Zhu Shangxi:The Essence of Abstract Sculpture is to Convey Energy
Source:Artintern.net Author:Zhu Shangxi Date: 2013-11-08 Size:
Indeed, other than merely the anatomy, we underline and even purport to the abstract elements when forming a representational sculpture of human figure, such as, its pure form, space, structure, spirit and charm, mortise and tenon joints. Some masters even readily give them priority over the figurative subject matter and theme.

Indeed, other than merely the anatomy, we underline and even purport to the abstract elements when forming a representational sculpture of human figure, such as, its pure form, space, structure, spirit and charm, mortise and tenon joints. Some masters even readily give them priority over the figurative subject matter and theme. If an artist had no such aspiration for the abstractness or metaphysics at all, but only the narrative content, his / her work would appear too tasteless to even be endured. By contrast, in front of an abstract sculpture, our senses will be immediately invoked by these elements, and its metaphysical idea, method and outcome feel more pure. It is in managing the three or even more dimensions, consisting of points, lines and planes, that sculptors’ wisdom, or thought, becomes incarnated; moreover, by integrating the language of materials in themselves, sculptors can have their inquiries into as well as conclusions about the material world expressed more uniquely and incisively, and, consequently, have the so-called highly generalized poetics achieved.

  However, due to having been cultivated by the French and Soviet academic schools and conditioned by the socialist realism over a long period, Chinese sculptors have cumulated internally a deep sense of representation. Thus, we find ourselves in such a dilemma: it seems that we have grasped the history of modernism in literature, no problem at all; we favor the abstract sculpture, too. Even so, once we start trying it, we are still haunted by the representational thinking, and dictated by the inertness to describe and to narrate.

  Something interesting we noticed in all three national workshops on abstract sculpture is that, when directly confronting the abstract sculptures, quite a few among the students who have never received academic training tended to be more adaptive, not bearing the burden of representation, and somewhat their works look more abstract stylish.

  Of course, those who are academically proficient in the metaphysics of figurative sculpture are also, equally, unhampered to switch while learning and researching the abstract sculpture.

  In his monograph “Modern Sculpture: A Concise History,” Herbert Read concludes with a whole chapter on the essential characteristics of modernist sculpture after having expounded a variety of its styles. Modernist sculpture in modernism period, as he argues, has reshaped its mission from merely expressing the “beauty” to revealing the “energy-force-vitality.” For example: Auguste Rodin’s conveyance of the vitality from inside out of his figurative sculptures; Jean Hans Arp’s and Joan Miró’s conveyances of the sense of growth of the vitality within biomorphs; Cubist and Futurist sculptors’ conveyances of the force-lines of motion; the Constructivists’ conveyances of the industry’s explosive dynamics. For Read, the archetype who conveys energy is Henry Moore. However, the key to convey energy is how to manipulate and grasp the space. Rodin said that depth generates strength. In other words, three-dimensionality of space generates strength. If the energy of your work feels not enough, then, you are better to scrutinize whether or not the three-dimensionality is enough.

  Perhaps humans are used to observing and thinking in two dimensions, but sculptors ought to excel at three-dimensional thinking. The most difficult of three-dimensionality is the in-depth thinking. Indeed, the formal depth is the kernel of spatial issues. In mouths of as well as theses by the Western modernism sculptors, the terms of form and space can be heard or read all the time. Each artist has his / her own experience and opinion about form and space and therefore there come the discrepancies among different artists’ works.

  The essence of abstract sculpture is to convey energy, but not the aesthetic design; the inferred meaning of the conveyance of energy of various states and sizes can help humans to declare any of their emotions and thoughts, this point has been proven by many classic works.

  For us, the abstract sculpture might be the supplementary instruction that happened later than it is supposed to. Although I don’t agree with the saying of “supplementary instruction,” I think abstract sculpture, as a scientific path to refine sculptural language, is indispensable-just like a singers has to exercise voice, and a composer has to be proficient in harmonic principles. As to the nationalization of abstract sculpture and the individualization of artists themselves, I think it is redundant to ask these questions. After all, humans are not the repetitive machines who never change, but rather the higher being who are capable of thinking. While absorbing and studying, they, be it consciously or under-consciously, have their individual experience and national identity infusing into their works. As for how much of it, there is no any ration, as it is impossible to be. If given enough time, nationalization and artistic individualization will come to being naturally.

  In China, the development of abstract sculpture wants irrigation, and the ripeness wants time.


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