Zhang XiaotaoDeep Anxiety in Inner Heart - On the Issues Consciousness of Zhang Xiaotao's ArtBy Feng Boyi
During contacts with Zhang Xiaotao, I sensed strongly that he is an artist full of enthusiasm and good at argument. When we are talking about the so-called art issues, or the state of reality in China, he is so talkatively repelling that no one could plunge himself into the conversation You could also be able to read his articles about the paintings (See his article "The antibody of Paintings----,issued on the 4th edition of "Art Contemporary" of 2006), or retrieve on his internet bokee which keeps down his art thinking as well to detect out his idea activities and the clear logic of his language. That he thinks so deeply makes us writers who do writing as our profession feel ashamed. He is very so conservative, low-pitched and introspective.
This kind of contrasting impression makes me often recall some scenes and situations within the circle of fine arts of the 80's last century in which artists were striving for their art with stubborn impulse. At that age, any some ones could talk over a cup of tea, a bottle of wine, several cigarettes all night the subjects of art, life, future or anything grandiose or expecting. Spleen of materials as the spirit, the 80's saw himself a realistic choice for idealism in a matter of fact. However, with the flying of time, when we confront ourselves once again with the din of the age 20 years later we find that the context in which we were exists no longer. This makes a remarkable contrast to the present reality of today where one tries hard to be his own master, to search for the collective consciousness of self realization and to search for his or her interests in all his or her pursuit.
Zhang Xiaotao seems to extend still the "feeling" of the 80's which stands not for the individual entanglement of his psyche or emotion, but for the inner longings himself sensed. This longing is the direct projection and reflection of the "reality " of an artist doggedly stuck to his art , and he confides that the modernism could envisage the real of life and the reality itself. This is closely linked with the social crisis which the modern history of China faces and also stands for an indispensability in the history of China and the one of the features of time in China. What we called the issue consciousness of Zhang Xiaotao is to me the reflection exerted on the historical trend of the modern art and an artist's sensitiveness and his reflection, expression and ardent on the changes of reality and conflicts. That is to say, his artistic activities tend to be of some concrete aims on reality----on the social issues happening during the time of society transformation and changes ass well as his experiencing and being at this process.. This is the main clue for interpreting Zhang's art.
However, Zhang's art concerns itself no longer merely with the involvement or reflection of certain aspects of the social reality in China, but keep a attitude of a real artist should have a in a conscious way, an attitude of "being a margin", a distance away from pleasing the powerful and flattering vulgarness in the art circle. This "marginal stand" is actually his holding-on the position of a system of a more or less one, a system standing outside the tendency of social culture. It is of a different structure to the social mainstream consciousness and it is of a criticizing position against the social mainstream ideology and the flattering phenomenon out it, a natural thing for him to stand aside and to be an opposite. In an other word, due to the development of market economy, riding of the commercial trends, cultural globalization as well as the extension of mass media and visual culture because of the progress of science and technology, the culture and art are becoming vulgar and popular. While at the same time, with the speed-up of the life rhythm, consumer's behavior makes men more practical and instant also weakened constantly this kind of ardor facing against the social reality.
At this context, Zhang's art is in fact constituting an individual verbalism similar to the circumstance of the present day's cultural reality but also of a criticizing capacity. Or the aiming of his artistic activities are all ignited by his real existence circumstance or drained from it. This feature is both of his free selection of being a margin and wandering-about, and also of his rebellion against tradition and the doubts about reality and worries. His works is not for a taste of the aesthetic culture in prevailing, but a wrestle between the social forces pro and against the social reality which is fighting hard, and that is the real charm of his art
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