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Post-Grandness
Time2013-10-14 Browse3364 AuthorCui Cancan     

The whole 17th Century is the greatest golden age for painting. No matter the works of Velazquez or Rembrandt, they all witnessed this classic moment in history: the miraculous brightness of painting. Afterwards, the unique way of understanding the world established by painting gradually started to face a crisis. Its authority and standardization have been disintegrated by all sorts of new media. Communication and transmission via art media is no longer the privilege of painting.

Today, the possibilities of painting are especially hard to find. On one hand, as a medium, the nature of painting makes it very difficult to rapidly join the interaction of the current society in multiple directions and dimensions. The old way of expression and observation have blocked the path of yielding a new cognitive style. On the other hand, the grand and heavy history of painting, occupied by all sorts of classicism, has almost exhausted all the possible ways and methods. Years of understanding of painting has become the shackles of painting, even though for many people, these shackles (noumenon and form) are the core reason why painting exists.

However, the two-way limitation and predicament have not made artists give up the exploration on the possibilities of painting. It has provided a reason to carry out experiment in the field of painting today: in a limited space, based on the spirit of questioning, how to develop a practice that always remains uncertain and conscious of questions.

Graduated from Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 2005, Wang Jun cut himself adrift from the correct and mainstream method of painting since the very beginning. He did not want his work to become a repetitive action of fully inheriting the experience of painting. As a knowledge system with a long history, painting have been followed and used repetitively. Its legitimacy are being continuously examined and disintegrated by the current world. Wang Jun is above all an obstinate skeptic. He experienced the evolvement of the mainstream system in China, from ^Cynical Realism ̄ and ^Pop Art ̄ to the overflow of ^Cartoon ̄ and ^Image ̄, meanwhile, he always stays outside the mainstream system and deliberately keeps a distance. He attempts to search for an independent space with a pulling force of confrontation, so as to confirm the existence of self-involvement and the possibilities of painting.

Graduated from the Department of Print, Wang Jun seems to be more interested in the structural issues of the language of painting. This interest has given his way of working a sense of rational analysis. He instinctively repels the simple way of expression, which considers painting as a cultural tool and an inferior and popular way of drawing. In Wang Jun¨s works, painting has transformed from the tool of expression to the question to be discussed; the way of painting has become the object of thinking. The discussion about paining itself is the conception and intention that the artist sets, as well as the only way to search for possibilities. In this sense, in the world that Wang Jun understands, traditional or contemporary concepts of painting have constituted another dimension of reality. The experience of painting has become an experience of reality that individuality undergoes.

The appearance of one painting usually contains the artist¨s thought, way of realization and method of transmission. Thought can be reached through all sorts of practices in painting, and the thought is conveyed through the form of vision. During this process, using which way to transmit the information is undoubtedly the primary choice laid in front of each artist. Thus, in Wang Jun¨s works, how to choose has become a new question. Through which method is a work modeled and expressed? Does the method match the thought? Can a thought or purpose be expressed through multiple methods? And how to realize the accuracy of expression?

When these questions show up, firstly, removing the standardization and rightness from the way of painting becomes the basic attitude to solve the problems. Secondly, only by completely breaking the integrity and systematicness of a certain way of painting, can he approach the original structure which supports these paintings. Wang Jun structurally cuts apart his previous knowledge of painting, purposely conceals the close-knit clues of the knowledge and pulls painting back to the most fundamental part, which splits up into many tiny points. Through the detailed work aimed at these ^points ̄, he can look for the suddenness of them, for example, in Wang Jun¨s previous works, the relation between the eyes and the most basic ^lines ̄ in painting, as well as the relation between the ^lines ̄ and the message transmission. In his works, ^lines ̄ are knitted into all sorts of structures, which is the result of the images we see. But every line has its own independent emotion and movement systems. At this stage, as a method or way, what does ^line ̄ realize in painting? What has it participated? In other words, Wang Jun refuses the ^lines ̄ to be organized or controlled. In his works, ^lines ̄ have gone back to the most natural and original status, without any reason.

In Wang Jun¨s works, black, white and gray are his idiomatic tones. Wang Jun reduces all the colors by basic color systems and deprives the colors of the emotions and cultural symbols they contain. When fireworks lose their beautiful colors, they are just movements of lines. They no longer contain the beauty or other added values that people give them. The fireworks are put into the structure of painting to be discussed. In Untitled (Nanshan), when the wooden and green colors of the branches are simplified into a kind of movement or a structure of order, our emotional expectations and aesthetic habits towards the trees have been replaced by rational thinking. When the branches of different viewpoints appear in one picture, it seems very difficult for us to find a stable observation point. Vision is resolved into the results of different observation mechanisms that the trueness and uniqueness of image itself appear questionable.

Through different ways of modeling and expressing images, Wang Jun has led the meaning of pictures to vision itself, which enables the audience to think in the same way that vision is produced. In his works, we rarely see grand and classical images of history or classical symbols. He intentionally chooses some random daily items as the main objects of painting and abandons painting¨s infatuation with classical themes and his own ambition to express.

Although we can still see his usage of some sceneries and images, these emotions have been continuously controlled by Wang Jun. A cemetery in Dusseldorf, a work by Nobuyoshi Araki, a landscape of Nanshan´He might have acquired some sort of special feeling or emotion at the very first moment of observation. But a stubborn skeptic will rapidly question the trueness of this feeling and how it is acquired. After experiencing a long time of self-doubt and self-opposition, he eventually borrowed some certain part of these images. However, how? Why is it always hard to find a proper reason from a skeptic? No matter which kind of suddenness or inevitability, the outlines of those images are extracted from the picture, then repeatedly copied and combined in all sorts of ways. One landscape photo has consistent relationship with Araki, Li Hua and Wang Xingwei¨s works in the matter of clue. This relationship is rather abstract, but also possesses a certain similarity. When the audience fails to judge this clue explicitly, it seems that Wang Jun has reached his goal. The obstacle he set is realized. This obstacle has always been disturbing the logic of the audience and we cannot use previous experience of painting to interpret and learn it.

Wang Jun¨s works always possess a sense of obscurity, which is the witness of the artist¨s thinking and acting process. It is hard for us to see a constant smoothness in Wang Jun¨s works. He continuously sets up obstacles. He always leaves rationally at the peak of his emotions and looks back at the fluctuation that has just occurred. Any simplex way of painting or angle of observation finds it hard to permanently occupy Wang Jun¨s works. He ceaselessly changes methods, suspends emotions and forces himself to walk towards a sense of separation and complexity.

In work White is White, Wang Jun first used material objects to imitate and reproduce a work by Malevich. Then he copied another piece of Malevich¨s work by using the simplest black and white paints. Meanwhile, he implanted some of Malevich¨s images into his own card series. Three different ways of processing put Malevich¨s images into three different time and space. The gap of produced by the same object in different systems is now being revealed. In fact, Wang Jun has always been trying to discuss different results of visual images or painting in different time and space systems through slices study and treatment at different stages. By his own method, Wang Jun has extended or realized this possibility. At this moment, he has also realized the existence of his own participation.

No matter Bullshit 2013, Untitled (Ascription), Untitled (Nanshan) or White is White, for Wang Jun, they are all interlocking and functioning systematic work. The crisscrossing process of the works is not only the moment when different systems exchange, but also the process in which they contain and assist each other. They are all related to the knowledge of painting and the continuous questioning of this knowledge. These works are simply the evidence of questioning and practicing questioning.

When questioning is being practiced, Wang Jun¨s action itself surpasses the result of painting. Painting here is no longer a noun, but a verb. Wang Jun gave up a secure, smooth and correct way of painting, set out from a mistake, ceaselessly tried to make mistakes in his works and looked for different ways of painting and the complexity of expression and communication through ^trials of mistake ̄. In front of his works, traditional ways of observation and communication are obstructed. When we can no longer read and understand as smoothly as before, we are bound to wonder whether this is Wang Jun¨s mistake or the mistake of our experience. 

Since the 18th Century, when the grand era of painting ended completely, the by-gone classicism still stayed in the past, but the discussion of the new possibilities of painting has never ceased. Even if painting stayed in a certain era, it had to leave at the moment. Only in this way, can painting become a verb. We, as well, can only exist in verbs and live in peace in the era of post-grandness. 

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