Diversion, Fuzziness and Absence of Chinese Contemporary Art Value Paradigm
Source:Artintern Author:He Guiyan Date: 2012-06-30 Size:
Externally, it seemed the evaluation of the vulgar works and excellent ones seems to be quite difficult---there lacks a standard and a contest; the history seems to be shoddy and the art history is absent. Correspondently, value paradigm becomes elusive and a feeling of absence occurred. However, from the other perspective, no standard means that it has already been standardized. No history indicates a fresh start, and no value paradigm declares the new arrival of a new one.

  Part One

  Audiences at some contemporary art exhibition are always wondering: what do the art works symbolize? And what do they mean? It seems to be simple, but actually it is difficult to answer. On the one hand, its value can be manifested in such ways as the artist’s intention and creating approaches, the forms and styles related to the ontology of art, the society, culture and art history and so on. On the other hand, under different cultural background and in different times, people’s understanding and interpreting of the art work’s value also change. Those once thought to be of great significance now may become valueless. In other words, concept in the “value” also deforms, therefore we should define conditions for value manifestation when talking about values of art works.

  The western art circle also meet trouble in dealing with the “value”. Art’s demarcation itself has fogged itself since Ducharm, Warhpl, and Boyce and fundamental changes have taken place in the ways for its value to be manifested. This, according to some philosophers’ words in western world, is sort of philosophy’s deprivation upon the art. In this regard, the meaning of art shall depend on the intrinsic connectional pursuit rather than only upon the artist’s skill, style and forms. Under such circumstances, it difficult to say that contemporary art is meaningless or it is nihilistic. On the contrary, it has staged upon a higher level: art has become sort of intellectual production. However, it seems that the same problem occurs---what is its value?

  If we see the contemporary art as sort of intellectual production, then the premise shall be this: it has already fostered its own art or knowledge lineage. That’s to say; only in its art lineage can the meaning of an art work be generated. Yet, the lineage fosters in no short time; it develops, accumulates, derives and finally evolves for a long period of time. Meanwhile, the conception of its meaning alters in this process. But during that evolving period, the conception of art is relatively stable and value generative methods are almost the same. The whole thing is in a rather stable system. Correspondingly, a paradigm of meaning manifestation naturally comes into being.

  In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, the American famous philosopher of science Thomas·Kuhn has provided a systematic interpreting on paradigm. According to him, the paradigm refers to the theoretical basis and practical regulations the science mainly dependent upon operation. It can also be the collection of belief, values, technologies and so on shared by the group members. For contemporary art creation, the paradigm is the basic structure, value measurement and assessment criteria for the value manifestation. Thus it’s safely to say there are different paradigms in different times and stages. And the differences will be reflected in different narrations of art history. Since art is the dynamic development, changes of art and the formation of the art narration history finally will foster an intrinsic linear trajectory. Gradually, its own development lineage comes into being.

  The other problem arises, what is the relationship between the paradigm and the artist’s creation? Generally speaking, paradigm preexists artists. That’s to say, however great an artist he is, he shall relay on the preexisting paradigm to enter the realm of art, establish his own recognition of art and learn the basic conceptions of art demarcation. Most artists’ creation is manipulated by the established paradigm and only a minority of the talented artists can challenge the paradigm and break the once confined stable system. Conversely, once the system is broken and loses its balance, the paradigm will transfer and changes will take place upon the narration of art history. There may be many factors attribute to the breaking in the balance, but to be specific, only two shall be resorted to: the first one shall owe to the fundamental changes of the external cultural changes and the second one shall be a very few gifted artists’ creation. It is necessary to pointed out that the formation of the value paradigm and the narration of art history coexists and integrates with each other. The paradigm alters as the discourse changes.

  Part Two

  One should first define the concept of contemporary art before seeking the paradigm of Chinese contemporary art. In spite of 30 years history, the artists still fail to reach an agreement on what the contemporary art is.

  What is the contemporary art? As far as I’m concerned, art works regarded to be contemporary should at least contain the following elements. First, from the perspective of time, we can generally interpret the word “contemporary” as present and current instead of the past or the tradition. It shall be time oriented. In Chinese art circle, the year 1978 is often regarded as the starting point of contemporary art. However, only time is inadequate. If the art over the past thirty years can be seen as contemporary art, it will be impossible to distinguish the contemporary art, academic art, “pseudo classic” and “pseudo contemporary”. So the contemporary art should possess the following element---modernity in the work’s form and language. It shall reflect the contemporary people’s visual cognitive style and viewing habits. In fact, even the Chinese critics have failed to reach a consistent agreement while inducing and defining the art phenomena in the past three decades. One view takes the art in the 1980s as the modern art and that since the 1990s as contemporary art. This is mainly because the art works in the 1980s mostly fell in simple simulation of the styles and forms of the western modern art and there was no original stylistic creativity. It can not be denied that Chinese contemporary art has been influenced by western modern art and the post modern art and this phenomenon shall owe to certain intrinsic inevitability. Since 1978, one of Chinese contemporary art’s essential missions is to abandon the rigid socialist realism and the existing tradition and complete the modern language diversion. One short way to carry out the diversion is to learn from the west. Therefore, the 1980s art works called the “modern art” also have the contemporary characteristics. The so-called visual cognitive style and viewing habit lies in the contemporary artists’ abundance of the vulgar social reflection theories. They shall eliminate simple portraits and recreate the models, establish the language logistics and rhetoric devices of contemporary art, foster their own visual representation system and build a new viewing mechanism. Besides the two elements, the definition of contemporary art shall still depend mostly upon the humanistic appeal. Generally speaking, the contemporary art distinguishes from the academic art and that featured by “form precedes”. Though it chases for language modernity and diversification, it also emphasizes much on the survival and spiritual pursuit of contemporary people. That’s to say that the contemporary art should focus upon the reality, dive into the reality, reflect and criticize the reality.

  Today, in Chinese art circle, there mainly exist four types of art existence: official art (modules and types dominated by the art association and exhibition organizations at all levels), academic art (creating systems formed by the eight institutes of fine arts and other art school), ink arts (creation purporting on the aesthetic appreciation of traditional paintings), and the contemporary art. The contemporary has ever connected with the “academic” to some extent. For example, “the Scar” and “the Local” art in the 1980s firstly appeared in Sichuan Fine Art Institute; “the Rational Painting” launched by the New Zone in the 1985 firstly started in Zhejiang Fine Art Institute and the New Generation originated in China Central Academy of Fine Arts. However, sharp contrasts still exist between the humanistic appeal by the art trends and creation and the dominant academic art. It’s not difficult to find that the contemporary art is still at the very verge in the circle. So long as we accept the contemporary art, we are actually recognizing a certain value. Due to these contextual differences, this value may focus on such various aspects as in forms, style, culture, spirit or thoughts. In others words, these values are the meanings manifested by the art works. Since value exists, why not we try to explore a sort of universal or dominant value? As different times or cultures will influence the effects of value and its final presentation, its value manifestation will forge its own track according to its development. Similarly, if the irreplaceability of contemporary art is admitted, the internal cultural logic of its meaning effects will naturally become a value paradigm.

  Part Three

  The value pursuit of China’s contemporary art in the 1980s is briefly manifested in two aspects: on the one hand, it calls for an immediate diversion towards the modern language. The appeal to diversion is of intrinsic inevitability. This shall resort to criticizing upon the rigid unified socialist realistic. On the other hand, with the collision of western modern art and the modern culture, Chinese culture should not only break away from the shackle of the theory of art as a tool since the Cultural Revolution, but also move towards the modernity from the perspective of art on noumenon. This could be seen in the agitation and process of going over the over one-hundred-year western art in less than a decade. The procedure of language diversion is sloppy and misunderstood to some extent. However, so long as the problem of language narration and establishing a new mechanism exists, the contemporary art would not break the rigid academic realistic system.

  The other objective is to evoke the spirit of enlightenment and cultural betrayal and to highlight the critical standing of contemporary art. Critical cultural standing is one of the major characteristics of “the contemporary new art”. With further reform in the middle of 1980s, a group of sensitive intellectuals began to worry about the art development in the new political, cultural and art context. The anxiety was dual-dimensional. It was about both the revolution towards modernization and the cultural construction of modernity. Shortly speaking, the former anxiety should originate from the desire of four modernizations (modernization of agriculture, industry, national defense and science and technology) in the shortest time at the fastest pace, while the later one shall date back to the stimulation of modern western culture and civilization and the willingness of completing the native culture diversion. According to the laws of modernity, if reforms in political, economic, cultural and other fields coordinated and reinforced with each other, there would be no conflicts in modernity of society and culture. However, actually, since reforms in different fields differed from each other, various inevitable contradictions appeared. In other words, the government should learn from other countries in the systematic reform, while worrying about collision of the liberalized ideologies and the traditional Chinese culture and moral values, especially that of Marxism-Leninism. Moreover, the systematic reform has always been top-down. Thus any political, economic, cultural and political reform has been under the full management and dominance of the government. Therefore, for those artists aspiring for modern art, anxiety in cultural modernity has emerged naturally. These anxieties include how to obtain the right to voice in cultural field, how to realize liberation and freedom in real creation and how to manifest the work’s identification and so on. Consequently, collision and tempering, confrontation and comprise between the official culture and western culture or the main stream culture and the avant-grade culture has become the main characteristics of the art movement in the 1980s. And this can also be obviously reflected in the three large-scale Anti-Liberalization of the Capital Class in the years of 1983, 1987 and 1989.

  Of course, if just from the perspective of cultural modernity, the appeal should be multi-directional. There existed betrayal of the traditional culture as well as the maintenance of seeking cultural root. There were the traces of both the longing for the modern western civilization and memories of the eastern civilization. And the greatest power came from the worship of the modern western culture and criticizing of the traditional culture. That’s to say, during that period, the more eager to approach the western culture, the harsher the criticizing on traditional culture would be.

  At that time, the art and the main stream society still contradicted and reinforced with each other. The value manifestation of the art works of the artists, including those of the Star Painting Association and the emerging avant-grade art groups, mainly focused upon the following aspects: the folk vs the authority, the avant-grade vs the conservative, the very verge vs the main stream and the elite vs the public. Most of the narrative logic has mirrored the basic paradigm features of the art in the 1980s---the pursuit of the binary opposition, appeals for betrayal and the avant-grade cultural critical position. However, the critic position was still multi directional. It consisted of criticizing upon the creating module, the academic realistic language system and most importantly the culture with enlightenment elements. Reasons for the emerging of the binary opposition and the cultural critical conceptions are complex. Externally, the impact of modern culture, especially the avant-grade art, could never be neglected. The cultural critical tradition has gradually been forged since the French Enlightenment and the avant-grade culture has ushered in the development of the modern main stream art. The fundamental feature of “avant-grade” can be interpreted in the following ways: challenges of the existing creation mechanism, the art authority and the aesthetic tastes. It seemed to be strongly highlighted in the works of the Xiamen Dada and “the Red Pop” represented by Gu Wenda and Wu Shan since the middle 1980s. Internally, the influence shall attribute to the complete abundance of the creation module in the Cultural Revolution. The art module in the Cultural Revolution was not that simple as the instrumentalization of art. Actually, it targeted at a sort of dual visual dominance, including imaging and the public’s tastes and attitude towards the works. Thus from this prospective, the arts could finally release their long backlogged emotions and the establishment of the binary opposition has just reflected the artists’ attitude toward the module. Of course, the underlying reason should be the arts’ wishes to shed off the old shackles, to emancipate the mind and obtain freedom in their creation. Looking back, the paradigm of the binary opposition seemed to be hypercorrect to some extent.

  As has mentioned previously, the enlightenment of the contemporary art and the cultural betrayal has reinforced with the external context. In fact, internally, a sort of enormous tension emerged between the language diversion or language betrayal and the enlightenment. As to the cultural symptom of the Modern Fine Art, Li Xianting has outlined the cultural mission of contemporary in his work Time Awaits the Great Soul’s Passion (sighed by Hu Cun when the essay published) as the following: “The soul of our time was fostered in the collision advanced western culture and the outdated eastern culture. Deep in the soul, infinite perplexities boiled ferociously: hope and desperation interwoven with each other, ideals and realities contradicted, tradition and future clashed, and pain, anxiety and other miseries in the tossing reflection upon cultural issues still existed.” ①

  Contradicted to the art form of immensely narration, such ideologies as “purifying language” and “eliminating the humanistic enthusiasm” emerged between 1987 and 1989.② Essence of the “purification” actually refered to the artists’ simple or even rather scabrous stimulation of the contemporary western art styles during criticizing “the modern fine art”. Li Xianting has put forward the essential meaning of the “great soul” at that time. But this did not alleviate the importance of language diversion. It was that the cultural betrayal and ideological enlightenment overweighed the diversion.

  If we say that the reinforcement has reflected conflicts between the cultural modernity and the social modernity, these between “purifying the language” and “the great soul” should be the internal crisis of the contemporary art. As the “great soul” overwhelmed, the sociological narration prevailed that of the aesthetic ones. Therefore, when contemporary Chinese culture still focused on the fields such as the folk vs. the authority, the avant-grade vs. the conservative, the very verge vs. the main stream and the elite vs. the public, collision of the modernity of external culture and the society and confrontations between the sociological narration and the aesthetic narration could be captured through the module of binary opposition.


  Part Four

  However, the contemporary art in the 1990s failed to develop in the light of the “great soul”, and it also did not soldier on “purifying the language”. Since 1992, reform and opening up not only provided favorable conditions for the prosperity of the popular culture and the consumer culture, but also accelerated China’s globalization progress. Thus cultural differentiation and reorganization sprung: the native culture and the modern culture, the national culture and the alien culture interwoven with each other. In the artistic field, on the one hand, the artists recognized the pioneering creativity in the works with hollow idealism and harsh imitation of the western modernism was futile in interpreting China’s cultural modernity during the “modern fine art” period. But it did not mean that the artists should abandon the social, cultural and spiritual criticizing. On the contrary, they need to alter the predetermined ideologies and return to the reality in their creation to improve the integration of art, culture, spirit and life. On the other hand, the Chinese artists met such challenges under globalization as the access into the western dominant exhibition mechanism, the casting away of the being exotic and the recognition of their own cultural identity…All the problems have put forward the Chinese contemporary art’s development in the 1990s. Meanwhile, some artists began to seek for breakthroughs from the native culture and open up the available cultural resources for the Chinese artists. However, this fresh cultural system was not based upon “the cultural conservatism” and “the parochial nationalism”. Its theme was to make contemporary Chinese native art become part of the world contemporary culture rather than a “roll” on part of western art foil. Anyway, the Chinese contemporary art need to synchronize with the world culture with pioneering creativity and cultural evaluation.

  Plague encountered by the Chinese contemporary artists has been reflected in “the Political Pop” and “the Cynical Realism” in the early 1990s. Without doubt, its emergence as a new art trend was of historical inevitability. However, some underlying problems come out as the two stylistic works prevailed. Its populace among the westerners should attribute to the political information catering to the post colonizers’ attitude towards Chinese culture reflected in the art works, because one of the results led by the economic globalization was the cultural globalization and the inevitable relating to the issue of cultural post colonization. For example, cover of a Time Magazine of November 19th, 1993 was the work of Fang Lijun’s, which was titled ---Not Just a Yawn But the HOWI That Could Free China. But the old name was A Man Yawning, which was not ideological directed and did not emphasize upon the value of cultural betrayal. Thus, it seemed quite well-intentioned to interpret Fang’s work in such words as “the HOWI That Could Free China”, which was a misunderstanding of China’s art on purpose. Under such circumstance, the avant-grade characteristics were endowed upon the artist’s cultural identity on the very verge.

  If we refer to the political incidents in China and the Eastern Europe form 1989 to 1992, it is easy to catch that as the largest socialist country in the world, China would be the greatest enemy in the ideological field for the developed capitalist countries. Besides ideological confrontations in economy after the Cold War, culture and art also became the major battlefield. With the dual contests of post colonization and the orientalism, “the political pop” and “cynical realism” happened to be exotic to them. These images with political sense were a reference on the edge and a contradiction towards the American “democracy and freedom”.

  In this cultural war, the political images have played a rather important role, since they were identifiable, what’s more important, these works with a strong sense of ideology could satisfy the western centralists’ attitudes towards the Chinese society, politics and culture. If images relating to politics have been unconsciously employed in the early “political pop”, the offspring political ideological images in the late 1990s have become a strategy by some speculative artists to be accepted by the western art institutions and the artistic market. One the most conspicuous symptom was the prevailing of the works with Chinese signals and the pan-political pop. A creation style with native cultural characteristic was legalized for the westerner’s recognition.

  From the other perspective, with concentrations (mainly about the creation of the “new generation”) upon then native culture, the real life and the putting forward of the “Chinese Experience”, the issue of cultural identity relating to the reality and the native culture became urgent under globalization. From the internal development of art, a rival between realism and modernism came to the stage. Although during “the New Trend” period, the modernism was more widely accepted the critic realism featured by “the scar” in the 1980s, the realism, with the influence of the anti-new trend, finally prevailed. However, the realism brought about by “the new generation” and “the cynical realism” was varied. Realism manifested by “the cynical” was greatly reflected in Li Xianting’s critic essay. He said “the main stream of cynical realism was mostly born in the 1960s and were the third generation artists graduating from college in the late 1980s. Therefore, great differences occurred between the first two generations of artists and the third generation in their living and artistic background. The end of the Cultural Revolution marked the maturity of the young artists and the introduction of the modern western ideologies helped foster the new generation artists of 1985. Thus idealism for saving the nation of the first two generations artists was born. However, artists of the third generation receiving primary education since the 1970s were abandoned in a constantly changing society and began their artistic career in the slogan of saving the Chinese culture from the former two generations of artists. Then, in 1989, they stepped into the society and found the dream of saving the Chinese culture broken after witnessing Chinese culture’s failure in western world. All left was piles of accidental dribs. Since then, the artists no longer believed the construction of a new value system to save the society or the culture, and turned to face the unavoidable self resumption. Therefore, the sense of boring was not only the most genuine feeling of these artists but also the best method of self savior.

  The sense of boring impelled them to abandon the previous artistic idealism and heroism, and thus averted their vision from the cynical concentrations to the horizontal observations on the vulgar reality. Boring was meaningless. Thus, it should not be treated with a reverent attitude. This also enabled them to describe themselves and the familiar, bored, unexpected or even absurd life slices with self-mockery, roguishness, cynicism and dauntlessness. Finally, the style of ruffian and humor forged.” ③

  In this competition, “the varied realism” prevailed realism since “the new trend” in the end. Of course, on the one hand, the falling of the realism shall owe to the language context since the series of political incidents in the 1980s. On the other hand, the contemporary artists found the simple imitation of the western style failed to obtain the respect of the westerners after stepping into the outside world in early 1990s. Obviously, the critic Wang Lin pointed out that “Chinese experience” was targeted. According to his explanation, the “Chinese experience” referred to the living and art experience of the Chinese people in this age, and the experience value was manifested by the artists’ current inner experience and spiritual reflections.

  In a word, compared with the 1980s, besides focusing upon the avant-grade betrayal (mainly about the performance art and the experiment images), the Chinese contemporary art also faced the post colonization invasion and the clashes of the popular and consuming culture accompanied by the globalization. Meanwhile, under globalization, issues such as the cultural identity, the survival strategy of the avant-grade art, the international exhibition system and so on have directly or indirectly influenced the Chinese contemporary art’s evolution and development. Therefore, the logic for the enforcement of Chinese art value paradigm mainly centered around the aspects such as the localization vs the globalization, the west vs the east, the cultural conservatism vs the post colonialism and so on.

  Part Five

  The values of Chinese contemporary art were established at the end of the 1990s, which was about being anti-main stream, avant-grade, experimental and critical in art and cultural language appeal. Thus a strong sense of humanistic connotation was endowed. In the formation of the value measurement, the enforcement of the value paradigm in the contemporary art became clear gradually. If we start from the following aspects such as the populace vs the official, the avant-grade vs the conservation, the very verge vs the main stream and the elite and the public in the 1980s, the values of the 1990s should be the following: the localization vs the globalization, the east vs the west, the cultural conservatism vs the post colonialism and so on. If something in common did exist in them, that should be the dual opposition that both relied upon besides the avant-grade consciousness and the cultural critic. However, the value paradigm began to divert due to the changes of external society and politics and the cultural context and the end of “the new trend” contemporary art movement since the 1990s.

  Actually, the internal alteration also took place in the existing value paradigm in the late 1990s. And two major factors might contribute to such changes. Firstly, it should be the language diversion of contemporary art. As mentioned previously, the most urgent mission of the contemporary art in the early stage was to break the realistic system of the cultural unification since the Cultural Revolution. However, judging from the development of linguistics, the contemporary art should originate and derive from the linguistic system rather than directly from the modern western art. “The scar” critic realism and the realism featured by Chen Danqing and the naturalism actually accelerated the internal fission of the realism. It was in “the new trend”, the western modern or post modern art finally become the creating resources of the contemporary artists. However, the artists’ options upon the various western artistic styles were also alert, among which only the supernaturalism, expressionism and the “pop” were largely favored. The globalization enabled the Chinese artists to gain a better understanding of the modern western culture. In the late 1990s, some overseas artists including Xu Bing, Cai Guoqiang, Gu Wenda, Zhang Huan and so on, made accomplishments and their success marked that the Chinese artists attained the same level with the west in language diversion. In general, the diversion symbolized that value paradigm of contemporary in the early 1980s was thoroughly invalid in the late 1990s. Concerning the arguments exerted by Wu Guanzhong’s “form in beauty”, criticizing on “the spiritual pollution” of the abstract art in the early 1980s, the behavior art on the Chinese modern art exhibition in 1989, we can find that, in the first two decades of Chinese contemporary art development, language betrayal was the main way for the value enforcement. However, it collapsed in the late 1990s.

  Secondly, it should be the declining in the narration of the linear art historic narration. Starting from “the scar” fine art and “the star art exhibition”, the contemporary art developed threading in the following the line: the “scar”---the “native”---the “new trend” fine art---the “post 1989 art”---the new generation---the political pop and the cynical realism---the gaudy art and so on. Then, what was characteristic of the linear art history? And how did it foster? On the one hand, the Chinese contemporary art were changeable and trend related. Though, “change” and “trend” was directed related to cultural betrayal and the enlightenment ideals contained in the contemporary art, to be objective, the pursuit of “innovation”---new proposals in new art ideologies and art activities exerted great energy for the development of contemporary art. Under this circumstance, some new critics reflected the fundamental values of the contemporary art narration. On the other hand, most of the time, the contemporary art was influenced by the external political, social and cultural atmosphere. Over the past 20 years, some new art trends emerged accompanied by every major social revolution, such as “the reflections upon the Cultural Revolution” of “the scar”, the further reform and opening up in the 1980s during the “new trend”, the social transformation of the post 1989 in the “new generation” and the “cynical realism”, and the formation of consuming society in the 1990s during “the gaudy art”. From this perspective, the development of linear art was correlated with the nation’s reform and opening up and the progress of cultural construction. However, the linear development collapsed towards the late 1990s. Among the various reasons, the key resulting in its collapse should be the cultural globalization since the 1990s, as the reference system consisting of the invasion of the alien culture and the contemporary western art forced the Chinese contemporary art to eliminate its relatively closed system. In other words, the horizontal development took the place of the longitudinal one.

  Thus, the existing paradigm turned to be invalid and the narrative logic of the binary opposition had to be adjusted.

  We noticed that great changes have taken place in the external cultural circumstance and the manifestation of contemporary art between the late 1990s and the year 2000. Thus, the new conditions and the artistic ecology would definitely change the generative paradigm of the contemporary art. If we take a glance at the development of the art, we can find several changes worth noticing. 1. Great changes have taken place in the connotation and denotation of “the contemporary art”, which were mainly about its avant-grade sense and betrayal in the 1980s and 1990s. However, they were exploited and swallowed by various opportunism, cynicism and utilitarianism. 2. The cultural globalization further developed with the economic globalization. China has been playing an increasingly important role since China’s entry into the WTO and the success of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The inevitability of reform and opening up and the globalization brought the unprecedented opportunities for the prosperity of the Chinese contemporary art. 3. Fundamental changes took place in the exhibition system and the external survival environment. The changes were mainly in the following three aspects: (1). A mature biyearly exhibition system was established at home. (2). The number of international exhibition platforms increased a lot. (3). The solo exhibition and group exhibition models formed by galleries and art expos become diversified in exhibiting. Different from the aspiration of going from the “underground” to the “stage” in the early stage, the contemporary art became legalized to some extent, and obtained some international exchange opportunities. However, such changes not only altered its external survival environment but also influenced the artists’ creation strategies. 4. The Chinese contemporary art has entered a complete marketization period since 2004. The creation under the marketization condition and that of the 1980s’ liberalizing ideas were thoroughly different. And in the new historical context, the public naturally began to revaluate the function and meaning of the contemporary art. 5. Some governmental art institutions has accelerated the progress of incorporating and absorbing the contemporary art and promoted the strategy of combination it with the national cultural development. Without doubt, that the changes eliminate the betrayals and the independent spirit of the early contemporary art. Meanwhile, lasting and far-reaching influences can be exerted upon the development of the contemporary art.

  Under new historical and cultural circumstances, the manifestation of generative paradigm has presented new changes in the art creation since 2000. Firstly, the multi standards have taken place of the binary opposition narrative logic with the declining of the linear art narration. Gradually, the broken, splashed, and micro ways of narration came into being. Then, “elimination politics” in the creation inclination came into being. Whether it is direct or indirect, a kind of unique tension occurred in the contemporary art and the ideologies in the 1980s and the 1990s, which, in return, has brought cultural added value to the contemporary art---pioneering cultural consciousness contained in reflection and evaluation. However, the so called “eliminating the politics” in the contemporary art has been trying to dissolve such a sense. But, from the perspective of creation methodology, the method was very polyphyletic: for example, some emphasized the conceptions, while some stressed the academic tradition and others valued “the return of the tradition”. The problem was not that the politics must be involved, what mattered was that the politically right works happed to be the most vital quality of the contemporary art---the social, cultural and spiritual evaluation. Though some works of “eliminating politics” were still to be reasonable in their existence such as those of conceptions and traditions, for most creation, the elimination of politics remained to be a strategy for its connections with the ideology and the fluidity in the art market. Finally, relativeness became the main content of the value. However, this did not mean that the works were meaningless, since the value manifestation must rely on the relationship between the reference and the context. Meanwhile, differences came into being due to the artists’ creation system, the existed art pedigree and different exhibition themes. Distinguished from the meaning given to the works by the artists in the past, the meaning of the work mainly originated from illustration and the context.

  Although we found it difficult to obtain the exact paradigm for meaning generation, at least some agreements were reached---such art forms as the modern or post modern art form and the contemporary art predetermined by language since the 1980s, the anti ironic politics and the art featured by cynicism were loosing their cultural context and pioneering spirit relying upon in the past.

  Part Six

  Actually, the feeling of the fuzziness and absence of the value paradigm forecasted that Chinese contemporary art has entered a transition period. For the art historians, one avoidable mission is to clarify the context of the contemporary art, evaluate some passing art phenomena and establish a new written model of art history. For the critics, they need to found a value standard with universal sense, establish a self-evaluation development pedigree and carry out constructive criticism upon the existing critic methods. It is important for artists to maintain personal independence, their works’ experiment, and the cultural standing of reflection and evaluation. The value paradigm of the contemporary art has been in an adjusted stage. To be more specific, it means that the artists have more options in creation---they can create their works according to the current trend in the society or following their own willingness, responding to the international or domestic trend or just considering the existed art historical logic.

  One purpose of the exhibition is to present the changes in recent contemporary art so as to discuss the relationship between the diversion of the value paradigm and the artists. As mentioned previously, declining in the logic of the binary opposition has resulted in relativity in the value. However, this relativity does not mean the absence of the value paradigm. It means that there exist no such things as stability and eternity. On the contrary, value is still in a state of dissociation, which calls for demarcation and illustration.

  Of course, it will be quite difficult to illustrate the works contained in this exhibition. This is not only because of the ideological differences but also the similarities of the artists’ evaluating of the value’s manifestation, which is the most important one. In spite of the fact, there still exist several common grounds: 1. Much attention has been paid to the internal boost of personal art creation. From The Untitled Series to The Deep Red Series in recent years, Wang Yigang has explored the abstract and the expressing fields. His efforts brought many new possibilities for Chinese contemporary abstract art by deconstructing the factors of the traditional landscape images, altering the internal visual structure and combining narration of the traditional landscape and the abstract schema. Over the past ten years, Yang Qian’s works have been trying to abandon the reconstruction module of the images, seek for a new visual imaging method and overthrow the traditional image survival mechanism. Actually, the artists’ focus upon and guarding in their personal creation style has reflected not only a sort of conceptual self-consciousness in the art history but also established a point for the value manifestation for the artists after the binary opposition’s dispelling.

  2. Evaluate the personal creation methods. The construction of methodology shall never lack the boost of personal creation style, which can also reflect the artists’ pondering over the value manifestation of the contemporary art. For example, the completion of Meng Luding’s Yuan Su series was under the mechanical assistance. The artists scattered the dyestuff upon the canvas by controlling the machines. Obviously, this is a creation method completely different from that of the abstract art. Although the works still appear to be the same from the surface, the realistic world is absent in the artists’ works which dispel not only the artists’ subjectivity but also their depicting nature. Meanwhile, it is also an “anti form” creation. Similar to Meng Luding’s creation method, Wang Guangle’s works also present the “anti-form characteristics”. For artists, the value manifestation is a sort of labor and experience. Its form is only co products after creation. The moment setting the creation methods, works of Meng Luding and Wang Guangle have been granted the “destruction” sense.

  3. Change the existing art narrative system and foster unique and personalized rhetoric devices. Yang Mian’s CMTK series have completely abandoned the traditional creating methods. Through changing the imaging procedures, the methods eliminate various sociologies and aesthetic connotations in the original pictures and also change people’s experience in appreciation. To some extent, Qin Qi’s works are anti imaging and anti narrative. His works are about suspicion rather than the reproduction of certain occasion. The suspicion targets not only at people’s daily appreciating habits and also at the existing reproduction methods. Exploration in a new visual expression style and the rhetoric devices has been a focus upon creation in recent years. Suspects upon the text narration and literal authority have made his works strongly conceptual.

  4. Explore the existing demarcation of the art forms by constantly experiment. He Yunchang is one of the most active artists in Chinese behavior art in recent years. Their works not only place the expression through the bodies at the very verge, but also involve such problems as political identity and the narration power. Evaluation upon the time, process and the biological experience has enriched the terminologies of the behavior art and imposed a poetic sense upon the works. Seeing from Jiao Xingtao’s The Real Counterfeit, the artists have integrated their “sculptures” with the daily products and the life occasions to make it fuse in the life as much as possible. Obviously, what reflected behind are the artists’ efforts to eliminate the demarcation between the art works and the objects. Actually, the boundary between the turnoffs and the artistic works became increasingly vague since the Duchamp. However, Duchamp failed to integrate the artistic objects in with daily life. Maybe this is the artists’ who lurked in the “behind” pondering over the question “what is the essence of art?” Similarly to Jiao Xingtao’s works, those of Yang Xingguang’s also employed a great amount of the turnoffs. The artists are trying to explore the tipping point between the simplest forms and the most complex values and the theatre-like exhibiting effects prolong the experience of appreciating the traditional sculptures. The Silk Scroll by Jiang Ji’an, has reproached the essence of art and placed the work’s value into a more individualized illustration.

  5. Focus upon conceptual expression. As a matter of fact, almost all the mentioned artists have involved the issues of conceptual expression. However, Liu Wei’s works are more different compared with those of the other artists. On the one hand, the artists would not always stress their own creation system. On the contrary, the artists hope to find fermenting point of the value manifestation in the existing art exhibiting system. On the other hand, the conceptions of the artists’ works come not from a relatively stable creation method. Adversely, one basic point of the work’s value is trying to break the language system and the recognition method long accepted by the public and to challenge people’s aesthetic experience.

  Such description of the works seems to be inadequate. But it still demonstrates that we can still obtain a way of illustrating the effects and values. Is this a contradiction? Actually, not at all. Externally, it seemed the evaluation of the vulgar works and excellent ones seems to be quite difficult---there lacks a standard and a contest; the history seems to be shoddy and the art history is absent. Correspondently, value paradigm becomes elusive and a feeling of absence occurred. However, from the other perspective, no standard means that it has already been standardized. No history indicates a fresh start, and no value paradigm declares the new arrival of a new one.

  In Wangjing Eastern Park, June. 22nd, 2012

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[Editor] 常霞