作为一名策展人，亚历山德罗在欧洲策划并组织了多个个展和团体展。这些展览主要关注新的意大利和欧洲绘画，更确切的说，是关注世界上像街头艺术、新波普艺术和新艺术设计这样的年轻艺术现象。这些重要的公开展览中值得一提的有：新的意大利人像II(米兰，1998)、特殊(PAC.当代艺术馆，米兰，2001)、意大利工厂、新意大利艺术现场(威尼斯双年展，国际艺术双年展，威尼斯，2003)、 罗马四年 (罗马，意大利，2003)、新意大利现场 (欧洲议会, 斯特拉斯堡，法国，2003)、中国城市(上海，中国，2006)、意大利(上海美术馆，上海，中国，2007)、新意大利艺术(台北艺术馆，台北)、甜蜜艺术街艺术(PAC.当代艺术馆，米兰，2007)、跨绘画(超级工作室，米兰，2009)、跨界 (威尼斯双年展, 2013), 突如其来(米兰，2014)。
Ruins---- On Jiang Hengs Paintings
Jiang Hengs Lost Paradise between Liquid Modernity and existential anxiety
Materialistic Idols Reluctance to Grow Up
Jiang Hengs Lost Paradise between Liquid Modernity and existential anxiety
Those who know Jiang Heng well understand that beneath the gentle appearance, he is actually an avant-garde experimentalist with an insuppressible passion for art. In the early 1990s, he appeared in the art society with performance art; then in the following Cartoon Generation wave, with his unswerving courage and distinctive visual lansign, Jiang Heng became an important representative. After more than 20 years ups and downs, he is no longer the green boy but a confident, resolute, unhurried and mature artist.
- Jiang Hengs Flirtatious eyes and Gaze
by Alessandro Riva
Reviewing Jiang Hengs personal growth path shows that the development of his art synchronizes with that of the Chinese contemporary art. It is exactly the drastic changes of the social structure, the new social production means, new life styles and the visual experience created that provide a response tactic and approach for Jiang Heng, who acutely enters on from the cultural notions in the consumer society and through subjective intervention, reveals such cultural subjects as the capital, power, desire, consumption, ecology and absence of moral tradition in the globalised context. His recent visual expression still relates to his past visual narration contextually and extends the same style.
The appropriation, by contemporary artists, of icons and images drawn from the universe of cartoons is a phenomenon that characterized a whole generation of artists, since the early nineties, running through Asian art in a crosswise direction (in China, with the so-called Cartoon Generation, and in Japan, with the Superflat Generation of Murakami and Nara), but also on the American and European continents. In Italy, just as happened in China with the Cartoon Generation, much has been talked, since the mid-nineties, about a so-called Disney generation, a term specifically coined to refer to the artistic community of those who were able to mix - with intelligence, irony and often with great refined too, stylistic elements inspired by the classical painting tradition with images and characters taken instead from the world of media and cartoons. This phenomenon, which besides crossing through contemporary art also affected other forms of expression, such as film-making (just think of the brilliant and greatly forerunning experiment that is the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit by Robert Zemeckis, which, not surprisingly, dates from 1988 and shows a blending of a traditional film technique with that of cartoons), it was not just an isolated experiment confined to the nineties, but a real change of perspective and language that ran through art as a whole and, in some way, all forms of expression of the most advanced contemporaneity.
To decode Jiang Hengs visual images, one needs to look back on his artistic path and the historical background of his growth. Reconstructing this gives the audience a key to unlock Jiang Heng and his works. Reexamining our life and cultural reality, we will find that Chinese born in the 1970s, such as Jiang Heng, are not burdened with trials and tribulations like their fathers were any more, therefore they also lack of the cultural passion for epical narration. It can be said that Jiang Heng experienced directly the end of an absurd time. But he is also lucky that he equally witnessed and participated in the beginning of a great time when battle between classes is no longer the political priority, when the planned economy came to an end and the reform, opening-up and thoughts liberation gave Jiang Heng a broad horizon and free expression. For sure the reform and opening-up has brought much more than material abundance; it was a world-shaking change and an ethical subversion. A time of fickleness, desire and rapid social development would certainly have immense complexity and create a great diversity of art.
I would not hesitate in any way to mark the limits of that phenomenon within the more general ambit of postmodern culture, with some basic features that influenced its entire expressive cycle. In this sense, the elements that characterized most the forms of expression referable to postmodern culture can in turn be traced to some unifying interpretations, such as the refusal of a hierarchy among the different genres, languages, and cultural references (think of the mixing between high and low culture, between elite and mass culture, and between tradition and innovation), a repetitive and redundant use of irony, play, dialogue with the viewer, systematic decanonization of languages and reading levels, with the deconstruction and demolition of all canons, fragmentariness and multiplicity of cultural references, hybridization, or changing replication of genre, which includes parody, transvestism, linguistic pastiche, increasing spectacularization of the work and cultural product, in line with the parallel and growing carnivalization of society. Like it or not, we can quite rightly state that, in one way or another, the vast majority of the works created between the eighties and the beginning of the new millennium in Europe, Asia and America were predominantly, if not uniquely, characterized by this kind of unifying elements.
In the 1990s, market economy was rolling out overwhelmingly. Almost overnight, China entered into the time of urban culture and consumption an inevitable result of the impact of globalization. Along with it were continuous evolution of ideology and prevalence of popular culture to the extent that it kept squeezing out the elite culture with a tendency to become the mainstream. On the other hand, the time of images also began to influence peoples way of life and art creation. The combination and interaction of all these factors formed the historical and cultural context of Jiang Hengs personal growth, while the new social structure and new visual experience prompted him to find a way to respond to the upheaval, which underpins the approach of the visual reflection and visual expression in his image narration.
Speaking of Jiang Hengs art, one must mention a few key points. They are:
Jiang Hengs work can be perfectly included, with characters of great authenticity, within this argument. His is an artistic operation that delves fully into and draws heavily from the cultural and linguistic reservoir of post-modern art, gradually enriching it with strongly identity-making elements until managing to go beyond it, in order to find his own original way, that somehow anticipates and connects to the themes and lines of reflection underlying the contemporary western artistic and cultural debate.
Thus it is not difficult to see at that time, the passion of idealism and the blind worship of modern western civilization were fading away from the historical stage and taken over by an emphasis on personal living space, value of individuals and attention to Chinese social reality. This was particularly so in Guangzhou, the gateway city of reform and opening-up, where people cared more about the matter of living based on individual life experience and emphasized personal way of life and development in the society. As a trend, the collective experience was more and more replaced by individual experiment.
First of all, we must speak of Jiang Hengs professor. Jiang Heng was a student in the oil painting department at the art college of Huanan Normal University, and studied under professor Li Bangyao. Albeit our common understanding that Huanan Normal University categorizes as an institution of a lower tier in comparison to the Guangzhou Academy of Art, however Huanan Normal University hired a groups of professors from Hubei Academy of Art in the early 90s. They were once important players in the movement of contemporary Chinese art. As a result, their presence at the art college has gradually changed its artistic ecology of the former academy. With the local southern artistic sphere, it had induced completely different artistic outcomes. And Jiang Heng is part of its harvest.
The first key element that characterizes Jiang Hengs work is the choice of language. Although he uses an ancient method, that of painting, which in China boasts a great tradition of academic technique, Jiang Heng has chosen to use a completely and deliberately anti-academic style, whose immediate references are to be found in comics and popular illustration, as well as having, consequently, clear visual and conceptual relationships with the Pop and Neo-pop currents of international art. Achieved with a few well-calibrated colour tones, a flat brush stroke, completely free from any visual interferences, impurities, drips or disturbing elements with respect to the focus of the central image of the painting, the style used by Jiang Heng in his paintings expressly declares his willingness to get out of the school-academic tradition and to turn instead into the main road of the wide-spread popular imagery: his thus becomes at the same time an argument on the interferences of the popular repertoire and mass culture on our faculty of intellectual elaboration and a means to exploit and question them from within. Therefore, the parodic element in Jiang Hengs work cunningly camouflages itself with a spontaneous and natural appropriation of the mass seduction techniques peculiar to the advertising industry, television communication and the cartoonists universe, to develop a unified story, seemingly devoid of facets, both attractive and subtly melancholic.
In his book Depoliticized Politics: End of the 20th Century and the 1990s, Wang Hui, distinguished Chinese scholar, addresses the formation of the time of market economy in China and the complicated changes of social structure triggered, The short 1990s unfolded against the backdrop of the end of a revolutionary century. During this time, the meanings of drama, politics, economy, culture and military have all undergone fundamental change and if not redefined, then even concepts as common as politics, nation and people cannot be used to analyze the times; it was also at this time that visual intellects began to shift their eyes and minds from the past to the unfamiliar present. Daniel Bell has also pointed out that A distinctive feature of modern city life is its visualization. To art, city is not only a tradition and a form but a whole new outlook of space, value and future as well as speed and passion.
Starting from his square paintings from the nineties, Jiang Heng has continued to reproduce, as the central figure of his works, the standardized physiognomy of the girls who are the product of consumerism, now spread far and wide on the globe, in the West as well as in the East: the protagonists of his paintings were from the very beginning those little pagan goddesses who make their daily appearance everywhere, from posters and TV shows targeted at teenagers to cartoons, not to mention the millions of photos posted every day on social networks as a huge and crazy show of their own present and lives, which are transformed into an eternal film or television set. The artist has thus caught the founding core of the new society of integrated spectacle (this bad dream of Western society, as it was called, with remarkable foresight, by the philosopher Guy Dbord as early as the sixties, which by now has long been spreading far and wide in the East), apparent in the forced standardization of consumption, needs, and lifestyles, along with the myth of an eternal adolescence destined to never come to an end, of which the doll-girl, an innocent Lolita and yet already open to the seductive power of the eye, movements, and clothing, embodies the perfect, crystal clear symbol, which is at the same time ubiquitous and very close to us, and yet fatally inaccessible, because anyone - except from those who happen to live it in this very same, and yet fleeting moment are precluded forever from the same adolescence and, along with it, from its dreams, freshness, plenty of hope and subtle melancholy, which sometimes brings about the darkest gloom or despair.
Such is the hotbed on which the Cartoon Generation relies and they consciously translate the visual experience in the landscape society into languages of art expression, for their social surroundings are pop culture, cartoon, animated games and rock roll; they grow up using American computer chips, watching Hollywood movies and eating fries. Such a life style determines Jiang Hengs visual expression approach. Based on his own life experience, Jiang Heng creates a virtual cartoon world in which he uses virtual languages to represent the real world. The animated reality not only overthrows peoples deep-rooted aesthetic experience, values and notions, but also reflects the way of life of the authors generation and their life experience. Irony and ridicule are the keynote of Jiangs visual expression, whereas shadowland and illusion mixed with childish naivety, romance and endless imagination for future are his unique narration style.
Among the artists who came to the south and are still teaching at the art college of Huanan Normal University, besides Li Bangyao, there are also Fang Shaohua, Yang Guoxin and Shi Lei, they each occupies an important position in the framework of contemporary oil painting. What is especially important is their importation of artistic thoughts and compositional concept from Chinas interior. It includes the Political Pop art from Hubei in the early 90s and the artists individualized approach of representation in expressionism. More importantly, throughout their teaching, they have always put the emphasis on highlighting individuality, emphasizing on incorporating the individual with his emotions, emphasizing art as an intervention on reality. With which, meaningful artistic issues could be formulated, and using it as a base of entry to current matters. Looking at a few oil paintings from Jiang Hengs earlier period, they were indeed influenced by foreign elements. For example, Jiangs Untitled series from 1994 depicts a red male body in swing as its main subject and contrasting with a background motif expressing desire. These works have mixed certain styles of pop art, yet was executed in the expressionist approach. There are shadows of the Hubei style of painting. And the Cartoon Generation series from 1996, has stylistically reflected the art of Li Bangyao. Without a doubt, this was the formative years of Jiang Hengs artistic style.
After all, that the status of adolescence and preadolescence, especially for girls, has now managed to carve out a separate place of its own, undergoing a process of rapid transformation, in the contemporary imaginary, is demonstrated by several signs of a strong emotional impact and of particular significance from the cultural point of view. Among the most obvious of these signs, there are not only the increasingly massive invasion of products designed specifically for this age group (ranging from clothes and magazines either of comics or otherwise, that gradually increase exponentially and seem to be more and more focused on the specific segment of adolescent and pre-adolescent public - to gadgets of various kinds, dolls, whose appearance tends more and more to be reflected in a more or less stereotypical image of increasingly manifest and stressed pre-sexuality with strongly characterized features of its own), but also several other factors that make this phenomenon one of the most striking of the last decades.
Starting from Beautiful Girl and Fish, then to Flying Butterflies, Flowing Butterflies and the latest Rolling on and Surging forward, Dazzling Feast of Flowers for the Eyes, Jiang Heng never stops shifting his view and refining his thinking and uses appropriately with right rhythm and control the contemporary culture and visual experience as his visual expression. In this way he effectively transforms new visual experience into his own pictorial language so he can use what he excels at flat color application as in advert painting, to destroy the original tones of the oil paintings and replace them with symbolized coding to imply a state and experience of life, i.e., a highly commercialized social reality in which men are alienated as goods; they are metamorphosed during the materialization.
Secondly, the cartoon generation movement headed by Huang Yihang in the Guangzhou area in the mid-nineties has also had a direct impact on Jiang Heng. Today, no one questions the significance of the Cartoon Generation from Guangzhou, even though there are different opinions about it. Although if we trace back on the origin of the so-called cartoon wave now popular in the art arena, we find close ties with Guangzhou. I am not making the statement that art with cartoon features are all derived from the Guangzhous Cartoon Generation. In my view, the reason for the popularization of cartoon style is more complex than what we imagine, its sources were diverse. However, similar styles were indeed first appeared in Guangzhou. What is interesting is, as a professor of the Guangzhou Academy of Art, Huang Hanyi had to come to Huanan Normal University art college to seek for support. Thus the first and second exhibitions were successfully held at the exhibition hall of the art college. It demonstrates certain moving tolerance from the art college of Huanan Normal University. Jiang Heng has been one of the active participants in the formative stage of Guangzhous Cartoon Generation, and testified for the rationale of cartoon with his own style of oil painting. Consequently, he became one of the most representative Chinese artists from the Cartoon Generation in the mid-nineties. The aforementioned Cartoon Series was a direct outcome of this sizable southern artistic movement. Later on, his famous signature style wide opened eyes with the nave and flirtatious gaze on the highly materialistic female idols, was formulated in this process.
Among the other particularly symbolic elements of this apparent change of the status of the very concept of female adolescence, there is, first of all, the birth of a neologism - the phoneme tween - which contains in itself, in its own specific sense, the very meaning of this change. The word tween, in fact, comes from the union of two different words: on the one hand, the more familiar teen, indicating those which, until a few years ago, we knew simply as teenagers, and, on the other, the word between , indicating the idea of transition from one age to another (specifically, between childhood and adolescence), and from one phase of life to another. An age, ultimately, referred to in the press as well as popularly as too old for toys, too young for boys.
Jiang Heng uncovers the characteristic of this popular, earthy culture, or the culture of modern industrial society, especially in south China, a mature consumer society with highly developed pop culture: We are in a time that cannot be escaped from when there seems to be an invisible hand controlling your mind and your consumption. Bombarded by advertisement, campaigns and media, men are losing themselves more and more and continuously alienated as an object in this machine-copy time. The passion, the relation between individual desires and the society, the bright and vivid colors in Jiangs visual images and the transformation of visual resources prove again a fact that the contemporary culture is shifting from traditional printing culture to a visual one, in which various images are experiencing men at every moment.
Moreover, the rapid transformation of Chinese society in the 90s, especially once the wave of economic reform hit on the southern provinces, not only the existing spiritual framework and its artistic approach of representation were completely changed, but more importantly, this wave has induced the direct representation of the New Generations materialistic desire. One should not belittle the material desire induced from this transformation, nor should one treat such desire as a passive reaction. In contrast, the materialistic desire in China today has far exceeds the boundary of the individual, but has grown into a spiritual phenomenon. If we ignore this phenomenon, we will be unable to make the slightest objective judgment on the art of today.
This idea of transition and uncertainty about ones role contains, in fact, the very meaning of the new identity of a generation of young girls who have taken on the role, both in the West and in the East, of the very symbol of an entire era: an age (and a time) of uncertainty, almost a symbol of a fatally fluid, slippery, and uncertain time (lets think in this regard of the Liquid modernity theorized by Zygmunt Baumann). Its is precisely upon this uncertainty, this long, happy moment of transition, that Jiang Heng has built, I daresay, most of his poetics. His are indeed fragments of a long moment between a before and an after: here we find again the word between taking its place as a symbolic central point that strongly identifies this state of existential uncertainty, which is handed down through the eyes of its young heroines, to a whole society in its entirety, in crisis and dramatically in search of a new identity, of new centres of gravity, and of new equilibriums of values and meanings.
Through his works, audience can see the hope from the bottom of Jiang Hengs heart. He has an outstanding ability to translate metaphors into a reality that can be accepted by the public through his skillful pictorial expression, and he always possesses an acuteness towards the time and the social reality. The texture and glamour of his paintings give audience an emotion and cultural implication and his visual narration seems to keep create one metaphor after another. Hidden behind the flamboyant appearance is Jiang Hengs ardent imagination and symbolic expression of the contemporary society and his life of art. This is why in Jiang Hengs works, colors can break through the boundaries of objects, being totally free and radiating glaring magnificence and pleasure. In addition, the childlike feeling in his works has certain emotional power that dissolves adult comprehension and judgment, but presents the world through a new perspective. Such a perspective creates a whole new world the time of image - from the original pictorial world. This new world not only changes Jiangs creative concepts and expression means, but also the audiences reading habits and visual aesthetic experience. As to the analysis and decoding of art in the time of image, that would be the task for the future Cartoon Generation when they grow up.
And it is right here, in the crucial moment of transition from one age to another, with the resulting dose of uncertainty and anxiety that such moments always imply, where we should find, in my opinion, the key to better understand Jiang Hengs work. In fact, it is precisely uncertainty, anxiety and uncertainty that make up the heart of the so-called post-modern civilization, characterized by the loss of the optimism of reason that marked instead the previous period, followed by the birth of the great ideologies with their load of tragedies, but also of hope and a clear gaze, open and confident about the future. Actually, if modern society had grown up on the belief in progress, the post-modern society has become instead the society of risk and uncertainty par excellence. Fears about the future, nuclear contamination, the destruction of planet Earth, the loss of energy resources, the end of welfare, food contamination, the family and sexual identity roles themselves, and then famines, wars, revolutions, ethnic clashes, terrorist attacks, increasingly advanced biotechnology that all together pose a challenge to our certainties The society of consumerism, finance and advanced and uncontrolled capitalism, lacking by now all ideological certainties as its benchmarks, just keeps worrying restlessly amid dramatic uncertainties, disguised by the optimistic smile of the fabulous baby-girls peeping from television screens and road advertising posters.
Through creating one after another anamorphic scenario for the audience, Jiang Heng let the realness dissolves in the images while tries to use virtual scenario and products replicated by machine to revive a state, and finally through replicating the replicate to present his experience narrative and value judgment. He brings to the audience both an alternative way of creation and a special way of reading. Therefore there forms a tension between the subject and the object; through the virtual scene established by Jiang Heng, the audience can fully see how image reading has already become peoples essential way of information acquisition. Image reading not only penetrates into everyones daily life but moreover has become a habit in information and knowledge reception. As a result, images often control mens mind, guide their consumption and stimulate their desires.
In other words, the artistic trend from Chinas interior, the local uprising of artistic movement and the rapid transformation of Chinese society make part for the external conditions of Jiang Hengs art form. Without these conditions, it would be difficult to imagine how he could formulate the style we are familiar with today.
Jiang Hengs work, while showing us innocent doll-girls immersed in a lost paradise of flowers and unspoiled nature, ends up reminding us precisely, by contrast, the uncertainty of the time that we currently live. Their forcibly standardized physiognomy reminds us of the artificiality of the human condition in the post-human era. Not surprisingly, for a few years it was precisely Barbie, the famous doll manufactured by Mattel, to become the absolute protagonist of the artists paintings: such a perfect doll as to appear at the same time likely, as it was created in a models body and dressed in fashionable clothes, and yet impossible to match (just think of the widely reported news of a woman who neurotically underwent countless surgeries in a vain attempt to imitate her features). Barbie is the symbol of a time that looks for its own solution to a deep identity crisis resulting from the certainties of the modern world in impeccable aesthetic beauty to the limits of an impossible eternal youth.
Jiang Heng fully captures the artistic essence of the landscape society and the public image world, and understands the richness and diversity of social life. Although establishing many glamorous, cold and bewildering dreamland with distinctive images, his works show no trace of emotion expression at all; audience only face the numb, cold, replicated and dull vacuity and illusion. This is exactly what he tries to convey, the format structure of mass production, the repetition of series and abuse of significance. Watching his paintings, audiences are overwhelmed by the force of mass production. Jiang Hengs visual narrative is also about all the fashions, health products, large number of shoddy, tasteless goods and completely materialized objects in this consumer time. Undoubtedly, todays China just bases on these goods, and Jiangs works reflect the consumable transitoriness of the products we depend on, which are practical but short-lived.
Besides, Jiang Hengs perspective, his unique view on life and society, as well as his overall understanding of others and on art were also crucial to this formation.
However, just as a shadow of melancholy can be glimpsed behind every clowns mask, behind the synthetic and perfect artificial beauty of the lovely dolls nested among flowers depicted by Jiang Heng we can see the shadow of tragedy looming over the society of advanced consumerism peep out. Just as the facelift with which many Western women try to hide the ageing of their body cannot mask the neuroses that fatally grips them, and that the very attempt to artificially stop the flow of time dramatically reveals, the triumphant optimism that advertising images that swamp us every day cannot hide the profound crisis of meaning and values hidden by a society devoted solely to consumption.
Jiang Hengs visual narrative tactic is the triumph of the image time, the carnival of consumer society as well as the victory of sexiness and of the thoughts liberation in Guangzhou at the beginning of the reform and opening-up with its developed market economy. He not only possesses a mature artistic style and ever progressing social critical standpoint, but is also able to convert and mix his own visual symbols and other life elements into his visual expression. Against the background of consumer and landscape society, he timely and wittedly uses this societys own way to satirize and depict it, and hence reveals the coldness, isolation and vacuity resulted from the alienation to men by landscape. Such is the depth of Jiang Hengs art, and the embodiment of his values and his criteria of cultural value.
Today, Jiang Hengs art people are familiar with is his repetitive symbolized beautiful women gazing with flirtatious eyes, they smile innocently, posing in various flirtatious poses and expressions that satisfies the secular standard. They display this kind of so-called nave and beautiful gendered information. To a certain extent, I think Jiang Hengs women with flirtatious looks is a repetitive statement of sarcasm, it conveys information contrasting with its superficial appearance, or even of opposing and conflicting content.
Here, then, Jiang Hengs work has become in recent years more explicit, direct, and urgent: his dolls nested among flowers are inevitably affected by a sort of gloomy existential melancholy. Death and tragedy seem to be eager to seize them at each step.
It is clear that Jiang Hengs visual narrative is immersed in highly commercialized surroundings. Unarguably, he benefits from the notions of the consumer society and wins reputation from it; while on the other hand, he is also an art carrier in the capital civilization of the consumer society: Through personal visual narrative, he portraits an extremely luxurious, prosperous but fake and void landscape and the pain, sorrow, perplexity and helplessness hidden behind the glamorous exterior.
I remember in one of my essays discussing the Cartoon Generation of Guangzhou, I have mentioned certain causes for the formation of this style,
Other protagonists, dramatically inanimate, come to dominate the scene of the artists works. Surrounded by fantastic landscapes or depicted in a cloud of fluttering butterflies, huge giant pills, symbols of the organic disease of the 2000s (our neurosis of men lost in a world and in a time that can no longer offer any existential certainty nor any possible relief in a possible future afterlife) then become the ideal fetish to which to have recourse in an attempt to soothe our malaise, as substitute objects, to quote Freud, of a neurosis that cannot be cured by any ideology. And so it is no coincidence that the skull, a once popular symbol that has been strongly revived on the contemporary art scene, returns to occupy the scene in Jiang Hengs paintings, which therefore become examples of extraordinary and joyful contemporary Vanitas, Memento mori of the modern era. Concealed and camouflaged among flowers, in Jiang Hengs latest paintings the skulls and pills are hiding behind an apparent playfulness and very happy decorative anxiety, just as the tragedy of the sense of the contemporary time is constantly hidden behind layers and layers of rouge, make-up, invasive adverts and artificial smiles we are palmed off by millions of screens in every moment of our lives.
Lately, Jiang Heng has been exploring a diversified visual narrative approach. He never stops challenging limitations, crossing boundaries and surpassing self. His visual image world is still full of liveliness instead of specific feelings and momentary emotions; this is already an elevated state, a calm and easy attitude and a detached perspective. Although the accumulation of life experience and all the sweet and bitterness in the journey of artistic exploration have moderated some of his past indignation and given him a peaceful and calm quality, his passion for artistic innovation has never bated a little. It can be expected that he will continue, through his visual exploration, to reflect on peace and harmony, to praise nature and life, to probe into the crossing and blending of cultures and philosophies between the East and the West and to display the bewilderment over the collision between tradition and present.
The primary subject of the Cartoon Generation is the self, whether the self possess sufficient ability of transcendence, can the self go beyond the boundary of southern culture in order to gain a new platform of observation, and to redefine themselves according to the cultural value of their artwork. As a steppingstone to foreign civilization, there are indeed certain advantages in the south. However, as region on the periphery, it is lured by various sources, therefore it is easy for art to sidetrack to the path of superficiality and contentiousness, which is now obviously a fact. what influences us is precisely the abnormal infatuation of the so-called depth. cartoon overflowing into china caused the traditional way of reading to rapidly collapse. This gave birth to many of the cartoon characters from the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, the popularization of computer technology and the increase on artificial environments further barricade the organic relationship between human and nature, yielding large production of computer characters besides the already existing cartoon characters. The founder of Cartoon Generation, Huang Yihan has entitled his first work, We are children reluctant to grow up. The truth is, this title accurately refers to the younger generation who has physically reached maturity yet are psychologically lacking behind a generation who completely immersed themselves in comics and computers. 
The skulls and pills in Jiang Hengs new paintings play the same role as his dolls did and still do: decorative items, rewarding, pleasantly artificial and seductive, and yet subtly and dramatically disturbing.
T﹒J﹒Clark has a view that the history of modern art is not a flat one, but a history of denials: continuous denials by new movements to the old ones.
Jiang Hengs skull, symbolically camouflaged among flowers, likewise friendly and scary at the same time, perfectly represents the twofold, ambivalent and contradictory perception that the man of postmodernity may have about its incidence in the order of the totality of history and the eternal and unchanging movement of the universe itself: a fleeting star, one moment of euphoria between birth and death; and it also explains the postmodern individuals elated, anxious, and neurotic way of experiencing the sense of fragmented marginality in the chaos of a history that seems to have lost forever its linear and positive development.
Then as an important figure of the Cartoon Generation, what other visual surprises and expectations will Jiang Heng bring to the audience?
This southern art movement at the time was once almost rejected by the entire art world. And not so long ago, its similar style has become the illustrative choice for most young artistic groups born in the 1970s. The contrasts of this phenomenon in time have even caused people to ignore its initial fact. As I have mentioned at the beginning, Jiang Heng belongs to the earlier Cartoon Generation, the formation and development of his symbolism has been almost ten years. From this perspective, I am also one of the earliest critics who have commented on this artistic phenomenon. As I retrieve my comment from the time, I discover that my interest was not on the cartoon per se. To analyze them with todays context, the so-called cartoon perhaps was only a intelligible strategy of compositional appropriation. Of course, from which we also find the visual reference specific to that young generation. As critics apply different concept to comment on the styles of todays cartoon, I think one of the problems among them is their gullible believe in Cartoon, and have forgotten that similar style has already been important content in publishing and film industries around the 1970s. The reason I am reiterating my comment from the past is that I discover, even with my view at the time, I have already more or less treated cartoon as an intimate issue reflecting on the process of growing up. The Children reluctant to grow up proposed by Huang Yihan was perhaps his subjective view of young people as an elder. If we enter into the particular context of the new generation, in terms of growing up, what is before them is obvious not unable to grow up, but refusing to grow up. This attitude of reluctance strikes a cord with the social and historical background associated with growing up, which reveals the intense, or even conflicting relationship between the adult society and its non-adult counterpart. I admit, what I noticed at the time was the symptom of physical maturity and psychological immaturity, but have perhaps neglected its meaning. In my view, the reasons for artists to choose cartoon or cartoon-like forms, from the surface its an outcome of their specific visual influence during their adolescent period, more thoroughly, it infiltrates their attitudes on the adult society that manipulates their growing process. If this hypothesis is true, then certain types of uniformity shown visually are in themselves an interesting response. It tells us how they view the grown-ups society. In dealing with the grown-ups society, that is becoming gradually pretentious and cynical, as artists, they can perhaps only use forms that has once been abandoned or neglected by the grown-up society, such as cartoon, to express their rejection of this society (here I am referring to the art world in the grown-up society). Of course, as the art world transforms itself, cartoon began to come a prominent style, and letting this rejection to become the beginning of a new cycle of art movement. Whether its later followers shared similar motives, or was driven by the prospect of future success and have chosen cartoon, of course needs to be discussed otherwise.
We look forward to them.
As I set Jiang Hengs flirtatious beauties against the background related growing up, the sarcasm of his works began to emerge. The rosy dream hidden subconsciously in the early years of adolescence or pre-adolescence was once oppressed from the adult world, and also parts separate ways with the promotion of depth in the art world in the past while. Naturally, as of sarcasm, I am not emphasizing Jiang Hengs intended flirtatious beauties as a visual description to react or ridicule. I believe he did not have any sarcastic creative intent. In other words, he is not interested in the superficial reaction. Or even, hes not rebellious at all. In the contrary, he is only concerned with the material desire conveyed through the images. It is precisely for this reason, could I have interpreted the certain truth in his works, because what it essentially displays, perhaps he might not even be clearly aware of, is a kind of deterrent attitude in rejecting the grown-up society.
18:00, Jan. 14, 2014
With this, I think we have a better understand the flirtatious beauties under Jiang Hengs brush. They were not representations of true beauty to begin with, but the imagined idols of desire, who are placed in a void, gazing with pretentious and nave eyes, observing the constant inflation of the grown-up society with their constant facial expression. In sum, Jiang Heng has not only realized his intent of rejection with the women gazing flirtatiously, but have allowed that age to be eternally planted in a moment of enjoyment for the artist. At the same time, he has also concealed a type of sorrow of adolescence, and has used idols to replace the intervention of reality.
Sanguandian Palace, East Lake, Wuhan.
Ji Shaofeng: Deputy Director of Hubei Museum of Art,
 See Cartoon Generation: Report on Consumption Life in Southern China, unpublished text.
distinguished curator and critic, the only Chinese critic winning the
Best Curation Award in the 55th Venice Biennale 2013