纳喀索斯之颜

孙晓枫

突如其来的疫情对薛若哲的艺术实践进行提示和规范,时间被意外地切割,而意外中的意外一次次横在计划之前,这便构成了薛若哲个展的事实。“他应该”——假设的结果是他应该在几个月前出现在美国的某个由经纬限定的地点上,开始他对于注目之境的想象性试探,因为这是一个与美国有关的展览,他必须在经验的植入与空间的游走中获得创作的所有灵感——最终,行为被疫情所终止,计划从一种预测性的描述变成了另外一种远距离的行为方式,创作也随着重置到一个新的解释系统之中。

许煜(YuK HUI)在《论意外的艺术》一文中提到:

“艺术创作是一个预期意外的过程,意味着意外是必要的,并且通过对不可预料的期待,这也是信易性的,因为它偏离规律性以及计划性,它打开了个体化的新路线。”

对于个人来说,疫情中的“倒错”成为“奇观”,一种处于巨大的无形压力下的创作状态因此生成。首先,在行为受到了最大程度的限制之后,身体缺席于现场(整个疫情就是对身体的训诫与限行,因为身体就是病毒的容器和传播器),只能通过技术的、数码的、平面的、二手的现成图像重新生成图像并协商好主题的突围出口。被薛若哲选择的图像同时也限定了在再生产中“物资紧缺”的事实,从图像到图像,原来的社会学意义必然会被削弱,代替的是图像的个人转译以及关于图像再造中不可规避的误读和附会。这是一个新的创作机制的建立,遵循误读生成的歧义并为之服务。薛若哲在创作手记中写到“这次的个展本来计划是5月份在洛杉矶举行,展览的背景是中美之间的摩擦,对抗以及贸易战,中美之间民间有很多误会与不理解,我想就以这种“不理解”为起点,利用刻板印象,去创作一组作品。我并没有去过加州,所以对加州并不存在任何主观的感性的印象,所有对加州的印象与感受,都是由网上各种媒介所塑造的,这是一个完美的制作这一组作品的基础。在网上调查中国对加州的印象,除了加州牛肉面之外,提的最多的就是加州的阳光沙滩,棕榈树,以及枪支泛滥,这就有了我最大的那张作品 《湾区导览》以及由它生发出来的两件作品,分别暗喻了生活中的那种被监视感和被操纵感。”自述中,薛若哲提示了媒介对于创作的关键性作用,同时他思索处于特殊时刻的关于加州的修辞以及对应个人观念的图像方式,修辞的重置目的无非是还原身体从未进入的现场,而对媒介的借助确认了他者的明确身份。在此,加州现实都是无关紧要,加州是明信片、广告或是旅行手册,高度符号化和消费化的加州图像去魅后仅仅成为在意外事件中遗失的一个落脚点。图像刻意设定了一个现实中的地点的同时制造了认知的矛盾与困惑——这是加州吗?——这是薛若哲的加州——被疫情与国际话语篡改的加州。

薛若哲敏于捕捉现实景况的文化特质并进行图像转译,在《最终解决方案》、《遥远的风景》、《不进不退》等作品中,关于加州的影像都是通过第三方的工具,如镜子、沙盘、屏幕或是舞台剧的布景等折射到视线之内,所有可以显影的工具成为联结与观察加州的有效手段,被选择的局部,被裁切的碎片,巨大的留白部分已然和艺术家无关。这种近似于马格里特方式的手法证明了薛若哲对于素材与经验的诚实与冷静,过多的阐释反倒曲解了他关于荒诞的认知和对主体间性的深刻探讨。

疏离感构成了薛若哲作品中观念的情感底色,他擅长于对主体进行拆分,复数的主体在某个隐秘的动作中完成了自我他者化的转换,而写实的手法目的是为了证伪——揭示现实与视觉的双重荒谬——你看到的不都是真的。他抛弃了“脸”的识别,抛弃了衣物中的肉身或者克制地仅仅保存身体某个局部的显影,主体(具体的人)慢慢消匿的过程是一个为现实主义去魅的过程同时也揭示了视觉(图像)的悖论——我们可以感知身体的存在而不知道他是谁。这种手法近似于一个破案的过程,现场的遗留物确确实实证明了某个具体的身体的存在,但他/她是被刻意抽离和隐匿的,一起隐匿的还有身份、个人史以及动机。而更为致命的是他同时也抽离了场景的现实性描述,在一个暧昧的空间中实现了补充叙事的最大可能。这是薛若哲设定的观看游戏,他要制造的难题是任何可能都是对的与任何可能都是错的撕裂与背反。

在薛若哲营造的不确定语境中,我突然想到了纳喀索斯的意外和荒谬。纳喀索斯出世以后,他的父母去祈求神示,想要知道孩子将来的命运如何。神示说:“不可使他认识自己。”致命的湖水终于让纳喀索斯获得了一个被他者化的情感投射对象,主体在镜像中被剥离分层,吊诡的是,纳喀索斯所爱的形象在神话叙事中似乎是先验的——纳喀索斯按照内在的要求长成了自己所倾心的模样,爱的外部投射是偏执的、模型化的,否则他的即时判断无法让他投注全部的爱意和倾慕,命运的决定性时刻也将不复存在。纳喀索斯对于镜像明显存在误读,自我认识一旦建立在误读之上,那么,所有的行为与价值取舍必然产生错位。神话作为原型投射到现实中便成为世界现实景况的生动反映,而现实性的剧烈感觉和迷狂情结也可以得到解释。作为病理学表征的纳喀索斯之颜既是深刻的反讽与悲剧性的,但也包含着对于现实的启示与警告。

薛若哲对于身体和身份的隐匿,非对象化的形象处理以及去主体化的、对于同一形象的复制粘贴回避了先验论的陷阱——重新论证了美学中虚妄的部分以及拓展自我认识中的可能性空间。有时,留白与暧昧中的不置可否是一种慈悲和德行。

孙晓枫写作于2020/08/22——2020/09/17


纳克索斯之颜:薛若哲的公路电影试图缩短“之间”的距离

林江泉

薛若哲的视觉系统有一种隐藏在平静中的紧张预感,仿佛任何事都可能降临在他营造的角色上。引发意外的叙述似乎与生俱来,每个角色和场景都在思考褶皱的回旋中。《纳克索斯之颜》是薛若哲具有辩证抒情、内在秩序的视觉观念个展。《纳克索斯之颜》的十场戏构成了他2020 年的一幅画,每一幅都包含一个或长篇或短篇的信息量,同时进入了安德森的电影之中,你可以看到每一帧画面都抵达了分析性的隐秘部位。

在《纳克索斯之颜》中,薛若哲以全新的架上局面在内心的推拿定夺中“入镜”, 焕发出深切而悠长的内蕴,如同个人史的一次思辨运动悄然在视觉语码中映现。视觉策略显示出了极强的自我控制力,视觉系统中没有一个“词语角色”是虚设的,给观者留下了足够的留白和画外音。

薛若哲生产的“人物复数”召唤了Vilhelm Hammershöj,又具现了他,同时,可以在他的人物的体内中找到孤独的公路,而他的加州1 号公路成了人的外化。视觉秩序是看不见的,薛若哲还产出视觉之外事物。他的具象和分析性的表现秩序是以再现的方式否定艺术的再现,他的思考和知觉考量同时驱动,以哲学替代了架上问题。曝光在薛若哲的静谧中缩放。他修订光线,眯眼回想公路和褶皱的细节。《纳克索斯之颜》,心理交错成像于一步之遥,并升上无标题的天空,把纳克索斯的各个面相编撰成年鉴。

《纳克索斯之颜》,薛若哲的公路电影试图缩短“之间”的距离。

1、湾区导览

薛若哲的《湾区导览》,时间迥异的两组人物被紧密相连,而缓冲的心理区间也被罗列得迫切次序。其视觉叙事是不着痕迹的海面,缓解了光的焦虑。镜像,是一个蓄谋已久的事件,也是一部几分钟短片。黑裙子的复数是主角,湖水的排排铁链永远在彩排。她们是同一个人,三人眺望,实则眺望自己,薛若哲提供了着魔的动作指南。沙滩记录着她的动作,同时复印天空。一种复式“闲暇劳作”,接近了一个天大的秘密,但始终与最终真相保持距离。

一直以来,阳光没有倒叙,她无法确认自己是活在薛若哲镜像的边框上,还是活在如镜海面的平行空间里。

力与触觉,虚拟湾区的现在或刚才。漂流的食欲潜入厨房,具有临场感的海洋机器人清蒸大海。薛若哲勘探人和鱼的复数秘密,新一代的工具让手成为钳,勘测不安的深度。印刷电子学,使智能油墨更聪明,尝试印刷出复数人格代表人物佩索阿垂直的灵魂。

图像处理、地理信息、环境互动,在变色中显示什么是人,薛若哲集成了“周游自己身体”的异名者界面,他的梦重新定义为交互概念。每一个沙滩痕迹和每一道水纹都在复述黄昏,薛若哲成为沙滩黄昏的收集者。

《湾区导览》的中景的人起跳。长日将尽的海开始跳跃,鸟的眼神也跟着起跳,每秒二十四格的起跳真理。他发觉自己的动作似乎在被无尽的绯红晚霞监视,他始终无法跳出自己的肢体,沙滩与脚之间反复叩问。他在海边纵身一跃,身边的同伴和影子成为一分钟雕塑共和国。他纵身一跃被薛若哲定格了,无声比永恒多六十秒,纵身一跃的明天会持续多久?

《湾区导览》是被重提的往事,在摆脱感官后一一毕露无遗,上帝终于打破了沉默,影子也开始发问。

2、最终解决方案

薛若哲揭开黄昏沙滩的折叠空间与复象,女孩用一个椰树定点在平面的森林中,“只有一棵树的森林”出现了。薛若哲显现一个不可触碰的黑森林,执着的梦等来了已实现的冬天,发生或消失的每一件事,都衍生出一棵椰树的可能性。

日落抬起群岛,晚风涂写出一抹猩红。灰蓝的群山进入画室,在画布上化为平面。森林进行着冷绿色的阅兵仪式。水中火焰正在眼前崩塌,一切碎片无止息地映现着你。

3、遥远的风景

在椰粉味的黄昏,她在镜中一步步向神靠近,一不小心,跟着晚霞走远了。她在梦中无法挣脱镜中白夜,光抓住她少量清醒的时间,试图使她回归遥远的生活,然而镜子坚称自己拥有她的所有权,并侵入她的思想。为了搜寻她,光很快找到镜子的住处,但真正的威胁,来自两道能催眠的门。

夜里太阳依旧,她在自己的面孔前化妆,你走前一步,我炙热地退让。她继自己后成为另一个镜子,但没失去同一个自己。生存者要面向镜子,拜托晚霞的粉饼。大地和她对着彼此化妆,追云的海在涂抹,椅子穿过一座没化妆的森林,成为命运化妆师,慢慢走进你的入口。

4、不进不退

薛若哲把自己从每一个你那里瓦解,他哲学的拥抱从认识论、美学、道德哲学、政治和钢笔那里分开。在哲学的卧室里,把这一切打包,视为一个行李箱。她在一个具体里,看到所有的他,并假定她们在卧室或机场丢失。

在薛若哲那里,四只脚的交错成一个人或一种幻觉,你看到了你的出处,进退的含义。从早到晚,不进不退的含义穿着不同的鞋在你的中转站里进进出出,于是乎,略大于宇宙的空间都在“不进不退”(Dilema)之间了。

《不进不退》是你的室内乐——即兴中的小号、长笛、中提琴和竖琴取消了行程,作曲成为一种两人独处的交际。

5、加州1 号公路—圣塔芭芭拉

《加州1 号公路—圣塔芭芭拉》,白色外的白。白不只是一种颜色,它还是圣塔芭芭拉的房子。圣塔芭芭拉的白往没有方向的目的长驱直入,简化超现实,点到即止。难以界定的白,但被称为俄耳甫斯,并以某种方式提醒庞德。

薛若哲的白包含了所有的颜色。雪是光影的总和。白色来自比天空更遥远的道路,它可扩展窗户,放大时间,也在不断完备有限。

白色未必白,但早已在圣塔芭芭拉燃烧成一种信仰。它几十年始终如一塑造森林的中性,其中有一间静谧的红房子和散步的树木。

6、加州一号公路—17 英里

薛若哲带来无人的海边,似乎看到隐形的“她”坐在加州一号公路—17 英里海边用手机给大海发短信,海浪徐徐,向她回信,每个动作都被手机所控制。

岸边的石头也发现它能与十七世纪通电话。为了找回上一部丢失的手机,她不得不对行事诡异的石头言听计从。

7、加州1 号公路—赫氏古堡

地理对考古有兴趣,尺度的影子拉大,赫氏古堡把空间上的独立一分为二,薛若哲的笔调分泌了低矮小房子的眺望感知,色块的隔绝法让噪音在上面成为音乐,用房的亲密感成为安静的一员,礼仪建筑向场地招手,一种“之间”的近亲。大海位于阳光之郊,一座小山丘与一条高速公路相夹:着色的留白。房子紧邻加州1 号公路,暗部似乎是一侧的体量被刻意拉长,超越无形的尺度,一种公共的感觉冉冉升起。小丘如平台,平台的隔绝法让基地旁的噪音也成为平台,建筑的法律展开了公共关系的底座。矮墙、台阶、步道,海蓝色重组含义,

柔和地照射在每一个视点,如中心回答一个水平块,水平块被入口分割成你。空气的上诉的在公路区域里成立,加州1 号公路和房子之间的连续性从不歇停。

8、加州1 号公路-圣塔莫妮卡

一旦情绪和感受氧化,理性的钢筋就会摧毁,决策的力学也变得不再成立。从笛卡尔的错误:情绪、推理和人脑,到大脑密室感受发生的一切,走进感受,并寻找斯宾诺莎,你就会经过薛若哲的公路景观学:加州1 号公路-圣塔莫妮卡——如同步入达马西奥的礼堂:积极情绪开始扩建工业管道,情绪调节认知, 意识获得词义的支撑,节制的工业设备成为了真正的医生。

把你自己当做一个房子观察时,你将站成达马西奥的雕塑:管道神经学。当你看到事物背后看不见的一切,脚的意识将再也不会茫然无知,从A 点到A 点,即使你目力所及,无不是不知方向的无数。

9、加州1 号公路-蒙特雷湾

蒙特雷湾喜欢大海偶然的天赋,蓝色在海中遇到涨潮,薛若哲带着分析的表现性被卷入深海,无法脱身,但重新飘回到大海的目录中,此时,蒙特雷湾正在写一本小说史。操控水文环境的石头,发现了人类污染环境的丑陋表情,自造了一套属于自己的水中语法,这些石头发现她沾染了鱼的气息,正准备用蓝色的意图将平面构成的石头打回原形,但薛若哲的出现却事与愿违。

薛若哲逃离日常,在蒙特雷湾中通往无人之境,海水谦逊得近乎无形,不论下雨或晴天,她视自己是“无限接近透明的蓝”,薛若哲把石滩的流向指出,水路依然在弹钢琴,基因不断传递。他把水作为披露信息,一种敞开的物质基础,在蒙特雷湾深度睡眠中也求知若渴。蒙特雷湾,一个因水而兴的法学,抬头纹中的流向,大海把城市冲上岸,世界精神崩溃。

薛若哲的“蓝”对蒙特雷湾有着深刻的理解,把城市溶解成没有一丝褶皱的天空,以容纳人间所有的瞬息。

10、监看

她站在倒叙的镜面前——没有镜像的镜子。感受到她的爱犬在不远处回望她,爱犬在此刻成了她的监护人。她在荧光黄的屏幕中梦见自己消失了,爱犬在水的火焰中等她,把剩下的人生都留给她。

监看是一名心理治疗师,是水的轻拍在催眠,她穿着此时此刻站在荒诞的屏幕前,闭上的心之眼轻柔地展开四肢。监看重塑透明,她看到自己的身体成为流水,头发连接秘密的水纹,回到她名字开始的地方,站成一棵树慢慢修复了性格中的缺陷。

薛若哲的《监看》是对弈沉溺于秘而不宣,他匿藏其意图,她离开现场,离开上一秒。终身的秘而不宣,瞬刻,魔幻、无声的,秘而不宣的傍晚。她的灵魂,休憩着,秘而不宣,解放。

《监看》提供了新的景观领域。薛若哲有恒定的语言体系,但去除了固有的结构和预设的观念。他不在过于缜密的体系和语言结构里走上自主性轨道,更不会朝着内卷化发展,而是把他的理念置于多尺度的“景观”中,对真实世界的做出了深层的理解和认识,析出高远的思想辨识度和认知复杂度,在抽离与具现之间保持了平衡,产生了现实的说服力。

《纳克索斯之颜》在语言的坐标轴之中观景辨景,薛若哲在语言的意外中设定镜头轨迹,构图比例,转换尺度并施予色泽与肌理,经过修辞的沉淀、思想的过滤,剔除语言的尘落,剪掉琐碎细节,定格氤氲不明的过渡情节,并拯救混乱的思维和无处停顿的视觉用语,从不同的角度和节奏中推进语法的进程,在“物事”原初的意义中对主题进行“间接深化”,具有英国诗人杰拉尔德·曼利·霍普金斯那般对音节的变幻、隐性的出没和复合隐喻的领会力,以心理实验的方式抚慰或赞美现实中的某种疏离,通过视觉的意志出示了作为表象的世界,恍惚间,为世间行走的人们在灯火交辉的城市天际线找到落脚点,哪怕这个落脚点来自与奔腾在加州1 号公路上的身体。(2020/04/27-2020/09/28)


 

THE ART OF RUOZHE XUE: Void and Intimacy

Jonathan Miles

2019

“What cannot be tamed is art as silence. The position of art is a refutation of the  position of discourse. The position of art indicates a function of the figure, which is not signified – a function around and even in the figure…. Art covets the figure, and “beauty” is figural, unbound, rhythmic.”

                                                                              

                                                                                                      Jean-Francois Lyotard

 Firstly it is possible to describe these paintings as presenting figures bereft of motion or at standstill. Any anticipation of motion, would be slow, very slow, a form of slowness coupled with the imaginary withdrawal of speech, so in a way, both silent and slow. From here it might be claimed that the condition of cinema or staged (cinematic) photography is close by, but this neither detracts nor adds to the condition of them as paintings. There are of course so many other things that are close by: the grey sky of Beijing, friends, cameras, art history, gestures, shadows, densities, speed, the tonality of faces and moods. Such a list could go on, but whatever, it is all part of the meditation on what is close and what is remote. The logic of this art is born out of the refractions of such difference: an art that refracts sense.

There are two paintings of feet with white tights that are simply called L and R (2019). The spatial interval means they are both in isolation but also coupled at a distance. On a formal level they might be viewed as an exercise in the control of tonalities, even a modest fugue in greys and white. The light captured around the region of the toes, are rendered in a creamy, glazed application of white oil paint, which both describes and releases the visible simultaneously. Perhaps in attempting to add all of this up, we might not be aligned with the state of transience that appears to pass through the grain of the visible.

Returning to the cinematic, there is a striking relationship to ‘The Last Year of Marienbad’ (1961) by Alain Resnais and screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet. The characters appear to be locked within a time warp they cannot escape from and are thus left to glide around in endless configurations conflating memories of the past with anticipations of a near future (a future that refuses to arrive). At any given moment or passage it is difficult to discern what time zone is being registered so the film itself is like entering a labyrinth. In turn there is a hyper mode of spatiality in the fiction of Robbe-Grillet as if characters are being guided by an external abstracted geometry that strips them of subjective agency. An absent third person narrator (the husband) is a silent observer in his work ‘Jealousy’ (1957) as he watches his wife (named only as “A”) interact with her neighbour Franck. As the novel progresses the gap between observation and imaginary suspicion is closed. Without any direct links there are nonetheless shared traits especial in regard to the absent third person and the eraser of subjectivity. In many of the painting subjects turn away in order to face walls, or voids and even when frontally rendered they are in part in shadow. There is something closed down about each of such postures, the control in tonality of the palette aligned with the control in mood being exhibited. Not quite a universe of frozen solitude but certainly one in which affective modes of encounter are squeezed into a tight corridor of desire. Like the subdued tonality, there is nuanced passage of affect but one whose intensity is of cool subtraction. The art of Magritte and Delvaux might be evoked in this context but this would be to disregard the delicacy that is at play that takes this art way from the persistent theatrical staging of Surreality. It is not the a-temporality of the unconscious being explored, but rather the interval of the slow drift towards it.

Turning towards, turning way from, just repeated turns: there is little by way of progression. Perhaps it is impossible to add things up. Up close to things with nothing clearly to see, vision is restricted vision. Walls are in the way, shadow encloses: all the frames of visibility compress the subject. This in part explains why the gestural economy is so restricted.

In the work Untitled (2019) a female figure stands close to the wall in which her shadow is cast. The work of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916)

might be evoked in the relationship of the subject and the circulation of light. In his work, light offered is also touched by the incline towards its withdrawal, so returning to the work in question there is both the certainty within gesture but this is coupled with a prevailing sense of evanescence.  What is being offered and what is withdrawing from this, meets within the tonal mix of nothing much occurring but being drawn into looking for such an event of occurrence nonetheless. The art of painting is in the rendering of the yet-to-come within that which is not explicitly rendered. Surrealism was the over-determination of such a condition through its evoking of dream and the unconscious whereas an artist such as Hammershoi presents a state under-determination.

The persistence of looking away is perhaps linked to partial or fragmented objects not only as a source of observation but also anxiety. In ‘Still Life no.3’ (2019) we are presented with a seeming object of desire in a pair of shoes. The shoes are depicted with an invested textual vibrancy but they are connected to a truncated pair of plastic legs that serve as interruptions of any visual pleasure because they are uncanny partial objects. Pleasure gives way to anxiety because something does not quite fit because the body imaginary wholeness has been cut. In turn another form of cut is to be found in ‘Hovering form of two pieces of leather’ (2019) in which two leather dresses hang within space cut of from both their source of attachment and their context for hanging as a pair. This not necessarily uncanny but it does lead to the possibility of either misrecognition or anxiety as opposed to being a source of visual pleasure. This in turn creates a space of arrest between the poles of pleasure and displeasure and this is never resolved because of the way the figure of desire is being trailed as the invisible component of this art. This is exemplified by ‘Nevertheless” (2019) in which a female whose face is in shadow offers her hand in light to an un-figured other. Again we are being given over to a partial scene that cannot be completed within the imaginary. The potential warmth of the gesture is undercut by the visuality of being closed by shadow. What is offered renders the viewer in a state of suspension by not having the means of resolution, there is no way a revelation of understanding might arrive because there are no narrative clues whereby this might occur. Instead we are left to put aside the before and after of the event. Within this space characters appear as remote even though we might suspect they are close to the artist so might be solicited to look with this fracturing of sense; one close up and once at a remove. This dynamic is what provide these paintings with their dynamic of push and pull, and in turn their rhythmical accord that yield excess outside of any structuring of meaning. Such a structure of meaning is not so much erased as simply declined with an under-signifying economy that disavows narrative continuity. On a gestural level this attests to the feeling of not having the space to go on but going on despite this, of painting whilst standing on the tightening wire connected to desire.

Slow, slower still, a suspended slowness that presents a construction of a suspended interval. Vermeer, Friedrich and Hooper have in different ways explored the art of the suspended interval; Vermeer utilized this state in order to close the gap between interiority and exteriority, Friedrich to open out the spatial horizon so that infinity might be accessed by the perceiving subject and in Hooper’s case, to arrest temporal flux in order to frame a poetics of loneliness. In each of these different cases, light is the primary medium for having a world rather than language, thus seeing is actualised in advance of knowing. In all three cases there might be a common feeling of being on the edge of being able to articulate this imaginary gap, only then to fall back into being-with the rapture contained within (mute) visibility. Something looks back but in looking back a movement of desire serves to disrupt the ability to link visibility with discourse. This explains in part the feeling of being left on the edge or suspended in a state of reverie.

After the advent of the Chinese Revolution the training of artists assumed a Soviet realist model that in turn was based upon French academic realist models of the 19thC. Modernism was viewed as decadent but the Chinese Classical model was also retained under the slogan of letting “the old serve the new.” These models constituted in turn a memory system unlike the Western tradition of modernity that was anti-mimetic. After the economic reforms of the early 80’s contemporary art gradually found entrance into the art of academy. Xue’s aesthetic formation derives from a synthesis of these different memory systems as he trained in the art of calligraphy, realist-mimetic painting and also studied painting in London. This partly explains the slightly elusive quality of this as an art. On the surface everything is in place on the level of syntax, context and gesture but the uncanny emerges from within this surface of presentation. In evidence is a subdued optics, combined with constricted spatial depth in which the incline of memory and the unease of the imagination are brought together, even to the point of conflation. That something has happened, or is about to happen, is not rendered as apparent. This is all symptomatic of the feeling issued from an idea of late time of restricted gestural economy. In Hold, Tear (2019) a figure is cast double. The tonal poetics derive from the night that never quite arrives. The space between the two is measured to the point of aloof distance but then they are not apart because they appear as being the self-same. Is this double an outcome of spectrality? Hands held behind the back, faces turned way, light touching the nerve of withdrawal point towards a deeper mode of displaced presence. It is a dark painting both on the level of tone and mood but a painting issuing out of a compelling lightness of touch; a fold of tone and touch. This is what we are given over to, the art of tone and touch evading common sense. Evasive: it simply goes on.

From one moment to the next, light still passes through; things or postures repeat, but repeat within delicately nuanced difference. These painting ask of us to attend to, to be with, in the in-between within intervals of time that are outside of veryday temporality. Something is close-at-hand; we are offered this something passing over, or at the cusp of passing over, into yet another state outside of presence. Incline and declines, offering and withdrawals, entry and exits, we are placed in touching range of that which eludes, a third person mode of seeing perhaps. Thequiet drama has no outcome but instead simply resolves to go on, not as in agrim treadmill or as aesthetics of loneliness or of waiting, but in order to keep open a more delicate space of becoming, becoming marked not by the absence of time, but the interval that rehearses the arrival of the condition of anopaque outside. This might sound like a nervous art but rather it is an art that retain its nerve, lets us breathe with its interior, slowly but surely expanding the capacity to breathe within images of an evasive outside.

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The Plurality of Individuality: on Ruozhe Xue |薛 若哲’s Distorted Reality

Ahn Jae Woo

2019

 

Originality. The world one sees is not the world but an original view of it. Biologically speaking, the set of physical specifics comprising one’s vision is as unique as the singular sequence of the individual’s visual experiences over a lifetime. Psychologically and philosophically speaking, every person has their own unique mindset which uniquely processes and interprets visual information. Thus, while everyone shares a single world, no one shares an identical view of it. We all see our own worlds in our own different ways, we all live in our own different worlds.

Generality. The world one sees is not the world but a generalized original view of it. Original, as it is the view of an individual, and generalized, as it is that of a culturally generalized individual. Hence reality should never be perceived by individual sight if a mind’s ambition is to converge towards it.

Contradiction. How can one be original and general simultaneously? Is logic’s oldest tautology no longer a tautology? Not quite, as anyone can recall the numerous occasions where they experience the disagreement between themselves and themselves. The you who wants to play football while the other you who plays tennis, because your parents aspire after their child winning Wimbledon one day. The you who wanted to have coffee the other day while the other you ordered tea, because you have fallen in love with a tea-phile who was sitting on the other side of the table. The you who has become an audio equipment engineer instead of a musician, as the world’s general opinion has taught you that living as a master’s degree holder in electric engineering is rewarded with a higher financial stability than an artist of sound, someone who provides the machinery with its artistic significance. Perhaps even the greatest artists of all time went/go through this seemingly contradictory experience, perhaps even Vincent van Gogh struggled with a more socialized/generalized edition of himself who perpetually argued that he should pursue more of a less post-impressionist craft.

In the discourse of human identity, we can safely say one is never one, that there has always been at least two of one in the same picture. According to Distorted Reality, we can also safely say Xue recognizes this fundamental and structural duality of oneself as well as anyone. While the subject matter of his most recent works discusses the dynamics which dictate the distortion of our time’s reality, it would be a shame to overlook a crucial property of the subject matter which suggests a more transcendent dialogue on the very nature of distortion: the sociological plurality of psychological individuality. It is evident in his works featuring two or more of the ‘same’ person or object; as for the singletons, the represented facet is defined by its relationship with a contrasting facet, hence projects the contrasting facet in the observers’ mind, reminding us of the plurality in a reflexive fashion. Xue is now a painter-turned-optician: one lens provides us with a better view on his view, the other is a mirror.

Until the 16th of November, rosenfeld porcini gallery

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缝隙
张蓝予
2019

“凡是映入眼帘的事物,至多进行到这一步,已经不再是那个真实的事物了。”
——E H贡布里希

19世纪,现实主义艺术以“真实的再现现实”作为表现的宗旨,那时艺术家利用透视法,光线,色彩等,力求表现“真实”。然而产生的结果便是描绘同一事物的各种差别,那么原因是什么?绘画中的真实与现实的真实,这两者存在天然的“缝隙”,薛若哲便是在这产生于艺术创作之间微妙的瞬间作为切入,而他的绘画,便成为了必然而存在。

薛若哲曾说“绘画中的真实存在于选择中”,从艺术创作发展来讲这诠释的是“视觉的真实”,这存在于艺术家看到了什么。在塞尚眼中,色彩感性直觉揭示了世界理性的存在。而在贾科梅蒂眼中,却只有人物鼻尖到耳根的空间距离。这些都不能让我们否认任何一方对于艺术真诚的表达,因为所有我们看到的“种种现实”。

实际上正如薛若哲所说,“真实是艺术家的真实”,笔触反映情绪,色彩制造氛围。只是认知现实的不同呈现。

欣赏艺术家的作品时,我脑海中反复浮现维克多弗莱明导演在1939年执导的影片《绿野仙踪》中一句台词:“他们在寂静中栖息许久,我们怎会如此不同?却又如此相似?”在构成和色调中,艺术家运用透视原理在二维画面中使场景构成形成并非寻常认知的中的场景从而产生了一定的“不稳定感”,而在色彩选择上避免过于主观的色调,在颜色氛围中的沉稳来平衡构成上的“不平衡”。

这便是理解艺术家作品第二层重要关系——“现实的幻觉”。

“我希望的是创造一种心理上的荒诞感,建立现实与超现实之间的世界”。这也许是在薛若哲创作中最令人着迷的一部分。构成主体不再具有绝对理性或鲜艳的本质,那种荒诞中的破碎感和荒漠感。“新小说流”创始者阿兰罗布曾如此理解荒诞美:“人的眼睛坚定不移落在物件上,他不肯向它们要求什么,也不同它们形成什么一致或不一致”

艺术家鲜少将自我情感过多赋予画面,也非常谨慎阐述自己的作品,因为在这个“缝隙”中的世界,所谓情感必须由一双自身有意义的眼睛才能揭示。

“我没有特别深入刻画角色面部细节是因为我将这些细节散落在角色肢体的细微之处,每一个接触和每一缕牵动的发丝中。”对于薛若哲而言,感知,幻觉与幻象,是交替出现还是单一出现并不重要,重要的是在绘画创作中始终有它们的参与。这便是理解艺术家绘画第三层关系“现实的幻象”。

那些细致入微的瞬间虽短暂却十分丰富,虽然我们总是容易忽视缺拥有不可忽略的意义。

艺术家信奉一句话:“暗示总比直接说好。”暗示或者说隐喻,源自希腊语指“转化或带来”的含义。从绘画与外部现实世界来看,人们所认识的的世界不是所谓真实的现实,而只是通过语言折射出的现实,任何一个艺术符号在理论上都可以代替另一个符号,所以暗示是人类活动的普遍特征。

艺术的外在特质是整体,内在特质是隐喻,而内在隐喻又是通过外在整体形式得以体现的。从“视觉的真实”到“现实的幻觉”再到“现实的幻象”,这之间的转化是充满感性又发自本能的。

在这个自然的“缝隙”中,艺术以强烈的生命意识,理性的主体品格和超越主客体的关系模式使个体生命的归属感成为了可能。
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有关隐喻的绘画
郭笑菲
2018

“绘画一开始就是一种虚拟语气…复制真实不再是绘画的任务。对于我来说,真实存在于 我的选择中,存在于绘画的缝隙里。” 薛若哲的最新系列作品探讨绘画的交流与观看机制。 这组绘画伴随着心理张力,充盈了一股冷峻的荒诞。荒诞来源于他对画面自身语言的篡改, 使得绘画内部的正常逻辑发生了病理性的变异。但若结合绘画中所营造的整体气氛,及其所 折射的心理状态看,这变异又显得合情合理。可以说,这是一组关于“差错”的绘画。吊诡的 空间关系生发于错误的透视、前后等大的人物安排混淆了她们的空间关系;差错玩弄着观者 的眼睛,逼迫他们进行饱含深思却又略显徒劳的凝视。错误的空间与透视造就了神秘荒诞的 氛围,差错在若哲手里成为了一种饱含节制的美学。
诚如马格里特于1937年绘制的那张《不可复制》所示,绘画永远无法复刻现实。但绘画 可呈现的真实可以来源于心理上的体验、对生活的体悟及对周遭环境的感应。在《体操》中, 两个有着几乎相同背影、衣着也一致的女孩站在一个看似空旷、实则封闭的房间中央,她们 规训的身体仿佛被栖息在房间某角落的一股暗藏的力量管制、把控,接受着其虚拟的指令。 画面背景中地面与墙壁的分界线与人物的腰际线发生了重合,不合常理的透视安排致使人物 所处的空间产生了些许倾斜的错觉,加剧了画面空间的抽象与神秘。
相似的人物、一致的角色、不可辨别的身份,及她们与所处空间冰冷又孤独的协议关 系,无不令人想起法国人类学家马克·奥吉(Marc Augé) 对非场所(non-place) 的定义。非场 所是在现代化发展到极致的情形下,于我们现实生活中出现的一种越发遍及的“超现代” (supermodern) 空间。随之而来的是一系列人对空间感知上的转变。当人们进入此类空间 时,他们就由平常的身份统一地转变为了对空间缺乏认同感的寻常过客、顾客或路人、只与 空间维持着单一的契约关系,他们孤独又相似。这种现象在艺术家工作与生活的北京尤甚。 伴随城市士绅化与空间流动性的加强,非场所空间由商场、机场、车站逐渐延续到了艺术家 们的工作室与住所。就像薛若哲所说:“在每个城市,一切都太新了,新得让人觉得不真 实。” 居无定所的生活状态,与各种客观原因导致的生活上巨大的不确定,使那一批生活在 大城市边缘的艺术家从心理上成为了旅人。抽离又抽象的空间,及人与空间、人与人之间隔 离又陌生的关系,所导致的心理紧张感也体现在了薛若哲的《体操》、《不规则四边形的入 又》与《或远或近》的非场所化空间里。
正如对眼睛的欺骗早已不再是绘画美德的批判标准,在薛若哲的这一系列新画中,对眼 睛的欺骗也不再取决于画中透视正确与否,而是由画外空间的光线、画的摆放位置及观者的 观看角度决定。有些绘画中的人物介于画里与画外之间,如《不规则四边形的入又》,画中 的空间通过站立在入又边缘的人物与观者的空间形成了交汇。左边那张画里从下往上看的视 角及人物站立的位置制造了危险的氛围,仿佛这个女人下一秒就要从画的边缘跌落下来。薛 若哲不仅通过对具象绘画传统的扭改,在画面空间中成功营造了一种神秘、不可言说的气氛, 这种气氛还蔓延到了画外、侵入了观者所在的实际空间。走进薛若哲的展览《存在的隐喻》, 观众会马上发现这是一个充满了斥力与荒诞气氛的展览房间——一个被背影包围的房间。挂 在四面墙壁上的肖像画中的人物将后背面对观众、拒绝着观者的凝视与窥探。可以说这些绘 画是反义的肖像画,人物在里面主要起着空间参照,与承载整个绘画机制的作用,其身份及 其它个人信息扑朔迷离。早至2013年,薛若哲画中的人物就开始与墙壁发生关系,墙的存在 给画面内部空间添加了令人窒息的局促感。对于看画的观众而言,他们所面对的实际上也有 两堵墙——画中所绘的墙,及人物如墙一般无法穿透的背影。悬挂着一张张不是肖像的肖像 画空间适当地延伸了画中的那种令人稍感压抑的荒诞气息。
薛若哲的创作历程是一个在绘画语言上删繁就简、“去伪存真”的过程。从《模拟人生》 系列中色彩鲜明却又暗含着隔离感的虚拟游戏环境,到现今由灰墙及深色地板组成、趋向极 简的概念化空间,艺术家掘弃了(同样属于非场所的)媒介环境色彩美好的外衣与具体的人 物身份,只通过他敏锐的感受力保留下那份属于这类空间特有的契约孤独感,与耐人寻味、 充满混淆性的人与空间、人物之间的暧昧关系。画面暗藏的时间性虽也发生了些许的变化, 却亦保留了一定的初衷。在薛若哲于2011年画下的《白画林》中,同一位穿着相同衣服的模 特暗示这是一个多重的时间画面,它包含了时间的三个瞬间。艺术家利用绘画的虚拟语气, 将这三枚时间晶体收凝在了同一个画面之上,暗示艺术家曾经反复目睹这一荒谬情节的发生, 即既视感的存在。在薛若哲此番的新作《不,再见》与《旅客们》中,艺术家再次将一个动 作的瞬间切割下来、放入画面,但其目的与所呈现的效果则与绘画和观者之间的交流机制有 关。《旅客们》画面中的主人公身体前倾,似正欲向前赶路。这张画挑选了一个从下往上的 观看视角,使观者刚好可以采取从画面左下方伸出来的那只手的位置,并在心理上扮演手的 主人的角色。由于人物的表情无从得知、身体语言也在最大程度上遭到简化,我们无法得知 这是一张牵手行进抑或苦苦挽留的画面。《不,再见》所呈现的也是这样一个语焉不详的画面。这两张画中,绘画所捕捉的时间的单一切片相当于一个脱离语境的悬置符号,其意义随 着观者的自身经历而流变、拒绝稳定。绘画是“断章取义的”,它给予观者多重解读的可能, 这为他们带来不同的心理感受。绘画在此不仅作为浓缩了绘画本身寓意的隐喻而存在,还模 拟了生活与日常关系中的不确定性及暧昧情形下所产生的心理状态。薛若哲利用他“绘画的 缝隙”暗示了一种绘画的真实,与一种存在意义上的真实。《存在的隐喻》亦选择以《不, 再见》中的这个徘徊于拒绝之间、游离于确定之外的暧昧手势作为起始,同时也将它作为了结尾。

 

Paintings about Metaphor
Guo XiaoFei

“Painting speaks in a subjunctive tone from the very beginning…. Reproducing the reality is no longer the task of painting. To me, the truth exists in my choice; it operates in the gap of painting.”

Ruozhe’s latest series explores the communication and viewing mechanisms in painting. Loaded with psychological tension, this group of paintings is charged with a sense of hard-boiled absurdity. The absurdity stems from his peculiar way of tampering with the language of painting, resulting in a pathological mutation in the logic within his paintings. However, if we consider the overall atmosphere that the paintings intend to create, as well as the psychological state they reflect, this variation seems reasonable. It can be said that these are paintings about ‘error’. The strange spatial relations emerge out of the wrong perspective and the arrangement of figures of equal sizes confuse their spatial relations; these mistakes are deceiving to the eyes of the spectator, compelling them to gaze in an attentive way, which is, in the end, futile. The erroneous depiction of space and perspective creates a mysterious and absurd atmosphere; error in Ruozhe’s hands has become a sort of aesthetic with a fine degree of control.

As René Magritte’s 1937 painting Not to Be Reproduced shows, painting can never reproduce reality. However, the truth that painting presents can come from a psychological experience, understanding of life, and the feeling of the immediate environment. In Ruozhe’s Gymnastics, two girls wearing the same uniform look almost identical from behind and are standing in the middle of a seemingly open, yet, in fact, self-enclosed room. Their disciplined bodies seem to be regulated by an invisible power which inhabits some corner of the room, as though they are receiving virtual instructions from it. The line between the ground and the wall in the background of the picture meets the waistlines of the figures. The unconventional arrangement of perspective gives rise to an illusion of a slightly sloping angle of the ground where the characters are situated, which intensifies the sense of abstraction and the mysterious feeling in the pictorial space.

The identical figures have anonymous roles and unidentifiable identities, and a cold and solitary contractive relationship with their space, all of which evoke the French anthropologist Marc Augé’s definition of the non-place. This place is a kind of super-modern space that emerges in our everyday life in an extreme state of modernism. What follow are a series of changes in people’s perceptions of space. When people enter such spaces, they uniformly experience a transformation from their normal identities into the role of ordinary passers-by, customers or pedestrians who lack a sense of identity and who simply maintain a one-way contractive relationship with the space. They are lonely and similar.

This phenomenon is especially ubiquitous in Beijing, where the artist works and lives. Driven by gentrification and the increasing mobility of space, non-place is gradually extending from shopping malls, airports, and transit stations into artists’ studios and living spaces. Just as Xue Ruozhe said, “In every city, everything is too new to feel real.” Living in a precarious state due to a variety of realistic causes has resulted in huge uncertainty, psychologically turning artists who live on the edges of big cities into travelers. The psychological tension emanating from the abstract and isolated space, and from the alienating and estranged relationships between people themselves and people and space, is also embodied in the non-place space in Xue Ruozhe’s Gymnastics, Trapeziform Entries, and Near, Far.

Just as tricking the eye is no longer a sufficient criterion for virtue in painting, in Ruozhe’s new series of work, deception of the eyes is no longer contingent upon whether the perspective of the painting is correct or not, but upon the light from outside of the painting; i.e., the way in which the painting is displayed and the viewing angle of the viewer. Some figures are situated between the inside and outside of the picture. For instance, in Trapeziform Entries, the pictorial space intersects with the viewers’ space via the figure standing on the edge of the entrance. The bottom-up angle of viewing and the standing position of the character create a disquieting feeling, as if the woman could fall off the edge of the painting in a second. Xue Ruozhe not only succeeded in creating a mysterious and enigmatic atmosphere in the painted space through a modification of the conventional language of figurative painting, but also extended the atmosphere to the outside of the painting, penetrating the actual space of the viewer.

As one proceeds into Xue Ruozhe’s exhibition entitled The Metaphor of Existence, he or she will immediately realise that the exhibition space is filled with sensations of repulsion and absurdity. The figures in the portraits hanging on the wall have their backs facing the audience, rejecting the viewer’s voyeuristic gaze. We can say that these paintings signify an antithesis to the category of portraiture. The figures mainly serve as a spatial reference to support the function of the pictorial mechanism, while their identities and other personal information remain unknown and indecipherable.

As early as 2013, the characters in Xue Ruozhe’s paintings have had an intriguing relationship with the wall. The existence of walls adds a suffocating, cramped feeling to the internal space of the paintings. The viewers actually face two walls – the wall in the painting and the backs of the figures which are as impenetrable as the wall. As such, the atmosphere of repressive absurdity in the painting is appropriately extended to the space where these non-portraiture portraits are hung.

The process of Ruozhe’s artistic creation is to highlight what is true to painting by simplifying and weeding out the superfluities of its language. From the colourful but estranged virtual gaming environment of the Virtual Life series to the conceptual minimal space which consists of grey walls and dark floors in the current series, the artist has abandoned the seductive colour of the (equally non-place) media environment and the specific identity of characters. What has been preserved through his artistic sensibility is a contractive form of solitariness peculiar to this kind of space, as well as the intriguing and ambiguous relationships between the characters and the space, and between the figures themselves. There is certain change in the temporality embedded in the painting, but it still retains some of the original intention.

In White Painted Forest, which Xue painted in 2011, the repeated use of the same model wearing an identical uniform implies that this is a picture with multiple layers of time; it shows three moments in time. Seizing on the subjunctive tone of painting, the artist crystallised these three moments in time and placed them in the same painting. This suggests that the artist has witnessed the same absurd scene repetitively; that is, it implies the existence of the déjà vu.

In Ruozhe’s new works, No, Bye and Travelers, the artist once again extracts a specific movement from an action and places it on the canvas; its purpose and the effect presented are related to the communication mechanism between the painting and the viewer. The protagonist in Travelers is leaning forward, seemingly on her way somewhere. The spectator views from the position of the hand that protrudes from the lower left side of the painting; he or she can identify psychologically with the owner of the hand. Since the expression of the characters is hidden from us and the body language has also been simplified to its extreme, there is no way to know if the painting is about walking hand-in-hand or urging someone to stay. No, bye is also presented as a painting with ambiguous meaning.

In these two works, the single slice of the time is not dissimilar to a detached symbol, whose meaning changes with the viewer’s own experience and resists stability. Painting is by definition ‘out of context’, which endows the viewer with the possibility of multiple interpretations, evoking a variety of psychological experiences. The painting here not only serves as a metaphor for the sake of enriching the meaning of painting itself, but also simulates a psychological state arising from uncertain and confusing situations in everyday life. The truthfulness of painting and the truth in its existential sense have been played out within what Xue Ruozhe suggests is “the gap of painting.” Not by coincidence, The Metaphor of Existence also starts with an ambiguous gesture, swaying between refusal and affirmation in the painting No, bye.
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有了印刷术就不会有《伊利亚特》
张知微
2017

绘画语言在经历了摄影术,电视语言,互联网,及移动互联网的冲击后,一次又一次证明在今天的社会中它的可行性和地位。也许是基于人类本性中用视觉表达和形式的由衷喜爱,艺术家们仍然对这种古老的语言进行着探索。它的进化速度之快让我惊讶,当艺术家对其注入情感时,绘画再次证明了他对社会与现实的担当。也可以这么假设,如果没有印刷术,《伊里亚特》虽然存在,我们却无法得知。

薛若哲算不上对陌生的语言有所恐惧的艺术家,他的相机收藏十分丰富,习作与实验性的作品中许多是铜板,摄影,录像,并带有强烈的行为性。而这次展览中,他又回到了绘画这门“母语”。我不知道语言是不是直接影响内容,但是可以确定的是,语言会直接影响表达与形式,从而间接影响内容。绘画与摄影术这些被归类为空间艺术的语言(相对音乐,电影等时间艺术),有强烈的去语境化本能,脱离了具体语境后,作品的表达是暧昧的,含糊的,同时也充满了想象空间。许多艺术家为了回避这一特性用呐喊的方式在画面里发表声明,而薛若哲在对绘画语言的探索中,拥抱了这种模棱两可,他将这种语言特性挪为己用,创造出来了一个隐约透出一丝荒诞的世界,在这个如舞台般空虚的世界里有着不符合现实世界物理学原理的空间,他似造物者般一边探索,一边创造。这些不合理是隐晦的,细腻的,又可以被确实感受到的,似一层隐喻套着另一层隐喻,这种独特的表达方式像极了普鲁斯特的行文。

这是薛若哲在北京现在画廊举办的第二次个展,从第一次个展的展前准备开始我便有幸参与其中,这次个展《存在的隐喻》沿袭了一部分上次的东西:仍然是以人物的心理状态和关系作为出发点,仍然阴翳,微妙,更贴近东方的审美意识。画面里对物质感,真实感(虚假感),错综复杂的空间关系的处理上更冷静果断,深挖了一步。如果说上一次个展是对现实切片的演绎,《存在的隐喻》则更像是艺术家在为另一个世界奠基,并创造了其中的角色,这个世界并不是现实的镜像,它是更深维度的,通过画面与现实进行着交换的仪式。

“Rene Magritte gave loaded, often hidden meanings to ordinary objectsin his imagery. He considered anything illustrative as an illusion and forcedhis viewers to question what was real and what was not.”(“马格利特往往在画中隐藏物体的意义,他认为物相即是虚假,并以此强迫观者去质疑孰真孰假。”引自《图像的背叛》)在发现薛若哲的作品中那些假作真时真亦假的隐喻之后,它似乎给我开了一扇门,这扇门并不通向答案,他通向若干的问题与可能性。

No Typography, No Iliad
Zhang Zhiwei

“Is the Iliad possible at all when the printing press and even printing machines exist? Is it not inevitable that with the emergence of the press, the singing and the telling and the muse cease; that is, the conditions for epic poetry disappear?” – Karl Marx
Despite the impact of photography, television, the Internet, and mobile computing, painting still proves its viability and importance in today’s society. Perhaps it is because of artists’ heartfelt love of visual expression through painting that they continue to explore this ancient language. I am amazed by the speed of painting’s evolution, and once artists infuse it with emotions, painting demonstrates its continued commitment to society and reality.

We can assume that without the invention of printing, The Iliad would still have been created, but we would not have noticed.

Xue Ruozhe is an artist who is fearless in unfamiliar visual languages. He has a large collection of cameras, and his many sketches and experimental works include etchings, photography, and videos that demonstrate his strong behavioural sensitivity. In this exhibition, he returns to his mother language, painting. The language of painting directly affects the mode of expression and the final form, but it also indirectly influences the content. Painting and photography have been classified as spatial art, and both have a strong decontextualized instinct. When presented out of context, spatial art is vague and ambiguous, leaving plenty of room for the imagination.

Many artists try to avoid decontextualization in their paintings but manifest their intention in a hysterical manner. However, Xue Ruozhe embraces ambiguity in his exploration of the language of painting. He utilizes this linguistic characteristic tactfully to create a world that implies absurdity. Xue’s paintings clear a space into a stage-like void that does not conform to the physicality of the real world, and like an inventor, Xue explores and creates. The unreasonable elements Xue adopts are obscure, subtle, but also perceptible, as if a layer of metaphor is closely linked to another layer of metaphor, resembling a unique expression in the style of Marcel Proust.

The Metaphor for Existence is Xue Ruzhe’s second solo exhibition at the Beijing Art Now Gallery. I had the honour of participating in the preparation of the first solo exhibition. The concept of the latest solo exhibition follows the psychological state and relationship of the figures. This theme first appeared in the previous solo exhibition, becoming the initial idea of the current one. It is luxuriant and subtle, and it approaches Eastern aesthetics. Xue’s authentic handling of the material and its complex relationship with the spaces on the canvas is calm and decisive. Compared to the first solo exhibition, which deduced slices of reality, The Metaphor for Existence is more like the artist laying the foundations for another world and creating its inhabitants. The new world does not merely mirror reality, but deepens its dimensions. It performs a ceremony of interchanging images with reality.

“Rene Magritte gave loaded, often hidden meanings to ordinary objects in his imagery. He considered anything illustrative as an illusion and forced his viewers to question what was real and what was not.” – Quoted in The Treachery of Images. Discovering the metaphors of truth and falsity in Xue’s artwork seems to have opened a door for me. But this door does not lead to answers; it leads to a number of questions and possibilities.
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低调的绘画
黄燎原
2015

薛若哲的作品我是用看,也是用“读”的。

如果去看,我看到一丝博伊曼斯的影子,一丝寒冷、陡峭、悬疑和不可知。另外,是人就看得出来,他画得真好。

另外,如果不说,是人都很难看出来他画中的玄机,比如《被取消的风景》,貌似画的是两个女孩儿站在一片生冷的英国风景中。其实,还有,女孩左侧的轮廓线外,若隐若现地画了两条水印般的阴影,于是,其实,这两个女孩也是站在一面巨大的布景墙前。又比如《左边》,貌似清纯、抒情和浪漫,但其实,蓝色裙子下,竟然有七只脚!匪夷所思是薛若哲作品深藏不露的机关,你可以在他的所有作品中看到和读到那些想像都难以企及的东西,如果你用心。

在这个展览中,他的大部分作品画的都是复数的形象,或者说是形象的复数,这个复数既可以理解为两个或多个相似的事物(人),也可以理解为某个事物(人)的两个或多个侧面,甚至是一分为二一分为无限。所以,薛若哲不仅仅在精心精致地描绘画面,也在精心精致地阐发思想。

总的来说,薛若哲在做一个可以被称之为是“观念绘画”的东西,观念也强,绘画也强,两强相遇却并不紧张, 而且相安无事,观念在血液里流淌,绘画于表面呈现。“去文学性”本来是观念艺术的特征之一,而薛若哲反其 道,他的文学性接近德国和俄国文学的思辨一脉,凝固而非流淌,内敛而不张扬,像是尚有余温的尸体,死 而不僵。薛若哲的绘画有很明的“手艺”痕迹,但不夸张,不那么炫技,不给人留下如何天才的感想和感受, 却与他的“观念”相得益彰。他画很多背影和侧影,未必有故事,更多地是呓语,是他和它们的对话,是它们之 间的对话。

低调的绘画,是我对薛若哲作品最初步最完整的印象。

Muted Painting
Huang Liaoyuan

Xue Ruozhe’s works are to see as well as to “read” for me.
When I see them, I see signs of cold, sharp, suspicious and unknowable. In addition, it is widely admitted that he paints well.

However, almost no one could discover the “secret” of his paintings if not being pointed out. Take Cancelled Landscape as an example. The painting seems to show two girls standing in cold, distanced British landscape. But this painting is more than that, beyond the two girls’ left outline, Ruozhe painted two watermark-like shadows vaguely. As a matter of fact, these two girls are also standing in front of a huge backdrop. Left-footed can be set as another example. It seems to be innocent, lyric and romantic at the first sight, but there are seven feet under the blue dress if you look again. Unthinkable is the secret of his paintings. If you try hard, you can see and read those unthinkable things beyond even imagination in all his works.

In this exhibition, most of his works are about plural figures or in another word, figures in plural forms. Being plural can be interpreted as two or more similar things or people, or two or more sides of a single thing or person, or even one entity been separated into two parts or infinite parts. Therefore, Ruozhe not only depicts figures but also expresses his ideas when creating whole-heartedly.

In a word, what Ruozhe has been trying to do can be called “Concept Painting”. at shows both concept and painting which are equally strong. But when putting these two strong factors together, what I feel is harmony, not tension. The concept is flowing in the blood of his works, and painting is the nature. “Non-narrative” was one of the key elements of conceptual art. But Ruozhe uses it reversely. His way of expressing narratives is close to German and Russian literary, stable but not flowing, low profile but not high profile, like a dead body that is still warm, just dead but not yet stiff. Ruozhe’s works have obvious signs of “using techniques”, but that is neither exaggerating nor showy, fitting well into his concept. Viewers would not feel how gifted he is when seeing his works. He paints backs and profiles without telling any stories most of the time. What he paints most are delirious and conversations between he himself and the images, or conversations between images themselves.