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【1997】The "Short Story Magazine—Wang yin


The paintings in the Short Story Magazine series, composed of images that "belong to us", can give the impression that I concentrated on "regional" schemes of tone.  Visually, these paintings make us think of undercooked food difficult to swallow.  They seem rough:  the colors are harsh, the postures stereotyped, and the style suggests a semiconscious reference to early Chinese oil paintings.  I think they express my original intention to make a sober retreat - in one sense returning to inside my own body, which could be interpreted as a tendency towards introspection and calling up of memory, a tendency colored by the desire to draw from the past, even a kind of self-mockery.  In another sense, my approach represents a certain aversion to what is fashionable:  just as other people collect used objects, I recuperate techniques and ways of painting that seem to me worthy of consideration.  This attitude is deliberately conservational.  When someone looking at my work said, "Aren't you painting yourself through these subjects?" and "Your paintings convey a feeling that's both strange and very familiar at the same time", to tell the truth, I was pleased.  But that was not enough.  If I paint, it's because I believe that painting today can still have the power to touch our hearts and revive long since wilted memories.  Painting offers a possibility to my aspirations, the hope of breaking away from poverty, the hope of heightening the colors of pale days.  When I paint, I take pleasure in being alone.


But, even though I like to paint in today's condition of ever increasing solitude, it is because the impression given by a painting of "obsoleteness" might be exactly what gives meaning to the fact that paintings still exist today.  It is their way of raising questions and stimulating thinking.  By that, I mean that painting has been relegated to the function of those great actors whose only remaining form of expression was the soliloquy.  I am convinced that this is our present condition and I try to demonstrate this point with my work.


These works simulate scenes that have never existed in reality; they are completely fictional, an atmosphere more than anything else.  I used monotonous colors in a repetitive way and images that are almost "cut-and-paste".  My intention was to give form to certain currents of energy that are sometimes palpable to me.  Images and colors only serve here to create a timbre, to make appear, in a stealthy or evident manner, what I intended to capture.  This is in spite of the fact that the subjects are deliberately "dressed" (incidentally, I have absolutely no idea who they are, or any idea about their identity and that, furthermore, I don't care).  It is useless to look for a concrete meaning in the way they are "dressed" - in so doing I was only trying to satisfy my desire to represent certain textures.  I made them put on the austere clothing and boots of workers and I made them wear caps in the same way I like to paint sand, earth, and dust - in my paintings you are almost always certain to come across a dusty hill or fallow ground.  It can be said that the images that appear in my paintings have no raison d'etre or that they have no relation to the vehicle of visual impressions which constitute the basis of realistic painting, images that carry a blatantly obvious meaning or intention and whose direct consequence is sterility.


The writings, landscapes, and stories that "belong to us" are collages of scenes and images, expressing a confusion of information that can probably be more accurately described as obscure than evocative.  I prefer the spirit of evocation to direct evocation. I like pictures without precise intentions. I like to transpose images. I like to paint what cannot be painted, such as a flavor or a sound.  And I hate having to be either this or that.


Ambiguity is an instinct and a prerogative of painting. I have always thought that painters should consciously "take advantage" of this premise.  Most realistic paintings have a very "ascetic" quality making the intention and subject of their images so clearly defined that the paintings are deprived of vitality. In this respect, the graphic style used in the paintings of the Short Story Magazine is diametrically opposed to the principles of this kind of realistic painting.


There are moments when my brain feels like a warehouse filled with miscellaneous bric-a-brac. Painting should be a way to open the doors of this warehouse, but when I try to represent these objects on canvas, I see they have disappeared without a trace. Apart from the vertiginous and addictive feeling they impart, all that remains before me is emptiness. That is why, when I start working, what confronts me is invisible.


In a sense, my painting is the result of repeated attempts to capture this impression.  The only manner and the only way to approach it.  Because this atmosphere, which is both vague and precise, is far more real and believable than the world on which we depend.