction between friends. In this sense, painting and interaction function as the purpose and result of each other.

 

In September 2016, Xu Hongxiang returned to Changsha. He enlarged Li Qiang to a six by nine-meter giant work and put it on the rubbles of the demolished village where Li Qiang and he used to live. In order to see this picture properly, people have to put more distance between themselves and the painting, and even flying machines were applied. Against the backdrop of the resettlement quarters under construction in the middle of nowhere, the picture is both obtrusive and harmonious with the surrounding environment. It is obtrusive because of its unexpected appearance in a milieu of numbness. But it’s also harmonious because of the echo between the experience of the young people from the outskirts in the painting and the various landscapes in the process of urbanization.

 

This big picture was removed a day later. The construction goes on, so does Li Qiang’s life. Although this art project cannot change his living conditions, he now has a gift from his painter friend to remind him of his friend, to reflect on their friendship and himself. On the other hand, his friend Xu Hongxiang rethinks about himself and his paintings through this project, and continues to bring painting closer to what he considers true and accurate.