The Maze of Representation: Oil Painting Special（interpretation）
by FU Xiaodong
Plausible as we can to safely interpret a realistic painting full of signs and information with methods like stylistics it does not necessarily apply to the artists recommended by this special. I’m more willing to adopt a more profund way of expression to observe and describe their work during the innovative working process of the artists. They always produce some figure or image according to some mode, not for the sake of the verisimilitude, but for identifying limited signs and turning them into representations which reproduce the world through prudent and moderate choices. As the result of reproduction, representation is an unconscious repression in the sense of Freudian school.The real world which needs to be reproduced is hidden by the representation itself. Representation refers to the image of the object kept in the mind while the object is not presented in front of the subject and the result of the recurrence of the image of the object, instead of the matter itself.
In the works of artists recommended by this special, images cannot be deciphered as the meaning contained in themselves, If the images are treated as means of communication of signs or codes waiting to be decoded, it tend to simplify the ambiguity and abundance of complicated works,. Instead, they should be regarded as the manifest of a mode of thinking, a construction of an individual logical system, or idiomatic oral speech . Representation serves as a bridge between perception and thinking in the end. Artists use perceptible images to produce a maze of thoughts or a riddle of visual signs, making the representational behaviors of representation irrepresentational and the logics of image itself tumble and fall, thus subverting the habitual formula of the structure of knowlede to view the works of painting history and trapping the thoughts of viewers into paradox with complicated combined relationships among specific elements.
For example, take a look at the interchangeability of images and words in WANG Xingwei’s recent serial work The Big Rowing: the images follow the old style of Chinese comics in the 70s and 80s while the combination of objects, people and meanings adopting the linking approach of folk idioms, resulting in images becoming a metaphor. He focused his attention on the countless performances of “meanings” to perform and extend images with uncertainty and multiple interpretations, and created his cartoon to be tag-like, between the content and form, the visible and the readable, mixing images into a text full of uncertainty and variety, mutually predisposed and twisted together. On the other hand, WANG Yin adopted the painting method of modern oil painting history of China, and as a continuance of the Russian Style of institute education, developed a different road from the contemporary painting history styles of F4 and Cartoon Generation after the Gaudy Pop. In the description of 2008, even a mango appeared to be a distinctive surprise. WANGYin turned the painting into a knowledge of the painting history. With the help of characters, subjects and scenery of realistic style of painting, he transformed the s ethnic minorities’ subject and nude portraits as the allusions in the art history into a content of forms in the way of paradox and variation. WANG Yin chose from the hug language reserve system of painting history and found a reasonable sub-system to subvert the current mainstream painting history, subverting the system of signs with the reference system inside signs in order to produce an internal severance in the habitual harmonious combination of contents and images.
LI Dafang’s works present a mixture of outskirts of northern cities and the non-poetic nature, with another different narrative clue throughout the non-delicate artificial sights. The reality is reproduced in a low key to be the cold, coarse and meaningless daily sights, and the inexplicable foreign objects and misplaced characters joins in to produce a mutually repelling and overlapping relationship. All are discernable familiar objects, a representation of the domination of the reproduced world, yet the disappearance of unison of coexistent space reasoning presents a elusive loss of meaning. LI Songsong employed the methods of impasto and assembly to dissolve images, in which the readable parts originate from the second realities of media like old photos of eastern and western revolutionary histories, DVD captures and news. Most of the chosen images show some kinds of daily scenes, streets or hotels, but with a strong ideological touch for their traces of visual memories of the historical times. The reproducer of images lives in different historical time and cultural background from those of the producers of images, resulting in a standpoint outside the image to gaze upon others. The dismemberment of the iron sheet assembly used a variety of colors to cover the image, with each segment turning into an abstract and painting-like color lump, obtaining the thrill of pure painting language through scattered perspective. LV Shanchuan adopted the style of “big narrative” to describe front page photos of newspapers and the history of the plaza, a style that maintains the dignity of history without involving lives and ordinary people. QIU Xiaofei’s personalized historical memory is more like a reproduced gap or breach to slip into a sheltered personal world. The symbols of time of both material and mental barrenness – household articles, personal albums and life experiences, become the subjects of creation. Artists build their secret paths deep into reality in the conceptual gap of ideologies, while those personal, specific and partial trivial experiences become the definite representations to reproduce the real world.
The strange power in QIN Qi’s images is never hidden in any strange monsters and demons. He suddenly put familiar yet totally irrelevant things together to create embarrassment and awkwardness. He tried to find a field for joint mixture, placing pommel and Greek gods, crane and YANG Jie’s telephone number, and empty swimming pool and orange juice together yet achieving a reasonable explanation for this coordination and juxtaposition. He opened an unimaginable space for things that could never meet except linguistically, and his great efforts to show the strange links of those words also unconsciously become the representation of the reality. The outskirts of cities, streets and parks, all of which like a giant potted plant, once again provide the worst disorder – inappropriate things placed, lined and arranged with such reasonableness. It’s a place for cluster of things as well as a no-place in reality while time and history get totally drained out. YUAN Yuan’s paintings offer a parallel presentation of the almost Baroque night views of grandeur in the form of interlacing fences, a projection of memories and drams after the ritualized schema. With views of static objects like a descriptive art and instinctive feelings like an illusion, he prudently expressed the representation of this world while hiding the reality behind it. Painting offers a representation in the sense of phenomenology, avoiding the reality through daily static objects with people entering the image also regarded as static objects. This is our utterly meaningless reality.