201605260119從繪畫開始: 與華建强2016個展 / Painting Becoming: 2016 Hua Chien-Chiang Solo Exhibition


受邀參與這個展覽之前,我與華建强只有一次間接的遭遇。幾年前在我主編的藝術雜誌上曾經刊登過一篇推介其作品的報導,文章裡談了些什麼如今已不復記憶,只留下了「這個年輕畫家的作品還蠻特別」的印象。

就著這個幾乎不能算是認識的認識,我與華建强開始討論合作的可能。回應我希望能有更多藉以了解其創作的材料,他陸續提供了此前出版的三本畫冊,以及從上次個展之後累積至今約50幅新作的圖檔,除了以內容敘述其繪畫生產經歷過的變化之外,它們也以顯著的數量說明了作者曾持續投入的鉅量時間。就著這些進一步的認識,能否在從沒經驗過的「畫展」裡找到足以意味著什麼的參與位置,成為我毫不懷疑逕自投入的問答迴圈,直到獲悉華建强從沒打算要在這次的發表裡辦個畫展。

這個意外中斷了我原初的想像,卻也開啟了一個新的,伴隨著一個渴望認識的熱切情緒,一個對我而言終於開始意味著什麼的起點。

 

從繪畫開始

每每遭遇困局的時候華建强都會主動回想起自己差一點點就是個在高職畢業後做著並不喜歡的工作覺得未來沒有希望直到生命終結的人,如果不是自己主動改變了這個可能的話。

結束兵役後,華建强先後考進大學與研究所裡學美術,在這段期間,從基於好奇而嘗試交往的陌生對象,膠彩畫逐漸成為他最為熟悉與熟練的創作形式,這也使得他與藝術的關係開始於繪畫,一個相對資深因而有著諸多先輩的創造已積累成傳統的領域,然而華建强在其中所繼承到或許最好的一個是:要生產屬於自己的創造。

要生產屬於自己的創造,在一個擁有豐富歷史的領域中雖不是件容易的事卻也有著無數可能的取徑,華建强的第一步是試著回答研究所時期幾位老師的反覆質問――你的作品跟你有什麼關係?出自他的構想應用他的技巧並且由他親手繪製的那些作品當然不可能跟他毫無關係,於是這個提問顯然意味著其所要求的並非關係的存在與否而是關係的強烈程度,對此華建强給出的回應無論在概念上或形象上都有點卡通,其中最顯著的特徵便是在他的畫面裡出現了「我」

引用了大學時期同學為他取的綽號,華建强發展出一個「老頭」(註)的形象讓自己成為作品中的主角,從此理所當然的在畫面上製播著自己的小日記,從自家陽台上放眼可即或每日慢跑時重複經歷的鄉野景致,到經常性發生極其一般的生活片段,以至透過不同媒介持續被傳遞的瑣碎事件…這些因為太過平凡因而鮮少被視為值得入畫的內容,如今不僅成為主要描寫的對象,同時還以色彩豐富瑰麗的材料與繁複冗長的製程被精心組構,是這雙重的引述使得那些「日常生活」開始散發出特異的光芒。

相較於合理的引進那些生活場景,無論是最初的「老頭」或是後來在出國駐村一類陌生環境裡的「小孩」,這些作者化身的出現或許有著更為深刻的意涵。他們以持續的在場告白著畫面中的一切源自並僅限於個人經驗,但弔詭的是眼前可見的一切其實無從連接到任何可能的生活場景,因為它們從來不是某個經驗的再現或變形,而是每一次對自身總體經驗進行重新提取與組構的行動,是性質迥異且從不曾相鄰的追憶在同一個平面上的一次次降臨,它們例證了源自並僅限於經驗的生產如何可能離開經驗最遠,以逼近創造誕生的時刻。

從繪畫開始

研究所期間及畢業後,透過各種獎項、展覽邀約及畫廊合作代理等經歷,華建强作為一個畫家的身份顯得越來越明確,每日投入相當的時間在住家兼工作室裡「上工」也成為他逐漸養成的固定作息,而在兩三年間累積了數十幅畫作的生產之後好好為它們辦個展覽似乎是一個最應該的安排,直到2010年之前他的確是這麼想的也這麼做了。

20108月,華建强於也趣藝廊推出個展「人奸仙境」,同時出版的同名畫冊裡收錄了所有尚未發表的平面作品,但展覽裡卻沒有。總共三個樓層的展場裡,少少幾幅畫作的比例明顯不如他為這個展覽所製作的「新作」,在如今僅能藉由作者回憶與展場照片所追溯的現場裡,雖然諸如雕塑、錄像、裝置乃至詩作等與繪畫迥異的外表是其最容易被辨識出的性質,但它們多數仍然與華建强的繪畫有著緊密的關連。

一樓是展示繪畫作品比例最高的一層,地面上鑲著人面的仙桃雕塑也有著與其膠彩畫相近的色澤、質感與形象。二樓以濕潤的泥土和小麥草在整個空間裡鋪設出數片人工「田野」,其間矗立著紅白相間的大型電塔,交織在空間裡的除了疏落有致的電線外,還有不斷從電線桿上的喇叭裡放送出的廣播聲一個經常出現在其繪畫裡的局部配置在此成為環繞著觀眾的立體有聲場景。三樓裡有三件分別拍攝於巴黎和桂林駐村期間的錄像,前者的主角是在羅浮宮廣場上對著雕塑寫生的一個小男孩,印象裡出了畫面後他被爸爸賞了一巴掌,因為畫得不夠像;後者則是座落在大型公園裡的兩座戶外雕塑,在顯然從未移動拍攝位置的畫面裡看來就像是在時間裡幾乎無變化的一景,直到它泛起波紋的瞬間才得以被辨識出原來是映照在湖面上的倒影。

對於為何要在這次個展裡提出那麼多不同於繪畫的實踐,華建强無法給出一個決定性的因由,不過如果說離開既有的繪畫經驗正是「華氏」繪畫被生產的起點,那麼離開既有的繪畫形式或許是他早晚將尋獲的嶄新經驗。不同於從雕塑、錄像或空間裝置等領域開始並始終在其內部工作的創作者,雖然使用著這些異質媒介但華建强在作品裡所回應的依然是繪畫的問題。如果此前的那些繪畫是一種將諸多異質經驗凝縮於二度空間的行動,那麼在這個展覽裡他所嘗試的是同一種行動在異質空間的展開一個從以空白畫布作為空白畫布移往以雕塑、錄像、空間甚至時間作為空白畫布的開始。

從繪畫開始

在歷經這段有些意外的回溯歷程後,我發現對華建强而言,作為一種毋須依賴特定時空的支撐即得以自我成立的形式,那些繪畫作品在被完成的同時已經俱足了在時空中獨自旅行的條件,這也是為什麼在一個擁有最大自主性的發表機會裡,他更寧願實現必須仰賴這個前提才得以實現的那些想像,一個以展覽作為空白畫布的開始。

因為應允加入這檔展覽扮演某種協力的角色,我得以成為一個近距離跟隨「這件作品」被逐步完成的觀眾,並在僅止於口頭表述或僅浮現局部的那些計畫裡持續遭遇吸引我對其萌生期待的屬性。

預計發生在一樓與二樓臨街面的是高度關連於其所在空間的兩個計畫,雖然在操作手法上都屬於對空間的重新布置,卻指向兩種不太一樣的空間問題。在一樓的展場裡,最顯著的行動是置入一組八人座的西式餐桌椅,然後在桌上很合理的陳設各式餐具以及在牆上很合理的掛上幾幅畫。展覽所在的也趣藝廊是一個以展售當代藝術為經營主軸的商業空間,從其鄰近多數已有些年代的建築群裡似乎看不出明顯的性格或趨向,雖然有著現代簡潔的外型但依然傾向低調的也趣在其間看起來並不張揚,門面上的大片落地窗扮演了對外櫥窗的功能,從多數展示著繪畫作品的畫面應可辨識出這是一家畫廊,那麼如果看到的是鋪著白色桌巾上面整齊排好成組食器與各種擺設的一張大餐桌呢?

透過一個曖昧化空間屬性的手勢華建强在這個場景裡同時想托出的是那些其實並不尋常的桌上擺設與繪畫內容,然而預計發生在二樓展場裡的卻是空間本身即為所有內容的一件。二樓展場臨街的那一側也有著大片玻璃窗,如果想要引進自然光線的話,在多數情況下明顯違和展場調性的那幅窗景有著期待觀者應自動將之忽略的理所當然,在對這個理所當然產生懷疑的情緒裡華建强決定邀請觀者轉身直面這片一直與所在空間並存的臨街景色,與此同時,在對空間的更動下這些視線將出於一個此前從不可能的位置。

一張小畫可以作為明信片直接寄給異國的友人嗎?如果可以它會經歷怎樣的旅程以及這些經歷又會以怎樣的方式被記錄下來?從一幅繪畫裡如何發展出一件錄像作品與一件立體雕塑?它們如何可能既各自獨立又在空間裡共同組構一個敘事?與前述的兩件空間性作品相同,在這個展覽裡的每一個實踐都離不開繪畫卻也都無法等同於繪畫,它們是從「如果還要畫的話可以畫什麼」逐漸往「繪畫是什麼」或「繪畫可以做什麼」的問題性擴充。

 

雖然有著大體上的規劃,但作為必須在展覽的現實化場景才足以完成的那些計畫各自在時間裡變化著,進而也使得由它們所構成的整體直到本文即將結束的此刻仍處於曖昧不明的狀態,一個活著的狀態。

每每遭遇困局的時候華建强都會主動回想起自己差一點點就是個在高職畢業後做著並不喜歡的工作覺得未來沒有希望直到生命終結的人,如果不是自己主動改變了這個可能的話。此時此刻我突然覺得這個展覽是個在性質上有點相似的行動,是一個從繪畫開始並且預期還會一直畫下去的藝術家主動投入的一場冒險,其賭注是在他的繪畫裡贖回一個仍足以流變的未來。

 

註:華建强在工作及兵役後才考入大學,因此年齡高出同學一截,同時認真的上課態度與規律的生活作息等習性也迥異於其他「年輕」同儕,所以被取了「老頭」的綽號。

 

 

Painting Becoming: 2016 Hua Chien-Chiang Solo Exhibition 

Chin Ya-Chun 

Before being invited to participate in this exhibition, I had only heard about Hua Chien-Chiang. A few years ago, there was an article promoting his work in the art magazine where I worked as an editor. I have no recollection of what the article was about, but just have an impression of this young artist's work being special. 

From this acquaintance that really can't be considered an acquaintance, Hua Chien-Chiang and I started discussing the possibility of working together. Hua gave me catalogs from his last three exhibitions in response to my request to understand his work better. He has also accumulated around 50 images of new work since his last solo exhibition, which tell the story of changes that his work has undergone, not to mention the amount of time he has spent working. Whether this increased familiarity with his work would help me make a significant contribution, especially considering my inexperience with painting exhibitions, was without a doubt a source of endless questions—that was until I realized that Hua had no intention of making this a painting exhibiting. 

While this was a break with my original expectations, it was the beginning of something meaningful. It was my desire to know and understand more about Hua's painting that finally put me at a starting point that might be important.

 

Starting from Painting 

Whenever Hua runs into difficulties, he reminds himself of what he might have become—someone suffering at his first job after high school for the rest of his life—if he hadn't taken some initiative to change things.   

After finishing military service, Hua enrolled in college and then graduate school to study art. During this time, spurred by curiosity and a desire to try something unfamiliar, he studied the Nihonga technique (Japanese gouache painting), which was to become his most familiar and proficient art form. In this way, he started exploring art through painting—a field built by a long tradition of artists and their work. Probably the best thing that came of his explorations is that he was inspired to make paintings of his own.   

But considering this rich history, for Hua to make his own work was by no means easy and there were many possible ways. His first step was to address a concern repeatedly raised by his teachers at graduate school, which was Hua's personal connection to his work. Of course it would be impossible for work that arose from his own ideas, skills and hands to be completely unrelated to him, and so their concern was obviously not about the existence of a connection, but about its strength. Hua's response was a little amusing in terms of both concept and form, as he decided to make cartoon-like self-portraits his work's most defining characteristic. 

Based on his nickname in college, Hua developed a character who is an old man and organically began playing the leading role in autobiographical paintings. (1) He started by depicting the rarely deemed worthy of being painted because they were too ordinary rural scenery which he saw from his terrace or while on his daily jog, the most banal and commonplace fragments of his life, or trivial events that streamed in constantly from different media sources. Not only have these become important themes in his paintings, but he has carefully joined them with sumptuous colors and complex techniques to cast a distinctive light on his protagonist, who happens to refer to both Hua and his life. 

In contrast to his rationally imported scenes of daily life, both of his embodiments of self—the old man from early work and the child he added while abroad in the unfamiliar environments of artists' residencies—have deep implications. They publicly state that everything in his paintings comes solely from personal experience by continually being present, but it is also paradoxical that everything that can be seen is actually impossible to connect to anything in life. This is because they are never represented or distorted reality, but rather an operation of extracting and restructuring personal experiences, which are recollections that are qualitatively different and never close to one another. As these memories are put on the same surface, they demonstrate how their production, which comes solely from experience, can leave experience and approach pure creation. 

 

Starting from Painting 

Hua's many awards, invitations to participate in exhibitions and work with galleries while in graduate school and after, made his identity as a painter more clear. Dedicating time everyday to work in his home studio, he got into a work/rest rhythm and accumulated dozens of paintings every two to three years which he then exhibited. This seemed like the best routine, and so he continued to work this way until 2010.  

In August of 2010, Hua was invited to have the solo exhibition Reality in Wonderland at Aki Gallery, and put out a catalog bearing the same name that contained all of his work to date, much of which was not exhibited. The exhibition was held on three floors of the gallery, and included a few unexpected paintings among the many more he made specifically for this exhibition. The only record of the exhibition today consists of the artist's memories and some photographs, which show sculpture, video, installation and even poetry, and while these are different in form, it is easy to see that they have a close relationship to his paintings. 

On the first floor, a higher proportion of paintings was exhibited than on the other floors. There were sculptures that looked like people inside of peaches set into the floor, and they were closest in color, texture and form to Hua's gouache paintings. On the second floor, Hua filled the entire space with a manmade field of moist clay and wheat sprouts. He also set miniature red and white transmission towers among the grass which were connected by wires, and he broadcast sounds from speakers mounted on utility poles. These towers often appear in his paintings, and presented here in three dimensions, give off sounds, and surround the viewers. On the third floor, he exhibited videos that he made while at residencies in Paris and Guilin. The lead character in the former is a boy painting a sculpture in the plaza at the Louvre Museum. The boy was later spanked by his father because his painting did not adequately resemble the sculpture. The second video presents two statues in a large park. Both the statues and camera are motionless until the image starts to ripple and viewers realize the images of the statues is reflected in the surface of a lake.  

Hua couldn't give a definitive answer as to why he wanted to present so many art practices that differ from painting in this exhibition. But if we say that deviating from established experience is the starting point for producing Hua's painting style, then perhaps deviating from painting forms will sooner or later become his next experience. Hua is different from artists who start to work in sculpture, video or installation and then continue to work with the same medium for their entire careers because he maintains his concern with painting issues when he works in these other media. If he has concentrated a lot of varied experience in the two-dimensional spaces of the paintings he made before this, then what he attempted in this exhibition is the same but in three-dimensional space. The exhibition was the start of a shift from “a blank canvas as a blank canvas” to “sculpture, video, and even time as a blank canvas.” 

 

Starting from Painting 

After looking back at some unexpected realizations, I discovered that since Hua considers painting as a form which needs not depend on a particular time and space to support itself, his paintings are able to operate independently the minute they are completed. This is why Hua, when given the opportunity to do whatever he wanted, chose to implement media that must rely on a particular space and time to achieve what he imagined: the beginning of an exhibition as a blank canvas. 

I agreed to help with this exhibition and so could closely follow this gradually evolving work. And with only limited verbal explanation and plans that had only partially emerged, I continued to encounter interesting properties and looked forward to more. 

His two projects are closely related to the gallery's first and second floor spaces facing the street. Although his approaches are related to renewing the space through installation, they also address two different questions about space. On the first floor, his most obvious action will be to install a western dining table and chairs that seats eight. He will then display tableware in a reasonable fashion and hang a few paintings on the walls, also in a reasonable fashion. The exhibition is at the Aki Gallery, which is primarily a commercial space dealing contemporary art. From the surrounding, several decades old building complex, it is difficult to tell what the gallery is about. Although the outside is sparse and modern, the low-key Aki Gallery doesn't seem to be advertising from its large French window over the door. But from the many paintings that can usually be seen through the window, one can tell it is a gallery. Now, if you were to see a large table neatly set with a white tablecloth and tableware, what would you think? 

In this space with ambiguous signals, Hua wants to display unusual table decorations and paintings, which differs from the second floor project where the exhibition's content is the space itself. A large window on the second floor also faces the street. If natural light needs to be brought into the venue, in most cases, the window view would be in obvious violation of the exhibition atmosphere, and the viewers would be expected to automatically ignore it. In this atmosphere of doubt about what should be expected, Hua has decided to invite visitors to turn around and face this street scene in the gallery space, and to achieve this, he will arrange the space to guide the viewer's gaze in such a way that is unprecedented. 

Can a postcard-sized painting sent to foreign friends serve as an artwork? If so, then what kind of journey will it take and how will the process be documented? How can a video and sculpture be developed from a painting? How can they form narratives both independently and together in a space? Like the two previously mentioned spatial works, every practice in this exhibition is inseparable from painting yet cannot be equivalent to painting. They gradually expand from “if you want to paint, then what will you paint” into “what more can painting do” or “what can painting be.” 

Hua has an overall plan for this exhibition, but changes occur due to his plan's dependence on the exhibition venue. Therefore the outcome was unknown when this article was written. This body of work is a living thing.

 

Whenever Hua runs into difficulties, he reminds himself of what he might have become—someone suffering at his first job after high school for the rest of his life—if he hadn't taken some initiative to change things. I suddenly think this exhibition is an action with a similar quality. It is an adventure in which the artist started from painting and then continued from there, the reward is a future where his painting can keep on developing.

 

1. Hua worked and completed his military service before entering college, and so was older than his classmates. He also worked harder and led a more rigorous lifestyle than his younger peers, and so was dubbed “the old man.”

 

 

 

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