Group Images And Argots

In the late 1920s,German thinker Walter Benjamin wrote in his wonderful book One-Way Street: “She lives in a world full of argots, dwells at the neighborhood filled with intrigue and gang jargon,every alley here shows its position,every word should have its corresponding password”.At this time of the rapid advance of Chinese contemporary art which make modern economic model as its complicated background,it is not only filled with “intrigue and gang jargon” , but “every word”(language) have a secret “password”,these made up the “argots” of art.Paintings in China which is as the main branch of Chinese contemporary art,also lives in the Chinese peculiar “argots”.It not only connects the fragments of eastern and western cultural collision with language, but also attempts to find the rationality of art logic in traditional culture level,even more find legality in the political ideology.All these have formed the contemporary art environment,intrepid enough but not sustainable enough.The cradle not only have hard and open space in order to accommodate many artists' independent voices, but also should be filled with mechanisms of asylum.Otherwise,only with the capture of linear logic between reality and tradition cannot transcend the limitations of its culture, because the paradoxes of history are seen by all.

In my opinion, in this contemporary art neighborhood which is full of “argots”,artist HeCanBo also  plays a “argot” tempered by language with ink. As a kind of painting materials in ancient civilization, Chinese ink carries the humanity spirit which is highly expected and causes controversy in contemporary. Whether will the Chinese ink as a tool thus under the support of the contemporary concept transcend its cultural elite attribute, or will it back to the traditional track and transform? This still is the proposition of every water ink artist in contemporary.However, eastern and western cultures collide and fuse on modernity result in the Chinese people's ways of life have different from the ancients. The viewing way of “behold the stars in the sky,observe the terrain and position on earth” is also gradually obscured by industrial civilization.A person's deep interpretation of nature and universe has been oppressed in inner homes by consumer culture. Cultural differences derive ambiguity which have changed the artist's perception in a way, western Logocentrism established powerful system finally pull text down from the modernist shrine via Nietzsches'subversive “the death of god” argument and Derridas’destructive deconstruction. And Chinese artists meet a historic bottleneck with the influences of various contemporary ideological trends. Of course, behind the economic fuzzy appearance presents the high pressure of centralized system,and everywhere is the anxiety which is engendered by various pressure that individual artists have to face. Whether they have the courage to create the truth of art when facing the anxiety’s influence?

As individual artists, they often face the complexity of contemporary painting context, but under the effect of talent and willpower, some artists will manage the messy array of language codes by its unique form and find the visual crystal at the subtle language corner, thus arrive in the clear situation. In my opinion, He Canbo has farthest arrived in the language corner and approached the visual crystal by using the Chinese ink which carries traditional humanity spirit. Through Chinese ink’s hidden characteristic, dilute the suspect of the world and establish individual basis point in chaos. From here, the text is breathing at the edge of emotion and sense, basicly uncompromising, and the switching codes have far exceeded the linguistic meaning. Through the calling of imagination and the stare of the transcendental thing thus forsake the secularized world, fundamentally solve the generalization due to the empirical images. Through the meditation guide the images rise in the hallowed world, but behind it is a sociology metaphor - a kind of decomposition and polymerization for human groups.

Obviously, He Canbo is a master of image coding. On the one hand, he uses symbols which refer to the social groups to build semantic joy; on the other hand, he evokes the spirit of Chinese ink which grasp people’s soul, in order to maximize the approach of abstraction. Abstraction is the ultimate of all cultural forms, also it is the castle of Kafka in painting, intangible and have no trace, no clues to track,it is the curve over birth and death cultural abyss. However, in order to avoid the risk of abstraction, apparently He Canbo establishes abstractness through the way of looking for concrete objects, thus convince one’s memory to respond to the contemporary group concept. Postmodern cultural critic Ihab Hassan wrote in his book The Postmodern Turn: “oppression produces civilization, civilization produces more oppression, more oppression produce abstraction...”This is the result that western civilization oppresses individuals, also is western scholars’s introspection for their culture. However, in turn it manifests Chinese culture’s unordered vitality. Thereupon we can see the preciousness of the images that He Canbo has established base on abstraction. To this, the artist himself seems to have systemic understanding: “art image already has the possiblity to encompass and transcend the text,this shows the important position of graphic arts in culture, so art image is the most important form in contemporary cultural presentation.” (The Images of Contemporary Chinese Ink Drawings) For He Canbo who has deeply researched the contemporary Chinese ink images, the images not only have the effect to “take off the content”, but also likely to reintegrate the cultural resources and clear the impurities and branches so that achieve the recognition of classless, faceless and identitiless -- they gather like the collection of contemporary society’s memory fragments, and are placed in the spiritual space which He Canbo has built up. For a new schema, memory needs to not only claim memory and spirit from contemporary society, but also go forward to ask for truth detachedly. Undoubtedly, the cultural attitude that He Canbo endeavours to show is a kind of unrestrained inner spirit dynamic, a visual system inside images and high-centralized. It touches the constituent group characteristic of people in our era, this characteristic shows the void which has no expression or faith in front of the artist. The works “Virtual Ark” “Illusion in Time” “Nightfall Near the Cold Mountain”, “Across Time’s Dust” and so on, all represent the relationship of images, their interior present the missing for home which is difficult to be typed.

Through He Canbo’s image barrier, perhaps we can imitate the space by the wet memory, this space is the infinite and outspread spiritual universe. In the picture, all sorts of geometric figures, square blocks, cubes, or abrupt straight lines and oblique lines which represent mathematical lines rise into the sky in an orderly way. I think maybe He Canbo’s spiritual world has always had a baton which orchestrates the crowd to performance a musical play about the skyline, but its plot and poetry’s clues are obscure. A kind of argots discourse the human-unknown supernatural space. However, space is the result of both the psychology and willpower game, and the external real space and the subject-internalization, it produces association. Through the emotional curve it outlines the boundless earth and the mediocrities’ empty life.

“Group Images”, that is, images of a group of characters, it carries the artist’s own passwords about “images”, therefore, he establishes his own standard by drawing experience, tries to open the door of humanity and has an insight into the destiny. But in social custom obstacles, images often get bogged down in the morality or “good and evil” “truth and beauty” rules, only surmount such chains can we discern the intention when our internalized selves meet the universe. He Canbo seems to touch the absolute language of personal painting behind the language, connects with the faith, greets the group images in the noisy era with great feelings. In the works “Enlightenment Series” “Ignorant Self-knowledge” “The Stricken Dream is Disappearing” and so on, the poetic themes and thoughts often switch to each other, they expand the emotional intensity and paint on paper evenly. The trace of the Chinese ink reveal its ancient meaning in contemporary art, it shows the dark-coloured charming trait. In contemporary, Chinese ink has turned into the cultural logic circle’s maze under the strong influence of its tradition. He Canbo’s Chinese ink paintings are the echo to this maze, they not only carry the illusion of group images, but also knit the helplessness of the silent people inside the space by his own way in various passageway. The images seem to have some postindustrial civilization duplicate nature, yet behind it hide the argots of the Chinese ink poetry. This is the charm of He Canbo’s Chinese ink paintings, behind the infinite and outspread group images is the deep insight into himself.

In the Five Elements(metal,wood,water,fire and earth) perspective of ZhouYi, ink’s attribute is water. Water is illusory,wide and intangible, however, ink makes intangible things turn to tangible level, thus embodies the artist’s settings for rules or paradigm, introspects its form in the setting. Through this cycle, the trace of ink is the uncertainity of establishment. For the artist He Canbo, the group images in  over-industrialized cities perhaps are not the most important things, the important thing is the extraction and decomposition of this image, outlining the cruising image in the spiritual space for some apparitional effects. The images are breathing in the ink with the flowing soul and extend a set of “consciousness painting” theory. The name “consciousness painting” is the artist’s long-term ink language exploring result. “Enter into the isolation and meditation to build the different space of physical reality and spiritual inner. Might as well express from the angle of visual imagination,concern and find the interlaced human groups and the loneliness under the silent heaven.” This paragragh indicates that He Canbo’s consciousness paintings pay more attention to the internal meditation. Through the dimension of imagination, spiritual heaven also shows protean forms, however under this boundless heaven the creator has his own distribution. Therefore, its essence displays on individual body has some sense of fate. British art critic John Berger’s one sentence problably is more penetrating, “We live in the wonders composed of clothes and masks that nobody wears.” We can understand He Canbo’s paintings from another side: when the Chinese ink become the argot in the gaps of tradition and contemporary culture, once the artist who has issued this argot awares that the “masks” and “clothes” are just some properties of the painting language carnival, the disassociation of the concrete objects “properties” seem to be very important. The text that He Canbo has provided indicates this argument: behind the concrete objects are the carnival of the wet group images, sketch people with the pure aroma of ink and paper, but portray people as the phantasmal figures.

In the series works “Cubic and Fresh Water” “Folded Portrait” “Moment of Meditation” and so on, not only the creatures who have lost their “properties” depend on and contradict each other, the rational introspection after carnival is also working as balance. In the works ”The Black Spirit Illution” “The Quaternary Period TOP” “Ignorant Self-knowledge” and so on, “the other” that the artist has encountered is dormant, “the other” is not only the core of the text, but also the object of discourse and silence. Sometimes, “the other” becomes invisible and turns into the artist’s subconscious expected “self” which is inevitably undiscovered and its protective armor often is difficult to identify. Here the artist’s task is to recognize and unearth the secret identified “me” deep inside the heart which has hidded for years, and also cleans it up or puts on some makeup, then relies on the power of experience gets to the transcendental world. He Canbo’s “another me” is in the Chinese ink, it is a broken “me” in the industrialized civilization world which has isolated countless “images”, it is cleaned in the cultural dimension, shaped and infinitely expanded, thus achieves the “group images” of tremendous vigor. These “images” which represent the human groups is a kind of mass breathing, they have no facial expression, but have a kind of temperature and attachment to the memory itself. Through the orderly argots wake up our era’s heart which has already be silent for a long time.

Wang Ai

活跃于中国当代的70年代的著名诗人、小说家、艺术评论家,出版诗集、小说多部,翻译为英、德、法文在国外出版。