Impressions of My Painting Pals Author:Li Gang Date: 2013-08-14 Size:
I have been fighting alone for seven years since graduation from my academy of fine arts. I kept on taking part in exhibitions by ones and twos, freely but unordered. Suddenly asked to write something I find nowhere to put my pen down recalling the past. In the night, sitting by the window after stopping my creation work, I sort out the events in my memory from time to time trying to provide a more detailed background for this exhibition in order to share with the viewer.

  I have been fighting alone for seven years since graduation from my academy of fine arts. I kept on taking part in exhibitions by ones and twos, freely but unordered. Suddenly asked to write something I find nowhere to put my pen down recalling the past. In the night, sitting by the window after stopping my creation work, I sort out the events in my memory from time to time trying to provide a more detailed background for this exhibition in order to share with the viewer.

  In 2003 Yang Jiayong and I jointly participated in the 3rd China Oil Painting Exhibition. His preserved meat series gave me a very deep impression. He is a pure man and so in his art world “flesh” is a naked reality that is personified, emotionalized and has become signs with which he describes everything so that his realistic sketches conform to no conventional pattern but infuses the queer, perilous characteristics of the traditional Chinese painting by cleverly using the striped screen and leaving a lot of blank in the frame to finely describe at the position where his brush touches, in a large spacing but small density showing a profound artistic conception, which turns out to be thoroughly beyond the concept of traditional oil painting

  My “Green Thought No. 1” works was made when expressionist lessons were in sessions, which is in extremely simplified colors such as white, medium yellow and jewelry blue. In the 160×160cm frame, green is used to my heart’s content to describe myself who went of out the mountains; childhood games and dreams flash visibly in the distance; in a purely green world included are also non-adaption and inability from the green mountains and clear rivers to fit in the city. In my eyes and from the bottom of my heart there are no grey buildings, no bustling dysphoria or material desire, but only quietness and comfort from the remote village. Having gone out of the hummock, I miss that patch of green grassland from the city bloating my a simple feeling in contradiction

  Facing the pressure of life after my graduation, I worked as a part-time teacher for a pre-examination training course in order to earn enough to make ends meet. Then questions related with life and the environment gradually began to crop up in my thought. After two years of hard efforts, my sense of responsibility and pushing psyche helped me to run the training class well, which too consumed much of my time and energy and affected my oil painting process, even to a standstill. In 2006 after a few months of conflict and torment, I finally decided to give up the training class that had already been on the right track; with the money that I earned I picked up my rusty painting brushes again. As I couldn’t bear the nameless void and loneliness under a clothing and worry-free condition, I just discovered that artistic creation has infused in my living and life, which coincides Mr. Liu Hong’s advice to me: When you find you have no time for making money and painting, you have to give up one.

  Two years hard labor and suffering from contradiction, which enabled me to embark on the right track, turn out to be assets for myself. After making a full stop on my Green Thought series, I started from zero again and it was like a new birth. So I believe 2006 is a turning point for my creation and it also enabled me to take an important step ahead in my life, character, and creation guideline, whereby gradually establishing a theme and humanistic thinking for my second batch of important works – “Chaos·Birth”.

  In the process when I transformed myself, Yang Jiayong stepped into my predicament of 2005. At that time, he had been aware and we also exchanged ideas, but I couldn’t get rid of it. Seeing a tight pal plunged into the mire but being unable to help, it’s a contradiction and suffering that anybody may have to experience. In his “preserved meat” works, he drew “pig’s feet”, “black dog” and a number of works; in times of unstable life and work, his works almost changed in an unstable condition that tells of his agitation and uneasiness but unyieldingly not ready to give in. His bitter experiences are even worse than mine as he couldn’t control himself being tired of pressures from life and his conception for his “future family”, and that seriously hindered his creation work. After a heart-pounding misfortune, he broke away from that state as he shook off the burden.

  In the same period, another artist gradually became our good pal. He is Hu Zhipeng, a school brother three grades lower than us. He was gifted in painting envied by his fellow schoolmates, so he got into the contemporary art thinking of the critical realism at an early date.

  In my creation work after graduation, I viewed his series of paintings in their entirety for the first time. He himself is often hidden in his works as autism, madness, bloodiness and abnormality fill a gloomy, deep and serene space. In the space, however, he made aesthete expression in a mental disassociation way – an artistic attitude that is brave to allow for a naked description of his private space and darkness, which received good appraisal in the art circle despite the fact that some viewers couldn’t accept his works being hung in their halls. I think this is a question of facing squarely or avoiding it; in faithfully describing the reality, he chose to face up to darkness out of brightness whereas most audience try to polish it as bright as daytime even in darkness because they are afraid to face up to it as well as too shy to face up to it. Of course, they may perhaps expound it in a “heavy taste” so that they can release themselves.

  In 2009 Hu Zhipeng underwent a circumstance similar to ours again – opting to teach students in the pre-examination class, all for a living.

  At that time, Yang’s situation had improved. After a thorough release, his artistic creation was also released after suffering and became mature day by day as his attention shifted to details of life at the street corner, in the vegetable garden, and every ordinary element kept on occurring profusely in his new works in brilliant colors, full of youthful vigor at which he said confidently: I have discovered myself at last – a reality that is physically related with myself.

  In that period, I got to know artist Cheng Yi and his works. I had heard of much about his legendary stories before I knew him – breathtaking fighting capacity as he could paint and drink wine the whole night without stop; he is such a true man that you can never imagine how careful and meticulous he is when working on paintings. In his works we see in the huge dark background he uses fine lines to sketch the contours repeatedly in a seemingly disorderly or orderly way that appears to be rigorous, sober and reasonable, whereby he compresses his freedom and emotion in the lines as fine as hair as the only applicable means. Perhaps a concept has supported the structure of his works, but till now I still can’t understand his works completely.

  Later, he introduced tow artists, namely Cao Weiguo and Zhang Kaixi, to me, with whom we are now tight pals, of course. A text message sent by Cheng Yi to appoint Cao Weiguo and Zhang Kaixi to discuss something in Luodai – an ancient town in the northern suburb of Chengdu, which perhaps marks a prelude to this exhibition; at a certain exhibition they saw my works and so they also appointed me. So we three men are the first initiators. At their invitation I recommended Hu Zhipeng and Yang Jiayong. Among us, Zhang Kaixi is the eldest and has covered a longer distance on the road than us as many years of whetting have made him more mature and steady. It’s like the way he paints – painting peacefully, telling peacefully vivid childhood stories one after another, from which you seem to hear the happy laughter and cheerful voices of the children. Cao Weiguo is an active man, you feel him active and restive even when he is standing still, always trying to find things to do and so good he is at eating, drinking and playing. Certainly he is also the youngest of us all having the pushfulness fresh from the academy of fine arts to make a living wandering about from place to place, which is shown to the full in his works as he uses propylene and oil painting together and combines motley in heavy coloring and abstract expressionism so that his works appear in a sense of freshness and independence. Seeing his working state: a few frames lying on the floor, a few bowls of colors placed untidily in the corner, colors flowing from a pile of extremely dirty brushes; seeing him: bareheaded, bearded, wearing a vest and pants on his chunky body and a pair of slippers that flop, you will feel it is a butcher that is painting, full of contradiction and ridicule. It’s just this state that enabled him to have created numerous works. In a few days when you don’t see him, new paintings will fill his studio with vitality and explosive forces being the great characteristics on his road to art.

  Six persons, six artists, six lively traces in life, and six different artists with relatively independent artistic veins have joined each other together. We chat about life, art and common topics and different viewpoints; it’s in the same way today with our common presentation which we expect to offer to the viewers, but what is finally presented are six differences – that is our state.

[Editor] 常霞