拒绝成长的物欲偶像,蝴蝶飘忽背后再谈江衡的物欲偶像及其背后的父权意识

 拍卖     |      2020-01-06

我曾经就江衡的作品发表过意见,认为仅仅用卡通这样的概念,并不能充分说明他的艺术追求。在我看来,江衡所表达的,是一个与成长有关的问题,混合在这当中的,则是持续的混乱、不间断地规训与痴迷如梦的青春想象,是在成人社会合法化介入下,或真或假半真半假是真是假地拒绝成长。当中的关键词有三个,分别是成长、物欲与偶像。我认为,江衡的艺术实践及其意义,基本上就包含在这三个关键词中。

杨小彦

第一个关键词:成长。

谈论江衡的艺术,有几个关键点是必须提到的,这些关键点是:

至今我还记得法国存在主义作家萨特说过的一句话,大意是:人无法选择出生,人的出生就是,他突然被抛向了一个成人社会。原话不太记得,但意思是准确的,符合存在主义的基本原则,那就是存在先于本质。在萨特看来,人原无本质,本质是后天给予的。就人而言,这个后天就是成人社会。所以,人的出生就构成了一个事件,一个被抛向社会的事件。人一旦被抛向成人社会,成人社会就开始用种种法则来书写与塑造人的本质,然后把人建构成,如大多数哲学家所论述的那样,具有本质意义的先天存在。站在存在主义立场上看,人的本质并不是先天的,而是一种强加。人的本质也不自我派生,反倒它要派生出其他东西,比如哲学家所谈论的先天本质这样的东西。

首先要提到江衡的老师。江衡当年就读于广州华南师大美术学院,跟从李邦耀学习油画。本来,常识判断,华师美术学院从档次和规格上似乎应该比广州美术学院略逊一筹,但是,正因为华师美术学院在九十年代初期果断地从湖北美术学院引进了一批老师,他们同时也是中国当代艺术运动的重要成员,结果便逐渐改变了学院原有的艺术生态,在南方本地的气氛之中,催生了完全不同的艺术结果。江衡是这结果之一。

如果把存在主义这个原则移来谈论艺术,尤其是艺术风格时,我们就发现,艺术,包括其风格,同样是被建构的,是艺术社会的种种法则,依照自己的意义所描述出来、以供辨认的特征。也就是说,艺术家本人,一旦决定从事艺术,就等于被抛向了艺术社会,然后在创新与摸索当中,获得了本质。这里当然指的是艺术的本质。艺术原无本质,艺术的存在先于其本质,这似乎是无可怀疑的事实。

当年南下的艺术家,今天仍然留在华师美院教书的,除了李邦耀之外,还有方少华、杨国辛和石磊、他们四人的油画在当代油画艺术格局中各有位置。尤其重要的是,他们带来了发轫于内地的艺术思想和造型观念,包括九十年代初湖北的政治波普和他们所特有的表现主义描绘方式。更重要的是,他们在教学中一直强调个性的张扬,强调个人与情境的结合,强调艺术对现实的干预,从而形成有意义的艺术问题,并以此为基础去达成切入当下的目的。看江衡早期留下来的几幅油画,的确受到非本土因素的影响。1994年的《无题》系列,主角是扭动的红色男人体,背景则是表达欲望的图案。这几张作品混杂了某些波普的风格,却又用了表现的手法,有着湖北画风的影子。1996年的《卡通一代系列》,在画风上则显然受到李邦耀艺术的影响。毫无疑问,这是江衡艺术的风格起点。

从这个角度来说,谈论艺术,并不是谈论所谓的风格,而是把艺术作为证据,作为一种特殊的精神症候,来谈论促成其定型的社会,从艺术社会到成人社会再到权力社会。对我而言,从来就不存在着纯艺术。纯艺术本身是一套说辞,用以表达对社会现实的拒斥或反抗。而否定纯艺术的存在,也就等于否定谈论艺术的美学路线。甚至,在我看来,艺术和美并没有关系。就江衡而言,他笔下的物欲偶像,瞪着一双媚眼,似乎在讨好观看者,其实,从江衡的实践来看,他的作品和审美相距甚远。

其次,九十年代中广州以黄一瀚为首的卡通一代运动,对江衡形成了直接的影响。今天,已经没有谁去怀疑广州的卡通一代了,即使评价有差异,但风靡当下画坛的所谓卡通风,追根溯源,和广州还是有着密切的联系。我的意思并不是说所有包含卡通风格的艺术都根源于广州的卡通一代。在我看来,造成卡通风气漫延的原因,比人们想象的还要复杂,来源更是千差万别,但类似风格的确是在广州最早出现的。有意思的是,身为广州美院教师的黄一瀚,却要到华师美院来寻找支持,让第一回展和第二回展在华师美院展厅成功举办。这说明华师美院的确存在着某种令人感动的宽容气氛。江衡从一开始就是广州卡通一代的积极参与者,并用自己的油画风格去印证卡通的合理性。以至于最后成为九十年代中期中国卡通一代的重要艺术家代表人物之一。上面提到的《卡通一代》系列,就是这场不大不小的南方艺术运动的直接结果。后来他那著名的风格标志,也就是睁着天真媚眼、高度物质化的女性偶像,就是在这当中成型的。

江衡的艺术首先指向了成长,指向一个他无法选择、不得不生活其间的环境。他一开始就被抛向这个环境,然后接受这个环境的规训。同时,在某个时候,某个契机下,学到了一种回应。这一回应,既是艺术,又不是艺术,而是一种调节,用以缓解现实社会之规训所带来的紧张。一旦风格成为有效的调解器,象征意义也就趁势建立。从这一意义看,艺术的确是一种象征,而不是其它,比如是哲学或审美之类。

再其次,发生在九十年代中国社会的急剧转型,尤其是发生在南方的经济改革大潮,不但彻底改变了以往艺术所固有的精神格局与表现方式,而且,更重要的是,这场大潮还催生了新生代直接而坦率的物质欲望。不要小瞧这场在转型当中催生出来的物质欲望,也不要把这欲望仅仅看成是一种被动反应,恰恰相反,今天,中国的物欲,早就超越了自我范畴,而成长为一种精神现象。忽视这一精神现象,我们就无法对当下艺术做出哪怕是万分之一的客观判断。

江衡的成长面临两重困境,一重是成人社会给予的,一重是视觉上下文。

也就是说,来自内地的艺术思潮、本土掀起的艺术运动和中国社会的急剧转型,是造成江衡艺术之面貌的外部条件,没有这些条件,很难想象他会创作出现在人们所熟悉的风格。

第一重给予具有普遍性,是成人社会规训成长的日常内容。这一规训日复一日在进行,成为伴随所有成长中人的题中应有之义,呈现为社会现象的便是社会学通常所定义的代沟,用以描述两代人在趣味上的差异甚至对立。成长是必须的,而且还得基本上按照成人社会的规则来成长。但冲突也不可避免,还要与时俱进,让冲突演变为严重的社会问题,折磨着、也日渐深入地改造着过度老化的成人社会。这一冲突往往表现为青春期骚动,体现在人格上,就是一种拒绝,拒绝成长,拒绝变为成人社会所希望的样子。但是,成长是无法拒绝的,唯有趣味可以固置,所以拒绝成长也就顺势演化为艺术,而呈现为风格的反抗。

除此之外,江衡本人的视角,他对生活和社会的独特把持,对他人与艺术的广泛认识,也起到了关键的作用。现在,世人所熟悉的江衡的艺术,便是他那几乎千篇一律的符号化的媚眼美女,她们傻笑着,做着各种符合世俗要求的媚态和表情,传递着一种或可称之为天真与美丽的性别信息。从某种意义来看,我觉得江衡的媚眼美女像是一句重复出现的反语,述说着与表面信息完全相反、甚至是相互抵触和冲突的内容。

拒绝成长,不仅是江衡艺术的原点,也是那些固执地以青春风格为对象的艺术实践的持续动力。这就不得不涉及到江衡学习艺术时的背景,一种变化当中的视觉上下文。

记得当年我在一篇谈论广州卡通一代的文章中,提到了造成这种风格出现的某些原因:

曾几何时,一种被认为是浅薄的画风,也就是今天人们所热衷谈论的卡通风格,居然成为整整一代人的追逐目标。当年,李贝斯坦大胆地把流行的迪斯尼风格作为他的艺术准则,就是因为环境,一种适宜波普风尚流行的环境的结果。当然,我们不知道究竟是波普造就了李贝斯坦,还是相反,是李贝斯坦参与推动了波普。但这不太重要,重要的是,在这样一种环境下,流行成为新艺术的目标,让少年时代、青春年代、普罗大众所沉浸其中的通俗视觉样式,一跃而为前卫。这对过度热衷于深度判断的美学来说,无疑是一种颠覆。

卡通一代首先针对的对象是自己,看自己是否具备足够的穿透力,用以穿透南方人在文化上的局限性,以便得到一块观察的平台,并为作品的文化价值寻找新的定位。作为外来文明的一块跳板,南方的确具备了某种优越性,但处在边缘区域,受各种各样的诱惑太多,艺术容易走向肤浅和矫情,也是显然的事实。......影响我们的正是对所谓深度的不正常迷恋。......卡通大量涌向中国,既迅速冲垮原来的古典阅读方式,也造就了与五、六十年代相异的卡通人。同时,电脑的普及以及人造环境的空前增长,进一步阻隔了人与自然的有机联系,使得除了卡通人之外,又不断产生大量的电脑人。卡通一代的发起人黄一瀚用我们是长不大的孩子来命名他的一件作品,其实用这个题目来指称那些生理上过早成熟而心理上却迟迟不发育、整天埋头在卡通和电脑之中难以自拔的新一代的族群是相当确切的。 [1]

上世纪九十年代是日本卡通冲进中国的时候,大量盗版的卡通图书,伴随着电视中的动漫与商店里吸引人的卡通玩具,成为年轻人消磨少得可怜的私人时间的玩伴,而形塑了他们的观看趣味。不仅如此,在现实生活中,随着成人社会过度虚伪地禁止,新一代人有意无意便把这一趣味作为他们拒绝的载体,好从中夺取自我表达的权利。这就是江衡成长时最为重要的视觉上下文,也是解释江衡艺术风格的基础。也就是说,江衡是在这一视觉上下文中成长的,也是在这一上下文中找到了日后风格的依据。今天看来,江衡的媚眼女性形象,既承载了内心对拒绝的向往,同时又有效地固置了视觉上下文中的卡通要素,并适时成长为个人艺术的有效符号,而为艺术界知晓。

出现在当年的这场南方艺术运动,曾经受到几乎整个艺术界的反对。曾几何时,类似风格却成为大多数70年代以后出生的新艺术家群体的图式选择。这种现象在时空中的反差,甚至导致了人们对当初事实的忽视。就像一开始我所指出的,江衡属于早期的卡通一代,他的符号形成与发展已经有近十年的时间。从这个角度来说,我也算是比较早对这一艺术现象做出反应的批评家。检索当年言论,我发现,我所感兴趣的并不是表面的卡通。站在今天的情境去审视当年,所谓卡通,可能只是一种巧妙的图式挪用策略。当然,其中也呈现了年轻一代成长时特有的视觉背景。就在批评家用不同的概念去述说今天的卡通风格时,我觉得其中一个问题是,他们几乎都对卡通当了真,而忘记类似风格早在七十年代前后,就成为出版产业和影像产业的重要内容。我之所以把当年自己的言论刊在这里,是我发现,即使在当年的关注中,我就已经多多少少地把卡通视为与成长密切相关的一个问题。黄一瀚提出长不大的孩子,可能只是他作为长辈对年轻人的主观看法。如果稍微深入到新一代的具体环境中,对于成长,他们所面临的,显然不是长不大,而是拒绝长大。这种拒绝的态度,切中了与成长有关的社会与历史背景,体现了成人社会和非成人社会的紧张关系,甚至是冲突关系。我承认,当年我也只是看到生理成熟心理不成熟这个自为是的表象,而忽略了其中的意义。在我看来,新艺术家们之所以选择偏向卡通或与卡通趣味有关的形象,表面看是其青春期受特定的视觉形象影响的结果,但深入看,却透露了他们在成长过程中,对规训其发育的成人社会的态度。如果这个猜测成立,那么,我要说,呈现在视觉上的形象的某种一致性,本身就是一个有趣的答案,并告诉我们,他们是如何看待成人社会的。面对一个日益虚伪的犬儒化成人社会,作为艺术家,他们大概只能通过选择曾经被成人社会所遗弃或忽视的形象类型,比如卡通,来表达对这个社会的拒绝。当然,随着艺术界本身的变化,卡通也开始成为一种显赫的风格,使拒绝上升为新一轮的艺术运动。后起的追随者究竟是否因为相同的原因,还是为业已成功的前景所左右,才继续选择卡通,这自然要另当别论了。

于是这就不得不谈论第二个与第三个关键词,物欲和偶像。在我看来,这两个关键词既有区别,也有分离。在概念上它们是有差异的,但在视觉领域,它们构成江衡艺术,以及与此有关的同类艺术潮流的风格原点。

当我把江衡的媚眼美女放在这样一个与成长相关的背景上时,他的作品的反语效果就开始呈现出来了。那是一个潜藏在青春早期甚至前青春期的粉红色梦想,曾经是成人社会压制的对象,并且和一个时期以来,艺术界所推崇的深度背道而驰。自然,就反语而言,我并不是说江衡有意要用媚眼美女这样一种视觉修辞去从事反抗或者讽刺。我相信他并没有反语式的创作意图。也就是说,他不关心表面的反抗。他甚至一点也不反抗。相反,他只关心图像所传达的物质欲望。正因为这样,我才读解出他作品中的某种真实性,因为内里所透露的,可能连他本人都不能清醒意识到,是一种拒绝成人社会的温软态度。

物欲,加上犬儒主义与去智化,这三者共同形塑了九十年代以来的中国当代艺术,并成为这一运动的思想背景。不管其中的个别风格有多少反抗性,也不管这一运动起源于对传统艺术样式曾经存在的有效颠覆,到了在九十年代以及新世纪,在经济腾飞艺术资本膨胀的刺激之下,无一例外成为物欲、犬儒主义与去智化的视觉替代品,共同书写着这一时代的整体精神病症。

这样,我以为我们就能理解江衡笔下的媚眼美女了。那本来就不是真实的美女,而是想象中的物欲偶像,呆在虚空中,瞪着假装天真的媚眼,以永远不变的面容和表情,注视着成人社会的持续膨胀。也就是说,江衡通过媚眼美女,既实现了他的拒绝意图,让年龄永远驻足在足以让艺术家感到愉快率性的时刻,同时又把一种少年的伤痛隐藏了起来,而用偶像取代对现实的插入。

但江衡的特别之处是,当他把物欲具体化时,他不仅让内心对成人社会的拒绝外化为偶像,而且,他还让这偶像带有似乎轻佻实则中性的气质。

Materialistic Idols Reluctance to Grow Up - Jiang Hengs Flirtatious eyes and Gaze Yang Xiaoyan

也就是说,江衡笔下的美女,那些个瞪着媚眼、呆望前方的形象,事实上与性没有什么关系。也就是说,江衡的美女并不性感,原因颇为简单,他的美女并不是肉体,而是一种物欲的外表,一种标准化的偶像。甚至,当江衡不断重复他的偶像时,他只是在述说一个概念,一个关于物欲与偶像的关系的概念。

Speaking of Jiang Hengs art, one must mention a few key points. They are:

这是一个有趣的现象,以美女为偶像,却去除那一份肉体的含义。从这个角度看,江衡是一个标准的概念画家,而不是感性画家,表现性不是他的目标,甚至相反,消灭表现性才有助于达到他所希望表述的概念。这样,他就和表现主义划开了界限。

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.

有意思的是,江衡的概念具有个人的感性经验,其中混杂了过多的成长风险,是滤去横流的欲望之后,所剩下的一种艳丽表象。

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.

不知为什么,每当我盯视江衡的表象,也就是那些似乎有重复嫌疑的偶像系列时,一种窥探他成长的内心隐秘的想法,就会泛滥开来。在我看来,江衡在这一表象背后,潜藏着一个少年的心理迷梦,这一迷梦可以用摆脱母体奔向父权的向往为中心线索。

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.

我并不了解江衡的少年生活。一般而言,成长的困境与反抗,以及对成长的拒绝是他们这一代人,在我看来,还应当包括下几代人的共同问题。恰好日本卡通形象背后的那种游戏般的放纵,给予这一拒绝以视觉的合法性,得以让整整一代少男少女们寻找到了躲避成人社会入侵的机会。但是,这是一种想象中的得以躲避的机会,实际上成长既然不可避免,人总要长大,而且总是在成人社会的规训下长大,那么,反抗就一定会演变为白日迷梦,演变为一种逃脱与出走的结合。

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.

我敢断定,江衡对于女性有一种无法言说的依赖。这还不是那种通常意义的肉体依赖,那种依赖是物理性的,具有荷尔蒙的气味。在一个开放的社会,这种物理性的气味到处都弥漫着,以至于让人厌烦。潇洒的江衡不会在意这种表面的东西。他刻骨铭心的,是一种曾经伴随着少年时代渐渐远去的温柔,这一温柔,肯定和他所每天面对的规训,也就是一种权力有关。

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.

我以为我们完全可以把成长看成是一个脱离母体的过程。伴随这一过程的是对父权的体认。有意思的是,认识父权和接受规训是一致的,规训的目的是让自由之身成为约束的对象,好让父权有一个落实的载体。从这一层看,身体这似乎可以证明,脱离母体的过程,同时会留下依恋,让日渐成熟的肉身保留母体的体温。江衡也许并不完全意识到他的成长对他的形象选择的意义,但他一再把视觉停留在以少女编织而成的偶像上,就是母体残余的一种曲折显现。同时,他不让自己驻守在肉欲之中,而让母体残余,现在已经变成了的物欲偶像符号化,是希望隐藏那种无法去除的对母体的温暖回忆。同时,江衡对父权始终犹豫不定,不肯轻易把自我交给以父权为根基的成人社会。幸好他以艺术为业,这样,他就有机会通过不间断地描绘少女偶像,来抗拒父权的霸道与横蛮,以及当中所散发的嚣张气焰。从这一点看,江衡在他的形象中保持了一份似乎物欲的矜持,显然这是有其内在理由的。江衡对少女偶像的认识,本身就夹杂着一份自持,以及自持当中,无法瓦解父权的无奈。这说明江衡不是那种反抗型的艺术家,他的艺术,是对成长的回应,带有玫瑰般的色泽,带有艳丽而去除性感的歌吟。结果,江衡在长达十年的艺术实践中,巩固了他对物欲偶像的崇敬,以及内里,可能连自己都无法言明的对日益远去的母体的依恋,和对父权的徘徊。这样,在新一轮的艺术运动中,江衡就成为一个突出的实例,让他,以及他那一代人,在物欲中国成人社会规训中成长的同时,竭尽全力保持一块视觉的私人领地,好让成长的残余获得形式的外表,从而维持一份精神底气,继续,尽管无望,与父权,进而与权力的进行温柔的纠缠。这一纠缠非常重要,一旦完结,就会让江衡,以及他那一代人,或者拥有与相同艺术观念的作品,失去最后一点价值。

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.

在江衡的作品中,除了典型的大眼美女外,不断出现的另一个形象,就是飘忽的蝴蝶。江衡画蝴蝶肯定有他的含义,是物欲偶像的一个视觉说明,也是对一种飘忽情境的飘忽记忆。但是,我却觉得,这飘忽的蝴蝶却像一组象征性语句,述说着脱离母体的轻盈与面对父权的徘徊,并在徘徊当中夹杂着一丝敌意,这敌意并不浓郁,相反,也是飘忽着的,在半天升腾与坠落。或许,对江衡那一代人来说,母体与父权本身就像飘忽着的蝴蝶。

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.

Behind Butterfly Flutters

I remember in one of my essays discussing the Cartoon Generation of Guangzhou, I have mentioned certain causes for the formation of this style,

Revisiting Jiang Hengs Material Worship and the Patriarchic Mindset behind it

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.

Yang Xiaoyan

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.

I once commented on Jiang Hengs works and was of the opinion that the conception of cartoon did not fully explain his artistic pursuit. In my view, what Jiang Heng seeks to express is an issue to do with growth and development, which is accompanied by constant chaos, incessant coaching and upbraiding, and infatuated dreamlike youth imagination. It is a denial of growing up either genuinely or spuriously, in the intervention of the legitimization of adult society. There are three keywords to this: growth, material desire and idol. I think that the artistic practice and significance of Jiang Hengs art reside in these three keywords.

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.

The first keyword is growth.

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.

I still remember the word by French existentialist writer Jean Paul Sartre, which basically means that one can not choose his birth; and at ones birth, he is thrust into adult society. I cannot remember his exact words but the meaning is there and it complies with the basic laws of existentialism, which is existence precedes essence. In Sartres view, people are not born with the thing-in-itself; it is given to us after birth by the external environment, which, to us, is the adult society. Therefore, ones birth constitutes one episode, in which one is thrust into the society. Once he is there, the adult society starts writing on and shaping his nature/essence, until he is remade, or as most philosophers argue, is possessed with an inherent existence. From the standpoint of existentialism, the essence in ones nature is not born but imposed upon him. Ones nature is not self-derivative but other things will derive from it, such as the predetermined essence that philosophers discuss.

编辑:霍春常

If we apply the theories of existentialism to art, in especial, to artistic styles, we will find that art, including its style, is also created and defines the many rules in an artistic society, described in line with its own significance so as to provide people with its identifiable traits. In other words, an artist, on deciding to do art, will be flung to the artistic society where, through his exploration and innovation, he will acquire the essence. Of course, the essence here denotes the essence of art. Art initially does not have any essence and its existence precedes its essence. That is an undisputed fact.

From that point, when one discusses art, one does not discuss its so-called style but rather, uses art as evidence to discuss the society, which gives rise to its birth and shape. Then the artistic society drifts towards the adult society and then to authoritarian society. To me, there has never been such a thing as pure art. Pure art exists only in theory and is used as rhetoric, to express ones rejection of or resistance to social reality. Yet, to deny the existence of pure art is to refuse discussing the aesthetic roadmap of art. I even think that there is no connection between art and beauty. The material idols under the brush of Jiang Heng, with their enchanting eyes, appear to be patronizing the spectators. In fact, seen from Jiangs practice, there is a long distance between his artworks and aesthetics.

First of all, Jiang Hengs art points to growth, to an environment he can not choose but have to live in. He was hurled into it at the very outset and there he had to accept the rules of the game. At the same time, at a certain point, under certain conditions, one learns how to respond to things. This response is art and at the same time, not art. It is an adjustment, with which one lessons the tension he is under living in social reality. Once the style has become an effective mediator, its symbolic significance is established. In that context, art is indeed a kind of emblem rather than anything else, such as philosophy or aesthetics.

Jiang Hengs development faces two dilemmas. One is created by adult society and the other by the visual context.

The first is of a universal character, which is a common feature of adult society in which rules and disciplines reign. These rules are repeated day after day and, hand in hand with ones growth, immersed into adult life. When characterizing social phenomena, they become what is defined by sociologists as generation gap, so as to describe the discrepancies or even confrontations in taste between two generations. Growth is indispensable but it has to be achieved in accordance with the rules of adult society. Yet, clashes are also inevitable and, evolving with the changing time, may lead to serious social problems, which will then harass and increasingly reform the aged adult society. The clashes often take the form of youth agitations and, on a personal level, become the will to refuse, to refuse to grow up, to refuse to bend to the rules of adult society. However, growth cannot be denied or stopped. Therefore, only interests may be stalled. If one refuses to grow up, he had better subsequently evolve towards art, and show his resistance to the style.

Refusing to grow is not only the starting point of his art, but is also the continuous power source behind the artistic practice, which doggedly targets youth. This begs the revelation of the backdrop, against which Jiang Heng studied art, a visual context that is shifting.

It was not a long time ago when what had been termed as shallow art became cartoon style, which is now accepted and widely discussed. It was the pursuit of a whole generation. A few years ago, Stan Lee boldly used the popular Disney style as his artistic principle. That was attributable to the environment, which was conducive to the spread of pop culture. Certainly, we do not know if it was pop art that resulted in the emergence of Stan Lee or the other way around, i.e. Stan Lees participation promoted pop art. That is not so important. The important thing is in an environment, to be popular becomes the objective of the new art, and traditional visual styles, with which teenagers, the youth and general public are infatuated, suddenly becomes Avant-Garde art. This is doubtless a kind of subversion to the aesthetics, which is obsessed with making in-depth analysis. .

In the 1990s, when Japanese cartoons made inroads into China, a quantity of pirated cartoon books, along with the cartoon programs on TV and attractive cartoon toys in the stores, became the playmate of the young people, who barely had any private time. These shaped their visual taste. In addition, in reality, as adult society pretentiously prohibits things, the young generation intentionally or unintentionally regarded the taste as a carrier of their denial, so as to unleash their right to self-expression. That is the most important visual context that accompanied Jiang Hengs growth, and it explains the basis of his artistic style. In other words, he grew up under the influences of such visual contexts and could find justification in the process for his later styles in art. Today, his images of women with seductive eyes, not only carry the yearning one has for denial but also effectively strengthen the cartoon elements in the visual context. In time, they will grow into striking symbols of individual art, and will become celebrated in the artistic community.

Now, we have to come to the second and third keywords: material desire and idol. In my view, these two keywords are both different and similar. They vary in the concept but in the visual field, they constitute Jiang Hengs art, and the stylistic origins of the artistic trend, which is associated with his own.

Material desire, cynicism and pretending to be daft, these combine to shape contemporary Chinese art since the 1990s, and are the ideological background to this movement. No matter how rebellious some of the individuals are, regardless of the once effective subversion that lay in store in traditional artistic style, out of which the movement stemmed, by the 1990s and the succeeding century, spurred by the economic boom and inflation of art capital, everything becomes the substitute of material desire, cynicism and sham stupidity. Together, they mark and exhibit the holistic ethos of the age. What is special about Jiang Heng is that, when he gives material desire a tangible form, he not only transforms the innermost denial of adult society into an idol, but also imbues the idol with a seemingly frivolous but in fact neutral temperament.

In other words, the beauties under Jiang Hengs brush with their winning eyes wide-open, stares into the distance, and has nothing to do with sex. That is to say, Jiang Hengs beauties are not sexy. The reason is rather simple: his beauties are not flesh but are the exterior of material desire, a standardized idol. What is more, when Jiang Heng keeps repeating his idols, he is only stating a concept, one that is about the relationship between material desire and idol.

That is indeed an interesting phenomenon, using beauties as idols, with their physical attribute divested of its fleshiness. Seen from that perspective, Jiang Heng is a standard conceptual artist but not a perceptual one. It is not his goal to be expressional. On the contrary, stripping the works of their expressional features is conducive to the concept he wishes to express. Thus, he draws a line between him and expressionalism.

Interestingly, Jiang Hengs concept is imbued with his personal perceptional experience, and is mixed with many growth hazards, which, once deprived of the pervading desires, is left with a flamboyant imagery.

For some reason unbeknown to me, whenever I look at Jiang Hengs imagery, or at those seemingly duplicated idols series, I am gripped with an overwhelming desire to pry into his innermost secrets that accompanied his growth. To me, there lurks behind his imagery a psychological dream of a youth, whose core is to cast off maternal control and run towards patriarchic prowess.

I am not acquainted with Jiang Hengs teenage life. Generally speaking, the dilemma and denial of, and resistance to growing up, in my opinion, is a common problem not only for his generation but also for his succeeding generations. The images of Japanese cartoons have behind them game-like indulgence, which visually legitimizes the refusal, sheltering the entire generation of girls and boys from the aggression of adult society. However, this is a haven in imagination only, in fact, growing up is inevitable and we all have to come into adulthood, and do so under the rules and disciplines of adult society. Then rebellion will unmistakably evolve into daydreams, into an alliance between fleeing and running away.

I dare to assert that Jiang Heng has indescribable reliance on women. It is not bodily reliance as it is commonly perceived. It is physical, with the hormonal scents scattered about. In an open society, the physical scent is so omnipresent that it has become nauseating. The handsome artist does not mind such superficial things. Engraved upon his soul is the tenderness that is drifting away from of youth; tenderness, which, like the rules he has to bow to on a daily basis, is not unrelated to power.

I think that we may without doubt consider growing up as a process by which we break free from the maternal body. Interesting, acknowledging patriarchic power and bowing to the rules are not contradictory. The objective of the rules is to make men the subject of confinement, paving the road for patriarchic power. Seen that way, the body may prove that in leaving the maternal body, certain nostalgic feelings will be retained; and with it the warmth the increasingly mature flesh has inherited from its maternal origin. The artist may not be fully aware of the significance his growth entails for his visual choice. But his vision has been consistently lingering on idols woven by young girls. This can be interpreted as a crooked representation of the maternal legacy there remains. At the same time, he does not allow himself to be made a prisoner of physical allurement. Instead, the retention of the maternal legacy, which has become an emblem of the material idol, harkens back to his concealed and irreplaceable fond reminiscence of the maternity. At the same time, he is undecided about patriarchic power, and does not wish to give himself up easily to adult society, whose foundation is patriarchy. Luckily, art is his profession and thus he has the chance to paint girl idols intermittently, so as to resist the brutality, peremptoriness and aggression of patriarchy. In this way, Jiang Heng shows in his images certain restraint that resembles material desire and this obviously makes a lot of sense. His perception of girl idols is itself imbued with restraint and helplessness at his inability to annihilate patriarchy. His art is his response to growing up and it is rosy colored: a flamboyant cantus divested of its sexuality. The result is that in ten long years of art experimentation, the artist has deepened his adulation for material-worshiping idols, his indescribable yearning for the maternal body that is drifting further and further away with each passing day, and his lingering thoughts on patriarchy. In a new wave of art movement, Jiang Heng is a prominent example, by which to keep the private visual territory, despite the social conventions and rules in the materialistic adult society. Thus, growth itself is instilled with a modal surface, while spiritual ethos is preserved deep down, so that the tender entanglement with power, with patriarchy can continue, although perhaps to no avail. Still, the entanglement is crucially important. If it is terminated, then the artist and his generation, or artworks holding similar artistic conceptions, will lose what significance there remains of them.

Apart from the typical big-eyed beauties, there emerges another object: fluttering butterflies. Jiang Hengs butterflies are not without their connotations; it is a visual elucidation of the material-desiring idol as well as a fleeting memory of a fleeting scenario. Yet, I feel that the fluttering butterflies are like a group of symbolic expressions, which express the lightness of breaking away from maternity and of lingering alongside patriarchy. There is antagonism in the hesitation, antagonism which is not very strong but flutters upwards and downwards in the air. Perhaps, to his generation, maternity and patriarchy are like fluttering butterflies.