The Injury of Pictures
Source:Artintern Author:Wang Min’an Date: 2008-11-22 Size:
Luo Fahui’s bodies and plants are extremely supple and voluptuous. They are muscles or petals and all casting off their innate fetters and tenaciously reaching out.

 Luo Fahui, Prodigy No.2, Oil on Canvas, 180×180cm, 2008

Luo Fahui’s bodies and plants are extremely supple and voluptuous. They are muscles or petals and all casting off their innate fetters and tenaciously reaching out. When looking purely from this angle, they seem full of nutrition, vitality, flexibility and power, but there’s something amiss in that as these body parts and flower petals are striving to show off their potential, they are muffled by a rigid, cold grayness. It seems to want to close off the supple, healthy body’s abilities, creativity and desire. On one hand, the life force is vividly present, but on the other hand, the extinguishing power that counters it is not giving up, and seems to want to keep the vitality down. Is this the internal conflict of the bodies (both human and plant)? We see that the bodies are not provoked by swelling stimulating colors, but are wrapped in tranquil colors with hints of death. We could ask, how could such idle bodies appear so vigorous? On the other hand, we could also ask, why do such vigorous bodies have such cold-blooded colors? It would seem that the bodies themselves have been split by these conflicting forces. This is the internal conflict of the body, the conflict between the body’s vigorous power and the cold colors. It is a pure conflict of form. Here we see the basic paradox that lies within the body (human or plant).

But, further on, we see that in these paradoxical bodies lies a second paradox. These flowers and these bodies have a hint of red, and this red is an expression towards blood as it is an expression towards injury (scars and disabilities). Here, this red is just like a contrast with the overall gray; it letsitself be contained in a tinyregion, but it is in just these kinds of small spaces (sometimes as small as a single point) that the energy of the red can really shine and burn in a concentrated way and break the oppressiveness of the overall gray. It has opened a rift in the cold color layout of the image, forcing a contrasting object into this gray background. Here, red has broken gray’s absolute monopoly, and brought a situation of radical internal opposition to the picture. At the same time , the wounds expressed by these apparitions are aimed at the health of these voluptuous bodies. These bodies are so voluptuous and so healthy that they beg for a wound, a cut, a destruction of their health-it is as if only wounds and disabilities can help them find their proper place. In this way, the red has made the supple, healthy bodies different in another way. There’s a sort of punctum directed at voluptuous, supple and healthy bodies (in the sense of Roland Barthes punctums).It is just this kind of punctum that further naturalizes the body’s unity and voluptuousness. A game of mutual defamation has begun between health and injury. It is this added apparition, the red apparition, that brings the two oppositional games onto the board:the opposition of red and gray, and the opposition ofhealth and injury. If we think about the rich implications of blood-blood as a symbol for vitality and as a symbol for injury-then the opposition becomes even richer: on one hand, the blood is forcing a supplementation of the functions that are being suppressed by the gray, so it is a symbol for vitality; at the same time, it is an overflowing consumption of vitality, so it is also the ruin of vitality. Blood richens and strengthens the functions of the body, but it also expresses the destruction of the body’s functions. The body, from the overall picture of ability, has once again fallen into a state of chaos.

These red apparitions (no matter where they are situated in the picture or how big they are)make up punctums of the entire picture; they have broken the wholeness of the image flow. We can see that some of these punctums are multi-laered:in the flower series, the hole is gaining emphasis and strength, and the black, bottomless hole itself is a punctum (black penetrates white); the red that surrounds the black is a punctum of the black(red penetrates black). In other words, the red is a punctumof a punctum; it is progressively, doubly penetrating the entire picture. Similarly in the mother and child series, the child is the punctum of the mother(all they have is a relationship of non-symmetrical positioning and size, the entire mother-child relationship has been removed).The child is so out of sync with its mother that it can’t see it’s all that the mother has. On the other hand, from the image, the child is the punctum of the mother while red is the punctum of the child. The red punctures the mother by puncturing the child. From this we can see a series of splits in the image:a split between large and small, between red and white, between empty wholes and voluptuous fullness, between injury and health, and between decay and life. These are the external splits of the body(as opposed to internal, psychological splits).In some way, this is also the body’s purely visual split-here, the body has never shown signs of consciousness. The people here are usually asleep, with their eyes tightly closed. They appear as buried, pure bodies(without any clothing or other decoration). For this reason, it is better to see this split as purely in image, rather than as a psychological split (people and plants can easily draw people into psychological explorations). It is a visual split that uses people and plans as carriers.

In this sense, red is an expression of injury, but it never purely expressed injury of the flesh, rather it has more importantly expressed a visual injury. This injury has not expressed the hardship of psychological and plants have not been hurt by hardship. To put it correctly, these bodies and plants have been cut by the red. The red has cut their peace, their tranquility, their “naturalness”and the painting legends of bodies and plants. The whole body is closing its eyes tightly, or you could say that it is like a sculpture, a dead sculpture.It has withdrawn all of its sensory machinery. From its expression we see that it is without the slightest hardship, the slightest emotion or the slightest knowledge. Is the red a dispersal? It is, but not a simple dispersal of the face and the mouth. It is not a psychological dispersal at all, but a dispersal of the entire painting, of the image itself. Only with a dispersal of the image (rather than psychological or corporeal), can the fragrance of the flower be allowed.

[Editor] Zhang Shuo