[lang_zh]开幕酒会：2013年3月1日 周五 20:00
+86 871 65385159
Curator: Xue Tao
Academic Host: He Libin
Venue: Contemporary Yunnan, A zone, North Jindingshan Lu No.24, Kunming, China
+86 871 65385159 www.943studio.cn
[lang_zh]部分展出作品和手稿[/lang_ch][lang_en]Works and Draft from the exhibition[/lang_en]
[lang_en]The anguish of system transformation
By Xue Tao
“System” has been a very special term during the past decades in China. Within such a special period, someone preferentially benefited from this system and achieved a wealthy and decent life, while the others had their family and life ruined because of the “system”. The special historical period gave “system” an overriding power and influence in China. From the Republic of China up to now, the “system” has been impacting the soul of Chinese people and controlling their growth experience generation by generation. The cause of forming this historical period is quite complicated. We can trace back its root reason to the May 4th Movement, the 1911 Revolution, the Westernization Movement in later Qing Dynasty, the Taiping Rebellion, or even Tiandihui Rebellion and Manchu troop invading into Shanhaiguan pass. Old and new factors from several centuries finally developed and strengthened this system, and people from different industries have been suffering from it.
In China, the “system” in art territory implies to these government-supported cultural institutions such as Artists Association, Painting Academy and art academies for which people work can get salary from the government. During a considerable long period, this art system also had a mighty power and influence. It played a very important role in Chinese art development. It provided not only spiritual sport but also a well-off and decent material life, and even guided the direction of social development. It was really a bright and honorable undertaking in China.
However, the magnificence of system started to be changed since the implementation of China’s “reforming and opening” policy. All professions and trades in Chinese society underwent tremendous change after that notable “Spring Story” took place in 1993. The Chinese art territory experienced three revolutionary change, they are: the 85 Trend of Thought, Yuanmingyuan Artist Camps, and “Beijing 798 Artist Center”. The 85 Trends of Thought was an enlightenment of modernism for Chinese art, Yuanmingyuan Artist Camps enabled the Chinese artist an independent art creation and a lifestyle at liberty; the establishment of Beijing 798 Art Center initiated and accelerated the marketization of Chinese Art works. The art market provided the possibility that the artists can not only live and work on their art creation independently but also become well-known and prosperous through their art work. After these three transformations, the Chinese art system has no longer been glorious as before. With the institutional reform in the cultural departments from the central government down to grass-root level, this sort of “system” could no longer bring artists any security and glory, let alone any other value or achievement. It made some “in the system” artists start to rethink their position and mission, and then to seek a new direction for themselves. They thought about the questions like: what is the mission of art and artist? What kind of art can bring an inner satisfaction? How to engage in the art creation to demonstrate the significance of human being’s existence? But to be able to reflect with these questions, one needs to be equipped with ability of independent thinking.
A number of artists made their new choices after rethinking about the art and the life, and reflected new thinking in their art creation. This phenomenon became so obvious particularly when it came into the 21st century. It’s already been an unquestioned fact within both the up-top national art academies and low level art schools. Here in Yunnan, Yang Jianbo’s painting illustrates the fact of reflection on the “system” once again.
Anyone who lacks of ability of reflection will not be able to move forward no matter who, where or what profession. This has been my understanding all the time. I believe those artists who can reflect are lucky, for they can be motivated with a self-driven progressive force. On the contrary, it is very dangerous to be conservative and just spend the day in a muddle. We can easily find in history that there is no solution that hold good for all time. Rules keep changing all the time. Only through continuous reflection and constant learning, can one have a full and wonderful life.
Yang Jianbo’s art works show us his effort put on the painting. The epic the Fading Year of 2011-33 demonstrates his excellent painting skill and great vigor. It also illustrates a universal situation of the individual artist and their art creation in the process of Chinese system transformation, and their anxiety and the confusion of having nothing to follow when they encounter never-ending changing rules. I personally appreciate his wisdom about his reflection and changing. It doesn’t mean that I instigate him to get rid of the system. Quite the opposite, I agree that the result of Jianbo’s reflection can be either a giving up or perseverance in his previous art style. No matter what the new direction is, the deliberated determination is reliable. Usually, in Chinese art territory, the opposite of the “system” is known as Jianghu. The art in Jianghu tends to criticize and examine the system. And the result of criticizing and examining is to decry the system and to support Jianghu. But if there is only one voice for this result of reflection and criticizing, it would be a pity and very ineffective. Only when different voices are all heard, can a better and more prosperous art kingdom be achieved. The point is, whatever we persevere in, we have to source out its reason after serious consideration, instead of just following with the stream.
Of course, it is not easy at all to reflect and even change an art style developed through many years. It might be a very difficult and painful experience to exceed old habit and break through convention. It requires big wisdom and courage. Yang Jianbo has been attempting to exceed his own thinking pattern finalized during past decade, and to explore some new methods that are more inspired for art creation motivation. Either in experimental materials or in refreshing the picture image, he keeps seeking the best condition for his art creation, keeps renewing his cognition about art and art creation through proactive adjustment his own state and achieve a sophisticated dealing with art. Although he is still in the process of self-adjustment, it is already a big step for a person in the age of 40s to make a decision of changing.
Jianbo is an example of those artists born in the later years of the Cultural Revolution. Throughout his growth experience, we can find he is an age-beloved of which the people will be envious; we can also discover some anguish and secret worry. It is the consequence that the entire generation has to undergo. This secret worries maybe just starts, maybe has been long-standing……
January 31, 2013
The elegy in the wild field
–For Yang Jianbo’s painting
By He Libin
The wild field, dried trees, precipice, fragmentary torso, falling leaves, declining road sign, silent face… these dream-like scenes continuously appear in Yang Jianbo’s painting works—Brushing Words (series). It seems to tell the same story, but would not have it told. They somehow immerge in the background of the vast desert.
The French phrases in the frame of pictures play a key role of explaining the meaning of the picture. These French phrases come from different literatures and poets, involving the topic of the nature, society, and sentiment. They are indispensable for the painting series, and offering the literary and narrative connection to the painting works. Literature and painting have been incorporating with each other for such a long time throughout the art history. Almost all master pieces of realistic painting created in the renaissance Europe are the fruits of compromise between painting and literature narration, between painting and religious stories. This sort of incorporation also brought up so many maestros such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt van Rijn, Bosch Hieronymus, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Nicolas Poussin and David, and those great artists such as Francois Millet, Gustave Courbet, Eugène Delacroix, Paul Gauguin, Edvard Munch, Gustave Moreau, Chirico, Vincent Willem van Gogh from different modern and contemporary art schools who represent Barbizon School, realism, romanticism, symbolism, surrealism and expressionism. Their art creation were all influenced and inspired by modern literature and poetry. In the Chinese water-ink painting, the tradition of combination between painting and poetry has never been changed. It is commonly believed that literature is used to convey and express ideas and proposals. The Chinese scholars used to express their ideal and political ambitions via the combination of painting and poetry. Nevertheless, Jianbo is a contemporary artist who lives in modern China and his case is different from above phenomenon. The connection of literature and painting in his art works is neither as same direct as that of the western artists, nor like the ancient Chinese scholars did, but much more about personal interior monologue. It partially derived from his tolerant and veiled personality, and also related to the original intention of creating this series of Brushing Words. Like what he said, his own secret experience is more suitable for revealing through a covert method. This is a distinctive point of Jianbo’s works. These constantly appearing French phrases are the key points of the pictures, but keep a distance from the pictures. Word characters and the pictures are independent from one another, but relevant with one another. The old trees, dried vines, broken cliffs, the ruins, wild land, and desert in the pictures, symbolizing the fragments of different time and memories, are incongruously set up in one space to compose a pathetical and shyly spoken-out elegy.
Jianbo now is in his 40s. In Chinese culture, this is an age when one begins to understand the world. However, Jianbo seems to be not so clear about the world, on the contrary, he has many more confusions about the world. In fact, this is not special. It is a common state for one generation. As a witness of this dramatically changing age, artists have to be affected by the changing and transforming times and reflect different fruits and consequences of the times through their art works. Jianbo and I are a same group born in 1970s, we all experienced and saw major event and transformation took place in China, such as the Cultural Revolution, Reforming and Opening policy, the 85 Trend of Thought, Student Agitation, Democracy Movement, the Market Economy, urbanization, disappearing of the village, urban population explosion, ecological crisis… etc. We saw our traditional value was collapsed, and new value is being established but disordered, and the lack of common belief. This is a noisy, chaotic and disorganized world. Nobody can get away from it. Usually, the artists is more sensitive than ordinary people, Jianbo can be a representative of them. He has no way to pour out his grief but present through his painting. His paintings is not deliberately mystifying or intentionally setting up puzzle. It is because he can’t and is not allowed to say directly. Like those interlaced branches of the old trees appearing in the pictures, which extending to different direction, there are many different paths and possibilities, but without a definite answer. The tiny spots of Greenland in the wild land, they are so bright and attractive, but somewhat dream-like and illusion. They are some sights of the past time and will leave from us in the end.
To farewell to the poetry era in the past, I would like to cite a poem-Silence, by Gustave Flaubert, a French writer, to end up this essay.
So clean the sky Cloud disappear All is silent The sea, The field, Comes melancholy! There isn’t any more The bird’s singing The raven’s crow And the sound of plough…
February 16, 2013
1972 Born in Kunming, Yunnan.
Graduated from the Oil Painting of Fine Art Department of Southwest Normal University, professor of Art and Design collage of Yunnan University
2013 Meantime, Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming
2012 Hand in Hand 2011: The 2nd Yunnan Oil Painting Association Exhibition, Kunming
The 3rd Kunming Oil Biennial, Kunming
2011 Yunnan Watercolor Exhibition, Ningbo
2010 Collaborated Art Book Project, Kunming
2009 Guishan Sentiments, Kunming Mao Xuhui,Tan Zhigang – Nomination Exhibition of Young Artists in Yunnan, Kunming
2008 Back to Guishan – The 63 Anniversary of United Nation Found, Beijing
2006 The 18th China Artists’ Association Exhibition, Wuxi
2005 The First Kunming Oil Landscape Painting Biennial, Kunming
2004 The 10th National Art Exhibition, Guangzhou
2003 The 3rd China Oil Painting Exhibition, Beijing
The First Chongqing Oil Painting Exhibition, Chongqing
1998 The First Kunming Oil Landscape Painting Biennial, Kunming
1997 1997 Yunnan Oil Painting Exhibition, Kunming