Theme： Relative to the Naive Art Style
Academic Host: WANG Xingwei
Literally speaking, a “naive person” is an amateur, a layman, an enthusiast who from time to time joins the creation. The “naive art style” here refers to an art style of creation that is in pursuit of the raw, simple and primitive vitality, as if they had never received any professional training and regulation. They vary greatly in directions – the new touch, unconsciousness, anti-academic tendency, folk flavor, childish delight, vulgar taste and bad painting, with the approaches of coarseness, anti-intellectualism or vandalism. The more they deny the Western and Chinese art histories and the successful and popular artists, the further away they strive to set apart from these styles, the more offbeat and incompatible they stand out in the painting field of contemporary art.
YI Ying once said, “at the far end of the waste land stands my true self.” Those who have the nerves to create naive paintings are mostly those born with great gifts and qualities, or with a unique eye for the beauty, for the past paradigm of sensation and formulas of painting have been squeezed to the utmost. Actually they are “pseudo-naive painting”, for only GUO Fengyi falls in the category of natural and original. Though “green” and “obscure” have always been the appraisal criteria of traditional Chinese painting, the naive painting consists of more layers, subversively deconstructing the language of painting while opening the gate for the expression of the total destructive contents. They resist not only the construction, but also the rationality; they pit unconsciousness and sub consciousness against reality and responsibility; imagination and dissociation against the system of consumerism. Unaffected by the outer world and history, they are incapable of changing the art history and art world, on the other hand, all the domination and dependence mean nothing to them, thus they obtain utterly independent freedom. They are either genius or nuts. The naive art style is almost inarguable! We have invited WANG Xingwei, who repeatedly subvert the painting, to be our academic host for this issue, for his emphasis on the “touch” and “popularity” of the emphasis guarantees his sound judgment on the paintings of naive art style, which are hard to define. The subject of this issue put together works of this style for the first time, in hope of initiating a discussion that will go further and deeper.
(Words by the Editor/FU Xiaodong)
Among those artists introduced this time, only Guo Fengyi belongs to the so-called “naive artist”, while all the others simply have something to do with the “naive art style”, which, to be more specific, stands for one aspect of their works. Besides, these works of art vary considerably both in their perspectives and means as far as the relevance to the naive art style is concerned. Though different in directions, they share something in common, such as the consciousness of keeping a certain distance from changing the mainstream culture. Such kind of people, who are wild, primitive, non-standard, self-centered, or stubborn in their nature, could be described by a word from the northern mandarin—“ge”.
I’d like to give my short impression of these artistic works as follows.
Guo Fengyi probably had a sudden enlightenment one day and became a painter at once, or to be specific, a folk painter, who created something like art, something similar to the old ladies’ needlework or witchcraft. The images are not designed in advance, but flow naturally as the brush sweeps here and there into completion. By placing herself into the creation, she delivered a special feeling of folk idols from the final images.
Mr. Li Shan’s works of art have gone through a long way. No matter in which phases, he maintains to paint with freedom and think with advancement, or even fashion. Wielding his writing brush with ease and masterly ability blend together in his paintings; and the viewers could also perceive from his works the whim as well as the shrewdness.
Though he has received education in the academy of fine arts, Ouyang Chun creates the images in his paintings like a little child no more than five years old, who doodles his stick drawings. From the mixture of strong colors and arbitrary styles of drawing, the cruelty of a child and the precise comprehension of “the sense of painting” are revealed.
One day in his twenties, Wang Xingjie suddenly propped an easel and painted a self-portrait by looking at his reflection in the mirror, which amazed me as well as my other friends who paint. That kind of feeling is so unripe and real. However, not satisfied to be an naive painter, he is willing to go on, though the road ahead might be much tougher and longer—constructing the paintings full of power according to his real feelings. He had “professional spirit” indeed.
Liao Guohe possesses extraordinary logical ability. He is a language genius. There is no platitude in his works.
I hear of Yan Cong from an interesting loose group—Green School. He restores painting to be a natural behavior without professional restrictions, and a private expression with less unitarianism. His works seem to be more human, thus it is easier for equal and friendly communications.
Wang Jun’s works create a certain kind of fable atmosphere like fairytales. The power of miracle grows prosperously in the images’ wide-open eyes.
In Jiang Zhilong’s paintings, the lonely little images are confined (or willing to be confined) to the open space, sometimes depressed and sometimes displaying nameless excitement.(By Wang Xingwei)