May 2019

許炯 Xu Jiong
自畫像 Self-portrait
May 31 – July 6, 2019

Opening Reception | May 31  Fri. 6 pm

Each Modern亞紀畫廊很榮幸宣布將於5月31日展出中國藝術家許炯的最新個展「自畫像」。不同於他慣用的抽象黑白水墨,許炯實驗性地將他獨有的水墨手法移轉到了透明板上的彩色壓克力顏料,創作出了一系列沒有肖像的自畫像。透過塔狀的構圖、舊作與新作的共構,許炯的觀念畫作以嶄新而多重視角重新審視著自己的複雜身份,並自視為引領觀者進入歷史與身份的思想通道。

來自浙江杭州,許炯於2017年在Each Modern亞紀畫廊前身亦安畫廊台北曾展出個展「我看見賈島了嗎?」,以唐朝詩人賈島(779 – 843)作為創作中的浮木,透過黑白水墨創作抽象畫面與字詞作為一種自我面對與認同,而2019年的「自畫像」系列則更傾向於觀念性的表述。

許炯的自畫像有別於西方藝術中強調具體面貌,而是有比凝視自己面容更深層的探討。首先,許炯找出了早期的畫作並將它們安置在了新作的最底層;覆蓋上一層透明壓克力板後,他在表面繪製了大小不一的塔。隨後,許炯在具有宗教、權力、文化、政治、哲學等綜合象徵的塔中反叛地粗繪上他的身份。許炯避免了傳統抽象畫作中的滿版筆觸,而是使用簡單的抽象線條與文字敘事,在大片空白上描繪出身份解構後的斷片,許多暗示意象也可以在畫作中被找到:書法、花、母親、陰莖、海峽兩岸等。在突破自畫像與抽象的規則後,許炯也突破了黑白水墨,更突破了藝術中的自我表達。而壓克力顏料與中國水墨其實在永恆性與表現性都有著強烈的關聯性:每一筆畫都無法修改。在看似愉悅的彩色之下,許炯的思想是激烈的,而每一幅肖像就是藝術家的心理狀態,是他成長身份中的每一個面貌。

首次曝光的舊作曾經是許炯在而立之初,因同志身份而不願意分享的濫情內在表現。這些舊作如今成了新畫作的基底,象徵著藝術家對過往自我的承認;大幅三聯作「詩人二/書法家/殺手」(2019)中,藝術家反思了成長過程中所受的中華文化教育,以及最終被形塑的抗爭慾望;在「考古者」(2019)中,許炯描繪出考古者與盜墓者對於歷史器物的不同認知:形而上與下,而畫面上的海峽兩岸也探討著歷史的必然性;在其同志身份得到來自家庭的支持,與在成長過程中認知到母親的莫大影響後,許炯逐漸成為了一位女權主義者—「媽媽」(2019)強調了母親的力量,並利用線條將自己與母親的年歲相互連結與填補,「女皇」(2019)描繪了統領男性的女皇帝武則天。許炯在實際參訪陵墓後,決定塗抹掉了作品上對武則天的提文,也顯示出了藝術家在創作中的思考過程與可變性。

許炯沒有面容的自畫像更多關於的是複雜且多層的心裡狀態。正如藝術家所言,自畫像系列的實質為通道:一種將自己的片段分享,讓觀眾進入並思考身份處境的通道。在許炯複雜的身份敘事之後,這些透明而空白自畫像似乎給了你我更多自我表達的可能性與勇氣。

關於藝術家
許炯,1983年出生於中國浙江杭州,現居住工作於北京。許炯的作品在媒材定義上可稱為書法藝術家畢業於中國美術學院書法系,並使用筆、紙、墨。不過,藝術家對於當代繪畫的研究與理解才是其創作思想的孕發:許炯作品中連續不斷的線條變得越來越抽象,等同於繪畫或塗鴉的構成也越來越多。2012 年,許炯就突破書法媒材的侷限,達到不同程度的水平。在初步實驗之後,他開始研發一種與他的宇宙觀與人性觀相匹配的新穎繪畫風格,且將精力投入到內容與結構上。2016 年,他開始將自己的詩歌與古代文學並列,透露出藝術家重塑中國當代思想與繪畫的新參與。許炯的作品拒絕東方書法的傳統包袱與侷限,提出西方書寫藝術宣揚文詞意義的反論,而從藝術家與視覺之間更直接的關係,強調當代藝術中媒材的獨立性。對這位年輕的藝術家而言,此為對固有思想的革命,可與爭取個人與創造自由的奮鬥畫上等號。解放的文字即使尚未全面實現革新的過程,但破壞的出現卻完全顯現藝術家創新的堅持與企圖,亦是一種對人與純粹美學的默認,並最終尋找出自己的真實自我。重要個展經歷有2017年亦安畫廊台北「我看見賈島了嗎?」與台北罐子茶書館「我看見了賈島」、2016年台北罐子茶書館「風入松」、2015年亦安畫廊台北「萬物想」、2014年亦安畫廊北京「大觀」;2015年由亦安工作室出版「萬物想」。

Each Modern is pleased to announce “Self-portrait”, the latest solo exhibition by Chinese artist Xu Jiong, will be on display beginning May 31st. A departure from his usual abstract black and white ink works, Xu Jiong has experimentally transposed his unique ink painting method into colored paints on the acrylic sheets, creating a series of self-portraits without portraits. Through tower-like forms, and old and new works fused together, Xu’s conceptual paintings reexamine the artist’s complex identity through multiple imagined perspectives. Xu uses the personal to lead viewers into contemplations on history and identity.

From Hangzhou, in Zhejiang Province, Xu Jiong’s solo exhibition “I saw Jia Dao” was presented at aura gallery taipei, the precursor to Each Modern, in 2017. The Tang Dynasty poet Jia Dao (779 – 843) served as a creative anchor in that particular series of abstract images and calligraphic words in black ink, serving as a kind of confrontation of the Self. 2019’s “Self-portrait” is more akin to a conceptual expression.

Xu Jiong’s self-portraits differ from those of established Western art history, which emphasize likeness and appearance. His works gaze beyond the face, and seek a deeper exploration of oneself. The portraits begin with an older series of works painted by Xu. These works are used as the bottom layer of the new work, which is covered with a layer of transparent acrylic upon which Xu has painted towers of varying sizes, which represent a mixture of philosophy, economics, culture, religion, power, and politics. Written in his rebellious hand, Xu Jiong paints his name, his identity, on these Chinese symbols of power. Xu avoids the dense and full compositions of traditional abstract expressionist paintings in lieu of sparse lines, text, and narrative on wide and expansive, nearly-blank canvases to depict a deconstructed and fragmented identity. The artist’s imagery suggests concepts beyond the self: calligraphy, flowers, Mother, the phallic, cross-strait relations, etc. Having broken through the conventions of self-portraiture and abstraction, Xu has also challenged the standards of traditional black ink painting, and even more so, self-expression. The acrylic surface shares a connection to Chinese ink painting in its permanence and performativity. Strokes cannot be undone. Under seemingly pleasing colors, Xu’s portraits express an intensity of the subconscious and a shifting identity.

Upon turning 31 years old, Xu produced the first layer of this series- a group of paintings that directly responded to his queer identity. In time, the fullness of the compositions seemed overly intentional, addressing only one facet of his psychology. When reencountered, these works serve as the basis of the new paintings, symbolizing the artist’s recognition of the past self; in the triptych “Poet II / Calligrapher / Killer” (2019), the artist reflects on his Chinese cultural education and his desire to rebel against it. In the “Archaeologist” (2019), Xu depicts the differences in regard for historical artifacts by archaeologists and tomb robbers: metaphysically an exploration in cross straight relations as well as the inevitability of history. After his sexual identity was accepted and supported by his family, Xu Jiong became aware of his mother’s great influence during his formative years. Xu in time became a feminist. “Enma” (2019) emphasizes the strength of his mother, using lines to link points that represent the artist’s and his mother’s age. “Wu” (2019) pays homage to Wu ZeTian who ruled over male subjects. After visiting her mausoleum, Xu Jiong decided to smear off the initial text he wrote on Wu Zetian’s work, demonstrating the artist’s thinking process and the variability in his creation.

Xu Jiong’s faceless self-portraits reveal a complex and multi-layered state of mind. As the artist has stated, “the essence of the Self-portrait series is a passage”: a passage to share pieces of oneself, to allow viewers to enter and contemplate identity. Xu Jiong’s complicated identity narratives, though transparent and blank, seem to show us the possibilities and courageousness of self-expression.

About the Artist
Xu Jiong (1983) was born in HangZhou, China, and currently works in Beijing. His works are largely defined as calligraphy – the artist graduated from calligraphy major in China Academy of Art and draws with Chinese ink and brush. But Xu soon entered a new phase in 2012 after making a series of increasingly abstract and gestural works with unorthodox implements, beginning with coherent lines varying with the sense of graffiti and contemporary paintings. Following the initial experiment, Xu channeled his energy back into content and structure as he began to develop a new, painterly style to match his newly formulated cosmology. Juxtaposing his own poems with ancient literature, Xu’s works from 2016 divulge the new engagement by reshaping the conception of Chinese essence. Considered all together, Xu’s works reject the use of traditional calligraphy and replaces it with a more direct relationship between artist and visual and contextual materials that overtly emphasizes the independence of the media. For Xu, this rebellion is equal to the struggle for individuality and creative freedom. Although the results were not made in literal embodiment of emancipation, there is a hedonistic aspect to the destruction enacted. Indulging in pleasure of beauty is a tacit acknowledgement of one’s humanity and an attempt to recognize one’s true self. Important solo exhibitions were held in 2017 in aura gallery, Taipei, “I saw Jia Dao” and CANS Art Space, Taipei, “I saw Jia Dao”; 2016 CANS Art Space, Taipei, “Wind in the Pines”; 2015 aura gallery, Taipei, “All Things are in Me”; 2014 aura gallery, Beijing “Da Gaun”; in 2015, aurastudio published “All Things are in Me”.