暴裂的十二生肖之东方再起 — 龚旭个展
Zodiac Explosion - East Resurgence: Gong Xu Solo Exhibition
13 Aug - 11 Sep 2016
在UCCA 的“后传统之起源”展览，这次展览准确的将其作品的历史情境梳理的相当清晰。在我看来，当文化同一性不断抹去差异化的时候，作为“起源”于这个抹平时代边界的80 后艺术家，龚旭有着自己的艺术诉求。所谓文化同一性，在某个角度的表征上就是对流行文化的高度认同。许多80 后艺术家一面难以抵挡对消费文化背后的流行统治，另一方面也很难自我抹去对文化传统的深切记忆。一代人的文化矛盾在社会的各个层面会迸发出不同的形态。艺术创作也是一个方面。利用流行符号和时尚图式做艺术的艺术家层出不穷。然而，能够恰到好处的秉持传统文化和流行符号的艺术家可以说并不是太多。“后传统”在某个角度上说，正是一次“即时文化”对传统文化的重新激活。如何把“墓碑化”的传统文化变成当代人的“手伴”式文脉，确实给龚旭的创作提供了新的坐标。他一直认为，在传统的历史文本里，神话和语言，亦或者是传说和传记等，这些在历史的特殊时刻都曾以流行时尚的姿态存活过。正是这样的理解，一切被去时间化的图像得以在同一个符号脉络里重组并被同一化，在没有历史性的束缚下，我们能够很好的找到继承传统又链接当代的方式。
消费时代的游戏规则常常压制着尊重传统文化脉络的梳理者，作为一手维系传统，一手游艺世俗流行文化的龚旭来说，必须借助一个时代的规则去放大传统文化的影响力。在这样的艺术创作中，龚旭的作品给我们带来了两种策略方式。其一是形式的跨界。我们可以在这次展览中看到，一个所谓传统的绘画者如何和时尚的服装品牌合作，用跨领域的方式诠释那些称作“神话”的时尚符号如何与自身的绘画语言发生关联。同时，从他的绘画中提炼出来的符号图式，如何成为一个“手办”雕塑，让艺术作品的元素转换艺术形式和语境走入大众生活，从招财猫进化成为招财虎，让新的一代人有了自己的流行符号，这个符号滋生于传统的田野中。龚旭相信自己的作品是一个完美的摆渡者，将传统文化的经验隔阂，在当代的流行文化下被处理的更为平滑、立体。龚旭变换创作领域、手段和方式，更像是从一个衍行者走向布道者，选择更为有效的方式去填补信仰缺失之下的当代文化行为，为更多人找到文化归属感。第二个方式则是选择一种创作内容的模式，即带有破坏性和冲击力的矛盾事件。在他的作品中，打斗、冲突和暴力或许成为了一种普遍的“标准配置”。视觉的冲击力随之而来的给了观者以强有力的知觉经验。这一方面是前文所提到的所谓文化冲突背后的显性表征，而另一方面看，这或许更像是一代人对意识形态的转移表达。比起后89 崛起一代的艺术家，80 后的艺术家些许少了一些意识形态上的强烈诉求。而这样的规避，带来的是艺术家在某种图式和题材上释放。龚旭是这一代艺术家的代表，其作品的题材也得到了这个时代境遇下青年们的极度认同和关注。当我们对所谓“重口味”保持好奇和尴尬之余，我们同时也对龚旭的作品表达了向传统文化敬畏和欣赏的情感。
Cultural Coordinates of a Myth Promoter
Written by Song Zhenxi
Our inertial preference decides that people are used to evaluating an artist’s talent and standard by his or her creativity.
Nevertheless,during the period of art development, if you want to present your creativity more "material" and convince scholars of it, you have to challenge the so-called "tradition".
Painting is regarded as a "traditional" form of art. Nowadays it can hardly motivate people’s severe aspiration towards creativity, as well as satisfy them in perceiving various experience. To an artist, it really sounds a little crazy to stick to challenging the "tradition" as a part of the tradition. However, since one has chosen this creating path, there must exists possibility inside.
Most of the people who have appreciated Gong Xu’s works will agree me with my description towards his crazy above. In contrast to those artists who take an easy way and avoid the historicality of painting, he seems some kind of brave and persistent. From graduation to today’s exhibition, Gong Xu has a quite clear painting path. This should be attributed to his accurate understanding of painting and long-term aspiration to art. If we analyze along all the works he has created, they emphasize on the deconstruction and transformation of text, whose object is the narrative of traditional cultural classics home and abroad. Here we see how an artist with great ambition subconsciously presents the cultural identity and situation of the generation growing under the contradiction and conflict of Chinese and Western culture. Most often, his painting narrative emphasizes materialized cultural symbols. They are deconstructed, transformed and integrated together, thus forming a picture with stronger sense of cultural explosion. Those Greek myths, Shan Hai Jing, West Lake legends, Japanese animations, Meiji Restoration culture, are all integrated in his works. Just from the Chinese Zodiac Series in the exhibition, we can see that any created pattern has its origin of cultural development, as well as imagination and creation based on this. This kind of recombination and imagination in narrative makes the picture directly face the textual cultural heritage, at the same time build the cultural coordinates on the reverse derivation from myth. It reminds us that, if the existence of evolution is the argumental result of the legitimacy of science, the changing times should give those seemingly everlasting myths and fables a chance to evolve. Texts in any knowledge hierarchy will glow with their charm again along with the extension of history, so artists need to carry the contemporary problems by personal experience and perception, in order to revitalize the traditional texts. On this point, Gong Xu’s persistence shows us a good practical path.
It is not enough to judge the richness of Gong Xu’s artistic creation only in aspects of seeking transformation of tradition and integration of Chinese and Western culture from texts. Based on our study on painting language, it won’t be hard to find that he is on the way of changing "history" and developing "Chinese-Western culture" on painting itself. From Broken Tower Series, Demolition Company Series on early stage, to Birdman Series, Master of Integrity Series, then to today’s Chinese Zodiac Series, we can see his respect and study on the experience of traditional painting as an artist in presenting painting language. Here is the modelling of Ancient Greek sculpture, the formal language of painting in the Renaissance, the way of painting landscape of Chinese Literati paintings, the sense of formulation of Japanese Ukiyo-e, the Chinese method of drawing figures and so on. Those are not an excellent painter‘s hollow showing off his painting skill and language, but a salute towards the traditional painting language after his transformation of the traditional text’s narrative structure. It also objectively and actually shows an artist who takes strong control of his painting ability, in the meantime erases the distance between us and traditional painting language. Maybe this is some kind of meaning for painting nowadays. What we need is not stiff technique imitation, but many a time, painters should help us find how to store traditional skills into the "society bank" of contemporary culture. During this process, some innovative techniques with comprehensive materials also take part in the transformation of traditional painting skills, and shows the creative facet unbounded by tradition. On this level, Gong Xu gradually establishes his artistic coordinates clearly.
Attitude towards tradition from text or painting itself is just a base to understand the painting features of Gong Xu. In 2015, Gong Xu attended curator Mrs. Fu Xiaodong’s "Origin of Post-Tradition" exhibition in UCCA, which combed the historical situations of his works quite clearly. In my opinion, as an after-80s artist "originating" from the boundary of erasing age, when cultural identity continues to erase difference, Gong Xu holds his own artistic aspirations. This socalled cultural identity, is a high recognition of popular culture from a certain angle of appearance. On one hand, many artists of the after 80s generation can’t resist the consumption culture behind the popular culture’s governance, on the other hand, it is difficult to erase deep memories of cultural tradition themselves. Cultural contradictions of one generation will burst out in different forms at all levels of society. Artistic creation is one of these aspects. Artists who use popular symbol and fashion pattern for art abound, nevertheless, few of them can maintain the balance of traditional culture and popular symbol well. From some point of view, "post-traditional" is a reactivation of "real-time culture" to traditional culture. How to turn the "tombstoned" traditional culture into modern people‘s "souvenir" type of context, this problem indeed provides Gong Xu with new coordinates for his creation. He always thinks that, in the traditional historical texts, myths and language, or legends and biographies, all of these once existed in a popular style at a special moment in history. Based on this understanding, every long-lasting image can be recombined and assimilated in the same symbol vein, and without historical shackles, we can find a good way to inherit tradition and link the contemporary age.
The game rules of consumption age often suppress the combers who respect traditional cultural development. For Gong Xu, who maintains tradition and plays with the secular popular culture at the same time, he must rely on the rules of age to enlarge the influence of traditional culture. In such kind of artistic creation, Gong Xu’s works bring us two strategies. One is the cross-border of form. In this exhibition, we can see how a so-called traditional painter cooperates with fashion clothing brands, and he interprets how those fashion symbols called "myth" associate with his own painting language in an interdisciplinary manner. Meanwhile, as for the symbols and patterns refined from his paintings, how to become a "souvenir" sculpture, making the elements of art works transform their forms and contexts to step into public life; how to evolve from Lucky Cat to Lucky Tiger, giving the new generation its own popular symbol: this symbol is born in traditional fields. Gong Xu believes his works are perfect ferryman, and they will deal with the experience barrier of traditional culture more smoothly and stereoscopically under the contemporary popular culture. More like a preacher rather than a promoter, Gong Xu changes his creating fields, means and methods, chooses a more effective way to fill the contemporary cultural behaviors with absence of belief, and discover culture belonging for more people. The second is selecting a mode of created content, by contradictory events with destruction and impact. In his works, fighting, conflict and violence may have already become a general "standard configuration." Visual impact brings viewers powerful perceptual experience consequently. On one hand, it is the dominant appearance behind the so-called cultural conflict mentioned previously, and on the other hand, this is probably more like the expression of a generation’s shift of ideology. Compared to the artists rising after 1989, the after-80s artists maybe lack some strong ideological aspirations. And such circumvention brings the artists’ release of some patterns and themes. Gong Xu is the representative of this generation, whose themes of works are highly recognized and focused by young people under the circumstance of this age. Not only are we curious and awkward about the so-called "heavy flavor", but also we express respect and appreciation to traditional culture for Gong Xu’s works.
Recently, I often read some study books discussing how we can remember our youth. Suddenly it occurs to me that, in this social mechanism of improving operation cycle and efficiency, the historicality of individual has been crushed and peeled. From our experience, it is difficult to find a belonging to personal cultural experience within a reasonable period. Thus, in this age, what we need more is to establish corresponding cultural coordinates for giving everyone a reference to his cultural identity. Gong Xu’s art works are so-called cultural coordinates established after transforming and promoting traditional culture. It finds the contemporary legitimacy of culture development, that is regaining to give out the "in" narrative behind the "local" culture development. After finding this, when we appreciate his works, we will always find some kind of familiar cultural memory and the sense of security of culture. From another perspective, Gong Xu’s works remind the case study field of contemporary artists. When the academia always circumvents the so-called old topic of traditional and modern, eastern and western, Gong Xu’s artistic cases will give the scholars a steady foothold, which could inform them how to rely on this "practical example" to work out some problems under a so-called vague topic. In academic research of art, a well-known issue will be suspended and avoided because too many people are studying on it. That is why we often lose the chance to prove the survival way of this age. In contrast to artists like Gong Xu, we scholars with profound knowledge and experience should establish a clear cultural coordinate, in order to illuminate the current chaotic and blurred artistic phenomenon.
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