Yan Lei: Interview with Hans-Ulrich Obrist

采访者:汉斯尤利斯.奥布里斯特(Hans-Ulrich Obrist)、朱莉娅.佩顿琼斯(Julia Peyton-Jones

被访者:颜磊

现场翻译:田霏宇

 

汉斯-尤利斯.奥布里斯特(HUO): 这些都是新作品?

 

颜磊 (YL): 这幅是新的(指着一幅画),其他都是老作品。

 

HUO: 我在想你画作的不同侧面。有我们在广州看到的那个色轮系列;也有更摄影性的绘画。这两者之间有着怎样的联系?是不同的系列吗?是同样的研究吗?

 

YL: 其实都与绘画系统有关。我所有作品的创作方法都遵循同一套基于数理算法的调色盘。比如色轮这一衍生系列,从中心点扩散出去的每一轮颜色都根据一套数理算法变化,而每个色轮的初始色又由前一个色轮的最后一个颜色决定。

 

HUO: 所以这是一套系统?

 

YL: 是,非常系统化。

 

HUO: 那么有摄影绘画的系统,有色轮绘画的系统,还有别的系统吗?

 

YL: 色轮画的系统与调色盘本身有关。其中有个递归逻辑,在摄影画这儿也同理,与实际的数字处理系统有关,因为你所看到的这些其实都源自数码图片,它们都曾只是编号填色的画布。然后由未受过专业训练的工人涂色。还有另一层系统,即所有图片都来自艺术系统本身。比如这张,她是田霏宇BAO工作室的第三位合伙人,是个建筑师,她躺在艾未未工作室外面;这是南京美术馆的入口;这是我母校杭州中国美术学院的大门;这是纽约军械库艺博会;这是停靠在胡德森河岸的无畏号航空母舰。

 

朱莉娅.佩顿 – 琼斯(JPJ): 在那后面,右手边有张图,看着像个佛像。

 

YL: 没错,这是三联幅里的一张,中间是色轮,左边是一瓶颜料,标了号填色的那种,右边是佛像或类似传统中国画的图像。

 

HUO: 能更多谈谈雇工人来画画吗?我对这点很感兴趣,你昨天也提到了。它有着怎样的作用?你就从大街上找来的工人,还是别的哪里?

 

YL: 我觉得我没法画画了。有这种感觉已经有段时间了。就好像我的技艺没那么“纯粹”了。

 

HUO: 你再也不画了?

 

YL: 恩,所以雇人画,雇那些还能很纯粹地在画布上用笔的人。其实作画的过程是双向的:你往画布上画的时候,你把画布染了色,但同时也染了你自己。所以是对这种过程的逃脱吧。

 

JPJ: 我对你构画出这张脸的方法很感兴趣,尤其是它的色彩。因为,这让我联想到目前我们在合作的一个艺术家,托马斯 迪蒙(Thomas Demand),他用硬纸板做了一座巨大的石窟。他也创建了一整套计算机系统来分解色彩,一层又一层,而你的这幅画就图像的密度而言与他有共通之处。

 

YL: 这其实来自我的早期美术教育,小时候就学艺术,系统地一直在表现。它还是基于绘画的结构。

 

JPJ: 基于绘画的结构?

 

YL: 比如探讨光影、黑白的关系。我的作品里有对这类基本元素的佯装。

 

JPJ: 类似“编号上色”。

 

YL: 对。

 

HUO: 我们再来说说素材图片?因为很明显,这些转化到画布上的图片都来自现成照片。你刚才说这些照片都来自中国或国际艺术界。我很好奇你的素材图片究竟是怎样的,是否像杰哈德  里希特(Gerhard Richter)那样有个图库?

 

YL: 我不知道里希特的图库,但我的素材图片一直在变化。我不想一辈子都画驴子或鹿。

 

HUO: 你自己拍照吗?是否都来自你自己的照片?

 

YL: 有一个系列,都来自我自己的视角,我自己拍的照片。“上升空间”系列的照片都是我在不同机场着陆后拍摄的。

 

HUO: 所以这个系列本身就自然形成一场展览了。这个系列展出过吗?

 

YL: 没,第一个理清的系列还是“特醇”。

 

HUO: 说说“特醇”?

 

YL: 它是对艺术的一种减淡的理解-就好比低毫克烟之于高毫克烟,当到了创作的特定阶段,我得认真考虑对艺术的反抗或接纳。也得平衡,在我的实际生活同基于这一生活风格而演化创作的艺术之间平衡。

 

HUO: 那你又是如何把几幅画组合在一起的?因为我们看到有双联幅、也有三联幅。通常你的画都不会单独展示,总有某种秩序、电影感的秩序。你能谈谈是如何组合画作的吗?它们互相之间有所联系、或也有个系统?

 

YL: 对,有系统,总有系统。就像一条流水线,下一张画会有一样的颜色,而这边这幅的右侧是黄色系的。这是条无限延伸的线。这些作品的生成几乎是自动的。

 

HUO: 全自动?

 

YL: 对,没错。

 

HUO: 总之就有一个自动生产作品的系统,但这也意味着量产。所以目前为止你到底做了多少画?几千张?几百张?快吗?

 

YL: 我的理想状态是一天一张,这够快了。我有个新办法,只要发发邮件就能完成一张画。我只要把拍的照片发邮件给工作室,工作室在廊坊,北京郊区,然后生成编了号的画布,接着送到这儿来上色。我人不必在这儿。

 

HUO: 有点像新式外包。

 

YL: 恩,本质上是这样。

 

HUO: 那如果这儿没人呢,比如人都跑到廊坊去了?

 

YL: 这儿画,那儿也画。编号的画布从那儿生产,这儿处理更多细节的画。

 

HUO: 那这些光锥画呢?们看着有辐射感。这是另一个系列,另一种系统?

 

YL: 恩,系统是一样的。从一个颜色出发,底部的这个颜色是下一张圆点画的起始色。都遵循那套丙烯颜料调色编号的系统。

 

JPJ: 这张照片能拿来说明你构造图画的方法,是个不错的例子吧?

 

YL: 不错。

 

HUO: 所以通常都这么工作?

 

YL: 对,现在这些画都这么做。

 

HUO: 你有没有手绘稿?

 

YL: 没有。

 

HUO: 你有偶像吗?哈哈,这是常见问题。

 

YL: 我的偶像?杰夫 昆斯(Jeff Koons)。

 

HUO: 为什么?

 

YL: 他最成功。他做的每件事都有许多原因作支撑,我读了他的一篇采访,觉得他是唯一一个能真正把自己为什么这么做的原由讲清楚、还让人觉得聪明的艺术家。

 

HUO: 沃霍?

 

YL: 也是,当然。

 

HUO: 那中国的呢?

 

YL: 齐白石,20世纪早期的一位画家,第一位公认的人民画家。

 

HUO: 除了绘画你还以什么形式创作?比如立体的作品,像雕塑、装置或摄影?

 

YL: 这得看机遇。

 

Philip Tinari (PT): 他有一连串观念创作都不去追求视觉形式,比如1997年他与洪浩合作的卡塞尔文献展伪造邀请函,并发给一些中国艺术家。

 

HUO: 能谈谈这件作品吗?这是你最有名的一件作品。

 

YL: 它很直接地、而非含蓄地来表明通过这件作品要说的事。它确确实实说出了当时的情形,主要是中国艺术家所处的边缘地位。

 

HUO: 你有什么还未实现的作品方案吗,因为太直接或太大而还未实现的?

 

YL: 有几次我开始做的时候就得罪了许多人,然后就被踢出展览了。

 

HUO: 举点例子?

 

YL: 有次在香港参加一个群展,我摆了一堆垃圾,然后说“这是我的作品,别动它。”结果第二天我带作品标签去展厅,发现它被移走了。所以我没参加那场展览。

 

HUO: 我们还要看别的作品吗?

 

PT: 你应该来看看这幅。

 

HUO: 这幅?

 

PT: 对,这幅很有意思。他没正经做过摄影,但画面里的这个女人,她在法国尼斯阿森艺术区(Villa Arson)的公寓做前台,管管钥匙和杂事。她原来做了很多年的模特。这儿有句话:“我选择了这里,这一次,永远离开我的心。”这句话是在阿森艺术区里看到的,还是用金子做的。我记得应该是在一个老旧的教堂里或类似的地方,所以这句话被挪用到这个语境里来。他把这句话放到这儿来形容这个女人,她一辈子都在艺术系统里,但都处在一个非常边缘的位置。

 

HUO: 对,我想,她目睹了一切,她是个见证人。

 

JPJ: 她有中国血统吗?

 

YL: 没有。我觉得她很孤单,一辈子都在那儿工作。她身后是驻地艺术家的书。还有那些是房门钥匙。

 

HUO: 九十年代初我在那儿待过,我们都待过。你和哪些北京的艺术家有比较紧密的联系?我的意思是,现在的情况和八九十年代不同了,因为八十年代有一群前卫艺术家抱团,之后九十年代在广州有大尾象。如今感觉个人得多、各做各的,但我还是想知道你和其他艺术家有着怎样的联系?

 

YL: 我没加入过什么艺术小组,但我和洪浩合作过几次,就像1997年的卡塞尔文献展邀请函。现在我们有个项目在泰康保险空间,和保险有点关系。

 

HUO: 那说说这个保险项目?

 

YL: 这家中国最大的保险公司之一在这栋楼的顶层有个空间,有点当摆设,策展人想花五万元请两名艺术家做个作品。洪浩和我想做这个项目,于是我们先拿了这五万元去给自己买保险。然后他们问我们担保是什么,我们说会仿梵高的一幅画,但把我们自己放进去,割了耳朵的那张。结果我们得到五百万元的保额,保险的内容是如果我们因艺术而发疯并由此发生的意外及相应的医疗费用。我们找了一个艺术家来仿制梵高那幅病房的画,一家医院。最终展出的时候,我们放了一幅巨大的画,一边是梵高的那幅,另一边是空白的;在空白的那边我们粘了一个塑料管,管子里放着我们签的那份保险合同。

 

HUO: 可能我的最后一个问题会与这个项目有点联系。你做过影像吗?录像?

 

YL: 上世纪90年代早期我做过一些小型的录像装置。

 

PT: 我觉得从头到尾他都对所谓“中国就是摄影与录像”的说法很抵抗,在某种程度上,他对新媒体很过敏。好像绘画成为最简单的一种方式,然而绘画并未成为绘画的最简单的形式。所以在他的整个创作中有着强烈的心理因素。

 

HUO: 很好。非常感谢。

 

英文校对/李蔼德

译/顾灵

 

Hans-Ulrich Obrist, interviewer

Julia Peyton-Jones, interviewer

Yan Lei, interviewee

Philip Tinari, onsite translator

 

Hans-Ulrich Obrist (HUO): Are all these new works?

 

Yan Lei (YL): This one is new [points to painting]. The others are all old.

 

HUO: I was wondering about the different aspects of your work. On the one hand, there are the works we saw in Guangzhou like the painted series entitled “Targets” and then there are the more photographic paintings. What is the relationship between those two? Is it different series, is it the same research?

 

YL: It’s all about the possibilities of the painting system. I have a unified palette that I use in all my works that is very numerical. The color wheel paintings belong to an extended series. The color in the middle ramifies out according to a numerical algorithm and then the next color wheel painting begins with the last color that this has arrived at.

 

HUO: So it’s a system?

 

YL: Yes, it’s very systematic.

 

HUO: There is a system of the photographic paintings, and of the target paintings. Are there other systems?

 

YL: The systematic element of the color paintings is about the palette itself. It’s a recursion, whereas with the photographic works, there is a systematic element that has to do with the actual digital processing, because essentially they are all digital images that are turned into what you see there, the raw state of the “paint by numbers” canvas. Then they are painted by unskilled labor. I guess the other system that I want to mention is that the concepts of the imagery all come from the art system itself. For example, this the third partner from BAO (Philip Tinari’s company). She is an architect, lying outside Ai Weiwei’s studio [referring to the same painting]; this is the entrance to the Nanjing Museum of Art; that’s the gate to the Hangzhou Academy, where I studied; this is from New York, from the Armory Show; and that’s the USS Intrepid on the Hudson [River].

 

Julia Peyton-Jones (JPJ): Behind there, on the right hand side, there is an image, which looks like a Buddha.

 

YL: Yes, those were from a series of triptychs, where in the middle you had a color wheel, on the left, a representation of an actual bottle of paint, a numbered bottle of paint that was used in the fabrication, and on the right a Buddha or some other kind of classical Chinese image.

 

HUO: Can you tell us about the unskilled labor dimension? I’m very interested in that because you also mentioned it yesterday. How does this function? Do you hire people from the street, or…?

 

YL: I feel that I can’t paint anymore. I’ve felt this way for some time. It is as though my skills are no longer “pure.”

 

HUO: You don’t paint anymore?

 

YL: Yes. So it’s better to have someone else, someone who has a more innocent attitude towards putting the brush to canvas. It’s like a double process: if you put the brush stroke on the canvas, you contaminate the canvas, but the process also taints yourself. So it’s an escape from that.

 

JPJ: I’m interested in the way you build up the face, build up the contours of the face. Because, for example, we are working with Thomas Demand at the moment, who is making an enormous Grotto out of cardboard paper. He’s created a whole computer system that slices the contours, layer by layer by layer, and this painting has something of the same feel to it in the sense of density of the image.

 

YL: It comes from my early art education, studying art as a kid and going about representation systematically. It is a drawing-based structure, actually.

 

JPJ: Can you elaborate on this drawing-based structure?

 

YL: For example, playing with connections between light and dark, and black and white. A campy version of this basic principle can be found in my work.

 

JPJ: So like the idea of “painting by numbers.”

 

YL: Yes.

 

HUO: What about the image fundus[EJS1] ? Because obviously, these are found images and then they are transferred onto those [canvases]. You said there are images from the Chinese art world and some from the international art world. I’m wondering what kind of image fundus there are. Do you have, like Gerhard Richter, an atlas of images you use?

 

YL: I don’t really know about Richter, but the fundus is constantly in flux. I’m not going to spend my life painting donkeys or deer.

 

HUO: Do you take your own photographs? Is it based on your own photographs?

 

YL: I have a series that is all based on photographs from my own perspective, photos I took myself. The Climbing Space series consists of photos I took from airplanes landing in different airports.

 

HUO: So that’s like an exhibition in itself. Have you done an exhibition of those?

 

YL: No, the first series I really tackled was Superlights.

 

HUO: Can you explain Superlights?

 

YL: It is about a lighter, reduced understanding of art – the same kind of relation a light cigarette has to a heavier cigarette, coming out of a moment in my career when I had sort of come to terms with the dismissal or embrace of art. It’s about the balance I kind of struck with my own practice and to use the style of one’s own life to go about creating art based on that life.

 

HUO: What about the combination? Because here we have the two paintings combined and here we have the triptychs. Very often your paintings don’t go alone, they go in sort of sequential, cinematic sequences. Can you talk a little bit about this? How do you combine the paintings? It is associative, or is there a system [here] too?

 

YL: Yes, there is a system. There’s always a system. It’s like an assembly line because the next painting will be in this same color, and then the painting on this side would have its right side in the yellow palette. It’s sort of an infinite line. The production of the works is almost automatic in this way.

 

HUO: An automatism?

 

YL: Yes, exactly.

 

HUO: So it’s basically a system that produces work in an automatic way, but that also means a great quantity, so I was wondering how many paintings you have made. Thousands? Hundreds? Is it a fast process or a slow process?

 

YL: My ideal is one a day. It’s fast enough. I have a new method whereby I can complete entire paintings via e-mail. I can take a picture and e-mail it to the initial studio, which is out in Langfang, a suburb of Beijing, and then the initial numbered canvas will be produced and be transported here for fabrication. I don’t even have to be near the process.

 

HUO: So it’s sort of a new form of outsourced factory.

 

YL: Essentially.

 

HUO: If the assistants are not here, they are there [Langfang]?

 

YL: Painting happens there as well as here. The initial painting of the canvases happens there, and then the more detailed painting takes place here.

 

HUO: What about these light cones, these more radiant images? Is this another series, or another system?

 

YL: Yes. It is the same kind of process where you start with one color and come around, then the color you get at the bottom right begins the next painting with the dot and then goes around. It’s all numerically governed by the out-of-the-box kind of acrylic color numbers from the palette.

 

JPJ: Is this a good example of how you build up a painting?

 

YL: Yes.

 

HUO: So that’s how it usually works?

 

YL: Yes, all the concrete images are produced in this manner.

 

HUO: Do you ever make drawings?

 

YL: No.

 

HUO: Who are your heroes? The usual question about the heroes [laughter].

 

YL: My heroes? Jeff Koons.

 

HUO: Why?

 

YL: He’s the most successful. Everything he does has many reasons behind it, and you know, having read interviews with him, I feels he is the only artist who can really give a rationale for why he is doing what he is doing and sound smart about it.

 

HUO: Warhol?

 

YL: Yes, of course.

 

HUO: Chinese heroes?

 

YL: Qi Baishi, an early Twentieth Century painter, considered the first populist painter.

 

HUO: Do you do anything else besides painting, perhaps three-dimensional work like sculpture or installation or photography?

 

YL: You need opportunities to do other things.

 

Philip Tinari (PT): There is a whole strand of his work of conceptual projects that don’t take on any visual form, like in a 1997 project he and Hong Hao did that involved fake invitations to Documenta that they circulated around.

 

HUO: Can you tell me more about this? This is a very famous project.

 

YL: It’s about developing a direct method of not being subtle about the issues you are trying to address when making works. That was a way of really saying something about the situation, the marginal position of Chinese artists at the time, essentially.

 

HUO: Do you have any unrealized projects, projects too direct or too big to be realized?

 

YL: There were a few occasions when I started a project but offended enough people to get kicked out of the exhibition.

 

HUO: Can you give some examples?

 

YL: Once I was in a group exhibition in Hong Kong. I swept some garbage in a pile and said, “This is my work, do not touch it.” The next day when I came back to put up a tag for the piece, it had been removed. So then I was not in the exhibition.

 

HUO: Are there any other works we should see?

 

PT: I think you should see this piece over here.

 

HUO: This one?

 

PT: Yes, this is very interesting. He doesn’t work in photography, but this is the woman who keeps the keys and sort of manages the guesthouse at Villa Arson. She was a model for many years. The sentence reads: “I choose this place, at this time, to leave my heart forever.” These words actually appear at a place inside the Villa Arson complex and were sort of cast by goldsmiths. I think it was an old church space or something similar, so these words appear in that context. He puts them here and applies it to this woman who has basically spent her life in the art system but in a very marginal position.

 

HUO: Yes. She’s seen it all, I suppose. She is a testimony.

 

JPJ: Is she of Chinese origin?

 

YL: No. I think she is very lonely, and has worked there her whole life. The books behind her are produced by the residents. The keys are for the rooms.

 

HUO: I stayed there once too, in the early nineties. We all stayed there. Who in Beijing are the artists you liaise with? I mean, it’s obviously not like in the 1980’s or 1990’s because in the 1980’s you had avant-garde as a group, and then you had the Elephant Group in Guangzhou in the 1990’s. Now, one feels it’s more individualistic, yet I’m interested in what kind of liaisons you have with other artists.

 

YL: I don’t really do group projects, but I’ve collaborated with Hong Hao on a few projects, like the 1997 Documenta project. We also have a project up now in the Taikang Insurance Space that is sort of about insurance.

 

HUO: Can you tell me about this insurance project?

 

YL: One of the major insurance companies in China has a space on the top floor of this building, sort of a decorative thing, and the curator had this plan to bring in two artists and give them 50,000 yuan to have them do a work. Hong Hao and I wanted to do this project. So first, we took the 50,000 and used it to buy insurance for ourselves. Then, they asked what credentials we had for purchasing insurance. We said that we would make a painting and replicated a Van Gogh piece but put ourselves into it, with bandaged ears. We are insured for 5,000,000 RMB, against unexpected incidents and hospital stays in case art makes us crazy. We found an artist to copy a famous Van Gogh painting of a patient’s ward, a hospital. The exhibition ended up as a massive canvas completely framed, one side was the Van Gogh image and the other side was blank. We stapled plastic sleeves containing the actual insurance documents in them onto the blank side.

 

HUO: Maybe my last question will be in relation to that. Have you ever worked with moving images, with video?

 

YL: I did a few little video projects in the early 1990’s.

 

PT: I think there’s a real resistance to this whole sort of “Chinese are photo and video” kind of discourse, of using this new media to do things that he is just very allergic to in a way. It is as if painting becomes the simplest way, and then not painting becomes the simplest way of painting. So there is this very psychological element to the whole practice.

 

HUO: Great. Thank you very much.

 

Proof Reader/Edward Sanderson

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About Ling

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