December 3rd, 2011

Context China – ‘Super Freehand – Shelf Art’ Exhibition

What is super freehand and art on the shelf?

Chen Xiaoxin
Since 2003, I have been insisting on doing the ‘Chinese version’ – a series of exhibitions of this idea. So far, five exhibitions have been done, the ‘Super Freehand’ art 10+10 is the sixth exhibition. The most representative and most important one is the ‘Chinese version’ large-scale synthesis made at the Beijing Today Art Museum in May 2007. Art in this exhibition varies from both art on the shelf as well as more conceptual art seen through installations and images. In 2009, I worked with the Nanjing Qinghe Museum of Contemporary Art to make a special exhibition on oil paintings. But after this exhibition, I felt that I was still in the mood, so I wanted to include the art of ink as a contrast or dialogue between the canvas (oil painting) and the paper (ink). It is not very interesting to investigate and study the transformational issues in these two areas to provide a case that can be discussed in depth and relatively adequate.

Many of the current exhibitions are based on “concepts” which scholars, artists, and investors believe that “art on the shelf” is already a “old-fashioned” thing and it is not worth paying attention to it. I don’t think so much about it! “Conceptual art” can be developed in China. For the same reason, “art on the shelf” is also needed. The “Art on the shelf” exhibition has undergone the concept of “cutting in” and “duality” conversion (that is from the traditional to the present) from the modern and from the West to China; and by the way, the current Chinese art is neither possible nor completely impossible and should not completely “de-Westernise” the “de-Chinaisation” of the land. “Chineseisation” or “de-Westernisation” is the real false proposition. It can also be a way of contemporary expression. Nowadays, it is a good opportunity to develop “concept art” and a great opportunity to promote “art on the shelf!” The true pluralistic space is the simultaneous existence of “concept” and “on-the-shelf”, moving forward, interacting and infiltrating the open space of free development. To this end, I deliberately oppose “fashion” and anti-“trends” and make such a contrast or 曰 dialogue exhibition to show the meaning, value and new style of today’s “art on the shelf!”

As for the reason for the existence of ‘art on the shelf’, I made a full explanation in the “Hengshan Tanyi” activity at the end of last year. Here, do not copy the main points:

The reason and value that “shelf art” can still exist today. I think there are at least four reasons, or only the following four points, “art on the shelf” are valuable and meaningful. First, since it is “on the shelf”, it must have a unique material and language charm. For example, oil painting must have an oily charm, ink must have pen and ink charm, language charm is indispensable, without language the charm is hard to attract. Since you still make oil paintings, since you still make paper ink, your “living” must be very authentic, with a linguistic charm or a good quality – this is the minimum reason. Most of the artists in this exhibition can be said to be the masters of the artistic language in the world.

Second, use the attitude that is to care for life and nature and the two different levels of metaphysical and metaphysical can be combined. The metaphysical kinds can penetrate or sublimate to the metaphysical level, and the metaphysical spirit or belief can also pay attention to all kinds of metaphysical. These two levels are interactive, one to “rise” and one to “fall”. If we insist on metaphysical pursuits but cannot pay attention to the status quo of life and nature, this imaginary metaphysical pursuit is hard to be recognized by us. Therefore, I always feel that I want to care for my life with the ultimate attitude and care for nature. Thinking beyond the humanism and humanism of the Renaissance (the negative effects of these “isms” have been shocking for centuries), reaching a “new humanism” that I advocate care. That is to say, today’s “art on the shelf” must have a spiritual support point, and must be a weapon of criticism for old humanism, old ideology, and all forces that hinder human justice, fairness, progress, freedom, and democracy! If there is no such spiritual support point, what is the “shelf”? What is the “paper”? This is also the most important reason.

Third, we must have a cut in the concept. Because we are already at the junction of time and space in the 21st century, if we completely despise and reject new ideas, we will not be able to face and respond to the world, and the world will not recognise you. What is the concept? I don’t think it’s like a change in thinking and the new construction of law is also called the pluralistic and open attitude. This kind of position and attitude has broken the previous ontology and the method of “seeking the sword and seeking the sword”, especially in the attitude towards the medium and the media, which has produced a “quality” change.
Fourth, we must express new imagination and new sensibility. As we all know, the infinite and original imagination and the sensitivity of the sense – that is, the intuitive penetration has always been the driving force behind artistic creation. If the lack of such a motive is even lost, what is the so-called art that touches and infects people? Inevitably pale and weak! But this is one of the serious problems of the current art Pu’er. Most of the “artists” and “painters” in today’s world are at the foot of the ancients. They rely on the wisdom of the teeth and Chen Chenxiang, or follow the West blindly and follow the imitation of the day! This kind of malpractice has been an important reason for the marginalisation of Chinese art in the past one or two hundred years (that is, the internal cause). This is a problem that has to be faced and solved. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to emphasise originality. The most likely and already in progress is only a difficult and long conversion project.
As long as you have the above four points, whether it is cloth oil painting or paper ink, you can achieve the same effect (also can be said to be the same way), so that you can live in a new era. This is the reason why I am doing 10 10 10 on the shelf.

Regarding the ‘super-freehand art’, it is necessary to make a further explanation: “super-freehand” is different from the concept of “freehand” (it includes freehand brushwork, small freehand, and work-writing, etc.), which is different from the traditional concept. A concept often mentioned in recent years – “new freehand”. “New freehand” is mainly used in the nation Style oil painting. For example, Lin Fengmian, Guan Liang, Liu Haisu, Lu Sibai, Wu Zuoren, Wu Guanzhong, Su Tianci, etc. such as Shang Yang (previous “big landscape”), Wang Huaiqing (previous works), Zhan Hongchang, Chen Yude, Hong Ling, Jia Lili, Ren Chuanwen , Zhang Nanfeng, Mo Xiong, Lin Jingjing and so on. The above-mentioned painters have successfully integrated the traditional freehand elements on the screen, which has produced an image of meaning. However, the “melting” here is only a kind of reference and imitation. In terms of ideas, it still belongs to the “integration of Chinese and Western” and it has not reached the transformation and transformation of the traditional kind of transformation. We have to reflect on it. “Super-freehand” is a brand-new concept in the field of contemporary art. It belongs to a conceptual art at the level of art history, not a shelf art or Chinese painting in the traditional sense.Specifically, it is necessary to have the above four elements, in which the intellectual and spiritual factors play a decisive role. As for whether it is presented as a canvas oil painting, paper ink painting, image, installation or performance art (this is also the topic of my next exhibition), it is actually not a topic.

Bringing the “Chinese version of super freehand art” to the world’s art platform is eye-catching and embarrassing
The “Chinese School”, which is brilliant, should be the common ideal of our generation of artists and scholars.
I am willing to work hard with like-minded people to work hard for this ideal!

Sincerely, the investor of this exhibition Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art!