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形式的德性——关于闫博的绘画

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形式的德性——关于闫博的绘画


文/鲍栋


度过混乱的少年时代,开始从事艺术的时候,闫博首先进入的是一种抒情的现代主义传统:他用明确的笔触去分解那些世俗生活的物象与场景,再于画面上重新结构安排它们的平面关系,这些不脱再现性但又富有表现性的绘画,使他获得了初步的声誉;紧随其后,他又创作了一批享乐主义的,也略带儿童气的绘画,把抒情性融在了图像/意象中。

这实际上是他父辈们的延续并推进的传统,在上世纪70年代末中国社会的政治美学意识形态稍稍放松之后,画家们的作品中首先出现的是去政治化的日常生活题材与对个人风格的自觉强化。在题材上,单纯的风俗、肖像、风景、静物题材逐渐获得了不再低于主题创作的地位,在风格上,各种绘画语言被广泛尝试,并被作为了作为艺术家个性的表征。绘画题材上去政治化可以理解为学院绘画的出现,绘画作为一门学科的意义浮现出了水面,而个性风格的探索则是画家性的出场,画家开始从一个想象的阶级话语系统中独立了出来,成为了一个个确切具体的人。


绘画与画家的各自独立,带来了两条路径,形式与表现,前者把艺术的价值锚定在媒介、语言上,后者把艺术的意义追溯到艺术家的生命与内心——这种潜在的二元论依然支撑着绝大部分画家们的工作。实际上,这种二元框架依然可以视为社会主义现实主义内容/形式的延伸与变体,革命的浪漫主义虽褪去了“革命主题”,但“浪漫主义”犹在,只不过浪漫的主体从阶级变成了个人,这或许就是闫博的父亲闫振铎及那个时代的很多老画家都在形式探索之中体现出强烈抒情性的原因。

在另一方面,“革命”也在,只是更换了立场与表达方式,叫做“批判”。在根本上,在“中国当代艺术”的话语中,那种源于社会主义现实主义的反映论依然暗藏在“文化政治”的内部,而反映论背后的历史观念“时代决定论”也处处在场,这些话语阐述着也影响着艺术家们的实践,形成了一种当代艺术在中国的特有文化逻辑。


换言之,不同于社会主义现实主义的传统与中国古代艺术传统,形式主义在中国并未牢固的、系统的建立,从民国时期的现代主义尝试,到“社会主义现代主义”的潜流,再到文革后的“形式美”大讨论,形式的线索始终被作为一种外部的、装饰化的、功能性的因素而对待,而不是一种本体价值。

什么是形式的本体?绘画是一个涂满颜料的平面?一张画就是一个物?从极少主义与后绘画性抽象开始,一直到中国的当下,人们能够经常见到这类艺术。如果是放在艺术史上下文中,这样的艺术观念与实践自有其针对性,但一旦缺失了这种针对性,它们就成了格林伯格所说的“次货”。在格林伯格看来,艺术中形式的意义在于维持曾经着的审美水准,如果脱离了这一目标及,艺术就变成了怎样都行的游戏,会不断的“贬值”下去,这就是他用来批判后现代主义艺术的“次货的逻辑”。虽然现在讨论起来,格林伯格或许没有认识到形式及审美的意识形态性,但他对形式关联审美质量的要求是依然具有当下意义的。

形式应该是有难度的,因为没有难度的感觉只能是装饰。闫博逐渐也本能地意识到了这个问题,当艺术家适应了既有艺术媒介条件与工作方式而变得“得心应手”之后,艺术所允诺的感性自由就会越来越易得进而廉价。对闫博来说,除了个人风格与方法之外,他感到厌倦还包括绘画的矩形平面本身,于是他开始用异形且凹凸不平的基底来作为绘画的“对手”,在一段时间的尝试后,2013年1月1号,经过与父亲闫振铎彻夜长谈之后,闫博最终明确了自己以后的工作就是和那些莫名形状的画布去博斗。


绘画的矩形平面并不是到了现代主义才出现,它一直是一个事实,但只有到了现代绘画(如马奈)阶段才被自觉的意识到,并发展成现代主义绘画的观念准则。换句话说,矩形平面的事实是绘画的自性(Nature),而作为现代主义绘画观念的矩形平面则是绘画的德性(Virtue)。什么是德性?各有各的说法,但是德性本身是一个规范性概念,即这个概念包含了价值诉求,也内含着改造事实的欲求。

在闫博这里,他诉求是一个纯粹的,因而无我的世界,一种绝对的感觉(Aesthe)价值。曾经,现代主义抽象大师做过同样的事,但都止步在矩形画框的边界上;抽象表现主义画家试图突破这个边界,却大都失去了感觉内部的张力;极少主义者完全跨越了这个边界,但是丢失了感觉本身。在某种程度上,闫博的作品更接近于超现实主义者的工作,通过他律性来挤压出感性的自由。他近乎强迫症式的每次必须得面对着不同形状和形体的绘画基底,然后又通过绘画来掩盖、破坏、颠覆这个基底,在这个搏斗的过程中,感觉是一步步从物质事实中被赎回的,再最终成为美学(Aesthetic)。这正是闫博超越了“形式美”这类浪漫主义形式主义的地方,浪漫主义把人设定为主体,因此浪漫主义的感性往往是易逝的,甚至矫饰的,只有那些遭遇到崇高客体的浪漫主义才能够称得上美学,因为美学就其规范性内涵而言包含着对普遍性的诉求。在闫博的工作中,形式与感性关系并不是一个默认的事实,而是需要不断去争取的,也就是说,是一个持续不断的诉求事件。

在这个意义上,闫博在乎的是“形式的德性”,即感性“应当如此”的当下决断。在形式早已获得了合法性,甚至艺术怎样都可的今天,轻易地宣称艺术自律是一回事,把艺术与人的进阶联系起来又是另一回事,而后者才是艺术的美德。

2019/12/27




The Virtue of Form 
About the Paintings of Bo YAN


Text/Bao Dong


When Bo YAN started to engage in art in his chaotic childhood, he was firstly exposed to lyrical modernist tradition: he resorted to straightforward brushwork to disperse the images and scenes of mundane life, and restructured their plane relations on picture. As a result, such paintings with reproductivity and representation won initial reputation for him. After that, he created a collection of paintings featured by hedonism and children’s spirit where he integrated lyricism into the images/ideas.

In fact, this is the tradition extended and promoted by his elder generation. After the ideology of political aesthetics was slightly relaxed in China at the end of 1970s, painters demonstrated the subject matter of de-political daily life and the conscious enhancement of personal style in their works. As for subject matters, pure customs, portraits, sceneries and still objects gained a position no longer lower than creative themes. When it comes to style, various kinds of painting languages were widely tried, and regarded as the representation of the individuality of artists. The de-political practice in the subject matter of painting can be understood as the emergence of academic painting, and the meaning of paintings as a discipline headed above water. The explorations of personal style showcased the appearance of painters. Independent from the imaginative class language system, painters became definite and concrete persons.


The respective independence of painting and painter brought about two paths: form and expression. Form anchors the value of art at medium and language, while expression traces the meaning of art back to the life and heart of a painter – such potential dualism is still supporting the work of most painters. As things stand, the binary framework can still be seen as the extension and variation of the contents/forms of socialism and realism. Revolutionary romanticism took off “revolutionary theme”, but romanticism still remains out there, and the romantic subject simply changes from class to individuals. This might be the reason that YAN’s father Zhenduo YAN and many old painters in that era displayed strong lyricism in form exploration.

On the other hand, “revolution” was still in place, and the thing was that standpoint and presentation were changed, and known as “criticism”. Fundamentally, in the words of “China’s contemporary art”, the theory of reflection rooted in socialism and realism was still hidden within “cultural politics”, while “age determinism”, a historical concept behind the theory of reflection, can also be found everywhere. Such words described and also affected the practices of artists, and became the typical cultural logic of contemporary art in China.


In other words, different from the tradition of socialism and realism and China’s ancient artistic tradition, formalism was not established firmly and systematically. The explorations into forms – from modernistic attempts in the Republic of China era, to the undercurrent of “socialism and modernism”, and to the discussions on “formal beauty” after the Cultural Revolution – have always been treated as a kind of external, decorative and functional factor rather than a kind of ontological value.

What is the ontology of form? Is painting a plane painted with pigment? Is a painting an object? Starting from minimalism and post-painterly abstraction to today in China, people can often see this kind of art. If we put it in the context of art history, such artistic concepts and practices have their own pertinence, but once such pertinence is missed, they become the “inferior goods” mentioned by Greenburg. For Greenburg, the meaning of form in art lies in its maintenance of earlier aesthetic standard; if it is divorced from the goal, art becomes a game whatever works, and will “devalue” constantly. This is the “logic of inferior goods” he used to criticize post-modernism art. In current discussion, Greenburg may not recognize the ideological nature of form and aesthetic appreciation, but his requirement for the relevance of form and aesthetic quality still has contemporary meaning.


Form should be difficult because any feeling without difficulty can only be decoration. YAN instinctively realized this issue over time. When an artist adapted to existing medium condition and way of work of art and became “handy”, the perceptual freedom promised by content will be gained ever-easily and then become cheap. For YAN, in addition to personal style and method, he also felt tired of the rectangular plane of painting itself. So he started to use shaped and rugged base as the “opponent” of painting. After attempts for a while, YAN finally identified his work in the future on January 1, 2013 after the all-night long talk with his father Zhenduo YAN, that is, to fight against those canvases of strange shapes.

In fact, that the rectangular plane of painting did not appear until modernism is not right. It has been a fact. But it was just consciously realized up to the modern painting (such as Manet) stage, and developed into the rule of ideas of modernist painting. In other words, the fact of rectangular plane is the nature of painting, and rectangular plane – the concept of modernist painting – is the virtue of painting. What is virtue? There are different versions. But virtue is, in itself, a normative concept, i.e., the concept includes value pursuit, and also contains the desire of reforming fact.


For YAN, his desire is a pure and then egoless world and a kind of absolutely aesthetic value. Modernist abstract masters did the same thing before, but they all stopped at the boundary of rectangular frame; abstract expressionist painters tried to break through the boundary, but they mostly missed the internal tension of feeling; and minimalists totally transcended the boundary, but they lost the feeling itself. To some extent, the works of YAN are most close to the work of surrealists, and squeeze out perceptual freedom through heteronomy. Each time, he must be faced with the painting bases of different shapes and bodies almost obsessively, and then cover, destroy, and overturn the bases through painting. During the process of fighting, feeling is redeemed step by step from physical fact, and finally become aesthetics. This is definitely where YAN transcended romanticism and formalism like “formal beauty”. Romanticism sets people as subject, so the sensibility of romanticism is almost transient and even mannered, and only romanticism encountering lofty objects can be seen as aesthetics because aesthetics includes universal pursuit seeing from normative connotation. In YAN’s work, the relationship between form and sensibility is not a default fact; rather, it is necessary to fight constantly, or it is a constant pursuit fact.

 
In this sense, YAN cares about the “virtue of form”, i.e., contemporary resolution that sensibility “should be so”. For now, form has been legal and art is okay whatever way, it is one thing when easily alleging art discipline, and it is another thing when connecting art with people’s advancement. Yet, the latter is the virtue of art.

December 27, 2019





| 关于艺术
About the Artist


闫博 1970年生于北京,自90年代中期开始多次在北京、香港、新加坡、台湾等地举办展览。近年个展包括:《闫博》站台中国,北京(2020)、《莫名》狮语画廊,香港(2019)、《一念之差》獅語画廊,香港(2017)、《无题》闫博作品展,鸿坤美术馆,北京(2017)、 《焕象》闫博作品展,央美术馆,北京(2016)、《蜻蜓》闫博作品展,东站画廊,北京(2013)、《硄愔—闫博作品展》,世纪翰墨画廊,北京(2011)等。多件作品被中国美术馆、中国现代文学馆等美术馆和艺术机构收藏。

Yan Bo was born in Beijing in 1970. Since the mid-1990s, he has held exhibitions in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and many other places. His resent solo exhibitions include: Yan Bo platform China, Beijing (2020), Untitled Leo Gallery, Hong Kong (2019), Momentary Lapse, Leo Gallery, Hong Kong (2017), Untitled , Hongkun Art Museum, Beijing (2017), Refreshed Illusion, Yang Museum, Beijing (2016),Dragonfly, East station Gallery, Beijing (2013) Luster of Time, Century Calligraphy Gallery, Beijing (2011), some of his works are collected by art museums and art institutes such as NAMOC, China Modern Literature Museum, etc..


| 关于作
About the Author

鲍栋 是中国新一代活跃的艺术评论家与独立策展人,他1979年出生于安徽,2006年毕业于四川美术学院艺术史系,现工作生活在北京。从2005年进入中国当代艺术界至今,他的评论文章广泛见于国内外艺术期刊,批评文集以及艺术家专著;他曾为众多国内外艺术机构策划展览,其中包括尤伦斯当代艺术中心、朱拉隆功大学艺术中心、广东时代美术馆、上海民生现代美术馆等等;2014年,他荣获亚洲文化协会(ACC)艺术奖助金;同年成为国际独立策展人协会(ICI)独立视野策展奖候选人。2016年他获得了 “Yishu中国当代艺评和策展奖”。

Bao Dong is an art critic and independent curator based in Beijing. In contributing essays to the artistic dialogue and other forms of involvement, Bao has established himself as a leading curator and critic of work by the new generation. His articles have been widely published in art journals and artist monographs both at home and abroad. He has curated many exhibitions for a wide range of art institutions including Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, the Art Center of Chulalongkorn University, Guangdong Times Museum, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, etc. He was awarded Asian Cultural Council (ACC) fellowship grant in 2014, and became a nominee of Independent Curators International’s (ICI) 2014 Independent Vision Curatorial Award. Recently he was awarded Yishu Awards for Curating Contemporary Chinese Art 2016.




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Platform China Contemporary Art Institute was founded in 2005 in Beijing, and moved into 798 area in the end of 2015. Platform China is an experimental and open platform. As a finder, pusher and participant of art, Platform China focuses on the promotion of the art practice and the construction of the art ecology, continually promoting the international communication on contemporary art.  




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