Re-creation and Revitalization——Prelude to Gao Yang’s Painting Album Author:Jia Fangzhou Date: 2012-05-08 Size:
we could not see his cultural identity as a Chinese artist; in fact he does not use in particular the symbolic elements of Chinese culture or local cultural resources. In this sense, what he takes in his practice is an international way.

Gao Yang, an artist from Beijing East Village once participated in a performance art activity to “add one meter to a Nameless Mountain " and later attended some independently, but his art mainly showcases "putting up ", especially characterized with various materials in his latest artistic creation. He once lived in Italy for many years, and he is naturally an "overseas returnee", now he lives in Songzhuang, Beijing.

Gao Yang is a typical northern man from Inner Mongolia. From him, both from his appearance and mentality, a firm, heavy and "wild buffalo" life energy reveals. His art works in his early artistic career show a strong expressionism flavor, constantly repeating his clay-like self-portrait and expressing anxiety, confusion and helplessness for survival.

He was influenced by the so-called Italian "poor art" (Arte Povera) that emerged in 1960s to 1970s when he stayed in Italy. In his paintings, he used a lot of objects of daily life, with the help and connecting function of oil paints, to constitute certain rich, three-dimensional "flat device" on canvas (which can also be regarded as micro device in complanation).

In short, the utilization of many existing objects has changed his original painting style. ”Objects” are no longer reproduced through painting means, but directly come into being through "structuring". From an artistic point of view, these "objects" are no longer themselves in their original meaning after being borrowed, but gain “revitalization” after being "re-creation " by the artist.

This process of turning "life-related" objects into art "building blocks" is the process of artistic creation, another interpretation of the process is “turning the decaying valueless into miracle". When the "waste" objects in life are put into art works after screening by an artist in stead of being thrown into trash bin, they obtain new life due to the fact that they become an organic part of the art, and even more, their become "principal part " of the narrative subject.

Years ago when Gao Yang had his works on traveling exhibitions in European, his planner names it the Diary of Time, which was an interpretation of Gao’s works proximate to his personal experience, an accurate interpretation from the viewpoint based on artistic subjectivity. Gao Yang does not want to explain the real meaning of the subjects he uses in his art works, but stretches life-long narrations of the objects whatever they refer or can refer to.

The longing, nostalgic, romantic and lyrical mood is tangle with worries ... personal experience dominated the pictures. Here are autobiographies of the objects as well as the expression of the artist. What should be mentioned is that these "objects" are commodities mostly from the public-shared areas; they exist not only in the artist's experience, but also in the experience of all viewers. There is something here related to the important proposition of "poor art" in Italy: the root of aesthetic experience exists in people's daily experience

Between people and environment people live in, their behavior and the objects of art, there exists thought-flow continuity, that is to say, continuity exists between the artist’s private domain of personal experience and the public domain of the "objects". Therefore, the creations of the "poor art" artists possess significance.

Because their works can show to the viewers that the seemingly-simple autobiographies of the "objects" can touch people in their experience world to a certain extent. Visa-versa, through the autobiographies of these "objects", people can introspect into the harm to the living environment caused by human beings in the process to "civilization".

To an artist, in the process to achieve a perfect experience, each individual, his action, the environment he acts in, as well as the tools he uses are completely become one that exudes a sense of a harmony and success." (Umberto Eco: As A Form Of Social Responsibility). American philosopher John Dewey had a profound impact on ”poor art" of Italy, in 1951, his book Art As Experience was published in Italy, Umberto Eco was an enthusiastic and theoretic disseminator of Dewey’s thought. Undoubtedly, their thoughts are crucial to the understanding of Italian "poor art" and the art works of Gao Yang. (Note)

If we examine Gao Yang in Chinese contemporary art context, we will find there are few people similar to him in art creation. Although there are people making art works with synthetic materials, few like him to put so many objects from daily life to his pictures; If we put him in comparison with artists living abroad or returned overseas artists, Gao Yang is still an isolated case.

In his works, we could not see his cultural identity as a Chinese artist; in fact he does not use in particular the symbolic elements of Chinese culture or local cultural resources. In this sense, what he takes in his practice is an international way.

Yet he is also an individual-oriented artist. The inspiration of his artistic creation is mainly from the environment he lives in and the reality he feels in his life. His independency makes it hard to categorize him. He is a lonely “warrior” in his existence as an "alien" or "different" artist.

But, the issues or problems he touched in his art works did not stray from the scope of the thought of a contemporary artist, the emotion he put into his art career is totally that of a contemporary person. His artistic choice destined his loneness that shows his persistence, purity, tenacity and perseverance as well as his spiritual power to be a martyr.

Note: People who know Italian well believe the translation of "poor art" is not accurate. According to them, the “Povera" in “ArtePovera” is not equivalent to the English word “poor”, for it has other meanings such as frugal, simple etc., The "poor art" was translated in September 1967, initiated by Art Critic Germano Celant who borrowed the concept of "the poor theater" (proposed by Jerzy Grotowski, a Polish theater director, who advocates “returning to the originality of primary drama to mainly express spirit) and organized a thematic art exhibition called "Poor Art - Space (Arte Povera - Im spazio)" at Bertesca Gallery in Genoa.

Celant uses “poor art” (Arte Povera) to summarized the artistic style of the young artists in Italy at that time: with simple materials - tree branches, metal pieces, glass, cloth, stone and others - to create art works through collage and cutting. Therefore, the concept of "poor art" is somewhat misleading.

As historians pointed out, "poor art" was born in the "golden age" of Italy. Generally speaking, the Italians at that time (including poor artists themselves) were not poor at all. So, the translated "poor" is a result of the negligence of the English and American scholars.

Because of the dominant strength of English culture, we have a new art called "poor art". This is really fantastic. In Italy, the so-called “poor art movement” in Italy is over, according to the explanation of Chiron and Eco who are principal members of the “poor art”, the great “poor art” only survived 10 years (1967 to 1977).

[Editor] 马西