THE IMAGERY COMPOSITIONS IN THE PAINTINGS OF SHANGGUAN CHAOYING PAINTING WITH A FREE HEART 简体中文
In the Greenwood of the contemporary Chinese ink and wash, Shangguan Chaoying is a fordright and well-educated hero from Shandong Province, a hero sparing no effort in mastering the skills of the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting. We may make Vedas
ana1yses of a painter's moral qualities and works from different points, but the first impression is often of intrinsic quality when making an intuitive judgement. I first saw Shangguan Chaoying's paintings in l997 when he presented me his "Selected Paintings of Shangguan Chaoying". The first time I met with him was at a party when the director of Liaison Office of China Littermate and
Arts Association invited us to a dinner The combination of himself with his paintings gave me a strong impression just like what I wrote at the beginning of the article. His name "Chaoying"(super hero) gave me a deeper impression of heroic colors. After the party we began to call each other "monkey brothers" (we were both bomb in the Year of Monkey, but he is 12 years younger than me). Finding that we had the same ideals and increase, we have set up a closer relationship as we exchange our visits and ideas. As time goes by our contacts have deepened my impressions. I wt my impressions are just an accumulation of my feelings in my contacts with Shangguan Chaoying.
Shangguan Chaoying is a devoted and industrious painter
The moment I wrote down the word of "painter', a vivid picture of the Western cultures flashed across my And. Nowadays, a great number of painter did not paint any more. They fanatically stated that "the painting has died" and hectically turned to the game of so-called most up-to-date "post-modem art". Now that they have not painted any longer, it is natural that they will not be a pat of the painting committee. Of course, it is absolutely up to their individual freedom "to be or not to be" painters. However, some of the so-called avant-garde whist have attempted to depreciate the devoted painters, claiming that these painters
have fallen behind. They have been dredging that all the painters around the world might abandon their brushes to follow them in their games of installation or action arts. Aren't they too rather haughty hegemonists?
Most of the Chinese painters have been firm and steady in their career as painters while only a few of feeble-minded mer regarding the painting as a dangerous road have given up their painting and tuned to amuse themselves in the "post-modem' games. In my opinion, China is still a great country where her painting community has been developing vigorously. However modem, postmodem or postpostmodem the society in China will be in the future, all walks of life in China will never abandon their traditional art of painting as they have valued them as national treasures.
Precisely against such a grim background Of the word cultures, my heart is filled with wed and respect to Mr. Shangguan Chaoying who has devoted himself to the Chinese painting.
Since his childhood, Mr. Shangguan Chaoying was quite fond of painting and received artistic training in his juvenile time including drawing, watercolor oil-painting and the Chinese painting. His whack training and accomplishments have laid a sole foundation for him to specialize in the Chinese flower-and-bird painting in Daxieyi (free-hand brushwork) techniques.
In the field of the contemporary Chinese flower-and-bird painting, it is reasonable to state that Shangguan Chaoying is a accomplished painter who 1eads the list of the best successful artists. It is even more spectacular that he has been infatuated with an exploration of the slides of the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting. Each Place has its own way of supporting its own inhabitants. Born I Heze of Shangdong Province , famous her name of "Land of Peony", Shangguan Chaoying has absorbed the best of the natural in his hometown. The "Ultra-daxieyi" painting (more unrestrained free-hand brushwork ) that he named, I think, is not only large in size, but also complicated in compositions, rich in images, easy and verve in brushing, vivid in colors, imposing in manners an magnificent in the artistic conceptions, like a magnificent epic or a glorious symphony The large flower-and-bird paintings were not so rare in the past and so were the impressive masterpieces. However, most of them are enlargements or continuations of small pieces. Some of the flower-and-bird paintings are products of a group of artists, looking like grand celebrations of all flowers and grasses. They do not have integrated compositions and connotations that the huge works should have. We may say that Shangguan Chaoying has already entered the realm of "true hugeness" in his "Ultra--daxieyi" paintings same as a composer has finished a symphony. The "true hugeness" is quite different Yom "false hugeness" in nature. Supposing that the musicians play the same Etude on one hundred pianos, though grand and loud, it is still Etude which is absolute1y unequal to a symphony in compositions and connotations. Some people have regarded the conception of the "Ultra--daxieyi" paintings of Shangguan Chaoying as a "enlarged close-up" or "enlarged features". Such conceptions are just the opposite.
The size of a painting is not a determinant of the Profundity of its connotations of. Some of the paintings are small in their sizes, but they have profound implications which are concentative and intensive. In sharp contrast, some other paintings, though huge in size, are devoid of contents and boring. It is natural that the contents embodied in the compositions should be relevant to the size of a painting. The more complicated the content is, the larger the size is. Only When the content and size are corresponding can the painter create at his free will. Generally speaking, it is no easy to paint large works. It is a serious challenge to the painter for his creativeness of which ordinary painters lack. It should be even much more difficult to paint a "super-large" works although we cannot draw a clear-cut distinction between the "large" and the "super-large". However, the conception of the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting that Shangguan Chaoying has been seeking is definite. His "Ultra-daxieyi" painting was named in comparison with the "daxieyi" painting. Based upon the "daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting, he has been pursuing the truth of the "Ultra-daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting which has more profound connotations and complicated compositions. It is logically tenable.
Shangguan Chaoying is a young and creative painter with pioneering spirit. He has achieved initial success in his "Ultra-daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting which has its distinctive features different from the "daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting. We have found not only the multiple and complex compositions and artistic magnificence, but also the delicate details and delight of ink and brush in his representative works. It is really a impressive sight of ink and wash. He has made a good harvest in face of the challenges in his "Ultra-daxieyi" painting today. It is no doubt that he will surely broaden his field to march towards more well-constructed compositions and a broader realm of aesthetics.
In my opinion, the revolutionary emergence of the "Ultra--daxieyi" ink and wash should be regarded as a pioneer and vanguard in the overall development of the Chinese ink and wash in the 2l'st Century. We should give more impetus to the development of the "Ultra--daxieyi" techniques not only in the flower-and-bird painting, but also in the landscape painting and figure painting. The "Ultra-daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting, the "Ultra-daxieyi" landscape painting and the "Ultra-daxieyi" figure painting should keep pace with each other in ode to bring along the whole school of the Chinese ink and wash for the bright future of the Chinese an in the 2lst Century.
As for the next phase of the development of the "Ultra--daxieyi" painting, I think that we should concentrate more of our efforts on our self cultivation and creativeness. Therefore, I'd like to put forward some ideas for a discussion with my counterparts with lofty ideals for the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting.
1. Artistic Dialectics
From ancient to modem times, all of the exquisite masterpieces embody the skills of artists in their applications of the artistic dialectics. As a matter of fact, except the different tools and materials, all of the artistic processes, whether of an oil painter, or of an ink-and-wash painter are concerning the relationship of the unity of opposites in dealing with the treatment and harmony of the elements in a work. Beyond the blank canvas or Xuan paper exist counties elements of the unity of opposites for deistic creations, such as dark and light, thick and thin, concave and convex, square and round, thick and thin, long and short, wide and narrow, front and back, high and low top and bottom, far and near inside and outside, sharp and blunt, hard and soft, horizontal and vertical, slippery and sluggish, bright and dark, visible and stealthy, macro and micro, urgeflt and relaxed, for and against, sinking and floating, tight and loose, tense and relaxed, open and close, strong and weak, moving and stable, connected and disconnected, able and clumsy dry and wet, solid and hollow scattered and dense, clear and muddy straight and slanting, straight and curved, subject and object, complex and simple, wan and cold, colored and plain, form and spirit, image and idea, landscape and conception, world and mind, and much more. Whether he is intelligent and creatve or not depends upon his dialectical thinking, or his ability to deal with and harmonize the above-mentioned elements of the unity of opposites in a dialectical way to contribute to his subjects and aesthetic aspirations. As a source of wisdom, the dialectics has been a magic weapon of great politicians, great stfatcgists, great philosophers and great artists. With such a weapon in hands, they are sharp-eyed and clearheaded, advancing at their own wills and achieving great successes in the field of their undertakings that they have selected for themselves. In the art word, few artists have understood the conscious sense of dialectics and they have a deep misconception which interferes with their comprehension's that dialectics is no more than a political weapon. In their minds, dialectics is a kind of political philosophy not an artistic philosophy so that they have been staying away from the dialectics. What an obscurantism it is. How could they abandon such an all-powerful treasure like a worth thing ! Many artists have been searching for scriptures and classics around all corners and looking forward to finding the up-to-date artistic methodology As a matter of fact, it is already on your old bookshelf covered with modern dust, just take it down and whisk away the dust. You will be under the sunshine of the dialectics. Why do we beg with golden bowls in our hands? In fact, the dialectics has been shining over both the history of world art and of the Chinese all. It is natural that they are the rays of unconscious instincts and naive dialectics which have not been Promoted to the level of conscious philosophy, not even the level of the dialectica1 systems of Hege1 and Marx. Many artists have favored too apply the Confucian and Zaniest ideology into the artistic methodology. If it is concerning the aspect of the philosophical dialectics, I am in favor of it. If the wise artists in the western and Eastern groups are able to establish a system composed of quintessential structures which have been extracted from the Western and Eastern dialectics, it seems that they have got a spiritual atomic bomb in their hands and their atistic creations will have a glorious future beyond our imaginations.
As being a serious challenge to the artistic creativeness, the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting will be short of essential motive force if the artist cannot endeavor to comprehend the dialectics and proceed to transform the systematic dialectics into his own methodlogy concerning his ideology activities and artistic creations.
2. Bravery and Might
As I have mentioned above, the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting has formed a great challenge to artistic creativeness and is much more difficult than the ordinary "daxieyi" painting. undoubtedly it requires artists to have such an ability in their creation of the "Ultra-daxieyi" paintings, which has set a higher standard of professional training for the artists who have decided to devote themselves to the "Ultra-daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting, the "Ultra-daxieyi" landscape painting and the "Ultra-daxieyi" figure painting just as the different standards for the heavyweight and lightweight boxers. Among the "Ultra-daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting, the "Ultra-daxieyi" landscape painting and the "Ultra-daxieyi" figure painting, the latte is more difficult than the former two for the artists in their professional training. As we know, a great number of artists have made their best efforts to solve the problem of the harmony of body and spirit of a single character in their figure paintings, but failed, let alone the "Ultra-daxieyi" paintings which depict so many figures in one painting. It may be possible for the artist to create the harmony of body and spirit in his "gongbi" figure painting (fine and detailed brushwork and it will be ten times difficult to pain in "xieyi" (free-hand) techniques bocks, we may imagine the diff1culty to pursue the harmony of body and spirit in depicting numerous f1gures in an "Ultra-daxieyi" painting. To speak objectively any school of the "Ultra-daxieyi" flower-and-bird painting, the "Ultra-daxieyi" land-scope painting and the "Ultra-daxieyi" figure painting has its own uniqueness and has set up countless barriers before the artists who have been on their ways to explore the truth. In my opinion, the "Ultra-daxieyi" painters ought to have the "full-spectrum" capabilities, which not only refers to his versatility in painting skills including "six essentials of painting", "flee kinds of strokes and seven tints of ink color", "consolidated forms and colors" and "enhanced capability of freehand brushwork and transformations", but also relates to spiritual spheres. Huang Xiufu, a famous art critic of the Five Dynasties (707~960) put forward the theory of "Four Classes" in his "Famous Paintings of Yi State" and such a theory exerted great influences upon followers. He divided the Chinese paintings into four classes: masterpiece, works of excellence, works of exquisiteness and works of skillfulness. His theory looks a bit too naive and biased today. Generations of scholars blindly pursued the exquisiteness as they blindly preferred the spirit to the images. Instead of making their efforts to seek a full-scale training in their paintings, they became self content and imagined that they had got the so-called doctrines of painting. As a result, most of the scholars and painters, instead of being satisfied with those doctrines, have been deep in swamps of shallowness. Their bias of preferring ideas to images has hindered development of the Chinese paintings and that is the very reason why we have not made any breakthrough and great advances even today. In my opinion, the unprepared painters should not aim too high and blindly worship Shi Tao, the famous ancient Chinese painter, and over-praise his wt theory of "Non-doctrine is doctrine and the highest doctrine". in Tums, they should be honest and industrious in their researches of methods which are beneficial for advancing their artistic skills. If a painter lacks of basic skills and often imagines that he has entered the realm of "no doctrine is doctrine", then, he will undoubtedly mark time and make no headway. I think that "Four Classes" theory is still useful today just as an organic integration of "Four Classes" is very useful for the training of artists.
Logically speaking, "Four Classes" is difficult to be taken as a standard of evaluating a painting. As a matter of fact, such a theory refers to different styles and their relative skills. What I mean of "integrating the four classes" is "to fully integrate" different styles and skills in artistic works. The Theory of Twenty-four Styles of Poem put forward by Situ Kong, a famous poet and theoretician of the late Tang Dynasty, is also a contribution to the spirit of a painting. I am quite sure that a completely new landscape will come into being if our artists integrate such technical aspects as the "Four Classes" theory the Theory of Twenty four Styles of Poem, "six essentials of painting", "five kinds of strokes and seven tints of ink color" and "forms and colors" with the spirit lay aspects into an organic whole,.
In the Theory of Twenty-foul Styles of Poem, the first style is the vigorousness which, l think, constitutes the basic styles of the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting. We have found that still's elaborations in his theory is a perfect representation of the poet's breadth Of vision. The painter who have been determined to advance the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting should have the same broad vision. No breadth of vision, no "Ultra-daxieyi" painters. The great challenge confronting the "Ultra-daxieyi" painters is to transform the great vision of vigorousness into a great picture of vigorousness and present the viewers all of the visual potentials in the Chinese ink and wash to their utmost by applying artistic skills with great ease in other to create a great heall-shaking picture of vigorousness tha we have been longing for. Therefore, I may say the the' 'Ultra-daxieyi" painters must improve his capabilities all out both in teebocal fields and spiritual aspects.
3. Humanistic feelings
Genendly speaking, without any humanistic feelings, an "Ultra-daxieyi" painter is no other than a hard-hearted and formidable man even though he is in good command of the dialectical methods and artistic kills. The world that an "Ultra-daxieyi"
painter seeks is neither a cold one of a pure objective materialism, nor of pure subjective idealism. lt should be a practical materialist world full of humanistic feelings and human solicitudes. The goal of the "ultra-daxieyi" art is not for us to go beyond our life and humanity on the country such a goal should be a Promotion of the life humanity and humanistic ideals in a super way. From a panoramic view of the paintings, the "Ultra-daxieyi" at should be a manifestation of the great aesthetic ideal of the human beings in their pursuance of the unity of the true, the good and the beautiful and the great at of the great life. It should be a great symphony and a great opera full of human optimism and heroism. Its spiritual realm should be much greater than Wager's "the Ring of the Nibelung". In short, being a great all, the ''Ultra-daxieyi" painting has the dialectical theory as its foundation with the compositions of imposing momentum as its unique style. The unity of the true, the good and the beautiful in humanism is its aesthetic ideal.
Shangguan Chaoying once told me that he always admired the long-lost styles of the Tang and Song Dynasties and had a great longing for the artistic manners of our great motherland. What he has been pursuing is the great spiriting souls of the Chinese people. I quite approve such an honest and artistic aspirations in his "Ultra-daxieyi" paintings. When many of our artists have a blind love for the Western "conceptionalism and expressionism" against the background of globalization of international cultures, Politics and economy, without any doubt, his painting is a Han reply with heroic spirit.
I have got a deep admiration for his artistic creativeness and orientation. His artistic selections have great potential significance. I hope that we could leveal and discover with pleasant surprise and enjoy the specific pleasure as unique as Mr.Einstein had before-not in the science, but in the art. Over the horizon of the twenty-first century and on the unfolding paper of the history
of the Chinese painting of the new century I hope that Shangguan Chaoying is able to write down deep traces of footsteps in his exploration of the "Ultra-daxieyi" painting. Today many of the theoreticians have sighed that "the era of heroism has come to an end". It is said that "the heroes have died" after the saying that "the God has died" and "nits has died". I think that such a saying is groundless. Heroism will always be the basic property of the human existence. It will follow the mankind for ever until the glorious re-birth of the practical materialism. In the current art community of China, too many mediocre men and ruffians are playing their games. We are calling for the birth of our national hero. At last, I'd like to speak some high words: wish Shangguan Chaoying to be a honest and creative superhero of "the Ultra-daxieyi flower and bird painting" and receive praises on the inyernational painting field.
0200, AM, August 2, 200l
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