艺术,

作为一种自由意志

Art Choice,

As A Free Will

文:    杨欣欣

by Yang Xinxin

 

2016年09月30日

 

本文节选自:张子康/张子康绘

北京:人民美术出版社

从艺术家说起

以艺术家身份出现的张子康,很难说可以彻底地和他在其他事业上的成功而被赋予的光环告别,但不得不说,为此,他依旧做了很多努力。英国学者贡布里希在其《艺术的故事》中旗帜鲜明地指出:“实际上,根本没有艺术其物。只有艺术家,他们是些男男女女,具有绝佳的天资,善于平衡形状和色彩以达到‘合适’的效果;更难得的是,他们是具有正直性格的人,绝对不肯在半途止步,而是时刻准备放弃所有省事的效果,放弃所有表面上的成功,去经历诚实的工作中的辛劳和痛苦。我们相信永远都会有艺术家诞生。”①张子康恰是那个意图放弃所有省事的途径以及那些表面上的成功,去经历反反复复的练习和创作的人。稍有不同的是,绘画对他而言,绝不仅仅是一项工作,更是一种享受人生乐趣的重要途径。

 

说到天资,笔者大抵不是以一种故弄玄虚或是阿谀奉承的姿态,为所谓的意图转型的合法性立言。事实上,通过了解张子康的成长经历、绘画启蒙、求学经历、工作履历-当然,最重要的是他的作品-不难发现,他具备了一种与生俱来的特质。正如《艺术哲学》的作者丹纳所言:“艺术家需要一种必不可少的天赋……换句话说,一个生而有才的人的感受力,至少是某一类的感受力,必然迅速又细致。他凭着清醒而可靠的感觉,自然而然能辨别和抓住种种细微的层次和关系。”②张子康敏锐且独特的观察能力成就了他独一无二的个人表达。达·芬奇亦曾这样讨论过观察之于绘画的意义:“要成为佼佼者,就必须无所不能地再现产生于大自然中的所有形式,如果你不去观察它们,将它们摄入你的心灵,你就不知如何去再现。”③

从孩童时代开始,张子康对绘画的兴趣就已经开始显现。好奇、向往、模仿开启了他的绘画生命。从起初接受冯真教授以及很多在中国近现代绘画史上地位举足轻重的大家的指导,到进入河北师范大学进行专业的绘画训练,再到数十年如一日的坚持在中国传统绘画领域,他已经有了相当的积累。难能可贵的是,他一直保持着创新的能力和激情。接受系统的学院教育、在工作中大量观看和思考、汲取艺术家们的思想精华……造就了张子康独具一格的创作理念和创作方法。正如石涛的表达:“我之为我,自有我在……我自用我法。”又及“至人无法,非无法也,无法而法乃为至法”。从传统而来,却不囿于传统,能够在艺术创作中做到“随心所欲而不逾矩”,是张子康坚持创作、坚持自我的结果。王东声先生对张子康在中国画创作上的评价令人信服:“在创作中,子康无意于程式化的工整表达,也无意于求异求奇的新潮炫示,他崇尚自然而然,随性而发,稍有兴致,拿来便画……画之所以为画,实如人之形貌性情,应该各有风范,各有特色,而最重要的是要保持一种‘生动感’……子康深具‘别构灵奇’之质,他不论如何去画都不保守匠气,怎么画都鲜活明朗。”

 

在持续了近三十年的中国画创作后,张子康再也按捺不住对油画的创作冲动。从2012年起,他正式开始了大量的在油画创作上的尝试。近四年的时间,他创作了大量以新疆为主要题材的油画作品。无论是中国画创作还是油画创作,在绘画上的生动感,张子康保持如一。对大自然敏锐、犀利的观察力以及独特、新奇的视角在其作品中可见一斑,无时无刻可以嗅到的“写生感”“生动感”的气味让他的作品如此鲜活。他凭借“清晰而可靠的感觉,自然而然能辨别和抓住种种细微的层次和关系”。给他强烈刺激的不只是新疆的宏丽壮阔,还有那些一般人时常忽视的角落或是对象的反面。他总能通过一些细微之处做出“大文章”,而丰富的人生经历更是让他在创作的过程中融入了更多关于生命哲学的思考和体悟。

 

作品《水线》表现了沙漠绿洲中一片沉默无闻的水和杂乱无章的野草。艺术家抓住了沙漠边缘悬于生死之间的一线。一线之隔,隔绝了紧紧抓住生存机会的渴望与面对无法改变死亡命运的无奈,也将画面一分为二。杂草在水中宁静地生长和枯败,虽然拥有了生命,但显然已入生命的黄昏。艺术家本人偏爱深秋草木枯败的萧瑟景象,也许是因为枯荣更迭的“离离之草”让他捕捉到了生命的完整过程。而作品也在不经意间打动和引导观者去发现微小生命所蕴含的巨大能量。与生俱来的对图像的敏感和细致入微的观察为艺术家的创作提供了源源不断的创作灵感和素材,大自然成为了他艺术生命里最感念的馈赠。

 

移情于崇高之景

2012年,张子康卸任今日美术馆,并赴新疆文化厅挂职。对他而言,这无疑是开启了人生新的篇章。他终于有空闲的时间去思考作为一个社会工作人员之外属于自己的人生志趣。艺术-更为确切地说-绘画,是他现阶段最想做的。

 

更为难得的是,新疆这片神奇的土地,给了他强大的视觉冲击和情感震荡,他得以从自然中汲取力量,并被赋予一种表达的冲动。所以,在近四年的时间里,他创作了大批和新疆关系密切的作品。反复地练习-建立自己-修正自己-推翻自己-重新再来,他不断地用绘画的方式释放新疆给他的灵感和激情。

 

从荒茫萧瑟的戈壁滩到繁花似锦的喀纳斯,从人迹罕至的大沙漠到草木茂密的大草原,从瞬息万变的魔鬼城到飞沙走石的无人区,从白雪皑皑的天山顶到干旱炎热的吐鲁番……新疆的丰富性和变化性令人叹为观止。置身于此,谁能不在这无垠的空间中失去自己?谁的全部身心不会经历一场无声的净化和澄清?“思想彻底地被它的景物填满,再也无法承纳更多的东西,也继而无法对驱使它的事物作出任何理性思考。崇高之景的伟大力量由此产生,它绝不是被理性创造出来的,它预见并逾越了理性,用一种不可抵抗的力量把我们迅速地驱向前方”。美学家埃德蒙·伯克列举了崇高源头的要素,包括力量、隐晦、匮乏、巨大、无限、困难以及宏伟。所有的词汇都暗示着那些迫使我们失去控制的体验。④

 

那时我们站在山之巅,凝视着层叠无尽的山脉。看着溪流疾涌而过,所有的壮丽在眼前展开,这时候,是什么感觉将你抓牢?那是存在于你身体里的一种静默的专注。⑤

 

这是崇高之景带来的不可替代的生命体验。一定在某一刻,艺术家是甘愿丧失理性和自我的,是全然地被感性冲动所左右的。这种瞬间的巅峰体验,恰恰是创作的原初和终极追求,而创作的过程却是理性与感性的争锋。那么,风景到底意味着什么?艺术家想要通过风景表达什么?

 

W. J. T.米切尔指出:

风景不是一类艺术,而是一种媒介。

风景是人与自然、自我与他人之间的一种交换媒介。

风景是一种由文化中介的自然景象。它既是被表现的空间又是表现的空间,既是象征者又是被象征者,既是一个框架又是被框架所包含的,既是一个真实的场所又是它的幻象,既是一个包裹又是包裹里面的物品。⑥

 

新疆独特的景致给了艺术家充分的能量和空间,成为了张子康油画创作的重要起点。他的创作过程是移情作用的重要体现。他想表达的,正是他的内心情感和对自然与生命的思考。维柯把移情视作形象思维的基本要素,并提出:“人心的最崇高的劳力是赋予感觉和情欲与本无感觉的事物。”康德在分析崇高时把移情现象称为“偷换”:“对自然的崇高感就是对我们自己的使命的崇敬,通过一种偷换的办法,我们把这崇敬移到自然事物上去(对主体方面的人性观念的崇敬换成对对象的崇敬)。”⑦黑格尔学派中一位重要的美学家费列德里希·费肖尔将思想方式分为两种,一种是形象思维一种是抽象思维,用文字和概念或是用形状,与两种翻译宇宙的方式,用字母或是用意象。进而,他将移情作用指称为“审美的象征作用”,说这种作用就是“对象的人化”。巴希提出“审美的同情”亦是追随了费肖尔父子的脚步,他这样定义审美同情:“灌注生命给无生命的事物,把它们人格化,使它变成活的,这就是和它们同情,因为同情正是跳开自己,把自己交给旁人或旁物。”从作品《远古来客》《魔鬼城》《喀纳斯的秋天》到《那拉提的初雪》《瓦罕走廊》,再到《死亡与再生》……艺术家已经把自己完完全全地交给了自然,并用抽象的思维去思考世界,用意象的方式来翻译宇宙。在与艺术家对谈的过程中,笔者常感叹艺术家独特的视角和丰富的想象力,以及勇于探索和实验的胆量。他不仅将自己的情感投射进景与物,将自己的生命同情于无生命之物,思考生命的终极意义,并在形式上进行了有益的探索。“绘画是一种智性活动,因为知觉是一种智性活动,一如想象;不过绘画和知觉都基于存在,是对视觉形式的创造和再创造。”⑧E.H.贡布里希的开创性研究《艺术与错觉》中认为艺术家表现的风景就是,或者说就应该是构造的风景。“天真纯洁的眼睛只是一个神话”,他谈论到,“所有的思考都在进行分类和甄选。所有的感知都与预期相关,并因此而与比较对照相关。”换句话说,风景的艺术价值并不是景象本身固有的不是它“本质”中的一部分,而是被观察者“构造”出来的。

 

对视觉形式的创造和再创造的能力,是张子康最乐于,也是最擅长发挥的。不断地实验和探索使他找到了生命的真正意义和艺术的价值所在。如何将“眼中之竹”转化为“胸中之竹”再变成其“手中之竹”,这是艺术家区别于常人之所在,也是艺术家区别于艺术家之所在。艺术家与画布正面交锋,与其说是在绘画,不如说是在尽情释放自己对绘画的强烈渴望和需求。这种绘画的目的是什么?就是绘画本身。⑨

 

然而,描绘大自然的风景只是张子康进入油画创作的开端。从2015年后期创作的作品来看,他已经从风景创作进入到观念和思想的表达阶段。作品《暂存》《欲望·2016-2-21》是其阶段性创作的代表,存在于观念中的空间和构成已经超越了自然现实。

 

是探索,还是探索?

黑格尔曾说:“艺术对于人的目的在使他在对象里寻回自我”。艺术对于张子康的意义是什么呢?他给出的答案是-不断地实验、探索,并以此挑战和超越自己。正如维茨所认为的那样,艺术是一个潜在开放的概念,使人可以预见艺术“极度扩张、冒险的性质”,可以吸收“不停歇的变化和全新的创作”。

 

超越自己一定是一件非常有趣的事,不然,怎么可以让张子康如此地乐而不疲?除了绘画,他几乎尝试了或者正在准备尝试一切在艺术领域里他可以尝试的可能。摄影、铜版、装置、影像……在和当代艺术以各种方式相处了十几年后,他如愿成为了一个与时代同行、从不禁锢自己的艺术家。

 

他珍惜每一次可以不被外物所扰、全身心投入绘画的机会,每一个空闲的时刻对他来说都成了最宝贵的创作时间。寻找各种可能的机会专心致志地成为一个纯然的“艺术家”对艺术的渴望、不自觉的自信、因为想画而画才是将一个人塑造为艺术家的核心动力。古德曼斯·阿波里内尔首次用“伟大”这个词形容画家马蒂斯“亨利·马蒂斯原本个性丰富,能够独立创造和发展,但他不断将自己的艺术与他人的艺术观念进行比较,也从不会对类似的造型艺术家们隐藏自己的艺术思想,他的艺术因而‘伟大’,因而卓越,因而与众不同。”八十年后,马尔塞林·普雷奈回应说,马蒂斯的这种伟大与他的艺术志向是相符的。他还指出,马蒂斯的生命和作品是紧密相连的,对艺术家而言,他的生命应该是艺术作品的生命。⑩用“伟大”这个词来形容艺术家难免会引起争议,但是笔者认为,如果一个人可以将自己的生命与其作品的生命视为同物,那么,至少可以说明,他已经走上了一条成为艺术家的道路,而艺术家之路,无疑是一条艰难却让人无法抗拒的道路。

 

文章的最后仅以笔者在观看艺术家作品过程中脑海里不断浮现的语句作结-艺术不仅仅是一种必然的事实,艺术是生活,是艺术家自由意志的最完整的表达。

 

①〔英〕贡布里希着,范景中译,林夕校:《艺术的故事》,天津人民美术出版社,2006年12月第1版,第331页。

②〔法〕丹纳着,傅雷译:《艺术哲学》,江苏文艺出版社,2012年第2版,第33页。

③〔意〕达·芬奇:《论绘画》,沙泰尔,撰写导言,巴黎赫尔曼出版社,1964年,第43页。

④〔英〕马尔科姆·安德鲁斯着,张翔译:《风景与西方艺术》,上海人民出版社,2014年1月第一版,第163页至165页。

⑤〔德〕卡尔·古斯塔夫·卡鲁斯,《关于风景画的九封信》,J.L.柯纳在《卡斯帕·大卫·弗里德里希与风景画》(伦敦:瑞科图书出版社,1990年)第194页中引用并翻译。

⑥〔美〕W.J.T.米切尔:《风景与权力》,芝加哥大学出版社,1994年,第5页。

⑦〔美〕保罗·盖耶着,保罗·盖耶、埃里克·马修译:《康德》,剑桥大学出版社,2002年第一版,第141页。

⑧〔法〕福西永着,陈平译:《形式的生命》,北京大学出版社,2011年第1版,第29页。

⑨〔法〕让-吕克·夏吕姆,林霄潇、吕启雯译:《西方当代艺术批评》,文化艺术出版社,2005年第1版,第6页。

⑩同上,第7页至第8页。

倔强

Stubborn

局部 local

布面油画 Oil on Canvas

150cm×200cm

2015

盐湖

Salt Lake

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 88cm×119cm

2015

瓦罕走廊

The Wakhan Corridor

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 97cm×145cm

2015

野趣图之一

One of the wild figure

水墨 Chinese Ink

39cm×75cm

2013

水线

Waterline

纸本油画 Oil on Paper 40cm×71cm

2015

喀纳斯的秋天

The Autumn of Kanas

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 90cm×412cm

2015

魔鬼城

Devil City

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 92cm×420cm

2015

猫头鹰

Owl

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 95cm×128cm

2016

死亡与再生

Death and Reborn

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 150cm×200cm

2015

远古来客

The Ancient Visitors

布面油画 Oil on Canvas   95cm×127cm

2015

欲望·2016-2-21 Desire·2016-2-21

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 150cm×200cm

2016

暂存

Temporary Storage

布面油画 Oil on Canvas 150cm×200cm

2016

Getting Started from the Artist

It will be difficult to say that when Zhang Zikang shows up as an artist, he can completely bid farewell to the glories he has obtained from his previous achievements in other fields. But it has to be said that he has made a great effort for this. As the British scholar E. H. Gombrich has unequivocally pointed out in his "The Story of Art", "There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists- men and women, that is , who are favoured with the wonderful gift of balancing shapes and colors till they are 'right',and rarer still, who posses that integrity of character which never rests content with half-solutions but is ready to forgo all easy effects, all superficial success for the toil and agony of sincere work. Artist, we trust, will always be born."①Zhang Zikang happens to be a person who is willing to forgo all easy effects and all superficial success, and bear the toil and agony of practicing and artistic creation over and over again. The only difference is that painting is never merely a work for him; instead, it is an important approach for him to enjoy the pleasures of life.

 

When stressing the natural endowments, the write does not mean to find a reasonable excuse for Mr. Zhang's intention of career transformation through a mystifying or flattery way. In fact, it can be easily discovered through his growth experience, painting initiation, education background, working experience, and especially from his works that he possesses an inherent idiosyncrasy. As Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, the writer of "The Philosophy of Art", has said that, "Artists need an indispensable talent which cannot be redeemed with extreme efforts or great patience, or the person can only become a copier or a craftsman. That means artists must have a special sense when facing with the world: the characteristics of things will stimulate him to emerge a strong and special impression. In other words, a talented person's feelings, at least one kind of feelings, should be rapid and exquisite. With such clear and reliable feelings, he is able to zeand grasp all sorts of subtle gradations and relationships. " ② His acute and unique observation competence had led to his unparalleled personal expression. Da Vinci has made the following comment on the meaning of observation on paintings, "To take the lead, you will have to be able to almightily reproduce all forms emerged in the natural world. If you don't observe them and take them to your heart, you will not be able to reproduce them." ③

 

Since his childhood, Zhang Zikang's interest in painting had already emerged. His curiosity, yearning and imitation started his career of painting. From receiving the instructions from Professor Feng Zhen and many masters who are of vital importance in the history of modern Chinese painting to being admitted by Heibei Normal University to receive professional trainings, with several decades of practicing, he has already made considerable accumulation in the field of traditional Chinese painting. It is commendable that he has always kept the ability and passion for innovation. The experience of receiving systematically academic training, the large amount of observation and thought in the work and the essence he has absorbed from the thought of artists…All of these have created Zhang Zikang's concept and method of artistic creation. As Shi Tao has expressed, "The reason why I am who I am is my unique existence…And I will create works with my own method", and that, "A person who has reached the extremes does not have a specific method. Not having a specific method does not mean I don't have a method, instead, not to follow specific method is the extreme level of all methods." Rooted in the tradition but not limited by the tradition, and being able to "follow his own inclinations without transgressing the bounds of correctness" is the result of Zhang Zikang's insistence of artistic creation and his adherence of himself. Mr. Wang Dongsheng's comment on Zhang Zikang's artistic creation of Chinese paintings is very convincing, "In his artistic creation, Zikang does not have the intention to create in the stylized neat expression, nor does he has the intention to seek unconventional and strange ways of expression. Instead, he advocates artistic creations that come along naturally with the mood of creation. Whenever he is in the mood, he will start painting… Paintings are like the appearances and tempers of human beings; therefore, they should have their own styles and characteristics. And most importantly, the 'sense of vitality' should be kept in paintings… Zikang's paintings have unique and vivid structures, and whatever he paints, the paintings will never be conservative and trite. His paintings are always vivid and bright."

 

After nearly 30 years of artistic creation of Chinese painting, Zhang Zikang could no longer restrain his passion of artistic creation of oil painting. He started his attempts of oil painting in large batch in 2012. In these 4 years, he has created a large amount of oil paintings with Xinjiang as the major theme. No matter the Chinese paintings or the oil paintings, Zhang Zikang's artistic creations have always sustained the vitality. His keen and sharp observation and his unique and novel perspective can be clearly noted from his works. The sense of "vitality" that can be felt all the time in his works makes his works vivid and lively. "With such clear and reliable feelings, he is able to recognize and grasp all sorts of subtle gradations and relationships."What stimulated his passion was not only the magnificence of Xinjiang, but also the corners people always ignored or the opposites of subjects. He can always create outstanding works based on some subtle details, and his rich and colorful personal experience has add more thoughts and insights of life philosophy into his works. The work "Waterline" demonstrates a stretch of silent water and mixed and disorderly grass in the oasis of the desert. The artist has captured the scenery by the edge of the desert which forms a line between life and death. This line has separated both the desire to seize the opportunity to survive and the helpless when facing the unchangeable fate of death. The line divides the whole painting into two parts. The grass grows and withers silently in the water. Although they have lives, they have already entered the sunset of their lives. Compared with the luxuriant vegetation in spring and summer, the artist himself prefers the withered grass and the bleak view in autumn, as the vicissitudes change of grass enables him to catch to the complete cycle of life. The work also inadvertently impresses and guides the audiences to discover the huge energy contained in these subtle and tiny lives. The inherent sensitivity of images and the meticulous observation of the artist have provided him with endless inspirations and materials for his artistic creation. The great nature has become the gift he appreciated the most in his artistic life.

 

Empathizing to the Sublime Landscape

In 2012, Zhang Zikang was relieved of his position at Today Art Museum and went on secondment at the Department of Culture of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. This had no doubt start a new chapter of his life. On the one hand, he finally had the spare time to consider his own interest of life other than his work as a social worker. Art, or to be specific at the current stage, painting was the thing he wanted to do the most. Particularly remarkable were the powerful visual shock and emotional shock this magical land of Xinjiang had brought him, enabling him to absorb energy from the nature and granting his the passion and desire to express. Therefore, he has created a large amount of works related to the theme of Xinjiang. He repeatedly practice-establish himself-modify himself-overturn himself-start all over again. In this way, he keeps leasing the inspiration and passion Xinjiang has brought to him through paintings.

From the bleak and desolate Gobi Desert to the flowery and bloomy Kanas, from the untraversed desert to the dense grassland, from the fast changing Devil City to the depopulated zone with flying sand and rolling pebbles, from the snowy top of Tianshan Mountain to the dry and hot Turpan... The richness and variation of Xinjiang are breathtaking. Being exposed to such scenery, no one can resist this vast space while not lose themselves. Anyone will undergo a silent purification and clarification."My thought was completely filled up with its scenery, leaving no more space to bear other things or to conduct any rational thinking. The great power of the sublime landscape is thus produced. It is by no means created by rational reasoning. It has foreseen and exceeded the rational reasoning, and has driven us to move forward with an irresistible force". Aesthetician Edmund Burke has listed the elements of sublime origin, including strength, obscurity, scarcity, greatness, infinite, difficulty and magnificent. All of the words have suggested those experiences that force us to lose control.④

 

At that time, we stood on the top of the mountain, staring at the layer upon layer of peaks and knolls. Watching the stream racing by, all the magnificence was unfolded in front of my eye. At this moment, what was the feeling that had grasped you? That was a silent concentration inside your body.⑤

 

This is the irreplaceable life experience that the sublime landscape has brought. There must be a certain moment when the artist is willing to lose his rational thinking and his ego, and to be completely controlled by the sensuous instinct. And the peak experience in such a moment is exactly the original and the ultimate pursuit of artistic creation. The process of artistic creation is the competition between sense and sensibility. Then, what on earth does the landscape mean? What does the artist want to express through the landscape?

 

W. J. T. Mitchell has pointed out:

Landscape is not a kind of art, but a form of media.

Landscape is a medium of exchange between human beings and the nature, and between oneself and others…

Landscape is a natural scene with the cultural mediation. It is both the spaced to be represented and the space for the representation. It is both the symbol and the symbolized. It is both the framework and what is contained in the framework. It is both a real site and an illusion. It is both a package and the item in the package. ⑥

 

The unique landscape in Xinjiang has provided the artist with sufficient energy and space and has become the importance starting point for Zhang Zikang's artistic creation of oil paintings. His process of artistic creation is an important embodiment of empathy. What he wants to express are the emotion from the bottom of his heart and his reflection of the nature and life. Giovanni Battista Vico has considered empathy as a basic element for imaginal thinking and suggests that, "The noblest labor of heart is to endow feeling and lust to things which essentially don't have feelings." When analyzing sublime, Kant calls empathy as "subreption": the sense of sublime for the nature is the esteem we have for our own missions. Through the method of subreption, we transfer such esteem to natural things (the esteem for the humanistic idea of the subject is replaced by the esteem for the object). ⑦Friedrich Theodor Vischer, an important Hegelian aesthetician has divided thoughts into two kinds, iconic thinking and abstract thinking, which adopt words and concepts or shapes respectively. He also defines two ways of interpreting the universe, with letters and images. He further refers to empathy as the " symbolic function of aesthetics " and says that such function is the "humanization of object ". Basch follows the steps of the Vischers and defines aesthetic sympathy as "pouring lives into lifeless things, personalizing them and making them alive. This is the sympathy for them because sympathy is getting rid of oneself and hand oneself over to others or other things." From "The Ancient Visitors", "Devil City ", "The Autumn of Kanas",to "The First Snow of Nalati", "The Wakhan Corridor", and to "Populus Euphratica Forest"… The artist has handed himself over to the nature completely, thought about the world with the abstract thinking and interpreted the universe with images. In the dialogues with the artists, the writer had frequently been impressed by the artist's unique perspective and rich imagination, and his courage for exploration and experiment. He has not only brought his emotions into the scenes and objects, but also been sympathetic to the lifeless things. He has been thinking about the ultimate meaning of life, and has conducted meaningful exploration formally.

 

Painting is an intellectual activity, because perception, such as imagination, is an intellectual activity; however, both painting and perception are based on existence and are the creation and re-creation of visual forms .⑧In his pioneering research "Art and Illusion" (1960) E. H. Gombrich suggests that the landscape artists express should be called the landscape they construct. "Innocent and unsophisticated eyes are just legends." He argues that, "Allthoughts are conducting categorizing and selecting. All perceptions are related to expectation, and are thus related to comparison." In other words, the artistic value of landscape is not inherent — it is not a part of its "essence", but is "constructed" by the observer.

 

The creation and re-creation of visual forms are what Zhang Zikang is the most willing and best at doing. The continuous experiments and exploration have enabled him to find the true meaning and life and the actual value of art. How to transfer the "bamboo in the eyes" to the "bamboo in the heart" and eventually make it the "bamboo in the hands" is what differentiates artists from ordinary people and the distinction between artists. The face-to-face confrontation between the artist and the canvas is actually the heartily release of his strong desire and demand for painting, rather than just drawing things down. What is the purpose of such paintings? It is the painting itself.⑨

 

However, the depiction of the great nature was just the beginning of Zhang Zikang's artistic creation in oil painting. Since the latter half of 2015, his works have transferred from the creation on landscapes to the expression of concepts and ideologies. "Temporary Storage" and"Desire·2016-2-21" are representative works for this stage, in which, the space and construction existed in the concepts have exceeded the reality in the nature.

 

Exploration, or Exploration?

Hagel used to say that "The meaning of art for a person is that it makes him look for himself among objects." What does art mean to Zhang Zikang? The answer he provided was—keep experimenting and exploring to challenge and exceed himself. As Weitz has pointed out that art is a potentially open concept, enabling people to expect the "extremely outstretched and adventurous nature" of art and absorb the "endless changes and the brand new creations".

 

Exceeding oneself is a very interesting thing to do or what else could have made Zhang Zikang so delighted and never get tired of it? In addition to painting, he has tried or is going to try all possibilities in the field of art. Photography, copperplate etching, installation and video…After having got along with contemporary art in all sort of forms for over a decade, he finally become an artist who keeps up with the time and never imprisons himself.

 

He treasures every opportunity in which he can devote himself to painting without being interrupted by the outside world. Every spare time is a valuable chance for his artistic creation. He tries to grasp every possible chance to get concentrated to become a natural "artist"—his passion for art, the unconscious confidence and his painting based on the desire for painting are the core motive power that shapes a person into an artist. Goodmans Aporinel was the first to describe Matisse with the word "great"—"Henri Matisse originally had a rich individuality and he was able to create and develop art independently. However, he continues to compare his art with the artistic concepts of others and he never conceals his artistic thoughts from similar plastic artists. His art is therefore 'great', exceptional and distinctive." 80 years later, Marcelin Pleynet responded that this greatness of Matisse was in conformity with his artistic ambitions. He also pointed out that Matisse's life was closely related to his works, and his life was also the life of his art works .⑩It will inevitably lead to controversy to describe an artist with "great", but for the writer, if someone considers art as his life and is willing to treat his life and his art works equally, then, at least, it has been demonstrated that he has stepped on the way to become an artist. And this way to become an artist is undoubtedly tough but irresistible.

 

At last, I would like to conclude the article with the sentence that lingered in my mind when I was watching the works of the artist—Art is not only a necessary fact; art is life and the most complete expression of an artist's free will.

 

①E.H.Gombrich, "The Story of Art ", Phaidon Press Inc,1995,6th Edition, P596.

②Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, translated by Fu Lei, "The Philosophy of Art", Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House, 2012, 2nd Edition, P33

③Da Vinci, "La peinture", Preface composed by Andre Chastel, Hermann,1964, 1st, Edition, P43.

④Malcolm Andrews, translated by Zhang Xiang, "Landscape and Western Art ", Shanghai People's Publishing House,2014,1st Edition, P163-165.

⑤Karl Gustav Carus, " Nine Letters on Landscape Painting", quoted and trans.in J. L. Koerner, "Caspar David Friedrich and the Subject of Landscape Painting ", (London:Reaktion Books,1990), P194.

⑥W. J. T. Mitchell, "Landscape and Power ", University of Chicago Press, 1994, 1st Edition, P5.

⑦Paul Guyer, translated by Paul Guyer, Eric Matthews, "IMMANUEL KANT ", Cambridge University Press, 2002, 1st Edition, P141.

⑧Henri Focillon, translated by CHEN Ping, "Vie des Forms", Peking University Press, 2011, 1st Edition, P29.

⑨Chalumeau Jean-Luc, translated by Lin Xiaoxiao and Lv Qiwen, "Histoire Critique de L’art Contemporain", Culture and Art Publishing House, 2005, 1st Edition, P6.

⑩Chalumeau Jean-Luc, translated by Lin Xiaoxiao and Lv Qiwen, "Histoire Critique de L’art Contemporain" Culture and Art Publishing House, 2005, 1st Edition, P7-8.

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