, Chinese Contemporary Art at Royal College of Art
Yun Contemporary Arts Center, Shanghai
JI Wenyu & ZHU Weibing 计文于-朱卫兵
SHEN Fan 申凡
WEI Guangqing 魏光庆
——Chinese Contemporary Art @ Royal College of Art，UK
CURATOR: Li Liu, Jian Zhou, Yicheng Zhang
PUBLISHER: Yiqing Xuan
Wei Guangqing, Shen Fan, Ni Weihua, Ji Wenyu, Zhu Weibing, Gu Dingding, Mao Weixin, Xuan Chenhao, Zhou Binglang, Peng Bo, Liu Yincong, Wan Ming, Gu Renming, Jin Sheng, Wu Xiaoning, Deng Yuejun, Jiao Yang, Ann-Marie Lequesne, Bob Matthews, Brian D Hodgson, Charlie Masson, Emma Stibbon RA, Xie Rong, Hadas Auerbach, Finlay Taylor, Nicky Coutts, Hal Stennett, Heather Meyerratken, Ian Brown, Xiao Jianhun, Jo Stockham, Joby Williamson, Julia Farrer, Meg Rahaim, Oona Grimes, Victoria Ahrens, Paul Coldwell, Trevor Banthorpe, Zhou Jian, Stephen Chambers RA, Hans Fonk
In response to Prof. Stephen Hoskins and Richard Anderton proposing "IMPACT International Printmaking Conference" in the early 1990s, curator Zhou Jian and us have such an honor to have the professors and academicians of Royal College of Art bring their artworks to Shanghai. Also, thanks to all sectors of Shanghai artists, scholars, as well as Cloud Art Center and Half Image Gallery, we are proud to present the group exhibition, “Conjunctively Evolving --- Masters of Contemporary Art in China and Britain”, which including various art forms such as printing,video and installation. As the English word “IMPACT” is composed by six words, “International”, “Multi-disciplinary”, “Printmaking”, “Artists”, “Concepts”, and “Technology”, the exhibition prompts a kind of bilateral attitude: not only questioning the art ontology by traditional hand-making, but also differentiating the aspects of arts today through international perspective and interdisciplinary attitudes. Moreover, “IMPACT” represents a relatively complemented breadth of mind,which not only have the courage to impact and shake the stereotype, but also reflect the chaotic phenomenon of today’s arts.
Nicky Coutts once described the clash that the contemporary printing art meets between the option of innovation and tradition with a wider perspective as “The printing art has been standing at the forefront of the thought”. His viewpoint is based on the idea of Plato which considers the things as the imitation of constant truth, the arts as the phenomenon of limited things and the unsettled Phantom ---- which is definitely not a praise. Nicki Kurts is keen to point out the original connection between sensible art forms and the truth, the origin, the existence, as well as that widely used media today brings to art itself and its audiences the superimposing or the eliminating of meaning, together with the deeper social and political religion problems.
It is such a"forefront" . At first, it retraces to Aristotle who considered theliberal arts as a "knowledge-based activities" in the ranks of"intellectual virtues", as St. Augustine said: "Through thearts, the beauty can appear. This kind of beauty is not derived from thenatural world, which through simple imitation becomes the works of art, butlive in the artist's mind and directly transform into the material.” And in thelater Christian culture, the absolute beauty was beyond all the works even notexist in any single individual works. While in the Renaissance, the artisticvalue finally fixed on the “reproduction of reality", because "thetechnology is no longer just a craftsmanship, but able to independently developthe science of replicating the nature. Although this science is not justlimited to the perspective, it found his first paradigm in the perspective, andthe new paradigm change the production of art at all. Its significance liesthat art is no longer considered just as a private consumption, but also as ascience for the public service.
Secondly, itcommunicates the two civilizations between Chinese and Western. The documentsand retained objects indicate that the earliest Chinese woodblock printingbegan in the late Tang dynasty and early Sui. Although European printingtechnology was 700 years later than the Chinese, the modern printing industrywas invented and flourished first in Europe. The oldest woodcut printing workever found with a picture and a clear era is a seven folded sheets bonded woodembossed scroll. This Dunhuang "Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra" at thefrontispiece was printed with "Buddha Preaching" and the"Diamond Sutra" text at behind, at the ending was engraved with thewords "April 15th, Xiantong 9th year, Wang Jie for the twopro-King" . It was robbed to the Britain in 1907,by British HungarianAurel Stein, who was employed by the United Kingdom and the Indian governmentas the captain of Central Asia expedition. At the same time, the oldest woodcutpainting recognized by European was found in south of German, and now collectedin the Library of Manchester, England, named "Saint Christopher"----awoodcut work with brown ink and hand-painted colour. Its content came from the “Bible”,about the story that a kid as the incarnation of Christ carried the sick poorpersons across the river. At the bottom of the work engraved a clear date,1423. In the objective point of view, the printed text and images depends onprinting production as the technical support, tough and inexpensive paper asthe substrate material, and social demand as the foundation. However, despitethat the papermaking came from China to Europe via Arabia, just after a lapseof two decades,in the mid-fifteenth century, the invention of the Gutenbergthen made the printing into a large-scale production systems, promoting therapid development of the industrial revolution in Europe.While China for a longperiod of time continued to use engraving and lithography, and its progress isrelatively slow. Until the late Qing Dynasty the modern European printingsystem began to develop in China.
Thirdly, through theoverview of the originator of modern Eastern and Western art, we can sense boththe connotation of traditional skills and the spirit of struggling in thecontemplation of the human condition. The English word "art" comesfrom the Latin "ars", referring to the broad technology and skills.This term can date back to the Greeks once used τεχυη to represent"art" including "technology," and "science" ofhuman activity in general, which is opposed to nature. The ancient Chinese word"art" refers to the "Six Arts". The technology and skill inthe Chinese tradition means a conscious realization of life means, which is notjust about the personal cultivation,but also the achievements of the socialenlightenment. And for the modern art consciousness, as Lu Xun advocated"new prints": "The so-called woodcut artists are those who donot imitate, neither copy, but use knife to carve straight down into thewood.As Su Dongpo’s poem for apainting of plum blossom,he said: ‘I have a piece of nice colored silk, pleasepaint on it without hesitate.’ This kind of spirit is necessary for the artistto create the successful artworks, especially in the seal cutting." Andthis kind of artistic standpoint is comparable to Heidegger questioning theexistence through art, to apperceive the Dasein of mankind in his history. Italso refers to British historian Johan Huizinga, as he said: “Without arts, human can not form the general concepts of history.” And Aby Warburg suggested the "visual historicalmemory" stressed the importance ofthe image can not be reduced to the unconscious supplements or illustrations ofthe texts, because art as history could make the visual reminder of the absencehistorical context into the silent speech.
Finally, Nicky Coutts reminds us a pair of inescapable eyes, which is visible on almost all of today's art form. It is composed by the fact that the mechanical aspects of art is widely spread than any other artistic tradition, or called digital-mediated reality, or by known as technique as the prosthetic extension, which brings to us the hand-eye cooperating with lens, projection screen fitting with the reality in the language of art. At the same time, this prompted us to re-explore the relationship between nature and culture, the missing gene and alienation from our history, as well as the other unexpected audience. On such a road, the contemporary context of Chinese and Western art forms often across the disciplinary boundaries, reflect the connection between the art form and the truth, origin,existence of art, try to grasp the changing role of art in today’s social relationship. The so-called "conflict" is aiming at a break through towards a deeper humanity with the exploration will of both innovation and tradition.
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