"Painting in Time and Space Crisscross" Comments on Deng Xinli's Works
Source:Artintern.net Author:Wang Chunchen Date: 2010-06-23 Size:
As a young Chinese artist of the new generation, Deng Xinli affirms the significance and functionality of painting with his art practice, improving not only his own value but also the eternal dialogue between art and the world, history, and time. Thus, to make art meaningful is to retrospect to history and question reality constantly.

Recently, a variety of contemporary art symposiums were held in different cities across China, these included the Greenberg in China symposium in Shenzhen, The Second “China Contemporary Art Forum”, 2010 Beijing International Conference on Art Theory and Criticism, The First Forum of Chinese Young Critics, Method of Criticism and Practice in Hangzhou, Boundary of Arts academic seminar held in Central Academy of Fine Arts, and so on. Art symposiums being organized so intensively is indicative of the fact that Chinese art is currently coming to a critical point, when all kinds of utterances are interposing the criticism of contemporary arts, expecting to observe, research, and think of Chinese contemporary arts from diverse perspectives. Seeking to comprehend them fully within the specific context of China and the world. Only in such context, can the artists, arts, and works have the foundation of argumentation and presentation.

Take painting for example; it is a significant medium language, which these symposiums refer to at some length. Nowadays the world holds a new attitude towards painting, anticipating an original expression of painting language. This approach differs from Greenberg’s (U.S.) view on modernism painting which was to pursue the purity and planarity of the painting medium itself, leading painting to the road of self-confirming and completing. While with the development in the past decades during the Post-Greenburg period, ideographic function and new value of painting are resuscitated, and form is embedded into the expression of connotation as well. Thus, in the case of China, even though it did not experience an absolute formalism painting period, it has nonetheless been through Chinese modernism art ideology and avant-garde. Within the context of the current age of mass culture and post-socialism, we can say that our cognition of painting has been advanced greatly. Deng Xinli’s works can be viewed with this backdrop.

Deng Xinli’s works can be placed within a brand new painting category, one which issues from the transformation of artists’ views towards the world in the current age. Deng Xinli is the representative of a new breed of artists, whose artistic experience precisely reflects this transformation. The reason why the academic focus-points of Chinese arts and painting theory were mentioned at the beginning of this article is that the topic is an extremely challenging one, far more complex than artist creating with brush. It involves a series of art and art history issues. For example, Chinese academic education puts great emphasis on the basic skill of modeling and the capacity for mastering form. This is clearly evidenced in the works which Deng Xinli created when he studied in Central Arts Academy, signifying that he had complete capacity for art modeling, not to mention abundant imagination shown in his graduate creation. However, Deng Xinli was not satisfied with this level of artistic education. Therefore, the artist studied abroad in New Zealand, hoping to obtain diverse art experience in a distinct foreign culture, he especially showed preference towards some new contemporary visual language. It was through this different cultural context that he had a clearer and more enthusiastic cognition of his cultural identity and history. A historic sub-consciousness was gradually generated and emerged in his painting. After he returned to Beijing in 2008, his painting style altered to the construction of a new historic prospect. Deng Xinli found that history and painting can be interlaced together, consequently revealing the connotation of history, as well as the interest at present, substituting time concept for a visible image, which is the projection and imagination of self-consciousness, therefore creating the ideographic function of painting language.

Consequently, Deng Xinli created this series of works based on a fresh cultural perception and painting language of expression. From the aspect of creation, this is the recurrence of the artist’s intention. From the aspect of painting language, Deng Xinli made an abrupt change to his principal image. Starting with a mellow realistic model, and absorbing exaggeration from comic and animation and finally employing vibrancy from design, he created a transparent flaky model, a language which possesses multiple structural possibilities. Deng Xinli proves it is feasible to absorb the enlightenments of other mediums, to integrate and transform them to create a new visual impression.

In addition, Deng Xinli’s primary purpose is to combine tradition with the current state, revive a cultural memory in time and space crisscross, endowing these images evolved from ancient times with new life and symbolism. Characters of Hang & Tang Dynasties are recognized through the ages for their elegancy and beauty, representing an ideal of verve and idleness. Deng Xinli integrated his various personal experiences and achievements in art exploration into the images he created. He endeavored to visualize time, transforming quiescent history and culture into fresh and visible contemporary sense. For instance, those elegant characters like fairies were located in the green landscape. What is more, the painter essentially endowed them with a modern identity and semantic symbolism beyond imagination, such as a steel machinery horse, a modern weapon, a new sense of space, planarity of three dimensions, and the like. All of these are time indications, yet this is not the artist’s intention. The artist aims at getting through the past and present, discovering the charisma and fantasy of creation, and pursuing the visual answer to the source of culture memory.

These works from Deng Xinli are the outcome of such a pursuit and gradual change. For example, the Lady of the Moon series compounds multiple visual elements. With the mysterious outer space as the background, it creates the fairytale, the new story of Chang E, emphasizing the fun of comparing past with present. While in Rare Treasure of Great Tang, Princess Travel, Princess in Landscape, the artist combines distinct visual experiences in time and space crisscross, making it an expression of subjective imagery instead of a reflection of reality. The emphasis lies in expressing the imagination flowing in time, concept freedom in space. The generation and establishment of this painting method reflect contemporary visual experience and visual concept. It highlights the self-consciousness of art, enhances the construction of painting expression’s initiative and enthusiasm. The more subject exists, the more independent value art shows.

In the mean time, within these works, Deng Xinli highlights a principal image; that of a graceful lady. Sometimes she presents magnificent Tang Dynasty style with dignity, sometimes she is vigorous as a steely knight, at some moment she changes to a fairy, while inadvertently turning into a contemporary joyful girl. Actually these ever-changing female images build up idealism, continually borrow from legend and myth, while constantly generating contradiction among visual images, subsequently composing a new myth narration of history and imagination.

As a young Chinese artist of the new generation, Deng Xinli affirms the significance and functionality of painting with his art practice, improving not only his own value but also the eternal dialogue between art and the world, history, and time. Thus, to make art meaningful is to retrospect to history and question reality constantly.

                                                                                            May 31, 2010, In Central Academy of Fine Arts

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[Editor] Elemy Liu