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【评论】The Countryside Gone

2016-12-14 08:56:39 来源:艺术家提供作者:Yi Ying
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  Luo Zhongli has spent all his life on painting peasants, though he himself is not a peasant and he doesn't even have the experience of "Educated Youth". When he painted Father, the Chinese society was still a typical agricultural society. The peasant problem was the main trouble of China, which was where the significance of Father was located. What cared much about was not the peasant's image or problem, but the problem of China. Father depicted the experience of the collectivity, rather than that of an individual. He didn't seem to be aware of his own consciousness at the very beginning. That's why his following paintings about peasants became kind of as flirtatious as the main trend. At that time, artists mostly tended to go to seek for inspiration from the countryside and to cater for the rules of traditional creation. But he soon stopped this tendency, tried his best to shake off the stereotyped conventions and went back to the theme of Father.

  Luo takes the manifestation of peasants as kind of responsibility. He is neither a recorder of the peasants' life, nor a poet to eulogize the farm land to cater for certain taste of the urban dwellers. He lays his own cognition on the subjects painted, so as to emphasize certain features of the peasants. Different from the super realism presented from Father (this realism was actually confined under the frame of formalism), the series of Countryside are the representation of imagination, rather than the depiction of the truth. The highlighted and exaggerated parts convey the meanings the painter wants to express. In this series, the figures of peasants are transformed. They are stocky, plain-looking, and clumsy; the background environment is simple and crude and poor; the colors are dull and the lines are rough. This kind of primitivism style has two connotations: one is the resistance to the flirtatious tendency, and the persistence in presenting the nature of the realism. That is, to depict the true face of the subjects, and depict in the way to reflect the nature of the subjects. The other is the social significance. The roughness and crudeness are the basic features of the subjects; the primitivism, poverty, toil all need to be manifested in certain form. Luo regards the nature embodied on peasants as a great spirit, the spirit of our nation and nationality. From this perspective, Countryside and Father Series are connected with each other. This period should be considered as the first stage for the theme of countryside, also as a stage of reproduction.

  If we say Luo's first stage is the reproduction of the nature, from which he extracts the form and spirit of his paintings, his second stage is the succession of the first, except that the spirit is dissociated, and the form is highlighted. In the first stage, Luo pins form onto the image, somewhat like Jean-Francois Millet did in his paintings, the form of modern art being depicted in the realistic presentation of primitive simplicity. The image is never the final goal of form creation, let alone the changes that the image may suffer with time going by. That is, the principle of authenticity becomes invalid when depicting peasants in this fast developing modern society, because the traditional images of peasants are changing to modern as well. For example, a 90's peasant cannot be represented with an 80's. For sure, the forms that attach to the images of the peasants will all disappear with the changes. In the face of modern process, Luo's principle is to"keep going", but with strategic adjustment onto his previous creation. He invites the folk into his creation, to replace his previous realistic depiction with the vision of folk art. The folk art was popular in 1980s, when artists simply implanted the realistic images into folk art. What Luo does is to use the folk vision to create an imaginary scene which seems not so realistic, nor folk. This is actually the succession of his first stage. He further exaggerates the figures of the peasants, with features like faulty strokes and colors. Faulty strokes refer to the natural, primitive, atypical painting techniques and clumsy, childish, artless modelling. He also lays the contrasting colors, mainly red and green, together disharmoniously, as is very close to the folk arts like the New Year Pictures and handcrafts. The theme does not change, but the forms change a lot. The significance of form is hidden behind the theme, which is lasting, changeless, or even permanent. This is the folk stage of Luo.

  Luo's third stage began after 2000. The creation images are the repetition and copy of his two previous stages. The so-called repetition means the primitive images vanishing, as these images have disappeared in reality, and the persistence of the repetition means not only the significance of the past still has its influence onto this day, but also how today gives the past new meaning. In his second stage, Luo transforms and exaggerates the primitive images of the folk forms, in order to further emphasize the substantive characteristics of the peasants. His third stage does not change much. It is basically the extension of the second stage, except for the environment and background wiped off so as to dissolve the feature of reality and to make the figures symbolized. The figures are not only symbolized, but also laid on the grid, which is constructed with straight white lines. The colors are intensified. Those who do not know much about his works might easily take his works as cartoon pictures, though we may not completely exclude his awareness of the appropriation art from cartoon, precisely the visualizing manifestation. His works during this period mainly contains three features: one is the primitive images, which is not simply the reflection of the reality; another is the digital colors, which seems different from folk colors; the third is symbolized grid, which makes great contrast with the characters. The key part of his works is the contrast. Symbols imply, and the repetitive figures are also symbols, so does the grid. The contrast of the figures and the grid implies the conflict between the symbolic meanings behind them. His works at this stage is not that capricious, but cogitative. The grid symbolizes the modern, the west, the globalization, and is painted with white color, which is cold and neutral. The grid covers the figures, which are primitive and barbaric, and is going to break through the grid. The grid and figures are incompatible with each other. Luo pursues no more form language, but the original meaning of the history, tradition, and culture. This meaning is better presented in the contrast between tradition and modernity, the east and the west, the localization and the globalization. Luo firmly believes that no matter how the time changes, how far we leave away from the homeland, the forms that buried under the Chinese, native, eastern culture will never change. And the more incompatible it is with the whole environment, the more precious it is.

  The three stages involve 3 decades, when is a period China experiences overturning changes. Luo's works exactly depict the changes from a special perspective. These changes happen on the society, as well as the individuals. Luo's art is not just a record of the time changes, but a description of individual experience. This experience is duel, and is unique for his time. On the basis of this experience, he created Father; and with Father, he molds a" hero", and he himself is molded as a "hero". The peasant is the embodiment of "hero"(Father), and also the manifestation of personal experience. When the countryside is vanishing, and heroes are gone, personal experience (memory) is still reflected in a firm way, though the conflicts between experience and reality are inevitable. The experience belongs only to Luo Zhongli, belongs to the conflict that he witnesses in the modern reality. Therefore, the manifestation of this conflict belongs only to him.

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