拒绝成长的物欲偶像江衡的媚眼与观看,看江衡的艺术之道

 拍卖     |      2020-01-07

出身于广州华南师范大学的江衡,被视为在广州崛起的卡通一代中最具代表性的艺术家之一。

  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:

早在上一世纪90年代初,卡通一代运动的领军者黄一翰,在偶然的机会下去了深圳,当时那儿是中国改革开放的唯一窗口,很多新潮的事物都从那里登陆中国,黄一翰接触到一个青年群体,他们正热衷于玩电脑、游戏机,这些多数属于中产阶级的新一代年轻人,成长于中国改革开放以来工商业快速发展的年代,从小受到卡通文化的影响,他们以全新的方式认知这个世界。

  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。

回到广州,黄一瀚带领一批出生于1970年代的年轻艺术家、作家、诗人、音乐家,经常在广州美术学院聚会,江衡当时便是其中的一员。黄一瀚在1992年提出卡通一代的论述,他认为1970年代出生的卡通一代,和中国电视时代、卡通大众流行文化与商品经济同步成长。卡通一代在中国艺术发展的历史上第一次提出了新新人类卡通一代概念的社会艺术实践活动,除了在审美倾向方面,他们共同接受了动漫文化的洗礼,其实,卡通一代的艺术家各有不同的生活背景、不同的视角、不同的生存态度、不同的艺术体验和历练,他们在面对中国社会的演变和个人生存的课题时,他们的反应和表现方式往往存在相当的差异性。

  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。

由于卡通一代出现的时候,和北方艺坛提出的艳俗艺术几乎属于同一个年代,所以也有评论家将江衡的作品和艳俗艺术产生联想。但是,江衡习以个人的情结去审视中国现代文化中的某些具体特征,他将各种传统文化样式打成碎片,然后以类似喜剧的反讽姿态,来突显日常生活中夸张与荒诞的一面。他早期的作品看得出学院教育的斧凿痕迹,也看得到西方表现主义技法和超现实主义构图对那一代人的影响。《游戏系列》的创作正反映了当时的审美趋向,整个画面借用了玩游戏机的主题和场景,但是真正要表现却是人物的表情。

  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。

大学毕业后江衡步入他的创作第二阶段,开始以商业社会的消费现象为焦点。他的《卡通与美女》和《美女鱼》系列之中,人物的表情逐渐广告化、商标化,反映商品广告带给消费者在视觉上和心理方面的赏心悦目和满足。《玩物猪》和《消费时代的景观》系列作品中,画面体现了商业社会里的真实场景,以一种幽默的、滑稽的拟人化手法,揭开现实生活中的真相和隐私,喻示商业时代即消费的时代。

  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。

笔者我第一次提出动漫新美学的概念,是在台北当代艺术馆2004年举办的《虚拟的爱》大展,至今已经做了十几个版本了,也数度邀请江衡参展。2006年笔者在上海当代艺术馆出版的专辑文章正式提出本人自创的英文字Animamix(Animation+Comics),指的是一种审美的态度,动漫美学并非动画、漫画的本身,其具有四种基本特征:

  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。

首先是大众流行文化中大量多样化的动漫美学形式的形像,都围绕着对青春的崇拜。追求理想化的青春美,不仅是动画、卡通、漫画里虚拟角色塑造的问题,这种对青春的崇拜,在大众流行文化中如浪潮般推进的大量、多样化,而且永远不会衰老的形体,已经影响了现实人生,成为当今人们追求实现人工理想美的主要心理因素。这种对青春不老的形像的集体记忆,在潜移默化当中,形成了21世纪新世代所崇尚的青春美学,不仅在创作上形成巨大的影响,更深刻地影响了整个时代普罗大众的审美观念。江衡广告化、商标化的美女,基本上也都是这些青春永不老的形象。

  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。

动漫美学的第二点特征是艺术作品中,那些充满了奇异和多变化的叙事文本,赋予图像一种强烈的叙述性,使得图像本身成为了表达的视觉语言。卡通、动漫作品里面,拟人化的造型,以及搭配的语言或文字的叙事性,自然形成了扭曲或夸张的变形美学。从稍早的《散落的物品》,到目前的《蝴蝶飞飞》系列,苹果、花朵、蝴蝶、鱼、大腿、高跟鞋、手枪、药丸等符号,建构起隐喻式的故事内容。受到电子媒体时代空间里充满了彩光的影响,江衡画面上的绚丽色彩,显示了动漫美学的第三点特征,是由电子媒体的彩光所形成一种极为新颖的五彩缤纷的视觉经验。

  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。

动漫美学的第四点特征,是一种动用大量的财力、人力、物力,跨领域互动协作所形成「异类合成(heterogeneity)」的新美学。有别于传统的艺术创作,动漫美学的艺术制作,往往需要团队的整合,以及专业分工的多重交迭的合作,跨领域的产业整合,是动漫美学艺术的特殊现象。近年来,江衡跨越绘画、雕塑、动画三个领域的创作,更进一步将他从上一世纪末的卡通一代推向新世纪的动漫美学。

  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:

笔者提出的动漫美学,是针对当今日益增长的审美倾向,来自于数百年来各国历史中庶民文化的渐变,和历代艺术家个人风格的归整,到了21世纪自然形成的时代美学观。漫画、卡通、动画发展成可以独立归类的审美立场,如今已经普及到各种领域,在传媒一波接连一波的烘炒下,已经深化为世界各地青少年之间彼此沟通的符码,而不仅仅是一个时代或一个族群所垄断的集体记忆与认同而已,却更像是个人追求表现、传达意念或发挥想象力的模拟和再创造的沟通途径。

  

江衡的创作风格和题材一直在变化之中,而动漫美学的艺术是一种记录我们在虚拟实境中,所创造第三人生的艺术,也同时是存在于所有电子媒体和数字世界的第四维空间。动漫美学世代所显现青春、美丽、天真、纯洁、敏感、脆弱、虚幻、梦幻般的呓语,和早先的卡通一代和艳俗艺术已经拉开距离,江衡从过去走向未来,是他个人与时俱进的审美生活手记,也是这个时代众人所无法回避的流行时尚风格。

  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][1]

From the Cartoon Generation to Animamix

  

A Reflection of Jiang Hengs Artistic Pursuit

  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(在这里我更多是指成人社会当中的艺术界)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。

Victoria Lu

  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。

A Graduate from South China Normal University, Jiang Heng is reckoned to be one of the most representative artists of the Cartoon Generation rising into prominence in Guangzhou.

  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。

As early as in the beginning of the 1990s, Huang Yihan, spearhead of the Cartoon Generation movement, went by chance to Shenzhen, which was then the only window of China in the countrys reform and opening-up. Many things new were ushered into China from Shenzhen. Huang Yihan came into contact with a young community, which was obsessed with computers and game machines. Most of those people were of middle-class background and the latest generation, growing up under the influence of cartoon culture, in the age of rapid business and commercial development, as China opened up to the rest of the world. Therefore, they saw the world in a brand new way.

  

When he returned to Guangzhou, Huang Yihang led a group of 1970s-born young artists, writers, poets, musicians, with whom he often met at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. Jiang Hen was one of the participants. In 1992, Huang Yihai raised the notion of cartoon generation, thinking that this 1970s-born cartoon-generation developed in parallel with the age of TV in China, with cartoon and pop culture as well as with the market economy. In the history of Chinese art development, the Cartoon-generation for the first time put forward the concept of brand new cartoon-generations social artistic experimentation. In addition to aesthetics, they all accept the baptism of Animamix. In fact, as cartoon-generation artists vary in their background, viewing angle, attitude towards life and survival, artistic experience and career, they exhibit widely divergent responses to the societal evolution in China and to individual life experiences.

  Materialistic Idols Reluctance to Grow Up

As the emergence of the cartoon-generation almost coincided time-wise with that of gaudy art, which was put forward by the artistic community in North China, some art critics associated Jiang Hengs work with gaudy art. However, as Jiang Heng is accustomed to gauging some specific traits in contemporary Chinese art with his own sentiments, he has fragmented all kinds of traditional cultural patterns before assuming some kind of comic and satirical stance, with which to highlight the exaggerated and bizarre side of daily life. His early works have in them marks and traces of academy education; also can be gleaned from them are the influences upon his generation of western expressionist techniques and surrealist compositions. Game Series was a perfect reflection of the aesthetics of the time the work was created, with the canvas filled with appropriated themes and scenes of game machines, when what it wanted to depict was the facial expressions of the men.

  - Jiang Hengs Flirtatious eyes and Gaze

After graduation from university, Jiang Heng went into phase two of his artistic career and started focusing on the phenomena of consumption in a commercial society. In his series Cartoon and Beauty and Beauty - Fish, the facial expressions of the depicted characters gradually start to show resemblance with advertisement and trademarks, demonstrating the visual and physiological gratification and consolation the consumers derive from consumer products advertisement. In his Pet Pig and Landscape in the age of Consumption series, the canvases display real scenes in a consumer society, with a jocular, ironic personification, revealing the truth and secrets in realistic life and equating the age of commerce with that of consumption.

  Yang Xiaoyan

The first time I raised the concept of Animamix aesthetics was at the exhibition Fictitious Love at Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art in 2004. So far, Animamix has seen more than a dozen versions and Jiang Heng has been invited to participate in relevant exhibitions on several occasions. In 2006, in a special article published at Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, I formally put forward the English word I had coined earlier: Animamix (Animation+Comics), which denotes an aesthetic attitude. Animamix are not animation plus comics per se. It has four basic traits.

  

First of all, many diversified Animamix-style images in pop culture are about the adoration of youth. It is in pursuit of idealized beauty of youth; it is not only about the creation of imaginary characters in animations, cartoons or comic strips, but also about the worship of youth. Pushing like tidal waves a quantity of diverse ageless bodies in pop culture has already influenced real life, making the pursuit of artificial beauty the main psychological concern of the people. The collective memory of ageless youth gradually and imperceptibly shapes the youth aesthetics of the 21st century, enormously influencing artistic creation but also profoundly influencing the popular aesthetic philosophy of the entire age. The advertisement- and trademark-like beauties in principle retain the visual features of agelessness and never-withering youth.

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

The second feature of Animamix refers to the miraculous and fickle narrative texts in the art works, which endows the images with a poignant sense of description, and renders the images an expressive visual language. The personified creations that pervade the cartoon and animation works, plus the narration of a matching language or texts, naturally give rise to twisted or exaggerated esthetics. From his earlier Scattered Objects to the current Butterfly Flutters series, symbols such as apples, flowers, butterflies, thighs, high-heels, pistols and pills, constitute a metaphorical story. Influenced by the colorful lights that fill up the age of digital media, Jiang Hengs canvases are graced with ornate colors and exhibit the third trait of Animamix, i.e. an extremely new and colorful visual experience generated by colorful light of the digital media.

  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 fourth characteristic of Animamix is that it is a new form of aesthetics attributable to the combination of a wealth of capital, human, and material resources, and multidisciplinary interactive collaboration (heterogeneity). It differs from traditional artistic endeavors in that it often requires the integration of teamwork, and the multiple superposition and cooperation of specific professional labor. Heterogeneity isa unique feature of Animamix. In recent years, the artist is engaged in paintings, sculptures and Animamix and has in so doing pushed the cartoon-generation from the close of last century into the new century of Animamix.

  

The Animamix that the author proposes is oriented towards the growing aesthetic trend, and is derived from gradual shift in plebeian taste around the world in the past centuries; it is an integration of individual artistic styles from many generations, which has naturally come into fruition as the epochal aesthetics of the 21st century. Comic strips, cartoons and animations have developed to a stage when they can be independently categorized as aesthetic standpoints and have been widely popularized into every field. Under the bombardment of the media, it has become an emblem linking youths at every corner of the world, and is no longer a collective memory or recognition monopolized by a single era or a single community. It is more like an expression of individual pursuit, a way of relaying the spiritual prowess of will and a way to unleash the emulation and recreation of imagination.

  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.

Jiang Hengs artistic style and motif have been changing and shifting without cease. The art of Animamix is to document the art we create in a virtual environment, and to document the fourth dimensional space that exists in the digital media and world. The age of Animamix, in presenting youth, beauty, innocence, purity, sensitivity, fragility, illusion and dreamlike raving, has distanced itself from the earlier cartoon-generation and gaudy art. The artist has made his transition from the past to the future. Animamix is his aesthetic way of keeping pace with the advancing time. It is also an unavoidable vogue style of the age.

  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.

  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.

  

  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.

  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.

  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.

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

  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. [2]

  

  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.

  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.

  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.

  [1][1] 见《卡通一代:关于中国南方消费生活的报告》,自存稿。

  [2] See Cartoon Generation: Report on Consumption Life in Southern China, unpublished text.