LaoZhu and The Third Abstraction

LaoZhu

BEIJING

November 7 – December 27, 2015

Wang Huaiqing 王怀庆 (b. 1944)

Black Charcoal in White Snow 雪中送炭

2009

Mixed media 综合材料

30 x 21 1/4 in (76 x 54 cm)

 

Shang Yang 尚扬

Painting Album -16 册页 -16

2010

Mixed media on canvas 布面综合材料

35 x 65 1/4 in (89 x 166 cm)

Tan Ping 谭平

A Branch of Plum Blossom - 剪梅

2005

Acrylic on canvas布面丙烯

78 3/4 x 118 in (200 x 300 cm)

Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening on November 7, 2015 of both LaoZhu’s own namesake exhibition, and the exhibition The Third Abstractio nfocusing on art by Shang Yang, Tan Ping, Wang Huaiqing and Yan Shanchun. In The Third Abstraction, LaoZhu will present a Ming Dynasty calligraphy by Dong Qichang (with Deng Tuo’s postscript) to compare with these four artists’ works. Dong is a very important figure in Chinese art history. His calligraphy and paintings were influential at the time as well as for the many generations after that. His theory of the Southern and Northern Schools of Painting established the core value of traditional Chinese art aesthetics. LaoZhu believes that these four contemporary artists have transformed the core value from in different ways and nearly achieved the same artistic level. At the same time, it is also fascinating that Deng Tuo infused his life experience into his writing. The appearance of Deng Tuo’s postscript may look like a coincidence at first glance, but it becomes evidence linking Dong Qichang with the four artists. In this way art dissolves the power structures in abstract calligraphy, the message that LaoZhu wants to express in The Third Abstraction. 

As a scholar, LaoZhu has long been studying and investigating Shang Yang, Tan Ping, Wang Huaiqing and Yan Shanchun’s art, and is using this exhibition as an opportunity to showcase the relationship between these four artists and the traditional Chinese art core values represented by Dong Qichang. In LaoZhu’s opinion, the core values can be interpreted as Chinese traditional “spirit” or “brushwork”. But if we approach their art from the world perspective, we can also use the universal language of abstraction to reveal their unique values. By looking at the relationship between abstract art and modernity, we can divide abstract art into three different approaches - the First Abstraction, the Second Abstraction and the Third Abstraction. If the work of Kandinsky and Mondrian is representative of the First Abstraction, Picasso’s Cubism, Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism and later Minimalism can be considered as the Second Abstraction. The subjects of the First and the Second Abstractions are still shapes and colors—forms, compositions and textures are visible, which can either embody meanings or be meaningless, in order to establish a spiritual and human connection. The Third Abstraction, on the other hand, emphasizes the embodiment and expression of the integrity of human beings. It includes the accumulation of meanings behind “traces of actions”, instead of impulsive emotions and actions. This is the literati temperament that Dong Qichang advocated. The transformation of emotions embodies direct attention to the subject itself, observing and experiencing its original status with fresh eyes. It takes unpredictable forms. It does not emphasize the spiritual meanings behind forms as with the First Abstraction, nor does it concern actions, intensities or colors as with the Second Abstraction. The key is in finding a way to embody, even repeatedly, spiritual meanings in one stroke, leaving to the audience the freedom to experience and learn.

Shang Yang has created many series, including Shang Yang Yellow, Grand Landscape, Dong Qichang Project, Book from the Sky, Album and Passing By. Starting from the Dong Qichang Project series, he completely eliminated the use of symbols. Instead, he began a creative process in which creation and destruction were equally important. From his perspective, chance is a much more important factor in the art making process than purposeful action. Tan Ping has been persistently creating artworks based on his personal experience, which enables him to stay closely connected to his art on both physical and spiritual levels. Wang Huaiqing’s works often pick out Chinese characteristics from specific subjects, and use material as a pure language to convey a deep sense of history and culture. Yan Shanchun, on the other hand, uses smooth brushwork and refined technique to reproduce the landscapes imprinted deeply in his mind. He creates subtle and elegant images after applying multiple layers of pigment, and the faint touches of color are filled with emotional memories.

LaoZhu is an important figure in Chinese contemporary art and in the critical field, and plays multiple roles. Besides being a well-known scholar, he is also a prolific artist. He also inherited the ancient Chinese traditional beliefs that everyone should live rationally, responsibly and with sensibility. However, he refuses to label himself, and states that “no one is an artist, but anyone can be an artist”. His works include the 1988 performance Red Vase Green Vine, a series of art projects related to Paint the Mountain, Heidelberg Tree Planting Plan, and this series of abstract paintings. 

The current LaoZhu exhibition presents his medium and small sized works, as well as one large scale work Magnified Calligraphy, in which the artist presents one brushstroke from a calligraphic work magnified by 100 times. The seemingly abstract work is actually an investigation of Chinese traditional calligraphic techniques. LaoZhu regards Shang Yang, Wang Huaiqing, Tan Ping and Yan Shanchun as his mentors and has built a deep friendship with them. In this exhibition, his regards his own works as examples of the Third Abstraction that he has been experimenting with and exploring for thirty years. They surpass reality, transcend life, and are difficult to interpret.

The Third Abstraction is a summary and preface of the entire history of abstract art, and is also an investigation of the experimental direction of abstract art in China. With its continuous development, the achievement and value of abstract art will become more significant in China, and will emphasize the unique qualities of Chinese art.

前波画廊荣幸地宣布将于2015年11月7日起举办朱青生同名个展《朱青生》,同期还将举办由朱青生策划的《第三抽象》研究性展览,对艺术家尚扬、谭平、王怀庆和严善錞的艺术进行研究,在这个展览中将用一件明代董其昌的书法原作(并附邓拓长跋)与四位艺术家的作品对比。董其昌在中国艺术史上的地位十分重要,他不仅在书法风格与绘画造诣上颇具影响力,对后世也产生了很大的影响,尤其是董其昌针对中国传统文人画创作所提出的“南北宗”论,奠定了艺术作品中笔墨和文气的重要性,确立了中国艺术传统美学的核心价值,而在朱青生看来,在当代艺术中,这个核心价值被这四位艺术家从不同的方向进行了现代性转换,接近和达到了同等艺术高度。再看邓拓的笔法,将他的人生境遇放在其中回看,也同样耐人寻味。邓拓长跋的出现,本来看似偶然,却在董其昌和四位艺术家之间的文脉上做了一个佐证,艺术在此将权力结构消解在抽象的书写中,这正是朱青生推出此次“第三抽象”展所要阐述的核心主旨和渊源。

尚扬、谭平、王怀庆和严善錞是朱青生作为学者一直在进行个案研究的艺术家,并借此次《第三抽象》展的契机,首次将四位艺术家与以董其昌为代表的中国传统艺术核心价值之间的关联呈现出来。在朱青生看来,这种核心价值可以用中国传统的“气韵”、“笔法”来讲,而在世界普遍范围之内,也可以用抽象艺术这种国际语言来揭示其所具有的独特价值。以抽象艺术和现代性关系的角度,可以将抽象艺术的发展脉络分为三个阶段,即“第一抽象”、“第二抽象”和“第三抽象”。如果将以康定斯基和蒙德里安为代表的抽象艺术看作是“第一抽象”,那么以毕加索为代表的立体主义、美国波洛克为代表的抽象表现主义和之后的极少主义等这类抽象艺术则可以被看作是“第二抽象”。可以说“第一抽象”和“第二抽象”的主体仍是“形”和“色”本身,即可以看到形式构成以及画面的材质肌理和材料感觉,并赋予形式以“意义”和“无意义”,从而使作品富有精神内涵和人的意志和心理。而“第三抽象”更多强调了对人性整体性的寄托和表达,其中包含对“行动痕迹”本身存在意义的积累,而不是一时的激情和行动,这就是董其昌所倡导的文气,这种心绪的转化凝聚对物象本体的直接关照,对物体的原本状态的重新观察和体验。作品不在于对象是什么,而在于何人何时与之遭遇。它的形式已经变得不可捉摸,它不再像“第一抽象”去注重形式背后的精神含义;不再像“第二抽象”去注重行为、力度或色彩留下形态和状况,而关键是在于追寻“一笔”中将人的精神可以灌输进去多少,甚至反复灌输的时候,其中可以承载多少,给观者留下多大的自由去体会和觉悟。

尚扬的艺术经历了“尚扬黄”、“大风景”、“董其昌计划”、“天书”、“册页”、乃至“经过”等多个系列,从“董其昌计划”系列开始,其后的创作完全弃用了符号的方式,而在创作过程中反复地涂改和擦洗修正,在他看来,艺术创造中机遇和偶然的重要性远甚于有目的的控制驾驭。谭平坚持以身体力行的方式进行创作,这样的创作方式使其与作品之间始终保持着一种物质性及精神性层面的紧密连接。王怀庆的作品多从具体物象里抽取中国特质,运用纯粹的材料语言传达出厚重的历史感和文化感。严善錞的创作以近乎流动的笔触,平淡无华地将烙印在他思绪中的现实景观重现,通过反复涂抹和叠加形成素雅的画面,隐隐约约的痕迹感却满含情感记忆。

朱青生是中国当代艺术与批评领域重要人物,身兼多重身份。除了我们非常熟知的学者身份,他还是一位长期不间断创作的艺术家,秉持中国古老的传统,即每个人都应该同时具备理性、责任和性情的生活,拒绝自我职业化,提倡“没有人是艺术家,也没有人不是艺术家”。其作品包括从1988年《红瓶绿蔓》行为艺术开始的一系列与《漆山》相关的艺术项目,到后面的“海德堡种树计划”,包括这批抽象绘画探索等。此次同名个展《朱青生》中展出了他几件中小型尺寸及一件大幅尺寸的绘画作品。在大幅《放大书法》作品中,艺术家以抽象绘画的形式呈现了放大到100倍书法中的一道笔划,看似抽象的绘画背后凝聚着对中国传统书法中笔意的探究。朱青生视董其昌和尚扬、王怀庆、谭平、严善錞为良师,多年与他们深交,彼此心心相印。而他自己的这批作品,也是三十年来实验和酝酿的第三抽象,超越现实,脱离生活,不可解释。

“第三抽象”是对整个抽象艺术史未来发展的一种总结和瞻望,也是抽象艺术运动一个实验的方向。随着它的不断发展,抽象艺术的成就和价值在中国将愈发明显,也愈发呈现其独特之处。

Back To Top