A Surreal Society

年轻艺术家臧坤坤是出了名的“低产”艺术家,每年的作品双手可以数尽。他习惯同时创作几件作品,它们有着不同的表现形式又有相互联系的语言和内在线索,既单独成立又犹如一件作品的有机部分,彼此牵连。

Vantage Shanghai - - THE CULTURALIST / 文化圈 -

Famous "low-yield" artist Zang Kunkun is used to simultaneously creating several works which have different forms of expression but that also have interrelated language and internal cues. These works are both individual existences and like organic parts of a piece of work, connecting to each other.

Industrial materials such as metal are often used together with wood and by Zang Kunkun. Whether the flat painting or the comparison of the texture and device, whether the detailed calculation and intentional destruction or the combination of the real objects and pictures, there is no lack of his characteristic humor and thinking. However, the references to art history and the observation of the current social situation add deeper layers to the works. Recently, in his first solo exhibition at Mai 36 Galerie in Zurich, nearly three years of works served to present his latest clues.

Among the works of many different "styles" and series, it is not the superficial personal symbol but the elaborate conception of each work that can best reveal the clues of his work. In the process of creation, he is more inclined to continuously work at the same time rather than dividing the works by series, therefore a series of works with visual difference will exist simultaneously. However, Zang Kunkun's concept orientation with artistically enlightened meaning, unconventional perspective and the choice of media, make the unremitting pursuit of perfection and deliberate destruction on the image become the organic parts of his creation.

In his work Basic Unit 2016, the picture frame is larger than the canvas, so that the canvas is directly exposed at the top, and the canvas tight on both ends hangs down naturally, spontaneously bringing out the effect from two dimensions to the stereoscopic device. The centre of the picture is a seemingly ordinary pile of bricks. The cube that conforms to the principle of perspective is crossed by a bold aluminum foil and the same thick aluminum foil lines are crossed at the bottom of the picture, which seems to fill the void at the top and create a new visual balance. In Reconcile XII, the huge board's surface is carefully wrapped with copper foil, presenting an abstract relief pattern. Only when you take a close look, you notice that the outline of fitness equipment is outlined along the lines. The carefully calculated dimension is just the right size for the picture. Layers of copper foil, like paintbrush strokes, break this delicate arrangement with the wood-paneled surface. There are many similar "destruction” in Zang Kunkun's works. A language of control and relaxation allows his works to follow the mind and naturally breathe and grow, therefore his works are full of interpretive layers.

Zang Kunkun is into social totality, and his absorption of art history make his artistic expression form flexible. Even in the context of different countries and ethnicities, you do not need much background information to understand his works. However, the media he uses, and the subjects of his thoughts also come from his latest living environment, Beijing. Industrial materials, such as aluminum, copper, wood, brick, rope, and leather, record this developing country and the individuals involved. The contrast of texture and plasticity of different materials depicts that people live in a fast-paced world under the pressure of the environment, but also try to create the ideal society. We need to consider their order of priority, combining form, compatibility and longevity while also maintain the precursory nature of the finished product. The “unsatisfactory to himself” is the motivation to drive Kunkun Zang to create his works and the inner strength to promote the continuous development of his works.

This strength also allows his works to smoothly switch between two and three dimensions, making it impossible for the audience to decide whether it's the picture jumping out of the frame or the objects in real life are simplified to two dimensions. In his work, Container, there is the perspective view of the downhole world on the wall, while half of the well cover seems to be left on the adjacent ground randomly. It's like a game of disengaging and chasing, developing along the perfect white wall. While in Passage II, the huge aluminum tube protrudes from the screen and reaches the ground, connecting the closed space behind the two walls like a surreal science fiction plot.

This might just happen to be a true portrayal of the society we live in. In all the familiar living environments, occasionally skipping the cold strangeness, we keep asking ourselves whether we are creating the world or it has been running forward with its own vitality. You just can't help stopping in front of Zang Kunkun's works and think for a while. Observing the details of the works is a kind of enjoyment and is also a perspective to observe and recognize yourself.

THIS MIGHT JUST HAPPEN TO BE A TRUE PORTRAYAL OF THE SOCIETY WE LIVE IN.

金属、木材、皮革等工业材料是臧坤坤惯常运用的媒介,无论是平面绘画还是装置,肌理的对比,细致的计算和有意的破坏,还是现实物品和画面的结合,不乏他特有的幽默和思考。而对艺术史的引用和对社会现状的观察给作品进入更深的层次。在他最近也是第一次于苏黎世Mai 36画廊展出的个展中,近三年的作品将他最近的线索一一呈献。

在众多不同“风格”与系列作品中,最能展现他作品内在线索的并不是表面的个人符号,而是对每件作品精心的构思。在创作过程中,他更倾向于同时持续创作而不是按照系列划分作品,因此一系列具有视觉差异的作品会同时存在。但具有艺术启示意义的概念取向、非传统的观察视角以及媒介的选用,以至对完美的不懈追求和对画面刻意的破坏,都是他作品一个有机的部分。

在作品《基本单元》(2016年)中,比画布大一截的画框直接暴露在顶端,两端绷紧的画布上沿自然下垂,将作品自然带出从平面到立体装置的效果。画面中心是再普通不过的砖堆,符合透视原理的立方体却被一道冒失的铝箔划过,同样的粗铝箔线条在画面底端错置,似乎填补着顶端的空虚,形成一种新的视觉平衡。而在《调和(12)》中,巨大的木板表面被细心用铜箔包裹,呈现出抽象的浮雕图案。仔细看才会沿着线条勾勒出一件健身器材的轮廓,经过精心计算的尺寸正好充满画面,层层叠叠的铜箔如绘画笔触般连同木板斑驳的表面打破这种精致的安排。臧坤坤的作品中不乏类似的“破坏”,一种控制和放松 并存的语言,既让作品遵循他的想法,又让它们自然呼吸生长,由此而充满解读的层次和趣味。

臧坤坤对社会整体的兴趣和对艺术史的吸纳使得他的艺术表现形式具备普遍性,并能够引起跨越国籍和文化背景的观众的共鸣。即便在不同国别、种族的语境下,其作品理解起来也并不需要太多背景补充。然而,他使用的媒介和思考的主题又恰是来自其最近的生活环境——北京。铝、铜、木、砖、绳、皮革等工业材料记录着这个不断建设发展的城市以及卷入其中的个体。不同材质在质感、纹理、可塑性的对比描绘人类生活在一个快节奏的世界,背负着环境的压力,又试图创造理想的社会。我们需要考虑它们的优先顺序、组合形式、契合程度以及寿命,同时保持成品的先锋性。对自身的不满足是推动臧坤坤创作的动力,也是促进作品不断生长的内在力量。

这种力量也让作品在平面和立体间切换自如,让观众无法判定是画面跳出了框外还是现实生活中的物品精简成了平面。在作品《容器》中,墙上是透视视角的井下世界,而临近的地上则看似随意地丢着井盖的一半——像是一场挣脱和追逐的游戏,沿着完美的白色墙壁展开。而在《通道II》中,巨大的铝管从画面伸出,垂至地面,打通两个封闭的墙后空间,像是超现实的科幻情节。

或许这也是我们所生活社会的真实写照。在所有再熟悉不过的生活环境中,偶尔掠过冰冷的陌生感,我们不断拷问自己,是我们在创造着世界还是它已经凭借自己的生命力向前跑开。在臧坤坤的作品前,总是会忍不住驻留思考,观察作品的细节是一种享受,更是观察和认识自己的一个视角。

或许这也是我们所生活社会的真实写照。

臧坤坤Zang Kunkun

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