当代艺术家是“图像的制造者”，你的图像表达你的观点，表达你对这个时代的理解。图像学、图像的修辞方式和美学结构，在影像泛滥的时代不是任何一张垃圾图片都有观念性的，图像是需要设定和锤炼才会有视觉和精神穿透力的！！！这些是对一个艺术家的智慧的考验，我们有没有挑战性？你敢不敢颠覆既定的美学结构？你会对这个时代提出什么样的问题和观点？ 绘画是我们相对比较成熟的媒介，所以我想怎么把这个媒介和今天中国的现场和我们的美学结构，和这个时代我们的生存经验联系起来，让后来者从我们的图像中读到我们今天 希望和毁灭交织的经验，因为图像下边是有解码系统的，这一点是超越工具的，具有共同性的！当代艺术永远是天才和骗子同台演出的梦幻剧场，或许我们除了具备智慧和策略外，更得具备那直指心灵的力量！
Intimacy under the Microscope
By Zhang Xiaotao
In the era of the information superhighway and the Internet, globalization is stretching across the globe, yet none of us can globally comprehend it. We are all reduced to the role of insignificant bricks in the wall in the image-laden virtual world, struggling to reconstruct and decode the global platform of information. The grand narrative of the 80s, articulated in an overly linguistic-based and philosophical language, pursued the ideal modernization, and throughout the decade, artists remained pent up in the metaphysical world of the ivory tower of art. The 90s were marked by a return to the real world with a particularly sociologically-significant narrative in which people and the relationships between them made up the threads of an up-close and intimate narrative of the quotidian. The new generation of contemporary artists looks at the world through a magnifying glass and uses virtual images to weave a microscopic narrative. A symbolic and apolitical, these artists rebuke the grand narrative and embrace the age of microscopic, fragmented images focusing on the individual—a change in vision that is symptomatic of the times and shifts in aesthetics, as well as indicative of an updating and mutation of visual language. I am attracted to the magnifying approach, and since my 1999 work Enlarged Prop, I’ve opened up the channels communicating between my spiritual and material worlds, and I’ve felt electrified. There are times when I feel like a speck of dust, an ant, a dead rat, or a stinking rubbish heap…My desire is that my work conveys these leftover microscopic fragments of fear, insignificance, feelings of oppression and erosion. They represent abstract magnifications of our absurd and greedy material lives; they also constitute a questioning and response to our materialistic society.
Most of my paintings are based on photographs I have taken. I carry a digital camera wherever I go, taking pictures of objects and landscapes that resonate with me on an emotional level. The photograph for Ants Moving Things was shot in a park in Vienna. Maybe it has something to do with our global vistas, but when I saw those dead flies I thought of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis; I also thought of the army as in Alfred Kubin’s metaphor of “ants”. But these are not important—the only thing that matters is how they affect us on a psychological level. When you see an ant as a child, you think of children’s stories and games, but now you think about life and the cruelty and hardship of existence. You shed a tear at the thought that time destroys everything. All because these souls touch you at a profound level. As a contemporary artist who must sift through the multitude of images, you must meticulously select those that truly resonate with you and provide you with a certain emotional experience. The expressive force of the work depends on the depth of feeling and brightness of the artist’s spirit, so I chose the images that, for me, are rich with emotion, disregarding their provenance, so they can be felt by people from any cultural background—they are universal.
The contemporary artist is a “manufacturer of images” that convey his opinions and understanding of his times. The study of images, the use of image tropes and aesthetic principles… in the age of the pervasive image, not every garbage image is conceptual! The image must be elaborated and forged in order to attain a striking visual and psychological effect. This is a test of the artist’s wisdom: How do we measure up to the challenge? Do we dare overthrow set aesthetic principles? How shall we question the ear we live in? I ponder on how painting as one of our more time-proven mediums can be combined with our current Chinese reality, our aesthetics and survival strategies to let the viewers of tomorrow read in the images of today the intermingling of hope and annihilation that marks our current experience. There is a system to help decode the image lying right behind the painting, and it is more than a simple tool, it is common to all of us. Contemporary art is a theater of illusions in which talent and deceit play on the same stage. Perhaps those of us not provided with wisdom or strategy must rely on the power of what points directly to the heart!
I want my images to display a powerful visual charm, not look like something out of Photo magazine. I have developed a liking for visual language that bears the mark of being handmade, in which painting is the dislocation and superposition of time and space, a labyrinth of mirages. Painting is my image-code of the outside world; it is using my “eye of the soul” to “see big in small” as I discover and observe those landscapes of the heart, because under the magnifying glass there are so many secrets to be admired…