蝴蝶飘忽背后再谈江衡的物欲偶像及其背后的父权意识_艺术家资讯_雅昌新闻

我曾经就江衡的作品发表过意见,认为仅仅用卡通这样的概念,并不能充分说明他的艺术追求。在我看来,江衡所表达的,是一个与成长有关的问题,混合在这当中的,则是持续的混乱、不间断地规训与痴迷如梦的青春想象,是在成人社会合法化介入下,或真或假半真半假是真是假地拒绝成长。当中的关键词有三个,分别是成长、物欲与偶像。我认为,江衡的艺术实践及其意义,基本上就包含在这三个关键词中。

第一个关键词:成长。

至今我还记得法国存在主义作家萨特说过的一句话,大意是:人无法选择出生,人的出生就是,他突然被抛向了一个成人社会。原话不太记得,但意思是准确的,符合存在主义的基本原则,那就是存在先于本质。在萨特看来,人原无本质,本质是后天给予的。就人而言,这个后天就是成人社会。所以,人的出生就构成了一个事件,一个被抛向社会的事件。人一旦被抛向成人社会,成人社会就开始用种种法则来书写与塑造人的本质,然后把人建构成,如大多数哲学家所论述的那样,具有本质意义的先天存在。站在存在主义立场上看,人的本质并不是先天的,而是一种强加。人的本质也不自我派生,反倒它要派生出其他东西,比如哲学家所谈论的先天本质这样的东西。

如果把存在主义这个原则移来谈论艺术,尤其是艺术风格时,我们就发现,艺术,包括其风格,同样是被建构的,是艺术社会的种种法则,依照自己的意义所描述出来、以供辨认的特征。也就是说,艺术家本人,一旦决定从事艺术,就等于被抛向了艺术社会,然后在创新与摸索当中,获得了本质。这里当然指的是艺术的本质。艺术原无本质,艺术的存在先于其本质,这似乎是无可怀疑的事实。

从这个角度来说,谈论艺术,并不是谈论所谓的风格,而是把艺术作为证据,作为一种特殊的精神症候,来谈论促成其定型的社会,从艺术社会到成人社会再到权力社会。对我而言,从来就不存在着纯艺术。纯艺术本身是一套说辞,用以表达对社会现实的拒斥或反抗。而否定纯艺术的存在,也就等于否定谈论艺术的美学路线。甚至,在我看来,艺术和美并没有关系。就江衡而言,他笔下的物欲偶像,瞪着一双媚眼,似乎在讨好观看者,其实,从江衡的实践来看,他的作品和审美相距甚远。

江衡的艺术首先指向了成长,指向一个他无法选择、不得不生活其间的环境。他一开始就被抛向这个环境,然后接受这个环境的规训。同时,在某个时候,某个契机下,学到了一种回应。这一回应,既是艺术,又不是艺术,而是一种调节,用以缓解现实社会之规训所带来的紧张。一旦风格成为有效的调解器,象征意义也就趁势建立。从这一意义看,艺术的确是一种象征,而不是其它,比如是哲学或审美之类。

江衡的成长面临两重困境,一重是成人社会给予的,一重是视觉上下文。

第一重给予具有普遍性,是成人社会规训成长的日常内容。这一规训日复一日在进行,成为伴随所有成长中人的题中应有之义,呈现为社会现象的便是社会学通常所定义的代沟,用以描述两代人在趣味上的差异甚至对立。成长是必须的,而且还得基本上按照成人社会的规则来成长。但冲突也不可避免,还要与时俱进,让冲突演变为严重的社会问题,折磨着、也日渐深入地改造着过度老化的成人社会。这一冲突往往表现为青春期骚动,体现在人格上,就是一种拒绝,拒绝成长,拒绝变为成人社会所希望的样子。但是,成长是无法拒绝的,唯有趣味可以固置,所以拒绝成长也就顺势演化为艺术,而呈现为风格的反抗。

拒绝成长,不仅是江衡艺术的原点,也是那些固执地以青春风格为对象的艺术实践的持续动力。这就不得不涉及到江衡学习艺术时的背景,一种变化当中的视觉上下文。

曾几何时,一种被认为是浅薄的画风,也就是今天人们所热衷谈论的卡通风格,居然成为整整一代人的追逐目标。当年,李贝斯坦大胆地把流行的迪斯尼风格作为他的艺术准则,就是因为环境,一种适宜波普风尚流行的环境的结果。当然,我们不知道究竟是波普造就了李贝斯坦,还是相反,是李贝斯坦参与推动了波普。但这不太重要,重要的是,在这样一种环境下,流行成为新艺术的目标,让少年时代、青春年代、普罗大众所沉浸其中的通俗视觉样式,一跃而为前卫。这对过度热衷于深度判断的美学来说,无疑是一种颠覆。

上世纪九十年代是日本卡通冲进中国的时候,大量盗版的卡通图书,伴随着电视中的动漫与商店里吸引人的卡通玩具,成为年轻人消磨少得可怜的私人时间的玩伴,而形塑了他们的观看趣味。不仅如此,在现实生活中,随着成人社会过度虚伪地禁止,新一代人有意无意便把这一趣味作为他们拒绝的载体,好从中夺取自我表达的权利。这就是江衡成长时最为重要的视觉上下文,也是解释江衡艺术风格的基础。也就是说,江衡是在这一视觉上下文中成长的,也是在这一上下文中找到了日后风格的依据。今天看来,江衡的媚眼女性形象,既承载了内心对拒绝的向往,同时又有效地固置了视觉上下文中的卡通要素,并适时成长为个人艺术的有效符号,而为艺术界知晓。

于是这就不得不谈论第二个与第三个关键词,物欲和偶像。在我看来,这两个关键词既有区别,也有分离。在概念上它们是有差异的,但在视觉领域,它们构成江衡艺术,以及与此有关的同类艺术潮流的风格原点。

物欲,加上犬儒主义与去智化,这三者共同形塑了九十年代以来的中国当代艺术,并成为这一运动的思想背景。不管其中的个别风格有多少反抗性,也不管这一运动起源于对传统艺术样式曾经存在的有效颠覆,到了在九十年代以及新世纪,在经济腾飞艺术资本膨胀的刺激之下,无一例外成为物欲、犬儒主义与去智化的视觉替代品,共同书写着这一时代的整体精神病症。

但江衡的特别之处是,当他把物欲具体化时,他不仅让内心对成人社会的拒绝外化为偶像,而且,他还让这偶像带有似乎轻佻实则中性的气质。

也就是说,江衡笔下的美女,那些个瞪着媚眼、呆望前方的形象,事实上与性没有什么关系。也就是说,江衡的美女并不性感,原因颇为简单,他的美女并不是肉体,而是一种物欲的外表,一种标准化的偶像。甚至,当江衡不断重复他的偶像时,他只是在述说一个概念,一个关于物欲与偶像的关系的概念。

这是一个有趣的现象,以美女为偶像,却去除那一份肉体的含义。从这个角度看,江衡是一个标准的概念画家,而不是感性画家,表现性不是他的目标,甚至相反,消灭表现性才有助于达到他所希望表述的概念。这样,他就和表现主义划开了界限。

有意思的是,江衡的概念具有个人的感性经验,其中混杂了过多的成长风险,是滤去横流的欲望之后,所剩下的一种艳丽表象。

不知为什么,每当我盯视江衡的表象,也就是那些似乎有重复嫌疑的偶像系列时,一种窥探他成长的内心隐秘的想法,就会泛滥开来。在我看来,江衡在这一表象背后,潜藏着一个少年的心理迷梦,这一迷梦可以用摆脱母体奔向父权的向往为中心线索。

我并不了解江衡的少年生活。一般而言,成长的困境与反抗,以及对成长的拒绝是他们这一代人,在我看来,还应当包括下几代人的共同问题。恰好日本卡通形象背后的那种游戏般的放纵,给予这一拒绝以视觉的合法性,得以让整整一代少男少女们寻找到了躲避成人社会入侵的机会。但是,这是一种想象中的得以躲避的机会,实际上成长既然不可避免,人总要长大,而且总是在成人社会的规训下长大,那么,反抗就一定会演变为白日迷梦,演变为一种逃脱与出走的结合。

我敢断定,江衡对于女性有一种无法言说的依赖。这还不是那种通常意义的肉体依赖,那种依赖是物理性的,具有荷尔蒙的气味。在一个开放的社会,这种物理性的气味到处都弥漫着,以至于让人厌烦。潇洒的江衡不会在意这种表面的东西。他刻骨铭心的,是一种曾经伴随着少年时代渐渐远去的温柔,这一温柔,肯定和他所每天面对的规训,也就是一种权力有关。

我以为我们完全可以把成长看成是一个脱离母体的过程。伴随这一过程的是对父权的体认。有意思的是,认识父权和接受规训是一致的,规训的目的是让自由之身成为约束的对象,好让父权有一个落实的载体。从这一层看,身体这似乎可以证明,脱离母体的过程,同时会留下依恋,让日渐成熟的肉身保留母体的体温。江衡也许并不完全意识到他的成长对他的形象选择的意义,但他一再把视觉停留在以少女编织而成的偶像上,就是母体残余的一种曲折显现。同时,他不让自己驻守在肉欲之中,而让母体残余,现在已经变成了的物欲偶像符号化,是希望隐藏那种无法去除的对母体的温暖回忆。同时,江衡对父权始终犹豫不定,不肯轻易把自我交给以父权为根基的成人社会。幸好他以艺术为业,这样,他就有机会通过不间断地描绘少女偶像,来抗拒父权的霸道与横蛮,以及当中所散发的嚣张气焰。从这一点看,江衡在他的形象中保持了一份似乎物欲的矜持,显然这是有其内在理由的。江衡对少女偶像的认识,本身就夹杂着一份自持,以及自持当中,无法瓦解父权的无奈。这说明江衡不是那种反抗型的艺术家,他的艺术,是对成长的回应,带有玫瑰般的色泽,带有艳丽而去除性感的歌吟。结果,江衡在长达十年的艺术实践中,巩固了他对物欲偶像的崇敬,以及内里,可能连自己都无法言明的对日益远去的母体的依恋,和对父权的徘徊。这样,在新一轮的艺术运动中,江衡就成为一个突出的实例,让他,以及他那一代人,在物欲中国成人社会规训中成长的同时,竭尽全力保持一块视觉的私人领地,好让成长的残余获得形式的外表,从而维持一份精神底气,继续,尽管无望,与父权,进而与权力的进行温柔的纠缠。这一纠缠非常重要,一旦完结,就会让江衡,以及他那一代人,或者拥有与相同艺术观念的作品,失去最后一点价值。

澳门尼斯人,在江衡的作品中,除了典型的大眼美女外,不断出现的另一个形象,就是飘忽的蝴蝶。江衡画蝴蝶肯定有他的含义,是物欲偶像的一个视觉说明,也是对一种飘忽情境的飘忽记忆。但是,我却觉得,这飘忽的蝴蝶却像一组象征性语句,述说着脱离母体的轻盈与面对父权的徘徊,并在徘徊当中夹杂着一丝敌意,这敌意并不浓郁,相反,也是飘忽着的,在半天升腾与坠落。或许,对江衡那一代人来说,母体与父权本身就像飘忽着的蝴蝶。

Behind Butterfly Flutters

Revisiting Jiang Hengs Material Worship and the Patriarchic Mindset
behind it

Yang Xiaoyan

I once commented on Jiang Hengs works and was of the opinion that the
conception of cartoon did not fully explain his artistic pursuit. In my
view, what Jiang Heng seeks to express is an issue to do with growth and
development, which is accompanied by constant chaos, incessant coaching
and upbraiding, and infatuated dreamlike youth imagination. It is a
denial of growing up either genuinely or spuriously, in the intervention
of the legitimization of adult society. There are three keywords to
this: growth, material desire and idol. I think that the artistic
practice and significance of Jiang Hengs art reside in these three
keywords.

The first keyword is growth.

I still remember the word by French existentialist writer Jean Paul
Sartre, which basically means that one can not choose his birth; and at
ones birth, he is thrust into adult society. I cannot remember his exact
words but the meaning is there and it complies with the basic laws of
existentialism, which is existence precedes essence. In Sartres view,
people are not born with the thing-in-itself; it is given to us after
birth by the external environment, which, to us, is the adult society.
Therefore, ones birth constitutes one episode, in which one is thrust
into the society. Once he is there, the adult society starts writing on
and shaping his nature/essence, until he is remade, or as most
philosophers argue, is possessed with an inherent existence. From the
standpoint of existentialism, the essence in ones nature is not born but
imposed upon him. Ones nature is not self-derivative but other things
will derive from it, such as the predetermined essence that philosophers
discuss.

If we apply the theories of existentialism to art, in especial, to
artistic styles, we will find that art, including its style, is also
created and defines the many rules in an artistic society, described in
line with its own significance so as to provide people with its
identifiable traits. In other words, an artist, on deciding to do art,
will be flung to the artistic society where, through his exploration and
innovation, he will acquire the essence. Of course, the essence here
denotes the essence of art. Art initially does not have any essence and
its existence precedes its essence. That is an undisputed fact.

From that point, when one discusses art, one does not discuss its
so-called style but rather, uses art as evidence to discuss the society,
which gives rise to its birth and shape. Then the artistic society
drifts towards the adult society and then to authoritarian society. To
me, there has never been such a thing as pure art. Pure art exists only
in theory and is used as rhetoric, to express ones rejection of or
resistance to social reality. Yet, to deny the existence of pure art is
to refuse discussing the aesthetic roadmap of art. I even think that
there is no connection between art and beauty. The material idols under
the brush of Jiang Heng, with their enchanting eyes, appear to be
patronizing the spectators. In fact, seen from Jiangs practice, there is
a long distance between his artworks and aesthetics.

First of all, Jiang Hengs art points to growth, to an environment he can
not choose but have to live in. He was hurled into it at the very outset
and there he had to accept the rules of the game. At the same time, at a
certain point, under certain conditions, one learns how to respond to
things. This response is art and at the same time, not art. It is an
adjustment, with which one lessons the tension he is under living in
social reality. Once the style has become an effective mediator, its
symbolic significance is established. In that context, art is indeed a
kind of emblem rather than anything else, such as philosophy or
aesthetics.

Jiang Hengs development faces two dilemmas. One is created by adult
society and the other by the visual context.

The first is of a universal character, which is a common feature of
adult society in which rules and disciplines reign. These rules are
repeated day after day and, hand in hand with ones growth, immersed into
adult life. When characterizing social phenomena, they become what is
defined by sociologists as generation gap, so as to describe the
discrepancies or even confrontations in taste between two generations.
Growth is indispensable but it has to be achieved in accordance with the
rules of adult society. Yet, clashes are also inevitable and, evolving
with the changing time, may lead to serious social problems, which will
then harass and increasingly reform the aged adult society. The clashes
often take the form of youth agitations and, on a personal level, become
the will to refuse, to refuse to grow up, to refuse to bend to the rules
of adult society. However, growth cannot be denied or stopped.
Therefore, only interests may be stalled. If one refuses to grow up, he
had better subsequently evolve towards art, and show his resistance to
the style.

Refusing to grow is not only the starting point of his art, but is also
the continuous power source behind the artistic practice, which doggedly
targets youth. This begs the revelation of the backdrop, against which
Jiang Heng studied art, a visual context that is shifting.

It was not a long time ago when what had been termed as shallow art
became cartoon style, which is now accepted and widely discussed. It was
the pursuit of a whole generation. A few years ago, Stan Lee boldly used
the popular Disney style as his artistic principle. That was
attributable to the environment, which was conducive to the spread of
pop culture. Certainly, we do not know if it was pop art that resulted
in the emergence of Stan Lee or the other way around, i.e. Stan Lees
participation promoted pop art. That is not so important. The important
thing is in an environment, to be popular becomes the objective of the
new art, and traditional visual styles, with which teenagers, the youth
and general public are infatuated, suddenly becomes Avant-Garde art.
This is doubtless a kind of subversion to the aesthetics, which is
obsessed with making in-depth analysis. .

In the 1990s, when Japanese cartoons made inroads into China, a quantity
of pirated cartoon books, along with the cartoon programs on TV and
attractive cartoon toys in the stores, became the playmate of the young
people, who barely had any private time. These shaped their visual
taste. In addition, in reality, as adult society pretentiously prohibits
things, the young generation intentionally or unintentionally regarded
the taste as a carrier of their denial, so as to unleash their right to
self-expression. That is the most important visual context that
accompanied Jiang Hengs growth, and it explains the basis of his
artistic style. In other words, he grew up under the influences of such
visual contexts and could find justification in the process for his
later styles in art. Today, his images of women with seductive eyes, not
only carry the yearning one has for denial but also effectively
strengthen the cartoon elements in the visual context. In time, they
will grow into striking symbols of individual art, and will become
celebrated in the artistic community.

Now, we have to come to the second and third keywords: material desire
and idol. In my view, these two keywords are both different and similar.
They vary in the concept but in the visual field, they constitute Jiang
Hengs art, and the stylistic origins of the artistic trend, which is
associated with his own.

Material desire, cynicism and pretending to be daft, these combine to
shape contemporary Chinese art since the 1990s, and are the ideological
background to this movement. No matter how rebellious some of the
individuals are, regardless of the once effective subversion that lay in
store in traditional artistic style, out of which the movement stemmed,
by the 1990s and the succeeding century, spurred by the economic boom
and inflation of art capital, everything becomes the substitute of
material desire, cynicism and sham stupidity. Together, they mark and
exhibit the holistic ethos of the age. What is special about Jiang Heng
is that, when he gives material desire a tangible form, he not only
transforms the innermost denial of adult society into an idol, but also
imbues the idol with a seemingly frivolous but in fact neutral
temperament.

In other words, the beauties under Jiang Hengs brush with their winning
eyes wide-open, stares into the distance, and has nothing to do with
sex. That is to say, Jiang Hengs beauties are not sexy. The reason is
rather simple: his beauties are not flesh but are the exterior of
material desire, a standardized idol. What is more, when Jiang Heng
keeps repeating his idols, he is only stating a concept, one that is
about the relationship between material desire and idol.

That is indeed an interesting phenomenon, using beauties as idols, with
their physical attribute divested of its fleshiness. Seen from that
perspective, Jiang Heng is a standard conceptual artist but not a
perceptual one. It is not his goal to be expressional. On the contrary,
stripping the works of their expressional features is conducive to the
concept he wishes to express. Thus, he draws a line between him and
expressionalism.

Interestingly, Jiang Hengs concept is imbued with his personal
perceptional experience, and is mixed with many growth hazards, which,
once deprived of the pervading desires, is left with a flamboyant
imagery.

For some reason unbeknown to me, whenever I look at Jiang Hengs imagery,
or at those seemingly duplicated idols series, I am gripped with an
overwhelming desire to pry into his innermost secrets that accompanied
his growth. To me, there lurks behind his imagery a psychological dream
of a youth, whose core is to cast off maternal control and run towards
patriarchic prowess.

I am not acquainted with Jiang Hengs teenage life. Generally speaking,
the dilemma and denial of, and resistance to growing up, in my opinion,
is a common problem not only for his generation but also for his
succeeding generations. The images of Japanese cartoons have behind them
game-like indulgence, which visually legitimizes the refusal, sheltering
the entire generation of girls and boys from the aggression of adult
society. However, this is a haven in imagination only, in fact, growing
up is inevitable and we all have to come into adulthood, and do so under
the rules and disciplines of adult society. Then rebellion will
unmistakably evolve into daydreams, into an alliance between fleeing and
running away.

I dare to assert that Jiang Heng has indescribable reliance on women. It
is not bodily reliance as it is commonly perceived. It is physical, with
the hormonal scents scattered about. In an open society, the physical
scent is so omnipresent that it has become nauseating. The handsome
artist does not mind such superficial things. Engraved upon his soul is
the tenderness that is drifting away from of youth; tenderness, which,
like the rules he has to bow to on a daily basis, is not unrelated to
power.

I think that we may without doubt consider growing up as a process by
which we break free from the maternal body. Interesting, acknowledging
patriarchic power and bowing to the rules are not contradictory. The
objective of the rules is to make men the subject of confinement, paving
the road for patriarchic power. Seen that way, the body may prove that
in leaving the maternal body, certain nostalgic feelings will be
retained; and with it the warmth the increasingly mature flesh has
inherited from its maternal origin. The artist may not be fully aware of
the significance his growth entails for his visual choice. But his
vision has been consistently lingering on idols woven by young girls.
This can be interpreted as a crooked representation of the maternal
legacy there remains. At the same time, he does not allow himself to be
made a prisoner of physical allurement. Instead, the retention of the
maternal legacy, which has become an emblem of the material idol,
harkens back to his concealed and irreplaceable fond reminiscence of the
maternity. At the same time, he is undecided about patriarchic power,
and does not wish to give himself up easily to adult society, whose
foundation is patriarchy. Luckily, art is his profession and thus he has
the chance to paint girl idols intermittently, so as to resist the
brutality, peremptoriness and aggression of patriarchy. In this way,
Jiang Heng shows in his images certain restraint that resembles material
desire and this obviously makes a lot of sense. His perception of girl
idols is itself imbued with restraint and helplessness at his inability
to annihilate patriarchy. His art is his response to growing up and it
is rosy colored: a flamboyant cantus divested of its sexuality. The
result is that in ten long years of art experimentation, the artist has
deepened his adulation for material-worshiping idols, his indescribable
yearning for the maternal body that is drifting further and further away
with each passing day, and his lingering thoughts on patriarchy. In a
new wave of art movement, Jiang Heng is a prominent example, by which to
keep the private visual territory, despite the social conventions and
rules in the materialistic adult society. Thus, growth itself is
instilled with a modal surface, while spiritual ethos is preserved deep
down, so that the tender entanglement with power, with patriarchy can
continue, although perhaps to no avail. Still, the entanglement is
crucially important. If it is terminated, then the artist and his
generation, or artworks holding similar artistic conceptions, will lose
what significance there remains of them.

Apart from the typical big-eyed beauties, there emerges another object:
fluttering butterflies. Jiang Hengs butterflies are not without their
connotations; it is a visual elucidation of the material-desiring idol
as well as a fleeting memory of a fleeting scenario. Yet, I feel that
the fluttering butterflies are like a group of symbolic expressions,
which express the lightness of breaking away from maternity and of
lingering alongside patriarchy. There is antagonism in the hesitation,
antagonism which is not very strong but flutters upwards and downwards
in the air. Perhaps, to his generation, maternity and patriarchy are
like fluttering butterflies.