杨北辰Yang Pei-Chen 历史物件 No. 3 桂楠木、油彩颜料 2018-2019
李昌龙Li Chang-Long 重器Heavy Device 油彩、画布Oil on canvas 30x120cm 2019
何剑He Jian 檯灯 Lamp 72×60cm 中国画颜料、墨、皮宣纸 Chinese paint, ink, skin on rice paper 2011
张翔Zhang Xiang_许愿池Wishing Well_130x110x115cm_铸铁护栏、镜面铂金板、碳钢
马文婷Ma Wen-Ting 2015：无题之五 2015：UntitledNo.5 58x78cm 纸上综合材料 2015
娄金 Lou Jin 筷子项目 Chopsticks Program 装置，包括10双继木筷子、一支影片、一本文献 Device 10 pairs of chopsickes, a video, anda copy of document 尺寸以空间调整 (每双 30x5x5cm per pair) 2013年至今
葛平伟 Ge Pingwei 《•结•》之十一 • Knot•No.11 30x30x113cm 樟子松木 Pinus sylvestris 2014
黄斌 Huang Bin Ambiguity M-15 112x244cm 丝网印刷、IKEA金属件、墙面置物板、杜邦纸、铝合金画框、Arches收藏级板画纸300g、无酸牛皮纸300g_2018
日期：2019-07-20 ~ 2019-09-01地点
Quotidian Poetry-Sichuan Fine Arts Institute Exchange Exhibition
Curator: 何桂彦 HE Gui-Yan
YANG Pei-Chen、LI Chang-Long、HE Jian、ZHANG Xiang、MA Wen-Ting、LOU Jin、GE Ping-Wei、Huang Bin
Forum: 2019.07.21 14:30何桂彦 x 杨北辰 HE Gui-Yan x YANG Pei-Chen
Opening: 2019.07.21 15:30
策展人/ 何桂彦 (四川美术学院美术学系教授、系主任)
“The Everyday” as an Aesthetic Appeal
Curator/ He Gui-Yan (Dean, and Professor of Department of Art History at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute)
“The everyday,” for most of the time, is understood as an existential state. However, in contemporary art, “the everyday” is imbued with rich connotations by artists, who bestow the everyday scenes, objects and actions with fresh meanings—that is, they employ artistic language, form and particularly the conversion of concept to not only convey visual ingenuity through “the everyday” but also continuous uncover its deeper meanings.
Historically speaking, did Duchamp’s porcelain urinal, which the artist entitled Fountain and submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, foreshadow a change of course prompted by conceptual art in Western modern art history? Did it indicate that ordinary objects could become works of art? After Duchamp, the everyday and the conceptual have miraculously merged and surfaced as “the post-modern” that unfolded a new path of art since the 1960s. Nevertheless, when tracing the development of China’s contemporary art, it is not difficult to see that artistic creation revolving around “the everyday” appeared in China in the 1980s and has continued ever since. However, due to the different artistic context of Chinese and Western culture, the expression of the everyday and its conceptualization in Chinese contemporary art did not germinate from the same rich soil, from which the conceptual art in Duchamp’s time had emerged. Contrarily, “the everyday” as a fresh aesthetic expression is revealed when contemporary art shifts its focus from political myths to the secular world, from an otherworldly realm to the real world, from macrocosmic narratives to microcosmic narratives, from collective ethos to individual values, and from the sublime spiritual culture to the daily physical experience.
As a matter of fact, in Duchamp’s work, the emergence of “the everyday” implies an innate rationale—the ceaseless inquiry about the nature of art. Furthermore, this quest has always been linear, continuous and informed by a rational, critical spirit. Therefore, when the quest reaches its final questioning – “What cannot be art?” – it inevitably moves onto its opposite. Consequently, when the boundary between art and life is blurred and erased, “the everyday” becomes an unavoidable topic in artistic creation. However, in the development of China’s contemporary art, “the everyday” only becomes effective when it is utilized to rebel against the “extreme left-wing” art and cultural concept prevailed in the period of the Cultural Revolution as well as the rigidified system of art. The appearance of “the everyday” also coincides with the appeal of cultural modernization prompted and influenced by Western modern and post-modern art waves. Since the mid-1980s, works featuring “the everyday” started appearing in the Chinese contemporary art scene, among which the representative works are Wu Shan-Zhuan’s Red Humour, Gu Wen-Da’s Negative and Positive Characters, Zhang Pei-Li’s Water (Standard Version from the Cihai Dictionary), etc. Due to the influence of Rauschenberg’s 1985 solo exhibition at the current National Art Museum of China, some of the Chinese artist were inspired to strengthen the conceptual expression of the everyday.
In the conceptual art scene of the 1990s, “the everyday” was constantly incorporated into performance and body narratives. During 1990 and 1995, Qiu Zhi-Jie’s created Copying Lanting Xu 1000 Times. For the artist, every copying was a dialogue with tradition as well as a layer that covered and defaced the previous writing and its content. Even so, when the temporal dimension of “a thousand times” was introduced into the writing, such action incorporated with the everydayness was rendered conceptual. In 1995, Song Dong created Writing Diary with Water by inscribing on a stone slab with water. Keeping a diary was supposed to be a personal and daily action, and using water as the writing medium meant that each writing would eventually disappear and become meaningless after the water evaporated. Nevertheless, the fading written words did not make the writing subject diappear; when the artist insisted on writing every day, the action of writing became a completely daily action and was given a sense of ritual after a few years. In conceptual ink art, Li Hua-Sheng intentionally visualized and conceptualized the temporal process of art-making. In performance art, Zhang Huan’s
To Raise the Water Level in a Fishpond (1997) and Xu Zhen’s Rainbow (1999) employed the everydayness of the body to discuss the right to speech conveyed by our physical existence and micropolitical issues.
From 2000 onward, there has been a constant surge of contemporary art works, ranging from installation, sculpture, video, conceptual ink art and easel painting, which focused on “the everyday” or “the everyday expression” in the Chinese contemporary art scene. More precisely speaking, in the context of contemporary artistic creation, the exhibition Quotidian Poetry still addresses the combination of “everyday expression” and the artists’ conceptualization of their subject matter; and therefore, the exhibition at any rate retains an inherent connection with artistic creation since the 1980s. Quotidian Poetry, on the one hand, emphasizes on “the everyday,” which gives meaning to the artworks that highlight the artists’ conversion of the concept. On the other hand, the forms and aesthetic vocabularies of the works not only embody new approaches and awareness but also exude a poetic quality. The works created by He Jian and Ma Wen-Ting bring to fore the narrative of graphic images. However, the former puts an emphasis on the familiar, ordinary images that arouse people’s visual memory and are implicitly reflective of the changes of time. Ma Wen-Ting creates images informed by fragmented, decontextualized graphic elements juxtaposed with readymades, constructing a visual scene brimming with the “everydayness” but somewhat defamiliarized at the same time. Huang Bin prefers to use materials of architectural decoration found in daily life to create his work, such as acrylic, metal plate, hardware accessory, composite board, etc. By converting the form and structure of the material, he hopes to construct a formal expression and aesthetic appeal permeated and exuding an aesthetic sense of “coldness” that is rational, detached and mechanical. Also using readymades, Zhang Xiang’s creative approach is to modify the functions of daily objects, transforming them into objects manifesting concepts through altered form—that is, making use of tension between the everyday and the “unusual” to make the objects artistic. Ge Ping-Wei uses wood as his creative medium. Adopting original wood knots as a starting point and continuously removing the unwanted parts, the artist accentuates the remaining and delivers a new visual form.
He also uses wood knots as centers to carve out interconnected rope knots to create a sense of unity throughout the evolving form. With “meaningful forms,” artists conceptualize their works and infuse a sense of poetry into them. Yang Pei-Chen and Lou Jin also emphasize on the conceptualization of artistic creation. Known for his superb realistic sculptural language, Yang challenges his audience’s experience in viewing art. Lou, on the other hand, manipulates the properties of his material to change its form and function. Although their focuses vary, both artists foreground the importance of the creative process as well as the union of body and mind. Li Chang-Long’s recent works reveal images without specific topics, stories or narratives; what remains is artistic language itself. Taking a closer look at his work, one finds only color blocks, lines and fragmented brushstrokes on the two-dimensional surface. With his visual interpretation of the “color layers,” the artist uses his highly individualized visual rhetoric to conceal the everyday scenes or a microcosmic reality.
In recent years, Chini Gallery has devotedly collaborate with emerging artists at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute with the objective to facilitate extensive exchange for artists from both sides of the Strait. This invitational exhibition aims to create a platform for academic exchange and interaction. In truth, one exhibition cannot comprehensively demonstrate the richness of “the everyday” in Chinese contemporary art. Therefore, Quotidian Poetry can only indirectly and partially reflect how contemporary artists have explored “the everyday” to endow it with a poetic aesthetic experience. From the perspective of visual culture, the true meaning of contemporary artists’ attention to “everyday expression” lies in conveying Chinese thinking, philosophy, aesthetics and cultural experience epitomized by the experience of the everyday, which exists in the disguise of a daily state that can only be descried by the poetic line, “What is nurturing comes in a subtle and soundless manner.” The mission of artists is to discover the hidden values. Through the process of conceptualization, they have given form and visual genius to their works, and enable them to generate new meanings and values within the context of contemporary culture.
In Huxi Campus of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, June, 2019