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【评论】冯博一:关于尚扬艺术的视觉修辞及其他

On Shang Yang's Works: Visual Rhetoric and Others

2012-04-23 13:39:21 来源:艺术家提供作者:冯博一
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  我曾看过中国法律文化研究学者梁治写过一篇文章,题目叫“从清末学风的‘趋新趋旧’说起”(见《读书》1985年第1期),印象颇深。所谓“趋新趋旧”是指从中国近现代以来,一些革命者和文人学者早年曾致力于系统介绍西方学术思想和科学观念,积极介入现实,以改造社会为己任,筚路蓝褛而功不可殁。但随着年龄的增长,尤其是行至晚年,这些前卫斗士对西方的科学、政制失望之极,复而转向中国传统文化的学究之中。当时,经历了这种转变的人物恐怕不在少数,如王国维、严复、陈独秀等等。最近,我又在一本杂志上看到:说电影导演“凯歌老了”,他所代表的“一个时代”已经结束。虽然他们身上还有当年叛逆者的影子,却已变成可望温情的角色。尽管他们仍属另类,却似乎已从时代的焦点上“离休”下来,退隐江湖。由此,我推而广之地近观我们艺术界当年“星星美展”、“85′美术思潮”的一些前卫艺术家现在的画和对艺术的立场态度,他们也没能超越“趋新趋旧”的历史归宿。当然,就他们而言,其创作不过是个人创作生涯中的转变,但以时代观之,其中却蕴含有特殊的意义。而仅就美术界的这种“趋新趋旧”现象也并不仅限于一人一事。一旦创作风格化之后,也就在固有的模式中,只是强调自身语言和风格的提升和丰富,而与批判性、探索性则渐行渐远。或许这是社会变迁带来的各种矛盾在艺术家生涯中的反映,抑或也是作为个人的性情、阅历,以及时间、年龄所使然。简言之,这是一种值得思考的文化现象。然而,在美术界也不乏超越这一归宿的另类之人,比如吴冠中,其对艺术,对艺术生态的敏锐思考和具有现实针对性的态度与立场,始终伴随他一生的艺术追求。在我看来,尚扬作为年纪已近七十的艺术家,其创作基本上是以社会现实为依据,以批判性、实验性和具有明确的个人化审美视角,倾力表现社会现实内部的异化人性,以及个体生命在现实存在空间中的际遇。在面对历史、现实与个人的关系时,则更注重个体生命的精神内质,更强调人性内部各种隐秘复杂的存在状态,显示出沉潜往复的一种回归,但不是简单地寻求世外桃源,那是一种为逃避现实的过于喧嚣而成为一种廉价的当代性体现,而是在精神的静观里提供思想的资源,不断提供思考、判断的各种可能性。或者说过于“入世”是沉湎于现实而迷失自我,倒是以个人经验出发的“出世”,忠实于自我的人,可以找到本我的存在。

  在中国当代艺术的江湖中,尚扬的艺术轨迹似乎很难确定出明确、具体的位置。如果说前卫艺术意味着对通常艺术格局的格格不入,那么尚扬当然身在其中。因为他早在上世纪60年代初的大学期间,就已经开始质疑主宰中国美术教育和创作地位的苏俄绘画观念,并开始从欧美艺术系统,以及中国传统艺术中找寻自己的艺术坐标;80年代初,他研究生毕业时创作的“黄土”系列作品,并积极介入到“八五美术新潮”之中;到80年代后期利用现成品方式和对材料属性实验的《状态》系列;以及2000年之后的“大风景”、“大肖像”系列;乃至还在创作之中的“董其昌计划”系列作品等等,尚扬始终在不断地实验当中。但这一定位的同时,却又有些过于宽泛和空洞。对于尚扬的这种状态,当时就有人说“尚扬太多变了,我们甚至不知道他属于哪种风格,哪种流派,我们搞不清楚,也无法归纳他”(见《画风》2011•卷20,第49页“从心所欲——尚扬访谈”,四川出版集团、四川美术出版社)。倘若将中国的前卫艺术指涉在90年代,或者直至延续到现在所谓的后现代主义,好像尚扬处在若即若离的间隔之中。因为尚扬的艺术是一种还原,返还到艺术创作之初,重新接近人与思想、与绘画语言,以及艺术与生存本源性的关系之上。与现代主义艺术相比,尚扬显得相当人文主义,与后现代主义相较,他拒绝无意义的创作,与现实主义相比,他是一种内向的趋于自我的创作,拒绝复制形而下的生活图景。他说:“从心所欲是一件会让人喜悦的事情。从他人所欲是一种痛苦。当然,在今天的社会里面,很多人好像更适应后者。⋯‥选择从心所欲,才有可能产生真正的艺术。”(见《画风》2011•卷20,第49页“从心所欲——尚扬访谈”,四川出版集团、四川美术出版社)。依此,我以为尚扬是属于不见容于通行“艺术”模式的艺术家之一。

  与其说这是对尚扬艺术创作历程简单的评述,倒不如说是我的个人己见而已。现在,我觉得其实这都无所谓,仁者见仁,智者见智。但历史的进程和现实的多样化往往不是简单和整齐划一的。从我目前的思考,更关心的是由尚扬个人的艺术经验引伸出中国当代艺术创作立场的倾向问题。

  自1919年“五四”新文化运动以来,中国现代艺术的显流一直是一种文化激进主义,“为人生而艺术”的呐喊始终伴随着中国现当代艺术史的变化,其根源在于我们在世界文化中落后的历史处境。我们试图通过几代人艰难的集体奋斗和对于世界秩序的反抗而获得一种中国历史目标的实现,这一历史目标就是中国的富强和个人的解放。虽然反抗和斗争取得了相当的成就和获得了历史肯定,但显然我们“未完成”的现代性焦虑一直是我们文化的中心主题。一方面具有强烈的“弱者”意识,另一方面,还有强烈的“反抗”意识。正是这两种意识决定了我们“现代性”价值观和伦理的选择。虽然在1949年新中国成立后,这种左翼的激进主义态度被官方异化为一种带有政治权力的意识形态,但仍然影响或隔代延续着这种革命性立场。因此,1979年开始的改革开放与社会转型以来的中国前卫艺术,其实也正是以此为标榜的,挑战传统,颠覆秩序,批判现实,甚至采取某种极端的行为方式。而中国前卫艺术之所以如火如荼,不断受到国内外的青睐,与这样的现实境遇有着密切和直接的关系。当然也正因为如此而造成这一“江湖”的机会主义和急功近利的种种现象存在,也是被舆论不断诟病的原因。而被左翼所遮蔽的另一潜流——“为艺术而艺术”的传统,在启蒙和救亡的现代性之外,仍然有一种“审美的现代性”在发挥作用。但倾向于“审美现代性”的纯艺术的这一传统在中国的现代性中一直没有得到充分实现的机会,也一直在中国现代性的艺术系统中受到压抑。九十年代以来的中国全球化和市场化的进程和中国的高速经济成长带来了一系列和五四以来的现代性完全不同的历史背景和社会形态。运用五四以来的“阐释中国”的框架难于面对今天中国的现实的变化,“为人生”的想象其实已经难以面对今天的中国的全球化和市场化之下的人生。艺术似乎终于达到了前所未有的“纯度”,终于变成了一个安静的领域,让人在其中进行探索。这正是一个“新世纪文化”的表征。“为人生”的艺术原来承载的沉重使命已经被悄然消解,纯艺术似乎有了发展自己独立性的客观基础,艺术也越来越真正回归“自身”。这当然不是说艺术有一种孤立于世界之外的“自身”,而是说我们对于艺术的想象和要求有了改变,而这改变恰恰是艺术随时代而改变的新形态,艺术逐渐变成了一种高级的、边缘的人性话语。

  那么,尚扬三十多年的艺术历程既有“为人生而艺术“,也有”为艺术而艺术“的两条线索穿插交织并行的特征。尚扬在上世纪80年代末90年代初的《状态》系列作品,虽然画面中没有直接的现实喧嚣,只是一幅幅冷峻与静谧的场景和抽象的器物,但思考的逻辑是直接从现实中汲取的,折射出那个时期人们对现实的不安与茫然,在精神上无所归期的漂浮,以及对现实本身荒诞性的隐喻。到90年代的《地风景》系列,尚扬的创作视角开始从“状态”中的场景、器物,转向他内心的“风景”。这种风景的描绘都是从苍凉的情境展开的,潜隐出时代的气息和所谓新时代勃勃生机背后的暗影,进一步聚焦的是生存环境所导致的冷漠、单调和缺乏个性,以及指涉出现代主义所带来的视觉上的不毛,更深地延伸出他对现代生活无机品质的质疑。这种丧失了文化记忆的风景,事实上不仅仅作为一种现代主义文化象征的呈现,它同时也是中国普遍城市开发与规划形象的一种真实面貌。与他早期的景物相比较,其创作思路是一脉相承的,只不过具体的场景有所不同,在油画语言上更为纯粹、简约。而《董其昌计划》系列,好像与现实愈来愈远而显得淡泊、无为,更注重个人内心静观的认知与体验,以及对油画语言的不断深入与纯化,充满了禅宗的意味。并试图在在意念与意境中体现东方的情怀,别有一番新鲜的语感和语境,显示了他的绘画跨出了对于“似真性”的追求之后,在一种非具体的关系中,凸现了一种“不确定性”的作用,一种无法把握的无限变动。这种“不确定性”对于尚扬来说,决不是一种形式,而是一种具体而微的生存经验与内心感受。尚扬不是一个仅沉缅于形而下的艺术家,只是他作品开启的“空地”,在某些情形下,不具有实在性,他是有意造成画面的某种空白——它们也可能是一种存在的“空地”,或是一种反抗实在性的虚无。虽然他捕捉的是自然场景的表象,或者说构成了他作品的主要背景,但同时在他的画中又成为那种被人们称之为象征性的隐喻。其实,尚扬的自然景观浸透了社会历史内涵,它们总是具有文化的暗喻性质。但也正为此,他实际又把人文内涵真空化、抽象化了。那些自然物态作为能指构成自在自足的语境,历史人文内容则只是隐约闪现。对于尚扬来说,不能转化为自然事物的人文历史是无效的,但他的转化本身也就改变了历史原典。这正是尚扬艺术的奥秘——通过把人文历史自然化,他的话语获得了无限的可能性。如他的《董其昌计划》、《风化日志》《册页》等系列所做的那样,他把历史与现在与个人并置在一起,甚至被他强行置入在某一场景中,它们变成一些事物,一些景致,他们的意义被强行“此在”化了。可以看到他的自然场景对人文历史的改写。他宁可把一切社会历史的叙事打碎,置放于自然场景表征之下。也许艺术家的思想是矛盾的,人类生活仅只有表象的不同,它们的实质都不得不趋向于同一。但尚扬的“一”,并不是固定不变的理性的“一”,而是具有千变万化的超自然的无限。

  显然,尚扬的视觉修辞方式远非局囿于作品本身,它已扩展到中国绘画问题在当下文化语境之下寻求建构当代价值的新的可能性,以及中国当代艺术的现代转型乃至创新和边界等一系列问题。从这点来说,尚扬既延承了“五四”新文化运动血脉,又延展了“85美术思潮”启蒙与反思的人文关怀。同时,对这种状态的艺术转化与表现,又是通过具有自然场景前的个人独白给予呈现的。因为,对当代文化境遇的敏感,导致了尚扬对以往艺术形式在方法上的持续变化,而艺术家需要的就是用一种规定为“艺术”的方式和话语来体现这种观念性思考与探索性实验。可以说,尚扬的艺术个案为中国当代艺术的转化提供了一种视觉样本的参照。

  I have read an impressive article entitled "Changing Trends in Learning Styles of Late Qing Dynasty (See Reading 1985, No.1) by Chinese scholar Liang Zhi. The so-called "trends" refer to the fact that revolutionists and scholars endeavored to introduce Western scientific thoughts systematically and participate social activities positively regardless of cost in modern Chinese history. But with time passing by, especially when they came to old age, these pioneers felt extremely disappointed toward Western science and political systems, and thus returned to research traditional Chinese culture. At that time, many people might have experienced this shift, such as Wang Guowei, Yan Fu, and Chen Duxiu. Recently, I read in a magazine that since "film director Chen Kaige is getting old", "the era he represented has ended". Although their rebellious part remained, they have turned into tender roles. They have already retired from the spotlight of the era into tranquility, even though they might still belong to an alien group. Therefore, I took the chance to observe the difference between those avant-garde artists' current works and their previous ones in "Stars Art Exhibition" and "85 New Tide Art Movement". The result is that they failed to escape from the historical destination of changing trends as well. Of course, for them, those are merely changes in their creative career. But from historical perspective, it has special meanings. However, this phenomenon is not limited to individual cases in the art world. Once the style was formed, most artists only stressed on the enhancement of their own approaches in the inherent mode, and drifted away from the critical, exploratory trend. Perhaps this is a reflection of social changes brought by various contradictions in artist's career, or a result of individual's temperament, experience, time, age, etc. In short, this is a cultural phenomenon worth considering. However, in the art world, there are also a different type of people who went beyond that, such as Wu Guanzhong, whose keen observations and sharp insight toward art ecology had been throughout his lifelong pursue of art. In my opinion, Shang Yang is an almost-70-year-old artist who took reality as creation basis. He tried to show alienations within the society as well as individual's real experience with a critical, experimental and clear personal aesthetic. In the face of relations among history, reality and individuals, he stressed on the spiritual aspect of individual lives and emphasized on a variety of hidden complex state of existence, showing a slow return rather than simply seeking paradise which is an escape from the noisy reality or an inexpensive embodiment of contemporary ideas. It provides resources, judgments and various possibilities in peaceful spiritual world. In other words, compared with "into the world" which means overindulging in the reality and getting lost, "out of the world" is preferred individual experience which is more faithful to the self.

  In the arena of Chinese contemporary art, Shang Yang's artistic trajectory seems difficult to acquire a clear, specific definition. If avant-garde art means adopting unusual artistic patterns, Shang Yang of course lives in them, because he has already begun to question the painting concept of Soviet Union which had dominating positions in Chinese art education and creation ever since his college days in the early 1960s. Since then, he started seeking his own artistic coordinate system from European and American art, as well as traditional Chinese art. In the early 1980s, he created the "Loess" series as he obtained master degree from graduate school, and then actively involved in the "85' New Tide Art Movement". At the late 1980s, he completed the "State" series according to the properties of ready-made materials. His "Great Landscape" and "Big Portrait" series created after the year 2000, as well as the ongoing "Dong Qichang Project" series etc. have well illustrated his constant experiment. However, this positioning is too broad and empty to some extent. As for the state, some people said "Shang Yang is too changeable. We do not even know which style or genre he belongs to. It is really hard to define." (See Artistic Style 2011 Volume 20, P.49 "Follow The Heart: An Interview with Shang Yang", Sichuan Publishing Group, Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House). If Chinese avant-garde art refers to the so-called post-modernism since the 1990s, Shang Yang seems still stay somewhere in-between. That is because his works are a kind of return, back to the original artistic state, which is beyond thoughts, painting skills, as well as the relationship between art and existence. Compared with modernism, he seems rather humanistic. While unlike post-modernism, he refuses meaningless creation. Also, different from realism, he emphasizes on self-expression, and refuses to simply copy the outer forms. He once said "Following the heart is a rather pleasant experience. Trying to follow other's will is painful. However, in today's society, a lot of people are more adaptive to the latter... Only when following the heart, real art works can be produced." (See Artistic Style 2011, Volume 20, P.49 "Follow The Heart: An Interview with Shang Yang", Sichuan Publishing Group, Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House). Hence, I think Shang Yang is one of the artists who despised popular art forms.

  Rather than a simple review of Shang Yang's artistic creative process, it is better to consider it as my personal view. Now, I think, in fact, these do not matter at all, only a perspective thing. But the course of history and reality are not often simple and uniform. Based on my current consideration, I concern more about Chinese contemporary art tendencies derived from the artistic experience of Shang Yang.

  Since the 1919 "May Fourth New Culture Movement", the main stream of Chinese modern art has been cultural radicalism. The cry "Art for Life" has always been accompanied by changes in the Chinese modern art history. The root lies in our out-dated historical situation in world culture. We have been trying hard to achieve national prosperity and individual liberation through generations of struggle and resistance to the irrational world order. Although we have acquired considerable achievement and positive answers, the anxiety toward the unfinished task remains our central theme. The intense consciousness of "weakness" and "resistance still coexist and determines our modern value and ethics. Although since the foundation of New China in 1949, this left-wing radical attitude has been officially alienated as an ideology with political power. Today this revolutionary position is still influenced or continued cross generations. Therefore, Chinese avant-garde art since the social transformation of reform and opening-up in 1979 is in fact advertised upon this to challenge tradition, subverse order, and criticize reality, even with extreme behaviors. And the reason why Chinese avant-garde art is in full swing and constantly being paid attention home and abroad has a close and direct relationship with such situation. Of course, it is also why opportunism, worship for immediate success and other social phenomena merged and constantly criticized by the public. Another undercurrent "Art for Art" obscured by left-wing still has the modern features of aesthetics beside enlightenment and salvation. But as pure art, aesthetic modernity has not been fully realized, but repressed in Chinese modern art system. The globalization and marketization in China since the 1990s and China's rapid economic growth has brought a series of historical backgrounds and social patterns that are completely different from the modernity since the "May Fourth Movement". It is difficult to illustrate the changes in China today using the old framework. The "Art for Life" dream could barely handle the reality under the current globalization and marketization in China. Art appears to have finally reached the unprecedented "purity", and turned into a quiet area for people to explore, which characterized the new century culture. The heavy mission "Art for Life" has been quietly released. Pure art seems has an objective basis to develop independent characters. Art has gradually returned to the genuine "self". Of course, this is not to say art should be isolated from the real world, but our artistic imagination and requirements should change with the times, which is precisely the new form of art that has gradually become an advanced cutting-edge humanistic expression.

  The over 30 years' art journey of Shang Yang has the double clues of "Art for Life" and "Art for Art" interspersed or paralleled with each other. Although the "Status" series in the late 1980s and early 1990s were only about still, quiet scenes or abstract objects, without noises from the real life, the logic was directly obtained from the real world, reflecting people's anxiety, loss, and hollowness of that period, as well as a metaphor for absurdity in life. By the "Great Landscape" series in the 1990s, Shang Yang's creative perspective had derivatized from the scenes and objects in the "State" series into the "Landscapes" of his inner heart. The portrayal of these landscapes all began with desolate scenarios, with a latent new era flavor and shadows behind the vitality. The further focus was the coldness, monotony, and lacking of personality caused by living environment, as well as visual barrenness brought by modernism, and thus brought a deeper questioning on the inorganic quality of modern life. These landscapes without cultural memories are not only symbolic presentations of modernism, but also true images of Chinese urbanization and future development. Compared with his early works, the creative idea is of the same strain, but with different scenarios. And the expression in oil painting is more pure and simple. However, the "Dong Qichang Project" series seems to be getting more and more isolated from the reality, with an air of indifference and nothingness. Shang Yang paid more attention to the cognitive experience and inner contemplation, as well as the deepening understanding and purification about the oil-painting language, full of Zen flavor. Beside, he tried to express oriental temperament in the context, and showed uncertainty after pursuing reasonability in nonspecific relationships, highlighting a kind of infinity. For him, this uncertainty is not a form, but a very specific experience and subtle feelings. Shang Yang is not an artist only indulged in physical forms. In some cases, the "open space" in his works do not have definite meanings. He just did it intentionally. They might be a real vacant place, or nothingness that is resistant to reality. Although he captured the appearance of the natural scenes which constituted the main background, these factors at the same time become symbolic metaphors in his works. In fact, Shang Yang's natural landscapes are full of social and historical connotations, and have always conveyed deeper cultural meanings. Due to this reason, he actually tried eliminating or abstracting those connotations. Thus those natural objects only constituted a self-contained context, with little historical and cultural meanings. For Shang Yang, social and historical connotations that fail to converse to natural objects are invalid. But his conversion has already changed the story. This is precisely the myth of Shang Yang's art works. Through this conversion, his expression obtained infinite possibilities. He placed history, present, and individuals together, or even dragged them into certain scenarios, forcing them to become something meaningful, as in his "Dong Qichang Project", "Dairy of Weathering", "Album" series etc. We can see his natural scenes have changed those social and historical connotations. He would rather smashed up all social and historical narratives, and rearranged them under certain natural scenes. Perhaps his idea is contradictory. Human life is only different on the surface. In the end, all substance tend to be the same. But Shang Yang's oneness is not rigid, but with ever-changing infinities.

  Clearly, Shang Yang's visual rhetoric is far beyond the surface meanings. It has been extended to the new possibilities that Chinese paintings seek contemporary values under the present cultural context, the modern transformation of Chinese contemporary art, even innovation and boundary as well as a series of other questions. From this point, Shang Yang not only carried on "May Fourth New Culture Movement" tradition, but also extended the enlightenment and reflection of "85' New Tide Art Movement". At the same time, the artistic transformation and performance of this state is presented by monologue in front of natural scenes. His sensitivity toward contemporary cultural situation leads to sustainable method changes on previous art forms. These artistic methods or expressions are required to reflect conceptual ideas and experiments. It can be said that Shang Yang's works provided a visual reference for the transformation of Chinese contemporary art.

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