杭 间 2005年1月10日写于汕头大学桑浦山日月湖畔
How people talk about Marc Chagall? Egregious splendor, innocent romance, or something else?
To explain great artists and their works becomes the only goal of art historians. Although we have been talking Chagalls contributions to Fauvism and Cubism and sighing with emotion his important values as a Russia-born painter in Paris School, we rarely mention Chagalls late works that moved us because of its hidden Surrealistic Pathos. It derived from a woman that he married and lived together for 29 years. To remember his wife Pala Chagall, he started his complexe creation during 40 years until his life end. In the persistence of time, Pathos becomes a life philosophy because of Surrealism.
Well, now we return to Lei Ziren. People will not be quite familiar with this artist although he has published a few books and held some exhibitions. The reason is that among the contemporary Chinese arts Leis works are not easy to be labeled. New Scholars? Doodle? Expressionist Ink and Wash? None of them. He can be called and labeled to be a Non-Mainsteam painter. I often think that why our contemporary art records have only one or two angles? Either western or official angles? How free our forefathers creation and comments were in Shi Shuo Xin Yue and Famous Paintings of All Dynasties! How free their art as human beings meaningful sense and self-consciousness! Using a modern Chinese terms: art is a zoology, and Lei Ziren is a part of it. Seeds grow up and die, like that, history is also mans time where smart people live in dynasties. From this point of view, we will be quite peaceful when commenting Leis achievements.
Although I hoped to write something for Leis works before, this article has been lagged for 5 years because of many reasons. As many peoples opinion toward his works, I also am hesitating about the pathos and decadence hidden in his works. Facing his works, I have been in two status: art historic status (my major is art history?!). My pathos and decadence are often mingled with little bourgeois sentiments. In the art frame of post-modernism or the mainstream languages of contemporary art, little bourgeois sentiments is mocked for its been regarded as make a fuss about an imaginary illness for boosting. My education tells me: such painters are not representatives of the time, because profundity of art works will be the only criteria. In fact, all art critics after post-modernism trends are almost the same. In the new art forms as performance, assemblage, video etc, thinking factors are zoomed extremely while interest and taste are regarded as hackneyed and stereotyped expressions. At the same time modern art renders art as subconsciousness, life instinct and existing volition, vivid life system is depressed because of exaggerated miserables in modern society. Disguised by the name of global economy an art critics system, familiar to middle ages, appeared, and before it I keep quiet our of fear and echo what other says. Another status is my own reality. From my sense I like Lei Zirens works, either his pathos or love and sexuality. I like them! My instinct doesnt allow me to be satisfied with his works influenced by Chagall too deeply. Under his free and somehow lazy Chinese ink and wash brushes he portrayed all kinds of women and men of sinuosity and obliquity, in contrast of hardships in real world. My soul fly with his works in surrealistic time and space. Sometimes anxious and miserable, he doesnt want to express directly his feelings, but he hopes to transfer them into a poetic pathos and love. This abstention becomes one of Lei Zirens meaningful features. So, with experiences in watching ordinary paitings and hope to obtain sensual pleasure, my sense is lost and the abstention turned out to be exchange of sense for cultivated painting watchers.
Certainly, Lei Ziren, this slim, sensible and pale painter, is yet too young. It remembers me of the early period of many celebrated painters in art history, such as Chagall, Lauterec, Lautrec, Freud and Balthus. Look, I again returned to art history. I wish that my art history experiences will become the encouragement to Lei Ziren as Leis art works watcher. I dont know whether behind Leis works there are some Chagall-like stories, but I am sure of one point: our demand of pathos as the human beings demand of pathos will continue for ever.
Shantou University, January 10, 2005