方言的性格——蓝顶开馆展 Toggle

蓝顶——方言的性格


漆 澜

 

 

“在成都这个地方,如果要寻找一种更有效的承载和传播思想的方式——那就是绘画,它最不罗嗦,单刀直入,手到擒来,它与我们先天的文化性格、表现欲望最贴切。这个方式不在文本的间接经验中,而在我们脚下,和头顶的这片蓝天上。蓝顶——蓝天在顶!这个名字首先让我产生了这样的空间、情景联想。”

——摘自Mary《一封关于蓝顶的信》

 

我曾试图在蓝顶这个群体中归纳出一种序列化或系统性的论述,但后来放弃了这种想法。因为在与蓝顶艺术家交流的时候,我经常在想:这个群体的创作实践是否与我们所假设或归纳的理论框架一致?这个问题我暂时难以明确作答,但非常希望:“不一致”。如果一致,我只能为自己的概括能力感到满意,但却会对他们的个性意识感到失望。在理论的正确性与个性魅力之间,我更在乎后者,更在乎蓝顶这个群落所具有的那些与整一性归纳格格不入甚至迥然相异的独特品质。在国际流通、语言趋同的情景下,蓝顶是中国当代架上艺术的兴奋区。这个群落中的部分重要艺术家从1980年代早期走过来,他们的经验是具有独特的美学价值和历史文献意义的——在此时间点以前,那时我还太年轻——我只能在第一人称有效的时间范围内来说说我们这年轻的历史,以及这同样年轻的当代。

尽管我们已经尽可能地突破了时间维度的限制,在平面区间流动的场景中去开放我们的历史观,自由地选择自己的历史组合。但是,我不得不代表你们承认:我们在成都,我们的性格与四川、成都紧密维系。不管你现在居住在什么地方,或将去到什么地方,你都在“你自己那里”,地缘文化深深地为你刻下了胎记,像铸造一般地塑造了你的先天文化性格——一种充满方言色彩的文化性格。这个方言性格可以从不同的角度和层面来描述,但我暂时把它理解为“独立、外向并具有开放的通约性的文化性格”。①

“绘画是一种最不饶舌的艺术,这是它最大的优点”。② 在此名义下,我们的表述更得像我们的方言一样简练、干脆。如果不是武断,四川话是我国最有方言特点而又最具有通约性的方言。简练而干脆,本真而机智。方言是一种顽固的历史风尚,是地缘文化性格的沉淀物,毫不夸张地说,它的影响比气候更加重大。意大利的天空也许还像从前一样,但无法再产生达·芬奇、米开朗基罗和拉斐尔,但我们的天空却充满了期待——不相信只有意大利的天空下才能产生绘画天才,而且,那些天才的类型绝不是我们所期待的!

 

为此,我不赞同国际通约和整一化的理论整合,而相信一种边缘化的,哪怕是近乎于野史般的独立经验。在很大程度上,这正是我对蓝顶这个方言群体的期待。在我看来,如果这个群体值得尊重,这将是一个重要原因。不管你是艺术家还是理论家,熟悉与自己相异的甚至完全对立的艺术趣向是制胜的法宝。天才制胜的秘密往往藏匿在对手那儿,而自由却掌握在自己手中。加入主流不是什么好事情,那仅仅只能为你的平庸或惰性找到一种虚假的安全感。勇士拒绝安全感,敢于只身投入漫无边际的海洋,痛快淋漓地放纵自己的自由个性和开拓欲望。

每个时代都因不同的“个性”产生出绝不重复的、独特的美。当我们从那些一般的概念过渡到理解个别杰出的艺术家在艺术发展中的作用的时候,历史的共性通道被开放、放松,个性的、偶然的天才因素被放大,并最终覆盖乃至置换了概念化的历史逻辑。当个性超越整一性的、模式化的理论框架时,那种具有扩张性的个性不是因为适合某种先验的理论框架而确立了历史意义,相反,往往是因为有了天才的个性才成全了一个历史理论框架的形成。于是,一种凝练的个性序引出了一段精彩的历史。

对蓝顶,我愿意乐观地保持这样的期待。这里没有现代启蒙者的自负与傲慢,没有意识形态的强制性督导,这个群体自由、自信、乐观、开放、倔强,大家一起平等地参与创造,平等地等待,等待着这段精彩历史的出现。成都一直强调对此岸世界的把握和质问,她不是被传说故事养活的城市,但却是充满了幻想故事的性灵之城。在这里,因独立的个性而建立了独立的时代,无数鲜活的个性相聚合,创造出了一个下意识又合乎逻辑的当代精神世界,这个世界独立于潮流之外——潮流是被动的,而成都是主动的。如果这不是我对朋友们一相情愿的奢望,我希望在蓝顶看见这个世界的端倪。

 

尽管我们的艺术性格与这种顽强而充满个性的方言紧密联系,但是我仍然拒绝类型,我希望你们也同样拒绝类型。类型是艺术海洋的珊瑚礁,是形式语言僵硬的堆积物。健康的艺术性格是一种动态开放的文化基因,是鲜活的生命力,而不是静态僵硬的化石,它分化出无限多的感性细节而使历史之树长青。伟大艺术的前提是差异,而伟大之间往往必然存在着先天的分歧,甚至是存在着巨大的、难以跨越的鸿沟。我们期待着在蓝顶看到这种与她先天方言性格相匹配的差异性。

从1980年代晚期以来,四川油画逐渐疏离政治现实主义的文化取向,进而转向形式语言和现代观念的探索,逐渐显露出现代的美学性格。在这个充满创造能量的时代中,四川美术学院是策源地。而今天,这个策源地似乎正与自身先天的文化性格和流动开放的大时代背景一样处于流动、扩散的状态之中。在成都、重庆、北京、上海,我们看见了一个放大的、流动的形象,没有明确的中心,但有一种相对统一的文化性格。在蓝顶前辈和新生代艺术家们身上看到了这种反对和自反的双重文化性格,他们以抗争、拒绝、侵入为文化生存方式,在1990年代以来的新绘画实践中产生了广泛的影响。

强调整一性和类型化描述是新潮美术以来形成的策略性思维,这种策略话语尽管显得简洁速效,但因忽略了艺术的个性化和偶然性,在放大了偶像性质的同时也遮蔽了艺术的真实性格和个性魅力。令人兴奋的是,四川新生代画家正在努力改变着这种片面的艺术趣向,逐渐走出整一性和类型化的阴影。

1990年代后期,四川当代绘画又一次游离于主流趣味之外,一种反图像化力量从四川当代绘画内部产生。这种自反和反对的意识成为当代绘画新的兴奋点,在“图像化”潮流的对立面,重新找回了绘画的自律意识和感性特质。这种自反的力量不仅开始了新绘画的形态建构,更彰现了一种新的文化性格:没有先验的历史权威,而是在流动的经验中去寻找创造的资源和发泄的渠道——大胆,敢于冒险,尽管不知道最终结果,但有挑战的勇气和乐观的胜利预感。语言、修辞、自由、自信都在现场感受的过程之中,而不在权威那里,哪怕武断,也要表现得痛快淋漓,不怕被挑剔——挑剔,太容易 ,而被挑剔,太不容易!历史没有标准答案,是偶然形式的必然,在这片神奇的土地上,他们挥霍般地播种着偶然,乐观地等待着历史必然的收割。

从“新潮美术”到“观念图像”,中国架上绘画的现代化进程实际上是一个“形态”的演进过程,但这个形态的演进过程却是在“观念”的助威声中进行的,但“观念”为表,“形态”为里,表里不一。但是考察这段历史我们可以发现,四川当代油画在1980年代至1990年代初期,艺术趣味既不同于“宏大叙事”,自1990年代以来,又与流行图像保持着警惕而自觉的距离。而新生代画家在当代文化环境中,开始了交叉视觉和复调叙事,突破了传统单质的视觉形态。

“后殖民”、“国际化”、“本土化”是1990年代盛行的学术命题,这些命题实际上都暗含了一个西方中心主义的潜台词。不可否认,这些命题在长达十余年的时间中,成为最具统摄性的思潮,并影响和改变了中国当代绘画的形态和趣味。我曾经问蓝顶前辈艺术家:“你是否在寻求一种所谓的 ‘中西文化传统的诗化的通境’,或试图‘在精神属性和艺术方法论上融汇中西的道路?”回答是让充满这种期待的理论家们失望的——“No!”③ 但是,这个回答让我非常兴奋。正因这个群落难以类型化,难以被国际话语整一化地描述,让我更加欣赏他们身上独立倔强的方言性格。

成都是自由艺术的乐土,她的历史性格是艺术本位的。在这个浪漫的城市,你可以以艺术直觉去解读和接受历史,而不必太在乎“逻辑和秩序”。由于她远离近代海派坊间文化的濡染和政治意识形态的辐射,没有那种封闭、内向、惰性的传统陈习,更没有温驯的集体服从意识。在这个自由的背景中,绘画在对现代事实的接纳和拒绝中,实际上就已经与现代性(现代主义)直接遭遇了。尽管“遭遇现代”、“参与现代”与“产生现代性”之间毕竟存在着质的差别。但如要对绘画现代命题进行假设论证,“遭遇现代”、“参与现代”与“产生现代性”,实际上可以为我们提供一个层层递进的考察线路。我们可以尝试着把这个话题引入到蓝顶中来,这就是我所要研究的对象,即“与现代性真正发生关系的新绘画”,或可以表述为“绘画现代性的生长”。为此,我们要敢于自问,我们是否具有反对和自反的勇气和姿态?是否还保持着野性、智慧和果敢的进取锐气?是否具有独立的主体意识和对现时创造的绝对信心?是否具有自信乃至英雄主义的文化性格?是否产生了深刻的个性经验和广泛的文化输出?我们的现代经验是否具有区别于西方论述的显著特征?要回答这些问题不仅仅需要勇气,更需要深刻的思考和沉潜、持续的探索。

在介入现代性乃至现代主义这个话题的时候,必须有这样的思想准备:现代艺术说到底就是个人创造力突破集体意志,最终反作用于集体意志的抗争性表达。艺术个性的叠加可以注解集体,但集体远远不能归纳和统摄个性。在这个意义上,现代性命题不应该是一个静态的目标模式,或是对某种权威和强势文化所做的协商和沟通,而是在矛盾开放的语境中,实现了核心价值和话语中心的分离和转化。基于这样的理论前提,我们可以合乎逻辑地做出这样的假设性推断:语言必须是现在时的,因为现代性所表达的就是今天,今天的语言和今天这个对象就是现代性的全部内容,而意义是将来时态的追加阐释——但它绝不是依据既往历史而对今天和将来的安全问题所做的担保。如果这个观念在蓝顶群落之中自觉产生,那它将毫无疑义地使蓝顶荣膺“先锋”的桂冠,因为这种观念本身就是最朴素、本质的“现代性”。

对于一个艺术群落而言,整一性和类型化是公敌——即使是艺术家自身也必须具有警醒的自反意识,否则,类型和风格一旦固化,便宣布了这个群落的消亡,至少在艺术史意义上,它已经失去了存在的价值。因此,作为一个艺术群体,最应该警惕的不是来自外部的压力或区间的隔离,而是来自自身,自身的惰性和内部之间的雷同化是最大的危害。作为一个具有持久、旺盛的创造力的艺术群体,必须是一个矛盾、自反的统一体——需要紧张,需要不同的艺术个性、艺术趣向之间的紧张,自己和环境的紧张,自己的历史与历史上下文的紧张,没有这些紧张,这个群体就失去了继续前行的动力。

 

三 

成都对意识形态教条和因循故习的传统惰性有先天的免疫力,为此,我对这个城市怀有深深的敬意。我与大多数意识到现代语境的动态和多元的朋友一样,对那种近似于行政报告的阐释方式敬而远之。在我看来,动态地把握历史,以及在情感、精神层面参与现实,远比宣布一种空洞的道德口号或制造一种名义的集体意志更具有艺术魅力,而被主流叙事所忽略的个性化、隐性化、边缘化的个体经验更能让人兴奋。如果能在单调的主流历史背景中看到隐约闪烁的现代主义的光焰,着实让人兴奋。现代性是动态的延伸,只有方向,没有固定的轨道,让思考去呈现甚至参与这个冒险的历程,远比得出一个大而无当的结论更有审美价值。

 

艺术群体之间乃至区域文化之间的通约和价值交换更多是一种文本假设,这种假设与现实创造平行展开但绝不重叠。整一性的理论描述是一种形而上的认识方法,但不应过多地干预现实,更不能对艺术创作进行规约和督导。在现实创造的层面,区域文化之间的通约是假设的谈判、沟通的过程,是条件性的沟通,这种假设的沟通之目的是促使开放而不是趋同。因为在艺术领域,分歧不仅永远真实地存在,并且是现代文化动力的源泉——来自历史和现实的重重矛盾正是触发现时创造的动力。

在蓝顶,我们看到了一种新的绘画——将注意力转向了变动不居的偶然性、复杂性、微观性,甚至是不可知性,呈现出矛盾开放的叙事视角和“异在”、对抗的文化性格——我们暂时将具有这种美学性格的绘画称之为“新绘画”。新绘画语言动态化,创作观念多元化,强调观念而不排斥修辞,观念与技艺平行展开;它具有开放的历史态度和开放文化身份意识;它具有强烈的艺术个性意识和文化挑战意识,具有“异在”于艺术潮流,“异在”于集体认同的精英意识,并在语言形态、文化命题上具有强烈的实验性和首创性,乃至极端的语言和观念的探索。④

当绘画超越了外在压力,或不再屈从于某种权威经验的驱使,而是以内在文化欲求为原创动力,传统和现代、东方和西方的对立关系也得到了放松,而那些看似对立的东西相反却被转换成了可以信手采撷的文化资源。只有优秀的大脑才能同时热爱完全不同,甚至截然对立的美。“传统与现代割裂了来看的确矛盾,但实际上艺术本身并没有这么紧张,自觉的策略与自发的艺术冲动是两回事,我更愿意选择后者。”⑤ 对这种自信、独立、开放的见解,我们应该报以由衷的赞赏。

成都先天就具有乐观冒险的文化性格。这种性格是先天的现代——这充满方言特点的文化性格将在当代开放的文化环境中更加具有创造力和通约性。在成都,现代性的世俗本质孕育了当代文人自相冲突的人格特征。我把这种充满方言特色的人格特征理解为一种心理的现代性,即依据内在反应而建立一个内在世界,并借以体验和解释今天的外部世界。这种新的文化性格瓦解了传统谱系的权威性和单一价值趣向的意识形态独裁,暗示了传统美学性格向现代美学性格的转变。这种美学性格其实就是彻底的现代主义,因为它不惮于在这个身居其中的整一性、单向度的世界中奋战,以自己的个性向这个宏大的整体发起挑战,奋力胁迫、诱引这个整体滑向他们的意志,然后再将它拒绝、抛弃。这就是现代先锋们的文化魔术,充满了反对和自反的双向张力,以自身的个性经验影响了现实实践,甚至进而改变了历史逻辑。

我向来就缺乏那种旁观者第三人称的冷静和超脱,因此这篇文字算不上前言,只能当作是和朋友们一起展开的一点思考。再则,由于在编辑部工作,几乎每天都会看到一些“前言”,但说实话,除了出于职业道德必须对付的错别字和语法错误,八年间阅读过而留下了深刻印象的前言,屈指可数!前言很快就会被遗忘,但我们永远不能忘记自己,不能忘记自己的先天性格,不能忘记关于反对和自反的思考。什么最能代表我们的性格?那就是被委以重任的方言—— 一种新的文化性格,一种敢于在边缘游击但却是指向中心的文化力量,顽强而自我地书写着我们的历史和我们的当代——我们的历史,我们的当代,诸君珍惜,共勉!

 

2008年12月23日 于上海

 

注释

①   在此特别向敬文东先生致以真诚的谢意他的著作被委以重任的方言》(中国人民大学出版社给予了我理解蓝顶艺术群落的灵感简言之我以四川方言作比喻将蓝顶成都艺术群落的现代实践看作是与整一化的正史相对抗的充满扩张性的野史”。正是这种野史内部存在的反对和自反的文化性格使四川当代绘画在八五以来的现代艺术实践中显示出了独立外向开放的文化性格和独特的形态特征

②     德拉克洛瓦语参见德拉克洛瓦论美术与美术家》。

③     参见花间记——周春芽访谈》,《艺术当代》2006年第五期

④     参见超越图像的中国新绘画》,《超越图像-中国新绘画》,上海书画出版社,2007

参见花间记——周春芽访谈》,《艺术当代》2006年第五期

 

 

 

The Blue House – Character of the Dialect

Qi  Lan

 

In the city of Chengdu, if a more effective medium to carry and spread thoughts were to be found, that would be painting. It is the least redundant and the most direct, closest to our innate cultural character and our expression desire. It is not in the indirect text experience; instead, it is under our feet, and in the blue sky above our head. Lan Ding – the blue sky overhead – the name immediately brings to my mind the image and scene of the blue sky above our head.”

 ——Quoted from A Letter About the Blue House, by Mary

 

 Ⅰ

I once tried to work out a serial or systematic exposition from the Blue House artists, but later I gave up this idea. Because when communicating with the Blue House artists, I always think about the question: Does the creative practice of this group conform to the theoretical frameworks presumed by us? I can not find a definite answer for the time being, but I do hope that the answer would be “no”. If the answer turned out to be “yes”, I would be satisfied with my ability of generalization, but at the same time I would feel disappointed at their lack of individual consciousness. Between theoretical correctness and individual charm, I care more about the latter, about the unique qualities in this creative community that are quite alien to or even completely different from any generalizations. In the context of international circulation and language convergence, the Blue House is an exciting point in Chinese easel art. Some major artists in this community have been coming along from the early 1980s and their experience is of both unique aesthetic and historic significance. Before then, I was too young. So I can only talk about our young history and this young present age within the time range when I can state my personal understanding in the first person.

Although we have tried our best to break through the time restrictions to open up our conceptions of history and combine different histories freely in the flowing scenes on plane surfaces, I have to admit, on your behalf, that we are in Chengdu and our character is closely related to Sichuan and Chengdu. Wherever you are or wherever you go, you are always “at your own place”. Geographic culture has been engraved in your mind like a birthmark and it has molded an innate cultural character in you – a cultural character colored by its dialect. This dialect character can be described from different angles and on different levels, and my provisional understanding of it is an “independent and extrovert cultural character with open commensurability”.①

 

“Painting is the least garrulous art, and that constitutes its greatest advantage”. ② In the name of it, our presentation should be concise and straightforward, just like our dialect. It is not arbitrary to say that Sichuan dialect is the most unique dialect with the best commensurability in our country. It is concise and straightforward, genuine and witty. Dialect is a stubborn fashion of history and sediment of geographic cultural character. To say the least, its influence is far greater than that of the climate. The sky of Italy may still be the same as before, but the geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello will be no longer found there. Our sky, however, is full of promises. I don’t believe that geniuses could only be found under the sky of Italy. What’s more, the types of geniuses then are definitely not what we are expecting now!

For this reason, I do not agree to the theoretical integration of international commensuration and uniformity. I prefer a kind of marginalized or even unofficial independent experience. To a large extent, this is exactly what I expect to see from the Blue House dialect community. To me, if this community is worth respecting, its independent experience will be an important reason. Whether you are an artist or a theorist, being familiar with the artistic taste that is different from or even opposite to yours is the key to success. The key to the success of a genius is often hidden in his enemy’s place while the freedom is in his own hands. Following the main stream is not a desirable thing; it can only provide you with an illusive sense of safety for your mediocrity or inertia. A brave man would always say no to the sense of safety and throw himself in the boundless sea to open up his free individuality and pioneering aspiration.

Unique beauty which could not be replicated can be found in every era due to its unique “individuality”. When we pass from those general concepts to the understanding of the influence exerted by the individual outstanding artists on the development of art, the channel of historical commonness is opened and let loose, and the accidental elements of the geniuses are magnified, which will finally cover or even change the conceptualized historical logic. When individuality goes beyond the standardized and uniform theoretical framework, the expansionary individuality does not establish its historical significance because it conforms to certain preexistent theoretical framework. Conversely, it is the individuality that contributes to a historical theoretical framework, and as a result a splendid history is brought about by a unique individuality.

I am willing to keep this optimistic expectation on the Blue House. No self-conceit and arrogance of modern enlightener or compulsory supervision of ideology can be found here. Artists in this community are free, self-confident, optimistic, open and unbending. They participate, create and wait equally, waiting for this splendid history. The understanding and questioning of the real world have always been emphasized in Chengdu. The city of Chengdu does not feed on legends; it is a spiritual city full of imaginary tales, and an independent era has been established here due to the independent individuality. Numerous vivid characters have come together to create an unconscious but logic contemporary spiritual world which stands independently beyond the trend – trend is passive while the city of Chengdu is active. I hope that it is not just wishful thinking on my part, and I want to see an inkling of the world in the Blue House.

 

Although our artistic character is closely related to this tenacious and special dialect, I am still opposed to typology, and I hope that you will reject it too. Types are like the coral reef in the ocean of art, the stiff accumulation of formal language. A healthy artistic character is a dynamic and open cultural gene with fresh vitality instead of a static and stiff fossil. Numerous sentimental details grow out of that artistic character to keep the tree of art forever green. Difference is a prerequisite for great art, and there must be inherent differences or even a huge gap between two types of greatness. We are expecting to see in the Blue House such distinction which is in match with its innate dialect character.

Since the late 1980s, Sichuan painting has gradually deviated from the cultural orientation of political realism and turned to the pursuit of formal language and modern ideas, increasingly revealing a modern aesthetic character. In this era full of creative energy, Sichuan Fine Arts Academy is an art cradle. Today, this cradle seems to be in a flowing and expanding state like its innate cultural character and this fluid and open era. In Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing and Shanghai, we’ve seen a magnified and flowing image with no obvious center but a relatively uniform cultural character. From the senior artists and the artists of new generation in the Blue House, we see the dual cultural character which is fighting against the outside world and against itself at the same time, with struggle, rejection and intrusion as its cultural survival strategies, and such cultural character has exerted wide influence on the new painting practice since the 1990s.

To emphasize uniformity and descriptions by type is a strategic way of thinking gradually formed since the establishment of modern fine arts. This strategic language, though neat and convenient, has obscured the real character and individual charm of art when magnifying its nature as an idol because of the negligence of the individuality and contingency of art. To our excitement, the Sichuan artists of the new generation are trying to change this one-sided artistic interest and gradually walking out of the shadow of uniformity and typology.

In the late 1990s, Sichuan contemporary painting deviated again from the mainstream taste, and an anti-image force emerged from within Sichuan contemporary painting. This self-rejection and rejection consciousness has become an exciting point in contemporary art and it helps to retrieve the self-discipline and sentimental feature of painting on the opposite side of the “image flood”. This self-rejection power has not only started the form construction of new painting but also presented a new cultural character: seeking for creative resources and vent channels in the flowing experience without any prior historical authority; being bold and adventurous and having the courage to challenge and the optimistic hunch to win although the unknown. Language, rhetoric, freedom and self-confidence all exist in the process of on-site experience, not controlled by any authority. No matter how arbitrary it is, the presentation shall be free and joyful. It is not afraid to be criticized – to be critical is too easy, while to be criticized, too difficult! There is no model answer to history; it is an inevitable result from all forms of contingencies. Vivid contingencies are being sown on this wonderland, and the fruits are being expected optimistically.

From “New Trend Art” to “Conceptual Image”, the modernization of Chinese easel painting is actually a revolution of “form” in the cheers of “concept”. However, the outer “concept” is not in harmony with the inner “form”. Examining this period of history, we can find that Sichuan contemporary oil painting from the 1980s to the early 1990s was different from the “grand narrative” in terms of the artistic taste, and it has been keeping a vigilant and conscious distance from the popular images since the 1990s. In the context of contemporary culture, the painters of the new generation have begun their cross visions and polyphony narrative, making a breakthrough in the traditional homogeneous visual form.

 “Post-colonialism”, “internationalization” and “localization” were three prevailing academic propositions in the 1990s, which suggested the subtext of western centralism. It is undeniable that these propositions have been the dominant trend of thought for up to a decade and influenced and changed the form and taste of Chinese contemporary painting. I once asked one of the senior painters in the Blue House, “Are you looking for a so called ‘poeticized integration of Chinese and Western traditions’, or are you trying to ‘mix Chinese and Western traditions in spiritual attribute or artistic methodology’?” His answer “no” ③ would disappoint all the theorists who expect the answer “yes”. This answer, however, made me quite excited. It is because this community is difficult to categorize or describe by a uniform international discourse that I appreciate the independent and dialect-like stubborn character in them.

Chengdu is a paradise for free art and her historical character is based on art itself. In this romantic city, you can decipher and recognize history by your artistic intuition without caring too much about “logic and order”. Because she is kept far away from the influence of Shanghai school of culture and any political ideology, she has nothing to do with those closed, introvert and lazy traditional customs, let alone the submissive consciousness of collective obedience. In this free background, painting has encountered modernity (modernism) through acceptance and rejection of modern facts. Although there are essential differences among “encountering modern age”, “participating in modern age” and “producing modernity”, they can offer us a progressive route of inspection if modern propositions on painting are to be proposed and proved. We can try applying this topic to the Blue House, which brings about the object that I am going to look into – the “new painting that has a real connection with modernity”, or the “growth of the modernity of painting”. For this reason, we shall be brave enough to ask ourselves whether we’ve got the courage and stance to reject the outside world and ourselves. Are we still keeping the wild, smart, courageous and resolute aggressive dash? Do we have the independent subject consciousness and the absolute confidence in current creation? Do we have the confident or even heroic cultural character? Have we produced any profound individual experience or wide value output? Is there any significant feature of our modern experience that is different from the Western expositions? To answer these questions, we need profound thinking and focused and constant exploration as well as courage.

When dealing with the topic of modernity or modernism, one has to get realized that modern art is essentially a contesting presentation where individual creativity overpowers the collective will and finally counter-influences the latter. The conglomeration of artistic individualities can be used to interpret the collective, while the latter is far from enough to generalize or govern the former. In this sense, the proposition of modernity should not be a static target model, or any compromise or communication with some kind of authority and dominant culture; instead, it shall be the realization of the dissolution and transfer of core value and discourse center in a contradictory but open context. On the basis of such theoretical premises, we can make the inference that language shall be in the context of present tense because modernity expresses today; and the language of today and the object of today are all that is contained in modernity. Meaning is the follow-up interpretation made by future tense, which is anything but the guarantee made on the basis of history for the safety of the present and the future. If this thought comes about in the Blue House community consciously, the Blue House will undoubtedly be crowned as the “pioneer” because this thought itself is the most simple and essential “modernity”.

For an artistic community, uniformity and typology is its public enemy – even the artist shall possess some vigilant self-rejection consciousness. Failing this, once the type and style become fixed, the death of the community is announced. At least in art history, it has lost its meaning of existence. So to an artistic community, what it shall be most alert to is not the outside pressure or the spatial separation but itself – its inertia and the inner uniformity are the biggest enemy. What it needs is the tension between different artistic individualities, between artistic tastes, between itself and the environment, and between its own history and the contexts of its history. Without these tensions, it will lose the motive to moving forward.

   

Chengdu has the inborn immunity against any ideological dogma or conservative traditional inertia. For this reason, I cherish deep respect for this city. Like most friends who are aware of the dynamic and diversified modern discourses, I always keep myself away from the patterns of interpretation like those in administrative reports. In my opinion, it is more attractive to grasp history dynamically and emotionally and spiritually participate in reality than to announce some hollow moral slogan or produce some nominal collective will. Unique, recessive and marginalized individual experience neglected by the mainstream narration is actually more exciting. It will be thrilling to see the gleam of modernism against the monotonous background of mainstream history. Modernity is a dynamic extension in new directions without any fixed track. It is of more aesthetic value to let thought demonstrate or even participate in this adventure than to reach a grand but impractical conclusion.

The commensuration and value exchange among artistic communities or even among regional cultures are more like a kind of assumed text which is parallel to the real creation while the two never overlap. The uniform theoretical description is a metaphysical cognitive method and it shall not interfere too much in the reality or regulate or supervise artistic creation. On the level of realistic creation, the commensuration among regional cultures is a process of negotiation and communication; it is a conditional communication aiming at enhancing openness rather than convergence. In the field of art, divergence will exist forever and it is the source of the driving force of modern culture – contradictions from history and reality are the exact driving force of real creation.  

In the Blue House, we can see a new kind of painting turning its focus to the ever-changing contingencies, complexity, microscopic property and even the unknownability, and presenting the contradictory but open narrative perspective and the cultural character fighting as “the other” – we’d like to call the painting with this kind of aesthetic character “new painting” for the time being.

The new painting has a dynamic language and diversified creation concepts. It puts emphasis on concept without rejecting rhetoric, and concept goes with technique. It has an open historical attitude and cultural identity awareness, a strong artistic individuality and cultural challenge awareness, an elite consciousness independent from any artistic trend or collective recognition. It is also experimental and original in language form and cultural proposition and even in the exploration of extreme language and notion.  ④

When painting overpowers the outside pressure or it no longer succumbs to some kind of authoritative experience, and when the creation of painting is motivated by the inner cultural desire, the oppositions between the traditional and the modern, the oriental and the western have been let loose, and the seemingly opposite things have been transformed to the cultural resources at hand. Only the brilliant brains are able to love the completely different or opposite beauties. “The traditional and the modern seem to be contradictory if they are treated separately, but actually art is not that tense. Conscious strategies and spontaneous artistic impulses are two different things and I prefer the latter.” ⑤ Sincere appreciation shall be rendered to such a confident, independent and open point of view.

Chengdu has an inherent optimistic and adventurous cultural character. It is an innate modernity – this cultural character full of dialect features will breed more creativity and commensurability in the open contemporary cultural environment. In Chengdu, the secular nature of modernity produces a self-contradictory personality of the modern scholars. I interpret this personality full of dialect features as some kind of psychological modernity, which means an internal world is established in accordance with the inner responses, based upon which the external world is interpreted.. This new cultural character has disintegrated the authority of the traditional pedigree and the single-value-orientation ideological dictatorship, suggesting the transfer from the traditional aesthetic character to the modern one. This aesthetic character is absolute modernism, since it is not afraid to fight in this uniform and one-dimensional world and challenge this giant unit by its individuality. It goes all out to exert its power on this unity and draw in this unit, and then reject and abandon itself. This is the cultural magic of the modern pioneers that is full of two-way tensions of rejection and self-rejection, which influences realistic practice with the individual experience and then changes the historical logic.

I lack the calmness and detachment as a looker-on in the third person, so this article is not so much a preface as some little thoughts to share with my friends. What’s more, working in the editor’s office, I read “prefaces” almost everyday. But to be honest, few prefaces are kept in my memory during my eight years’ editing work except the wrongly applied characters and grammatical mistakes that I have to deal with out of my professional ethics. A preface tends to be forgotten soon, but we shall never forget ourselves. We shall never forget our innate character and our reflections upon rejection and self-rejection. What most represents our character? That is the dialect that has been charged with an important mission – a new cultural character, a cultural power that is brave enough to fight guerrilla campaigns on the edge while aiming at the center, tenaciously and independently writing our history and our contemporary era – our history, our contemporary era – Let us cherish and encourage each other in our endeavors!

Dec 23, 2008 in Shanghai

翻译:陆易蓉

审校 

 

Notes:

① I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to Jing Wendong, whose work “the Dialect That Has Been Charged with an Important Mission” (published by China Renmin University Press) has provided me inspiration in my understanding the Blue House community. In a word, using Sichuan dialect as a metaphor, I regard the modern practice of the Blue House (Chengdu) artistic community as an expansionary “unofficial history” fighting against the uniform “official history”. It is the intrinsic rejection and self-rejection cultural character in the “unofficial history” that has enabled Sichuan contemporary painting to present an independent, extrovert and open cultural character and unique features of form in the practice of modern art since the “85 New Trend”.

②  Delacroix, see “Delacroix on Art and Artist”.

③ See “Blooming Stories – Interview with Zhou Chunya”, Art China, the 5th issue, 2006.

④ See “China’s Neo Painting , A Triumph over Image”, “ A Triumph over Image—China’s Neo Painting”, Shanghai Painting and Calligraphy Press, 2007.

⑤ See “Blooming Stories – Interview with Zhou Chunya”, Art China, the 5th issue, 2006.


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