A Painting of Thought I-542 | 很有想法的绘画 I-542

A Painting of Thought I-542 is a work that is composed of three paintings. As a further step in the development of A Painting of Thought, brand-new texture and pattern are added into color blocks of high-purity acrylic, which triggers reactions to “the marbled” as a collective aestheticism on different cultural and cognitive levels. The reactions are then taken into the work as a part of the experience. The mass-produced, ready-made fabric and patterns in the same batch but in different colors are used repeatedly in the work, which demonstrates the “systematization” in industrial products that is transformed into an aesthetic move. The pattern of “thinking puzzle” duplicates itself for multiple times on the fabric and is applied to the fabric in the same way. The “undifferentiated” aestheticism presented by the “systematization” of mass production is carried into the experience of the work. The halo of the thick acrylic colors imitates the gloss of the highlight of children’s plastic toys, through which process the gloss of plastic products in the everyday experience of contemporary society is put into the painting and is transcended. A Painting of Thought is both serious and playful.
 
A Painting of Thought I-542
Each 180 x 200 x 8 cm, 4 paintings in total
Material: Acrylic on found fabric
2016
《很有想法的绘画 I-542》是一件由三张绘画组成的作品。作为“很有想法的绘画”创作的进一步发展,在高纯度的丙烯色块里面,加入了全新的肌理纹样,以此触发”大理石纹”作为一种集体审美意识在不同文化和认知层面反应,并带入作品成为体验的一部分。通过工业化批量生产出来的这组现成布料,同一批次不同颜色的图样在这件作品里面被同时使用。把工业制品共有的那种“系列感”转化成一种审美化的动作展示出来。“思维游戏”的图案在织物上自我多次叠加,并以同一方式应用在这批织物上。将“系列化”生产呈现出来的一种“无差别”的审美方式带进作品的体验中。丙烯颜料厚厚堆积起来的光滑表面产生出的光晕,效仿了儿童塑料玩具高光部分散发出的那种光泽。通过这个过程把当代社会日常经验里到处闪烁着的这种塑料光晕带入画面并使其升华。“很有想法的绘画”既是严肃的又是游戏的。
很有想法的绘画 I-542
每张180x200x8 cm 共4张
材料:织物上丙烯
2016

VICE副本

简介: 全球青年文化之声 | www.vice.cn | 微博@VICE中国 |艺术家赵要完成了一件面积将近10000平方米的装置作品,从北京工厂运往青海玉树的摩耶寺。11月23日,当地100多名村民和喇嘛出动,经历一整天,共同把这个庞然大物抬到海拔5000米的雪山山顶,铺展开来。实施当天,我们和艺术家与作品一起坐在在大卡车里穿过长长的峡谷,来到雪山脚下,纪录下了这个作品的向山顶的搬运过程。

向雪山搬运一万平方米


©️ 异视异色(北京)文化传播有限公司

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【预告】赵要最新10000m²大型装置”精神高于一切”11月23日即将呈现

2016.11.23 Spirit Above All

10, 000-square-meters work

Will be on display here

 

2016 年 11 月 23 日,赵要最新的大型装置作品将在青海省玉树藏族自治州囊谦县白扎乡摩耶寺实施。此次作品长 116 米宽 86 米,是赵要 2012 年”精神高于一切”项目的延续和发展。经过两年多的项目筹备和制作,作品已于 10 月底顺利运到摩耶寺山下。届时在寺庙和乔美仁波切的支持和帮助下,与当地村庄里的 100 多个人一起把作品搬到海拔近 5000 米的雪山山顶展开。此次”精神高于一切”选取了《很有想法的绘画》作品里面相同的思维游戏图案,应用藏地大型布贴唐卡的工艺,参照摩耶寺现有唐卡的尺幅(120 x 80m)制作而成。这件 10000 平方米的作品将被固定在山顶,与山谷里的经幡、白塔、摩崖壁画等自然人文环境相呼应。作品将在自然环境里展示整个冬天之后再回收呈现。项目以”晒”为主要线索和当地展开多项目文化合作,并随时记录各种变化。在此期间将不断组织和接受人们的参观和拜访。

敬请关注!

 

On November 23, 2016, Zhao Yao’s latest large-scale art work, Spirit Above All, will be carried out at Moye Temple in Baizha at Nangqian County, Yushu autonomous prefecture, Qinghai province. The 116-meter-wide-and-86-meter-long work is the continuation and development of Zhao Yao’s 2012 work of the same name, Spirit Above All. After more than two years’ preparation and production, the work has been successfully transported to the mountain of Moye Temple at the end of October. With the assistance and support of the temple and Chakme Rinpoche , the work will be carried to the snowy summit by more than 100 local villagers and then unfolded there, almost 5000 meters high above sea level. Selecting patterns of thinking puzzles from the series A Painting of Thought and employing large-scale Tibetan Thang-ga cloth sticker technique, the new Spirit Above All is produced according to the size of Thang-ga at Moye Temple (120×80 meters). The 10, 000-square-meters work will be installed at the mountain top, alongside the existing Buddhist sutra streamers, white pagoda, and cliffside murals in the valley, echoing the local natural and cultural environment. The work will be exposed to natural environment for a whole winter and then be collected and displayed. The project aims to establish multiple cultural projects via local cooperation under the theme of “drying painting”. Meanwhile, various changes of the work will be monitored and recorded, throughout which process the work will accept and welcome visitors continuously.

Please stay tuned!

*在此特别感谢第九世乔美仁波切、摩耶寺、骆易女士、白兔当代艺术收藏以及北京公社的大力支持和帮助。

*Special thanks to 9th H.E Chakme Rinpoche, Moye temple, Ms Luo Yi, White Rabbit Collection and Beijing Commune .

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他为什么要把机场做成地毯?现成品与抽象的艺术

整个人类历史,有一场巨大的抽象

赵要在金盏乡的工作室是典型的厂房,有一千平米左右。他有两个关于艺术的观念非常吸引人:第一,对现成品的运用不再是杜尚式的对现成物质的语境置换,例如大家熟悉的把小便池置换到美术馆,而是对现成思维的置换语境,也就是对教育习惯,审美习惯等精神习惯的重新审视和调离原岗位;第二,抽象艺术对他来说,不仅仅是形式的抽象,例如康定斯基的色块和波洛克的泼洒,而可以是对人类集体无意识的再现式抽象。

对现成思维的语境置换体现在很多作品中,比如赵要的系列绘画作品:《很有想法的绘画》。他的原理就是将非常常见的丙烯颜料在画面上堆积出厚厚的质感,然后将其慢慢打磨,出现一种塑料的感觉,整个画面完全不再是通常审美习惯中的丙烯绘画的平面感,而会给人一种塑料玩具的感受。再比如他在行为作品《伟大的表演》中设计的道具,就是在两块毛茸茸的假动物皮上,打印出两张新闻图片。这两张含有警察、围观群众、治安纠纷的新闻图片被抽象成一种万花筒般的图案,从远处完全感受不到现实和新闻的压力,而是一种被抽象和陌生化的美感。再由演员披挂上这两张动物皮进行萨满巫师一样的游走,给现实、潜意识、审美和宗教,都提出了一个充满魅力却无法解答的问题。把抽象转移到历史政治层面,则是赵要提出的一个革命性的概念。这个概念罕见地得到了西方抽象艺术史的承认。尽管中国传统的抽象完全自有其源深博大,西方的现当代抽象艺术却有一种血统性的傲慢,作为当代艺术的游戏规则制定者而一直很难接受其他文化的抽象艺术。
赵要曾经作入选了英国著名公共艺术机构白教堂画廊举办的“黑色方块的历险:抽象艺术与社会,1915-2015”的历史性展览。其中的重要原因,就是他对“抽象”这个概念本身的革命性解释。最典型的在工作室可以看到的例子是他对武汉天河机场的抽象改造。赵要把谷歌地图上搜到的天河机场卫星实拍图,通过数码打印出来,再找到山东一家地毯厂按照这个打印图,用不同色彩的纤维尽量真实地把卫星图编织出来,然后将地毯进行不规则剪裁,继而竖立起来,完全彻底地陌生化,使观者在看到这个竖立的纪念碑式的作品时,完全无法找到其现实根源,但非常迅速地感受到一种跟时空相关的伟大。因为机场集结了上千人之智慧,动用上万人之劳力,是人类遗留在地球上的痕迹。直接运用机场这样的人类社会的集体劳作来进行抽象化,是一种智慧的做法。赵要最新的大课题是寻找人类集体遗留的抽象形式跟自然和社会历史的关系。所以在他的工作室里,我们看到巨大的帆布上沾满砂砾的软雕塑作品,灵感来自带着洞穴的假山石。还有同时跟哈佛智力测试和山体相关的其他织物作品,将要经历宗教的漫长朝圣旅途。如果问赵要他是否是一个宗教信仰者,他会告诉你不是,他是一个抽象表达的信仰者,而最巨大的抽象,关于人类经验和历史的抽象,难道不是跟宗教殊途同归的吗?

2016-09-20 艺术家工作室 刻画

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赵要 |最后一个鸡蛋  ZhaoYao |The last egg

赵要谈最后一个鸡蛋

现居北京的观念艺术家赵要一直关注艺术形式背后起决定作用的诸多因素本文中赵要讲述了此次在北京公社最新个展最后一个鸡蛋的整体构想以及艺术在当代社会中如何通过对信息的调度和再处理成为捕捉和改变集体意识的有效载体展览将持续到108

我一直觉得在我的创作里没有什么个性可言所谓的特点个性其实是通过分析集体意识里的现象我称之为信息再对其进行重新加工再造而形成的而这种特点也是外部集体对所有这些东西重新审视之后产生的认识具体到这次展览我们花了大半年的时间制作一种人造蛋壳涂料试验了很多次最后在一名树脂化工专业的教授帮助下确定了现在的这个配方蛋壳涂料涂在第一个展厅的四面墙上但有特定的图案”。这些图案实际取自各行各业用来做数据分析的曲线图我选了波动比较大的7-8张图拼成一圈从形式上看这些锯齿状的起伏线很像剥开的蛋壳加上涂料的颜色一进门就会改变观众对白色墙体的印象让原来展厅的白墙看上去很有营养像鸡蛋的蛋白整个展览强调的也是这种调度关系作为生命和营养象征的蛋壳与作为理性分析工具的曲线图结合在一起能够引导出我们内部的很多情结无论是对自然的潜意识欲望还是对理性的依赖这跟我最近在四方美术馆展出的作品宇宙黑在旋转》(2016)有一定联系作品中铝板上涂的黑色颜料是奔驰汽车的一款喷漆这么工业化的原料却被叫做宇宙黑”。不光是奔驰所有国产车进口车都有类似的颜色命名系统我觉得这在某种程度上揭示了我们内心对大自然或风景的一种潜意识欲望或抽象认识那件作品比较有意思的一点是,“宇宙黑这个名字跟天空以及整个装置仰望天空跟随太阳的动作之间永远处于某种循环关系中这次的作品同样如此一方面我们需要用曲线图这种理性工具去总结过去分析未来获得某种可控性而另一方面蛋壳的易碎特质永远是不可控的就像用这种涂料涂墙你不可能控制得了最终呈现的效果总有意外发生墙面总在不断剥落

此外蛋壳的质感也能唤起我们艺术经验里对抽象和肌理的迷恋在这个过程中越多想法被调动起来越好我称之为一键启动”。就像现在的智能汽车你不用像以前的人那样必须了解车子的各种零部件和内部结构只需按下按钮就能开走展览也是一样尽管它内部可能蕴含很多逻辑关系但观众不用一开始就明白所有关系只要找到一个点这个点必须非常简单易于操作),按下一个按钮整个信息网络就被带动起来当你想去了解的时候它的内容会很丰富

展览中其他作品也是如此另一房间展出的蛋壳雕塑”,所用材料其实是我从花鸟市场买回来的水缸一共九个同样按照3-4个数据图表拼接起来的锯齿纹路切割去掉缸体的上半部分剩下这部分的形状就像放在地上的一盒鸡蛋壳)、长年使用的肌理感以及我们对陶土器皿的认识等信息含量通通都会释放出来而且这种波动图案通过理性分析出来就是如今社会各行各业带有的节奏感所以整个展厅这样布置你会感觉它跟时代的关系很紧密我一直不太相信个人或原创性在这个时代有多大作用而更愿意将其视为一种集体选择的过程如果非要说原创性艺术家的原创性跟广告设计服装设计等其他行业的原创性之间区别有多大呢在这个创意已经成为各行业基本要求的时代这种区别已经变得非常细微了而作为集体意识的参与者和观察者艺术家个人通过自己的体验和发掘对已有关联进行重新总结和组合进而创造出新的关联对我而言这是一种创造性

— 文/ 采访/杜可柯

Cosmos Black is Spinning Around

Cosmos Black is Spinning Around | 宇宙在黑在旋

金属漆,铝板,太阳能双轴跟踪器,金属支架
metallic paint, aluminum, dual-axis solar tracker, metal stand
尺寸可变 | size variable
起始时间:2016.6.5
一块覆盖了“宇宙黑”的黑色方块被安放在全自动的双轴太阳能跟踪器上面。从此它将仰望苍穹永远追随着太阳运动。宇宙⿊黑是奔驰汽车的191#颜色

A piece of the “Cosmo Black” square was placed on top of the automatic dual-axis solar tracker. From now on it will look to the dome of the blue sky above, always following the movement of the sun. Cosmo black is Mercedes car standard color 191.

 

resized-exhibitions-a-beautiful-disorder-zhao-yao-final-install-2016_07_19_zhao_yao_sculpture_of_thought_010_web-exlg

《很有想法的雕塑》2016/A Sculpture of Thought

A Beautiful Disorder/Jul 3rd – Nov 6th
CASS SCULPTURE FOUNDATION
与《很有想法的绘画》一样从立体形态的角度思考一些艺术的本质问题。雕塑造型同样选自游戏书里面的一个现成图形。这里一切都是现成的——现成的图像,现成的颜色,现成的结构。各种可见的视觉元素和不可见的抽象思维作为创作的基本要素,融汇在一起。通过调动理性经验,材料质感,视觉认知等身体与思想全部的感知方式,形成一种对意义追求的瞬间获得感。 利用儿童滑梯的PVC塑料,把这个图形放大制作成6米高的立体的雕塑置现实的社会环境里面。作品采用模块组合方式组装,把真正儿童玩具的塑料光泽赋予作品,成为作品神圣的光晕。同时以一种轻松又严肃的方式呼应日常生活经验中塑料制品上处处闪烁的这种时代性高光。通过调动艺术经验审美的方式升华游戏的崇高感,而游戏又以一种世俗的直接的感官和趣味的逻辑性对经验的审美认知进行重新审视。
Similar to the A Painting of Thought series, the work contemplates issues essential to art from a three-dimensional perspective. Therefore A Sculpture of Thought and A Painting of Thought have a parallel relationship. The form of the sculpture also adopts directly from brain-teaser puzzles, everything is ready – images, colours, structure. All kinds of apparent visual elements combined with hidden abstract concepts are of essence to the creation of this piece. Through the manoeuvring of rational experience, texture of the material, visual recognition and all aspects of physical + mental sensations, the work forms a sudden satisfaction in pursuit of meaning. The material PVC plastic is widely used in the manufacturing of children’s slides, and the form of the sculpture is blown to 6 meters tall and placed in the reality of our social environment. The installation method also mimics construction toys, further lightens the sculpture with the plastic shine that’s apparent on actual children’s toys – a divine aura of the sculpture. A playful yet serious way of responding to the daily experience of plastic goods and their sparkles as the highlight of their times. The methods of evaluating / appreciating art elevates the position of gaming, yet at the same time the mundaneness and straightforwardness of gaming from both sensual and logical perspectives re-evaluates our aesthetic habits.
A Sculpture of Thought I-192
很有想法的雕塑I-192
Materials: aluminum alloy/铝合金、塑料
plasticSize: 407x116x583cm
2015-2016

pace hongkong

Zhao Yao 赵要

2015.01.15 – 02.26 | PACE HONG KONG

佩斯香港将在一月14日展出中国艺术家赵要首次香港个展, 带来其最新系列在织品上的丙烯画作

On 14th January, Pace Hong Kong will hold the Chinese artist Zhao Yao’s first solo exhibition in HK, featuring a series of acrylic painting on fabric

奇迹 美兰机场 小

HARMONIOUS SOCIETY/天下无事

27 SEPTEMBER – 23 NOVEMBER 2014

 

Zhao Yao

Wonder, 2014

奇迹

Zhao Yao has created contoured carpets featuring aerial views of Chinese airports undergoing development and expansion, reflective of the country’s rapid urbanization. Visitors are invited to walk across the carpets, like the travellers who pass through these airports, and when the exhibition is finished, they will bear the traces of those who have passed by.

HARMONIOUS SOCIETY/天下无事

Responding to the Asia Triennial Manchester 14 (ATM14) theme of ‘conflict and compassion’, this exhibition will be seen from an international perspective, re-examining the ‘conflicts’ as well as the ‘harmony’ of China, or indeed, the Greater China, and that of Asia and the world.

In the past three decades, Mainland China has experienced unprecedented political reform, economic development and rapid urbanisation. This upheaval together with all its consequences – including the Handover of Hong Kong – has amalgamated into daily life. The international press report many social issues and challenges in and beyond the country including Cross-Strait and international relations. Responding to ATM14’s theme, ‘Conflict and Compassion’, the curatorial focus of the CFCCA project apparently presents ‘no conflict’ but rather, almost poetically, a ‘harmonious society’ (hexie shehui). In this exhibition, ‘Harmonious Society’, is re-interpreted in Chinese instead as ‘tianxia wushi’, literally, ‘nothing (has happened) under the heavens’. The title, precisely, is derived from the current socio-economic vision and the political proposition of China’s regime since 2005, whilst its Chinese version alternatively extends its cultural and philosophical connotations to be perceived in the global context (tianxia).

The project invites more than 30 artists from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to develop artistic responses. Almost all the works are UK premieres and many of them are specially commissioned and site-specific. It takes place at six major venues across the city centre of Manchester, including Centre for Chinese Contemporary ArtArtWorkJohn Rylands LibraryMuseum of Science and Industry, National Football Museum and Manchester Cathedral.

Harmonious Society is produced in collaboration with Cultural Division Taipei Representative Office in the UKTang Contemporary Art (Beijing, China) and University of Salford for ATM14. It is also supported by Cathay PacificBirmingham City UniversityHong Kong Arts Development CouncilT MuseumTaipei Department of Cultural Affairs, Manchester City Council and Salford City Council.

成立于2008年的曼城亚洲艺术三年展(Asia Triennial Manchester,以下简称ATM)是亚洲以外唯一的亚洲艺术三年展。今年9月26日,第三届ATM开幕的同时,由中国当代艺术中心(CFCCA,前身为华人艺术中心)主办,当代唐人艺术中心、曼彻斯特市议、萨尔福德大学等机构支持的大型主题展“天下无事(Harmonious Society )”也将在英国曼彻斯特当地多个展馆举行。今天策展团队来到北京为展览做了正式介绍。“天下无事(Harmonious Society)”策展团队由主策展人姜节泓及郭瑛、骆易、谈颖、邰林溪组成。展览标题是对今年ATM的中心议题“纷争与怜悯”的回应。“天下无事(Harmonious Society)”暗指了“中国大陆在2005年以来所建立的一种新的社会想象”,在从侧面透视中国社会近些年来经历的巨变之外,重点呈现对当代艺术实践本身的思考。而对于为什么是亚洲和中国?英国当地对从中国输入的文化交流是什么态度?姜节泓认为:“这个展览是在艺术层面的挑战,同时也是对政治的挑战。因为一旦展出,作为亚洲艺术家、中国艺术家的身份进入这个场域之后,这个场域给我们留下的羁绊是很厉害的。那么这就是我们在这里面如何得到自由的问题。”“天下无事(Harmonious Society )”势将由2014纽约军械库“聚焦中国”、刚刚开幕的“CCAA中国当代艺术奖十五年”燃起的中国当代艺术热度带到秋天。“再次考察中国当代艺术”是每一个华人大型群展不可避免的一个话题。对“中国性”的讨论一直备受诟病,却也是经久不衰。姜节泓表示这次展览将不谈“中国性”:“近几年展出的中国当代艺术,包括在国内展出的展览,很多‘中国性’已经没有了。这种判断是因为中国艺术家更自信了?还是中国艺术家更国际化了?但都已经是一个不需要再探讨的问题,因为它不再是一个现象。”参展艺术家之一郑国谷在谈到“中西观众的差别”时则表示:“艺术家做作品只把发言权留给作品就已经完成了。每个人都是独立的,一群人也有一群人的想法,所以很多时候我们只是把发言权留给那件作品。”

本次展览已确定的展馆现在共有六个,分别是:中国当代艺术中心、UHC当代艺术空间、约翰瑞兰图书馆、科学与工业博物馆、国家足球博物馆、曼彻斯特大教堂。

万物有形

The Armory Show /纽约军械库艺术博览会 2014

 Private View: Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 2pm to 5pm (by invitation only)
Vernissage: Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 5pm to 8pm (by invitation only)
Public Days: 6-9 March 2014

Zhao Yao’s diverse practice incorporates installation,painting, video, photography, and other media. With a conceptual rigor, wry wit, and critical imperative uncommon for an artist his age, Zhao’s artwork reects on and deconstructs modalities of production and dissemination within contemporary art.

For Armory Focus: China, Beijing Commune will present a set of new works from Zhao’s series “A Painting of Thought”along with a new installation piece The Form of the Ten Thousand Things . “A Painting of Thought” appropriates the visual language of brainteasers to form quasi-modernist painting installations on found fabric. A more direct translation of the series’s title is “Very Clever Painting,”hinting that the artist is not merely interested in the abstract aesthetics of mental puzzles, but also in the individual and cultural constructions of meaning, by both artist and viewer, that mediate the experience of art. The tongue-in-cheek name of the series may refer to the tendency among audiences to “decode” and reduce artworks into packaged, easily digestible messages.

Zhao’s new installation piece The Form of the Ten Thousand Things inspires its title from renowned East Asian art historian Lothar Ledderose’s book Ten Thousand Things. The book describes modular systems of cultural production in ancient China, that is, the production of objects and cultural systems out of standardized parts. For his piece, Zhao takes as his medium die-cutting molds used in printing. The artist is interested in the metaphorical implications of these molds, which embody a peculiar conceptual duality of form and formlessness, abstract concept and physical product.The plating of the metal and imitation monumental appearance of the work imply a sense of reverence, though not without skepticism.

北京公社诚邀您莅临我们在2014军械库艺术博览会 “军械库焦点:中国” 单元的548展位。此次军械库艺术博览会,我们为大家呈现艺术家赵要的最新作品。  赵要的创作涵盖了装置、绘画、录像及摄影等多种媒介,富于观念的思辨性。赵要有着丰富的视觉及信息储备,他对于这些知识的判断和处理能力部分体现为其自觉性反思。在一个包罗万象、信息迅速传递和冲撞的世界当代艺术的环境中,赵要的作品用充满机智和幽默感的方式对艺术的展示及创作机制展开了一场内省的、反思的实践。在此次的“军械库焦点:中国” 单元中,北京公社将呈现赵要《很有想法的绘画》系列作品的新作及由此延展出来的新的装置作品《万物有形》。《很有想法的绘画》系列作品表现赵要对于观众在艺术的形式、美感经验、观念与认知的探索。艺术家给作品提供一定的线索,同时又不直接表态,为这个对话带来一个开放的平台。在这系列的绘画中,赵要以带有几何花纹的现成纺织布料作为画布,撷取智力训练书籍中的图案为画面内容,以这种是似而非的“抽象”的形式试探和挑衅着观众的视觉经验并以此引发观众对自身审美认识形成过程的反思。他用强烈的画面吸引观众,希望借由形成画面的元素(各种不同目的和功能的现成图案)诱导观众到达绘画形式背后的观念。

赵要的最新装置作品《万物有形》的名字来源于雷德侯的书《万物》。该著作从各个角度讲述中国古代社会的模块化的结构组成,呼应了艺术家一贯爱用的用现成“结构”(或“样式”)为形式的创作以及这种实践中暗含了对某种现有机制的反思。赵要选用印刷上会使用的刀模为媒材,在形式上艺术家看重的是刀模在有形与无形、抽象与商品之间这种具体和抽离的关系。“刀”是一种带有心里和直观感受的体验形式,而“模”则是一种高度抽象化的一个形式概念理解。模具现成品的部分镀金与作品仿照纪念碑式样的外观都暗示着一种崇高性。赵要将它看做是一个利用审美形式来处理人与形式、形式与社会属性之间关系的探索过程。

照片4

“Archipelago”,group exhibition /群岛

15 September – 6 October 2013


V-Art Center and Art-Ba-Ba Mobile Space is proud to announce “Archipelago”, an group exhibition academic guidanced by Liu Xinghua consisting of six individual artists; He An, Zhao Yao, Ding Li, Zhang Jiebai,Lu Pingyuan and Liao Guohe presenting their newest works at V-Art Center. Archipelago is by definition a cluster or collection of islands. Based partially in Beijing and Shanghai they have come together as a set of islands forming an archipelago for the audience to explore. “Archipelago” is a condition a state of mind, together they share the same values acting as a dispersed force. As with today’s society, where we emphasize individality, separating, sometimes even isolating, ourselves from the idea as an collective. What “Archipelago” is about is that although in the midst of today’s society where an individual may seem as an isolated islands, we’re actually a part of something larger. If we’re willing to step outside our own islands, there’s more to discover in our near surroundings. In a lot of senses we need to take our environment into account. Therefore “Archipelago” is not a theme, there’s no hidden agenda but rather a condition of these five artist’s at the same time refecting today’s society.

视界艺术中心即将推出由 ART-BA-BA流动空间 策划,陆兴华 为学术指导的当代艺术展——“群岛”。 “群岛”由 何岸,丁力,廖国核,陆平原,赵要,张洁白六位活跃的艺术家最新的作品组成。他们分别用绘画,装置,表演等各自熟悉的媒介展现最新的探索。“群岛”是一种群集的岛屿类型,也是一种观看视角。这六位各自不同的艺术家因为“群岛”这个展览汇聚。这正像今天的社会一样,我们的创作有时候像是处在岛屿之中,岛屿有着独立的生态系统,但岛屿之间又相互关联并构成一个更大的生态。其中强调着个人的追求,也无法忽视外部的环境和共同要面对的局面。因此,“群岛”既是一次观看的探险,也是一种展示的姿态。

 

Spirit above all III-69_acrylic on denim_200x222x8cm_2012-2013

Zhao Yao: Spirit Above All

Voon Pow Bartlett

Yishu Volume 12, Number 4, July/August 2013

According to Pace London Gallery press release, the artworks for Spirit Above Allwere brought to Tibet to be blessed by a “Living Buddha.”[1] This is documented through mural photographs of the Tibetan landscape that provided the backdrop on the walls of the gallery upon which the paintings are hung. The press release also informs us that the artist is “fascinated by the relationship between art and its audience,” creating an “on-going cycle of self-assessment, and reconstruction of the old to produce the new, a process the artist describes as ‘self-consumption’.”[2] Zhao Yao expresses the wish to challenge how art is perceived, that ‘‘the attention should never be on the paintings themselves, which I deliberately repeat in different series to deconstruct their visual power, but the concept behind the forms. I am interested in the way we look at exhibitions and how our pre-existing knowledge, whether cultural, religious, or political, affects our perception of art. I like to provide context for my works, but not to disclose my own opinion so the discussion can remain open. In the same way that the puzzles I use aim at training one’s brain to think logically, I want my exhibitions to challenge people’s conventional way of looking at art.”[3]

 

Spirit Above All consists of a series of paintings, nine in all, executed with acrylic on denim, averaging a size of 250 x 200 x 8 cm. The colour scheme of the installation gives an impression of a grey day in London. Nevertheless, I found myself drawn to the shapes and patterns on the canvases and challenged to recall my mathematical training. There were circles combined with triangles to look like rabbit ears, circles on squares, cuboids that look like square rooms placed on their sides and some on their oblique sides, with their roofs sliced off, providing views from the top, like scenes from ancient Chinese paintings. Pentagons, octagons, parallelograms, and intersecting rings, executed in black, white, and light grey on stripy bluish denim canvases.

Zhao’s artworks and installation do not appear to be guided by any form or logic. In fact, Zhao himself revealed that there is no social significance or spiritual relationship in the installation, merely an experiment to see how the different elements interact with each other, and with the audience. The geometric patterns that can be found in brain teaser puzzles are to do with a desire to discover more about art; the references to Buddhism and Tibet are to bring into the work some external factor which may potentialize meaning or layers of meaning, or to bring into question what lies beneath its formal qualities and symbolic meaning. [4]

 

Nonetheless, in the context of the historical and social backdrop in which Zhao lives, the images and the particular way this installation is put together, provoke an interesting discussion relating to probable Russian influence, ideological and religious connotations, and, in particular, early and recent trends in contemporary Chinese art.

The juxtaposition of geometric shapes, spaces, and colours in the series entitled Spirit Above Allecho the Russian Constructivists, many of whom were also graphic designers. Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia in 1919, in the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art.[5] Chinese artists such as Zhao are living under a similar political turmoil and social upheaval. Where the Russian community had lost confidence in Tsar Nicholas II in the early twentieth century, the Chinese experienced trauma after the Cultural Revolution during 1966–76. Where Russia turned from an agrarian society into an industrial one, Mainland China also underwent a cataclysmic transformation where millions of farm workers swarmed to find work in cities. An agrarian society was transformed into an industrial one; a projected four hundred million Chinese citizens became urban residents over the last decade.[6]

 

It is no surprise then, with China’s own industrial revolution following its opening up to the rest of the world in the late 1970s that Zhao may share in concept the Russian constructivists’ celebration of the contemporaneity in machines. Zhao’s current obsession with mathematical puzzles and the power of logic echo the incessant references to the machine aesthetic that can be seen in Kasimir Malevich’s Scissors Grinder, 1912 and Natalia Goncharova’s The Laundry, 1912.[7]In particular, Zhao’s Spirit Above All I-93A with its cuboids and Spirit Above All I-259 with black circles are reminiscent of El Lissitzky’s Proun Composition in both the use of geometric shapes and an understated tonal range. Perhaps Zhao is intentionally, or unwittingly, celebrating or challenging an aesthetic in China’s “Mechanical Paradise,” its “Unfinished Revolution.”[8]

Kasimir Malevich’s Scissors Grinder, 1912

As the Constructivist movement was also in favour of art as a practice for social purposes, the analogy with Zhao’s work can be taken a stage further, one beyond the visual seductiveness of plasticity of the abstract shapes into the Receptionist theory from the work of Viktor Shklovsky and Mikhail Bakhtin. There is ashared desire of involving the audience, to create works that would make them active viewers of the artwork. Shklovsky wanted to develop the meaning of art through the act of perception in order that people can discover more about life from looking at art; in other words, to make things that are familiar to us unfamiliar, to oppose the “automatism of perception,” that the artist should “de-automatize” the perceptions of the audience.[9] “The technique of art is to make objects unfamiliar, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.”[10]

The above statement is almost contiguous to Zhao’s own manifesto in the Pace London press release, where he declares more interest in the relationship with the audience than the artworks themselves. He demonstrates his desire to communicate with the audience in this exhibition by having straw mats for them to sit on and albums of documentary photography showing the ascent of the artworks to the Tibetan mountains. He compares his work to a relationship between a TV soap opera and its audience, and considers every piece of work as a collaborative effort with his audience, and a development from his previous series [In the interview with the artist, he said,  ‘I consider my recent work to be like a TV soap].  

The concern for art to have a social purpose is also reminiscent of earlier Chinese artists who turned making art into social projects. There were the revolutionary artists of the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Yan’an during the 1930s such as woodcarvers Gu Yuan who interacted with rural communities and invited them to critique their art.[11] Later, during the 1980s, the RusticRealism in China, which was first referred to as Scar art, depicted the impact of the Cultural Revolution on ordinary people in rural and border regions—Luo Zhongli’s Father is an influential example of Rustic Realism.[12]

 

Despite his claim of non religiosity, Zhao is impressed by the Tibetan people who kowtow to Lhasa every day as a form of pilgrimage, so much so that he organized the artworks to be carted up the difficult and treacherous (for both humans and artwork) trek up the Tibetan mountain to be blessed by a “Living Buddha,” a reincarnation of a previous Buddha according to Buddhist religious doctrine. This recalls Chen Danqing’s Tibetan series, shown in October 1980 at the graduation exhibition of the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). Chen portrayed Tibetans in their everyday life in a dignified way, ‘avoiding the patronizing depictions of ethnic minorities common at the time’.[13]

 

The abstract element of Zhao’s work also has a Chinese legacy. It is not clear if his intention is, like avant-garde artists such as the 1980s Stars Group, to challenge aesthetic convention and political authority in China, or the “Abstract Aesthetic” of Wu Guanzhong, who argued against the dominant forms of realism in favour of abstraction—“no subject, just form.”[14] However, the seemingly mathematical constructions of Zhao certainly harken back to the days of the New Measurement Group of the 1990s when conceptual artists such as Wang Luyang, Gu Dexin, and Chen Shaoping worked as a team from their home and created a mini-movement referred to as Apartment Art.[15] The New Measurement Group “aimed at eliminating individuality and arbitrary” to create work  “based on series of mathematically formulated propositions.”[16] Zhao goes even further by adding another layer—an empirical exercise—to his abstract canvases through observing, recording, condensing, and conceptualizing his journey on a Tibetan mountain.

 

It is interesting to note that Zhao’s way of working reflects the trend of conceptual, process driven, abstract work that many Chinese artists have adopted on the world’s stage. “ . . . recent attempts to revitalize Conceptual art practice have become something of a trend and constitute a welcome alternative to the primitive commercial operations previously prevalent in the Chinese contemporary art world,” writes Carol Lu.[17] This situation is evidenced in a few exhibitions I have seen recently, both in Beijing and in other parts of the world.For example, his way of working with abstraction and a fascination with the audience is also shared by another Chinese artist with a concurrent show in London.Le Guo “momentarily suspend(s) a painting not in order to encourage a spectator to assign fixed narratives and meanings to this image, but, instead, to encourage this spectator to imagine an unfixed process where potential forms become actualized and then frequently potentialized again.”[18] Hong Hao at Pace Beijing (March 16–April 27, 2013), digitally scans everyday objects to reduce them into abstract shapes to be presented neatly in a multitude of harmonious configurations and colours. Another concurrent show at Beijing Commune is that ofLiang Yuanwei who uses lipstick to draw on the irregular geometrical shapes formed by scrunched-up paper [Mar 21 – May 18, 2013]. Writing on one of her earlier shows in 2012, the critic Leng Lin rejoiced at the transformation of contemporary Chinese art from being preoccupied with socialist content to an exploration of art itself, which, in his view, emerged in Liang Yuanwei’s work as “consistent contemplation,” where “one can find the peacefulness of the traditional paintings from the Song dynasty.”[19]

 

The pursuit of peace and harmony can be seen with some Chinese artists working with nature, or at least natural materials. Hu Xiaoyuan at Beijing Commune in 2012, worked with found detritus of wood and transformed them with paint, nails, and silk. The various shapes and sizes of wood, although not vertical in orientation, exude a mystical aura similar to that of totem poles. Another artist who uses natural materials to comment on the industrialized society is Cui Fei.[20] She creates shapes that allude to Chinese calligraphy, much like Xu Bing, but with painstakingly positioned twigs, thorns, seeds. These tender tendrils emanate an incorporeal aura. Despite Zhao’s disinclination to discuss or disclose the true meaning of his work, the use of muted colours, pleasing abstract shapes, and mountain scenes are almost failsafe ways of conveying peace and contemplation.

 

Zhao’s new canvasses are drained of colour, a disaffected work to perhaps reflect a disaffection with life. Spirit Above All, albeit with a seemingly more upbeat title than I am your night, that was exhibited at Beijing Commune in 2011, seems to demonstrate a loss of his earlier vibrancy, fun, and joie de vivre. There is a new level of austerity and sparing use of shape. With this new restraint, it is tempting to read into Spirit Above All a dumbing down. Perhaps it is a personal maturation of a young artist, or perhaps it is a result of his reflection on the uncertainty of a country undergoing such enormous changes.

Despite his assertion of not being interested in presenting to the audience a didactic stance, it is clear that Zhao would like the audience to be challenged to think logically, to respond honestly and without preconceptions.He also hopes that the installation will work in unison, as a nostalgic function to recall and to inspire memories, just as the use of denim recalls and unifies with his previous exhibitions.

 

For Zhao, it is the reflection on process that is important for an artist, and the audience, of working beyond formal qualities. He invites us to bypass the art itself; he hopes, to arrive at the essence of the content, the concept. He has faith that the audience not only knows more than he does, but is also able to help him develop his work. ‘I think in many situations, the audience has a very clear understanding of a situation and its development, sometimes even more than the artist’].His absorption with the audience may be interpreted as relegating the responsibility of constructing meaning, and becomes, not “self-consumption,” but audience-consumption. In any case, there is an ambivalence that is manifest in the disparateness of his current presentation that may serve to encumber such affiliation.

 


[1]Pace London Press Release, www.pacegallery.com.
[1]Ibid.
[1] Ibid.
[1] All views from the artist, if not indicated as from the Press Release, are from an email conversation between author and artist.
[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(art).
[1]http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/31/us-china-urbanisation-idUSBRE92U00520130331.
[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(art).
[1]“Mechanical Paradise,” the title of Robert Hughes’ first chapter in The Shock of the New, Thames and Hudson, London, 1992 (1980): 9, to describe art movements such as the Futurists and the Vorticists as a reaction to the conditions of the industrial revolution of the beginning of the twentieth century in the West. China’s Unfinished Revolution is the title of a talk by Jonathan Fenby, April 30, 2013 at Kings College, London
[1]http://blogs.ubc.ca/nachoip/2012/09/11/shklovsky-and-bakhtin/Art as Tecnique. Viktor Shklovsky.
[1]Viktor Shklovsky, “Art as Technique,” in Art in Theory 1900-2000, eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2011), 280. 
[1]Ibid, 79.
[1]Gao Minglu, ed., The Wall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art (New York: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 2005), 369.
[1] http://www.artspeakchina.org/mediawiki/Chen_Danqing_陈丹青.
[1]Ibid., 369. 
[1]Wu, Hung, Chinese Art at the Crossroads (London,: New Arts Media Ltd., 2001), 206.
[1]Ibid.
[1]https://www.frieze.com/issue/review/wang_luyan/, on an exhibition of Wang Luyang’s work at the Arario Gallery in Beijing in 2007.
[1] Author in conversation with Le Guo, March 19, 2013.
[1]Beijing Commune catalogue on Liang Yuanwei, 2012.
[1]The Lookout: A Weekly Guide to Shows You Won’t Want to Miss, Aia Staff, 2.5.2013. Cui Fei’s “Tracing the Origin” is at Chambers Fine Art, New York, 2 May – June 7, 2013. http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-opinion/finer-things/2013-05-02/the-lookout-a-weekly-guide-to-shows-you-wont-want-to-miss-10/. Accessed on 11.5.13.