Flying Flowers Thrusting into the Eyes: On Deng Jianjin's Oil Painting
Source:Artintern Author:Feng Boyi Date: 2008-12-03 Size:
The richness and possibility root in the complexity and turbidity of life and human nature, but this complex turbidity always has direct even necessary association with the cultural context of certain historical phase. In that case, the sensitivity on history and culture of reality leads to the ar

The richness and possibility root in the complexity and turbidity of life and human nature, but this complex turbidity always has direct even necessary association with the cultural context of certain historical phase. In that case, the sensitivity on history and culture of reality leads to the artist’s changes on art concept and methodology, as well as subject, media, and language. For Deng Jianjin, a Chinese artist born in the 1960s, nothing seems more touching than the distortion caused by historical unrest and social transition. In the distorted appearance, it seems that no more than the continuous flow of “desire” can summarize the social characteristic of our era. Therefore, when we see Deng Jianjin’s resume of his oil painting creation, it’s clear that his art creation always aims at the key word “desire”, as well as the context of interpersonal relation about desire. However, the presentation of the desire mostly relates to the intersexual relationship. In other words, through this direct desire of human being, he addresses the internal conflict, embarrassment and absurdity. The rhetoric retouching the pornographic images is like the fig leaf that used by Adam and Eve to cover their lower bodies. This ornamentation is right the typical pan-cultural expression of body and Eros. Through it, we can see the instinct “he”/ “she” in Deng Jianjin’s works has for the trivial details in daily life, and his use of gorgeous colors exaggeratedly and vividly rendering the restlessness, decadence, and paranoid somewhat absurd—distorting the nightmare-like bodies in the bizarre eroticism. There’s the dazzle of “flying flowers thrusting into eyes”, and it condenses their indifferent paranoiac raving and coquettishness in the chaotic world of the noisy reality.

On desire, it seems that woman is always the protagonist. This is the unalterable principle in the tradition of western narrative. It’s just like that woman is always the trouble for the tradition of Chinese narrative, woman is always described as the pursuer of desire, even “evil temptation”. Feminists always angrily question this judgment. They cannot accept the materialization of women in the narrative of art expression, as well as the description of women as consumer animal and the origin of troubles. From this point of view, Deng Jianjin cannot be the exception. He not only wants to lock women as the protagonists of desire, but also let the women in his screens to carry the symbols and themes of desire in the urbanization process in the transition of Chinese society. Although there’s no lack of male images in Deng Jianjin’s works, they are no more than the supporting roles highlighting the evil desire. Deng Jianjin’s works have gorgeous colors, weird shapes, and even some bloody air. The sufficient image seems to emphasize the interests of formalism in visual images, which is to convert female to be pure form and exhaust the form to a degree of thriller. But I think his intention is not of the moral judgment of the social tradition, but is to ignore or weaken the androcentrism of the rights police. By the treatment of the exhausted and virtualized typical images, he highlights their vivid and absurd living state, reflecting an evil state hidden in the consumer culture in the current Chinese society. The contrast of their meretricious and smooth facial features and deformed limbs seems they are shocked, perplexed and looking for something. The flow of the desire rooted in heart and the psychological complex of vent interpret their life dreams which are constantly alienated in the survival process. Through these works, we can see that Deng Jianjin’s intention is to give the greatest effect on content and form to the key image of action in the screen. This effect has the complicated symbolic significance. The situation of our current society, the growing material consumption, is symbolized and realized by these weird pornography, and even the lowly outcome of these lives are brutally and mercilessly painted. Then the visual image is entered into a realistic level from the non-realistic level to express his profound concerns for the current social reality. In the transition period with the intense social changes, the pressure of survival and the uncertainty of future make the people fall in the boundless hardship on material life and spiritual life. Their spiritual world is fogged by the emotions of depression, anxiety, boredom and loneliness. Especially for those living in the bottom of society, their situation is worse and the reality for them is more severe. Here, the complex of human nature is entangled with the tease from life, showing the impermanent and unpredictable fate.

I am always surprised by the explicit performance of the naked women and eroticism in Deng Jianjin’s oil painting. In fact, in the current art narrative, it’s rare to see the particularly explicit ways or the direct description of female as “evil temptation”. Well, what’s the relation between Deng Jianjin’s expression and the cultural characters of this era? This is also my doubt when I study his creation, because this treatment of female image is on behalf of the imagination and requirement of a male society to women, yet it does not get rid of the inherent role of adherence. With the development of the times, women appear to gain the autonomous, independent and free gender identity, yet their integral personality is vague. We have entered into an era of internet, the internet technology provides adequate technical supports for the characters of freedom, openness and randomness, as well as provides a selective space of expression where one can freely choose the expression way and do a new recognition and reorganization of the social images in these choices. This is the new visual way of spread and display never been tried, it is also a new expression system more autonomous. Its significance is not only using a new visual concept to express the situation of survival, but also touching the usual watch model and experience through which we receive images, as well as recording the history of self-awareness for our existences. One detail is that we frequently communicate with the strangers in the virtual world, open our personal lives, disclose the details of our private lives to maintain the emotional ties with the invisible strangers, build up the illusion of intimacy with strangers. Intimacy is the other side of privacy, in other words, it’s possible only if the substantial privacy exists. To project a memorable image to strangers, the unhidden self has to be shown. We do the same things as others, moreover we try to prove our credibility by comprehensive exposal. But this intimacy only can be realized in private situation. If people don’t disclose their anxiety and confusion to the strangers, the trust necessary for intimacy cannot be built up, as well as the solid attention according to the gain of privacy. Therefore, the randomness of exposure in fact demonstrates people’s widespread anxiety of identity and the increasing desire to please others. If the public intimacy is an illusion hoping to be different with others by the endless demands of nude, it’s doomed to be a performance of illusion, because we are both audiences and performers. Willingly exposing body in exchange for vague emotional ties and security sense has become a universal psychological complex. It might be one of the symptoms of our age. In that case, in my personal interpretation, can we find the logic relationship between the origin of the images and the naked bodies?

As the same generation, the people born in the 1960s have borne an impersonal confusion. Through the so-called art creation, we consciously end something and we are questioning. Perhaps the secret hidden in our heart is just a beginning. There’s some place outside the world, which may not be an ideal state, but is a largely open space. There’s still some place inside or outside of the reality to place ideal. That is the responsibility taking social obligation, as well as the unique performance and sensitivity of an artist. In Deng Jianjin’s oil paintings, perhaps we also can observe the criteria and pursuit only for the 60’s, namely, knowing something we cannot do, or knowing something we can do but don’t do.

[Editor] Zhang Shuo