Yan Lei: Interviewer with Waling Boers

采访者:瓦凌 博尔励(Waling Boers)

被访者:颜磊

 

瓦凌 博尔励(Waling Boers): 你的作品托生自现实图像:你自己拍的照片或从报纸拿来的照片,同行拍的照片或来自艺术史的照片。这么多照片被数字化并以标准形式转化为绘画。但这些绘画也不是你自己画的。对你来说艺术是什么?

 

颜磊: 我的创作是为了显示在当今社会中一名艺术家的角色及艺术创作的可能性。

 

WB: 那你作为艺术家的角色如何?或更好的问法是,艺术家是什么?

 

Y: 我也会想这个问题。目前而言,貌似所有人都可以是艺术家;不管做什么都可以被认为是艺术。所以为什么我不能是个艺术家?

 

B: 我觉得你是不是个艺术家不是问题。你接受专业美术教育成为一位艺术家,并在当代文化中生产图像。

 

Y: 但我自己不创造图像。我把所有能激发我想象的图像集合起来作为一种方法。这种方法让我得以更自由地与周围的世界有情感联系,并且仍是一名艺术家。做作品更多像种职业。

 

B: 那你怎么看中国艺术?

 

Y: 在中国做艺术挺容易的。你只要忘掉灵魂、只用脑子想。

 

B: 在当代艺术的语境中,为了更好地被理解,中国当代艺术需要有更明确的定义。你觉得需要这种针对亚洲或中国艺术的界定吗?

 

Y: 最起码这种界定会带给我好处与机遇。但我还没看到过我喜欢的中国艺术展览。在全球当代艺术的语境中,中国当代艺术真没什么特别的。其实我很怀疑中国当代艺术所谓“特殊经验”的真实价值。

 

B: 那中国当代艺术有自己的根基还是仅仅依托于西方观念?比如政治波普,它可被视作社会现实主义的延续,同时亦是从西方引进的话语?

 

Y: 我认为它没什么根基。总体上,中国当代艺术被剥离了它的主观背景,它并未继承中国的美术史。有些作品不过是基于简单符号的游戏罢了。我们缺失的不仅是对历史的延承、更是我们自己真正的价值观。

 

B: 在哪儿丢的?怎么丢的?

 

Y: 是,还有谁应该负责这缺失?

 

 

B: 让我们换个话题:艺术有意义吗?没有吗?

 

Y: 可能我们对意义的理解与理想不同。我理解的意义是艺术家存在的正直与价值,它会如何反映艺术家的情感。我对图像是否绘制的择选标准并不取决于周围事物的视觉或美学呈现。我更着迷于作品固有的神秘感而非其表面表现。在我看来,艺术的意义源自艺术作品的本质能量。艺术能主导一个人的人格尊严。但现实点来看,实际上,每件作品也都在达成某种共识,是妥协的结果。这就会引入许多社会政治的因素。我希望我的作品也能传达上述意义。

 

B: 你能谈谈政治在你作品中的角色吗?

 

Y: 拿第五届深圳雕塑双年展来说吧。我给主办方的提案是,给我一块相当于一家高尔夫球场大的土地,我把它围起来保留两年。选择高尔夫球场是因为它同深圳特殊的文化身份有着直接联系,这是一个只关乎房地产发展与商业生意的城市。为了说服这块土地的拥有者-这个城市-我们费了许多口舌。最终我获得了这块土地的使用权,但被批准使用的土地只有400平方米。这个提案探讨了公共土地问题,探讨了是保持土地的开放性还是把它围起来,探讨了土地、资源与公共艺术。

 

B: 这个理念很明白。那么你重做其他艺术家的作品又是怎么回事?像毕加索和曹斐。

 

Y: 我创作这些图像时在想些什么,都可以从这些图像看出来。前段时间有个藏家送了我一套年历,12个月12张风景照,我想这些风景照也反映了他的品味。我也得承认这个藏家的青睐取向影响了我,所以我基于那些风景照做了一批画。

毕加索“叼烟斗的男孩”最近的拍卖记录创下新高。当我得知我自己的作品将在同一家拍卖行被拍卖时,我就想到了他的这张画。所以我仿制了这张画,并将仿制品提交给拍卖行。但最终他们没让它上拍。(见图注页144/145)

有时候,偶然让我很兴奋。2006年是狗年。我正巧看到一批曹斐的作品,那些图像中有些人打扮成狗的样子,蠢头蠢脑的。苏富比也刚巧在那一年组织有史以来最大型的中国当代艺术拍卖专场。我把这几件碰巧事都凑在一幅画里,标题叫“纽约,狗年”。出于我的个人喜好,我选择了这些事件并将之转换为我作品中的新的现实。这就有了“特醇”系列。

 

B: 你的作品有颠覆性吗?

 

Y: 我不知道这些画是否有颠覆性,结果就是我也不知道这些图像是否会有这么大的魔力。

 

B: 你的创作发展出了一套系统方法或策略,比如对技术、色彩、尺寸、构图及生产方法的有序利用,还有每天为你画画的工人。为什么?

 

Y: 这套方法阐发了我对艺术的理解和态度。事实上,我知道我站在画布前面的内心是不纯粹的。我染了画布,画也会染了我的双手。在画布面前,我未必比雇来的工人强。

我的创作系统是我对图像艺术的知识延展,这些知识包括如何应用我对光影、构图、色彩、创作系统的理解。有趣的是,经常有人觉得我其实什么也没干,或作品里找不到任何观念的痕迹。他们没意识到我对这些事情怀抱着多大的热情,这也算好事。一件艺术作品就好比一颗种子,一旦扔出去,就再也管不着了。

译/顾灵

 

Interviewer: Waling Boers

Interviewee: Yan Lei

 

Waling Boers: In your work, you use a lot of images taken from the reality: photos made by your self or taken from the newspapers, images from colleagues and art history. The numerous images are digitalized and transformed in a standard format to be painted. You don’t paint these paintings yourself. What does art mean to you?

Yan Lei: My work is to show what the role of an artist is in our contemporary society and what art making can be.

WB: What is your role as an artist? Or better to ask: What is an artist?

Y: This issue intrigues me too. At the moment, it seems that everyone could be an artist; whatever one does can be considered as art. Then why can’t I be an artist too?

B: I don’t think it’s a question whether you are an artist or not. You are educated as an artist and you produce images in contemporary culture.

Y: But I don’t create images. As method, I sum up all of the images that can stimulate my imagination. I use this methodology to be freer in how I am emotionally related to the world around me and still be an artist. To make the work is more like a job.

B: What is your attitude towards Chinese art?

Y: It’s easy to make art in China. You only have to use your brain and forget about your soul.

B: Within the context of contemporary art, it looks as if Chinese contemporary art needs specific definition of it context to be understood by others. Is this kind of identification with Asian or Chinese art needed, you think?

Y: At least this kind of classification can bring me advantages and opportunities. But there hasn’t been a single exhibition about Chinese art that I like. In the international contemporary art context, Chinese contemporary art doesn’t have any special quality. Actually I have great doubts concerning whether it is a real value to be framed by the “special experience” of Chinese contemporary art.

B: Does contemporary Chinese art have its own roots or is it only related to western concepts, like the Political Pop, which you could see as an continuation of social realism, also a western import article?

Y: I don’t think it has any roots. As a whole, Chinese contemporary art is deprived of its subjective background. It doesn’t have continuity in the Chinese art history. Some might just be games based on simple symbols. What we are missing is not only a historical continuity; we have also lost our real philosophical foundation.

B: Where and how has it been lost?

Y: Yes, and who should be held responsible for this loss?

 

B: Let’s change the perspective: Does art have any meaning? Or isn’t there any meaning in art?

Y: We might have different understandings and ideals of meaning. The meaning that I understand is the integrity and value of an artist’s existence, how it reflects her or his emotions. My choice of what to paint is not based on the visual or aesthetic appeal of the things around me. I am more interested in the intrinsic mystery of a work than in the superficial presentation of it. In my view, the meaning of art comes from the inherent force of an artwork. Art does demonstrate one’s human dignity. But I am realistic enough to say that, practical speaking, every work is a kind of agreement as well, because it is the result of compromises. And this involve a lot of social-political motives. I hope that my work will communicate these meanings as well.

B: Could you give us an example of how the political aspect works in your work?

Y: Take the Shenzhen Sculptural Exhibition, The 5th System for example. I made a proposal for the organizer in which I asked to occupy a piece of land in the size of a golf course to fence it and keep it for two years. The nature of golf courses is related to the particular cultural identity of Shenzhen as a city that is all about property development and business. In order to reach an agreement with the owner of the land, the city, we had to negotiate many things. Eventually I obtained the right to use a land, but they only allowed me a piece of land that was about 400 square meters. This proposal involved the issue of public lands. It was related to keeping the land open or fenced off. It was a discussion of land, resources and public art.

B: That’s clear. What does it mean to you to reproduce paintings of other artists, like Pablo Picasso or Cao Fei?

Y: Those images corresponded to what I was thinking at the moment of making them. Some time ago a collector gave me a calendar of 12 landscape paintings, which I thought were representative of his taste. And I admit that the collectors’ preferences affected me so I made paintings based on those images.

Picasso’s painting, “Boy with a Pipe,” won the highest bid ever in an auction. The image of the painting came to my mind when I knew that my work would be auctioned in the same place as Picasso’s work. So I made a reproduction of it and offered it to them. But it didn’t enter the auction eventually (see annotated image page 144/145).

Sometimes, I enjoy the excitement brought about by a matter of fortuity. 2006 is the year of the Dog in China. I happened to see some images of Cao Fei’s work where men were dressed up as dogs, behaving stupidly docile. Sotheby’s also organized the biggest Chinese contemporary art auction ever. These few events collided I combined them in one painting and called it “New York, Dog Year.” Based on my liking, I chose those events and turned them into a new reality in my work. I called this series “Super Light.”

B: Is there a subversive element in your work?

Y I don’t know whether the actual paintings are subversive as a result I don’t know either whether images can have such a magic power.

B: In your work, you have developed a kind of systematic method or strategy, like consequential use of technique, color, seizes, composition and producing methods, workers who are working on you paintings every day. Why?

Y: I use this method to demonstrate my understanding of art. This state of working is my attitude towards art. In fact, I know that my spirit is not pure in front of canvases. I might soil the canvases and the paint might soil my hands too. In front of the canvases, I was not necessarily a better painter than those I hire.

This system of working is the extension of my knowledge in the art of creating images, including the application of what I understand about light, composition, color and the system of making. What is interesting is that people sometimes don’t think I have done anything at all, or there is any trace of concept in it. It is good that they don’t really realize how passionate I am about these things. An artwork is like a seed. After you throw it out, you don’t have any control over it.

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About Ling

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