The Enthusiasm of Returning
Liu Zhengyong’s Oil Painting
After 90s 20th century, expressionism painting in china is on the edge of art because of the flourish of a mass of image paintings. There have two reasons could answer why expressionism painting in china is on the wane gradually. Firstly, the change of social environment. The events in art field in 1989 result in the smash of the culture enthusiasm which artists once to hold, they turn impetuous to calm, for they’ve lost the ground of expressionism. Secondly, China attracted the attention of the whole world because of the special event which happened in 1989. As a result, intangibly, Chinese contemporary art enjoy a wider market. Thereby, a special Chinese art image has been formed. The enthusiasm of expression turned to the power of image, and concept of painting became the vital element of art, not the art language itself. Just as some critics said, 1990s in china is the year that Chinese contemporary art walks into an era of Iconology. However, there also had some changes which have been happened in Chinese contemporary art field invisibly in recent years. Among them, the most outstanding one is the return of beauty in form. The typical artists include Zeng Fanzhi, Zhou Chunya, Liu Wei, and Zhang Fangbai and so on. Besides them, there are far more young artists who eager to explore a new land where full with the enthusiasm of self-expression, and I think Liu Zhengyong is one of them.
Liu is a young artist who was born in 80s. After graduating from Tianjin Academy of Fine Art, he has being a freelance artist till now. No matter in Tianjin or Beijing, he has always maintained his art pursuit, that is the consistency between enthusiasm and the way of expression. Many of Liu’s works in these years give me a feeling that an original impulse has always being. He seldom affected by the popular factor in recent society. It should be said that it’s a kind of luck for him. As one of the after 80s, his maturity just catches up with the stable period of development in China. Therefore, when carrying out his art idea, he could avoid some uneasy factors, thus pay more attention on a theme of spirit continually, and explore a more personal art style. Actually, the external condition is one of the factors in an artist’s career, however, internal factor is more important than the external one for creative artists.
Liu’s art, in terms of his style, is expressionism. However, expressionism is a general concept which contains much more profuse contents, so we should treat it specially rather than generally. In terms of Liu’s art, I think, for internal meaning, is close to the traditional Chinese painting. He pays more attention to some essences in Chinese traditional painting, for example, yi qi (a standard of good paintings in ancient China), and shen si (image such as mountain or person in traditional Chinese paintings, is in a high state that between similar and not similar with its original form). It can be said that, Liu expresses some traditional kernels by use of a contemporary method, and the only difference is he chooses oil painting materials as his tool. Certainly, different materials will lead a different art style, so Liu’s painting not simply returns to tradition, but absorbs the valuable concepts and then learns from them. By knowing this, he can present the inner feeling of the contemporary Chinese from a deeper cultural level.
Liu chooses expressionism which is close to abstract painting as his way maybe because of his complex psychological feelings. For only yi (it can be explained as a kind of inner feeling here) can express shen (it can be explained as the existent art style here), and only shen can generalize the abundance of human being’s sensibility deeply. Virtually, what we get, from the expressional way, is not the existent objects (shapes, colors, …), but a more profuse sensibility. Just as Liu’s paintings, are abstracted as solid colors no matter portraits or scenery. The deep and heavy feelings which reflected by heart and thought are just same as complex experience we’ve met in the society. Compared with the popular images, it shows me the force of expression, which is the bridge between the emotion and spirit of this era. Maybe, I think, it is the main reason why recent Chinese contemporary art field is returning to the beauty in form. Along with the social development, no matter the world scope or artists themselves, has went over the “image china” time. Therefore what we need now is more enthusiasm of expressing and emotion which could depict ourselves better.
28th July 2008