Peng Feng: Forward for Fu Wenjun solo exhibition at National Art Museum of China
About the author Peng Feng:
the curator of "Harmony in Diversity: Fu Wenjun's Digital Painting Photography Exhibition" at National Art Museum of China from 9th to 19th March, 2017, Professor at Peking University School of Arts and curator of the Chinese Pavilion at the 54th Biennale di Venezia
The appearance of digitalpainting photography technology has broken down the barriers of photography andpainting. By means of processing techniques like decoration, montage, superpositionetc., the artist can transform ordinary photos into spectacular artworks. FuWenjun has been exploring this field with great concentration, and has gained substantialresults in recent years, becoming a leader in the field of digital paintingphotography.
Fu Wenjun’s Digital Painting Abstraction series, throughthe superposition of several photos, has reached the effect of the abstractpainting. Normally, the artist can change a realistic work into an abstract oneby way of deduction and extraction. However, Fu Wenjun has applied the oppositeway, creating abstract works with constant superposition and accumulation. Thanksto the superposition and accumulation, not the deduction and extraction, hisdigital painting abstract workpieces are characterized by special depth and density,just like the repeatedly painted oil paintings, which provide endlessaftertaste to the spectators. With regard to his experience with oil paintingcreation in his early stage, Fu Wenjun uses the photography to pursue the effectof oil painting. Unlike many artists, he does not use photography to assist oilpainting creation, but on the contrary, presents the delight of oil paintingthrough the photography.
In the series A Wind from Yesterday, Fu Wenjunsuperposes the images of a page made from a woodblock printing in Song Dynastyand a Euphrates poplar, leading nature and civilization to set each other offbeautifully. Both of the two objects have gone through the test of a long time,so, as symbols of time they can evoke people’s nostalgia towards ancient times.The works embody a taste that is very close to the “classic elegance” proposedby the modern Chinese scholar Wang Guowei. This scholar regarded the “classicelegance” as a very special interest in the Chinese aesthetics. A Wind from Yesterday represents one of thefew photographic works able to give expression to this Chinese aestheticspirit.
Harmonyin Diversity can be seen as a variant of AWind from Yesterday, in which Fu Wenjun replaced the Euphrates poplar withthe superposition of Western classic sculptures and Chinese ancient paintings. Thenthe dialogue between nature and civilization has evolved into the dialoguebetween Chinese and Western culture. It is evident that they represent twocompletely different aesthetic ideals: the Western sculptures pursue a perfectform, while the Chinese paintings adore the light and intangible spirit. Nevertheless,with the superposition performed by Wenjun, they do not appear to be inharmonious.In his own special way, the artist interprets the harmony in diversity, whichrepresents a wisdom contributing to the continuous development of Chinesecivilization and which can untie the hard knot of culture diversity and clashof civilizations.
Seeking harmony in diversity doesnot involve ignoring the clash of civilizations. On the contrary, precisely becausewe are facing directly the clash of civilizations, we need to advocate theharmony in diversity. In the series Game,Fu Wenjun has brilliantly expressed the current relationship of gambling amongcountries. The dice is chosen as symbol of the game, and the water splashes createdfrom the throwing of dice outline the map of countries. The asymmetric proportionof dice to maps implies that thegame has become an essential content of national politics nowadays.
Different from Game, that pays attention to the gamblingamong countries, Thought Reading focuseson the game among people, especially between the person and himself. The basicelements in the series are some Buddhist statues and pictures of the human skullunder X-ray. Fu Wenjun, with ingenious treatments, reveals the relationshipbetween humanity and divinity in our time. The Buddhist statues are relativelysmall, which possibly implies the shrinkage of the divinity nowadays. Theenlarged skull refers to the expansion of the self. However, the skull is blurand will be rotten, indicating that the self is temporary and the divinity isforever. The meanings conveyed by this series give us much food for ourthinking, just like a mirror, which make us to see the game between humanityand divinity.
Post-industrialErais a large-scale photography installation created by Fu Wenjun, composed offive huge tires and four video projections. Chongqing, a mountainous city, is knownfor its heavy industry. The high-rises on the mountains and cross-river bridgesbring people a sense of sublimity that is hardly to find in informationsociety. Post-industrial Era deliversaccurately this sense of sublimity created by modern industries. However, it isnot a glorious moment for modern industries, but instead their last days. Eventhough modern industries will leave, they will leave the stage of history in agrand style.
Fu Wenjun not only has pavedthe way for the technique or school of digital painting abstract photography,his works also represent the manifestation of a wide and profound thinking onthe society and life, which is very charming. As for Fu Wenjun, photography isnot merely a tool to record reality, but a brush to express his ideas orfeelings, a proclamation permeated with philosophy.
Wei Xiu Park, 23rd February 2017