银山晚雪 Snow in Silver Mountain布面丙烯 Acrylic on canvas 200 × 200 cm 2015
面对张从云的画时，必有身临其境之氛围。画面虽笼罩着静谧的东方禅意，但是鲜艳灵动 —— 这些传统水墨画中常见的自然景观：山峦，磐石，云雾，流水，树木，在油彩、丙烯、坦培拉等综合材料的融合与渲染下，显得悠然且生机勃勃，再加之以多形态的画布（团扇式的圆形、立轴式的长卷、屏风式的分屏）承托，张从云的绘画饱含新意，如同向观者讲述古老而神秘的故事，却由一个快活无忧的少年娓娓诉说。
Zhang Congyun's paintings are always immersive. Although the works are characterized by the calm atmosphere typical of oriental Zen, they are also vibrant and bright in terms of representation of the elements of Chinese traditional landscape ink paintings such as mountains, rocks, clouds, water, and trees. This visual elements are represented through a wide range of materials spanning oil paint, acrylic, and tempera. Supported by canvases of different shapes (round fan-like circles, vertical scrolls, and screen-like canvases), Zhang Congyun’s paintings are vivid and vibrant, full of new ideas, as if they were whispering to the viewers mysterious and intriguing tales from the past. The narrator is the artist, who is a happy and cheerful character.
Clear Sound From Mountain and Water
图层间水溶、半水溶与绝水材料的结合呈现出奇异的效果，传统水墨的质性在与新型媒材的碰融合中显示出异样形态，西画材料之上的墨色晕染不事雕琢、 如自然生长一般，最终迹化为一幅独富意境的山水风景，妙不可言。Mirage Mountain(2015) Detail无论所描绘之景物本身亦或其呈现方式皆沉稳而不沉闷，这实际上是艺术家的长久积累和其性情使然。朋友眼中张从云温和寡言，给人洒脱飘逸的感觉。对创作埋头深究、对生活随性淡然，使他的艺术并不局限于痛苦和自我纠结，而是带来云淡风轻的内秀之意；同时，张从云在视觉语言和技法方面不断尝试，赋予传统视觉资源以当代性的转化。比如在《蜃山》中，山峦呈现水墨之氤氲感，又因坦培拉等材料的综合运用，使其极具当代色彩表征，成为富有生命力、不曾“笔落而止”的有机山体。
Both the depicted scenes and their representation convey a sense of tranquillity, while not being dull. This achievement is the result of the artist's experience and of his temperament. From the point of view of his friends, Zhang Congyun is gentle and quiet, with a cheerful and elegant temperament. His passion for artistic creation and his indifference towards many aspects of life, makes his art not limited to the representation of suffering and pain, but characterized by a tranquil and graceful expression of inner beauty. At the same time, Zhang Congyun constantly carries out experiment in terms of visual language and techniques to re-elaborate traditional visual elements through the lens of contemporary artistic language. For example, in Mirage Mountain(2015), the mountains are represented as if they were surrounded by smoke; the use of tempera and other materials makes the chromatic composition of the work extremely contemporary, giving the impression the mountains keep on breathing and growing.
Mirage Mountain(2015) Detail
In this hyper-modern era, Zhang’s canvases are still characterized by ever growing trees and mountains, often depicted within a night setting. We interviewed Zhang Congyun to delve into his artistic practice, his curiosity about researching with mixed media and his preference for nocturnal setting.P：您的个人风格大致形成于何时？当时是什么启发了您？
When did you start developing your personal style and what was your source of inspiration?Z：十多年前，我在研究材料技法（坦培拉）时发现油、水混合后的很多效果在画面中可以成立。之前画油画经历过具象、抽像等形式语言探索；我本身又对水墨画感兴趣，因为爷爷是写书法的，可能从小潜移默化、到了一定时期开始产生作用。所以综合西方绘画技法、表现东方意境，以具向物体表现非具体场景和空间，是当时的主要想法，并且目前还在继续，只不过画面会发生一些变化。
More than ten years ago, while I was researching the expressive and technical possibilities of tempera, I realized that, through the combination of oil and water, very interesting visual effects could have been achieved. Before that, my painting experience was based on experimenting with figurative and abstract languages and on formalistic research. However, I have been always interested in ink painting, as my grandfather was a master of calligraphy: I think that this legacy exerted a subtle influence in my artistic activity. Therefore, by adopting western painting techniques to represent eastern creative concepts, I managed to use figurative and concrete elements to represent the notion of abstraction in terms of representation of space and scenes. This approach still characterizes my artistic practice, even though now the images undergone some changes.
△ 黛黑的山峰 Black Mountain Peak
Your works often present complex and multifaceted combinations in terms of texture of the canvas. Could you please tell us more about your technique.
Z：不管如何思考，最终还是要落实到画面的视觉语言和呈现方法上。我的创作在选题、选材、表现方式上相对自由和开放 ，表现手法也是自然的。不过“自然”并非自然形成，而是通过不断尝试和自我认知逐渐发展出来的 —— 通过油性媒介、水性材料、树脂、茶色甚至一切可以被利用的媒材，将这些视觉表征因素运用到作品创作中。
Regardless of the thinking process behind a work, in the end it is the idea that needs to be represented on the canvas through a specific visual language and representative technique. My creative approach is rather free and open in terms of selection of subject matter, materials and expressive technique. However, the natural element that characterizes my works has been achieved through continuous experimentation and self-awareness. Oil, watercolor, resin, brown colors and other media contribute to shape the visual language of my artistic creations.
How do you collect your visual repertoire? Is the selection of images for your works more associated with a subconscious dimension or with a cognitive one?
I collect images coming from every aspect of my daily life: they are usually images that I can see, observe, think, read, or images emerging from conversations, internet researches or the surrounding physical space. The combination of a large amount of information, visual resources, images and symbols with feelings and memories these images generate, enables me to break away from the necessity of pursuing a mimetic representation of the original image. So, it can be said that my visual repertoire stems from my subconscious, which I filter and re- elaborate to create a new visual effect.
△ 树溪图(局部) Tree and Stream(Detail)
Why depicting natural settings at night is important to you?
I want to reconfigure images of traditional Chinese painting, taking into account the notions of time and psychology. Scenes at night can be noisy or quiet: the dark landscape suggests different semantic and interpretative layers. The black ink in the depiction of nocturnal scenes brings more subtle and complex visual experiences than in daytime representations.
Could you talk about the notion of space in your paintings.
While being important, space is not the main focus of my works. Instead of realizing a mimetic reproduction of the physical space, I am more interested in representing the notion of space associated with Chinese traditional aesthetics. Therefore, whether it is left blank or it is filled with objects, the spatial structure of the painting provides the main body of the picture, namely the mountain, the cloud, trees, stones and other specific forms with a visual support. These elements have their own raison d'être in a two-dimensional space, although sometimes they establish a contradictory spatial relationship.
△ 竹石图 Image of Bamboo and Rock
The mountain, trees, and clouds are presented through a figurative language. Does this represent a personal exploration of the intimate self, or is it more an expression of selflessness?
It is difficult to separate one from the other. “The elements come from being, while being comes from nothingness.” Art creation is similar to the concept of “being within nothingness”. No matter how selfless they seem, artworks are inevitably imbued with the author's thoughts. Mountains, clouds, trees, and flowing water are represented in my works through a traditional iconography. However, they are not depicted just to represent concretely themselves; on the contrary, they are incorporated into the painting structure to serve the purpose of suggesting a connection with the contemporaneity. The representation of these visual elements is driven by the need for personal expression: I believe that even the personal choice of selecting the visual repertoire suggests a personal attitude.
△ 蜃山 Mirage Mountain
布面丙烯 Acrylic on canvas
200 × 200 cm 2015
How does pandemic affect your life and artistic creation? And in what way do you participate in contemporary urban life?
There aren’t many changes in my thinking system. In general, I don’t panic easily. So, I just do what I should do and try to live a normal life. You asked how do I participate in contemporary urban life? I just try to be part of it.
photo credit to the artist and Parkview Green Art
Zhang Congyun was born in Beijing in 1976. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and has been teaching there. His main exhibitions include The 14th Curitiba International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Oscar Nimeyer Museum, Curitiba, Brazil, 2019, Art Beijing, Argricultural Exhibition Hall, Beijing, 2018, Infinite Ingenuity-Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Chile, 2017, Congyun's Solo Exhibition, Bridge Art Space, Beijing, 2017, Color Symbiosis-Chinese Artist Exchange Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art, Panama, 2016, etc.
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