Ways of Xieyi Presented in Fu Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography
Exhibition duration: 1st – 20th January 2018
Culture Integration and Digital Pictorial Photography
— Review on Fu Wenjun’s recent artworks
Wang Lin, Art critic
Art creation is always a personal matter. We live in a world with diverse and complicated information, so it’s crucial to be able to face the multi-cultural communication, collision, conflict and integration. The American scholar Samuel P. Huntington draws out the aspect of conflict, and believes it as the proof of world split. However, the conflict is inevitable, and the politicians never forget to make use of it to serve their political purposes. But the so-called culture, to the end, is the way of living under different circumstances and different historical moments. Therefore, people who believe in common human natures will always strive for the world cultures’ communication among the collisions and for the integration among the conflicts. In personal terms, the diversity of culture — from ancient to modern times, in every corner of the world — is the base of spiritual abundance as well as the precondition for personality. It is noteworthy that Fu Wenjun aspires to it.
Fu Wenjun travels around the world and collects the images that inspire him, from architecture to street scenes, from portraits to artworks. He doesn’t rely on image shot straight away to complete his works. Just from the beginning, while shooting, he’s getting prepared for the later stage of “painting”. He is more interested in the solid subjects, in order to make up the virtuality of the digital images. His attention moves from the comparison of the Western and the Eastern culture into the changes of the world cultures from the ancient times to now. This makes Fu Wenjun be able to get rid of the restriction of ideology, going back to the creative process inspired by the artistic nature and the perception on cultures. In his recent works, the extraordinary accidental and arbitrary elements obviously show his freedom and confidence on separating himself from the power of control.
Firstly, he doesn’t care about the difference between photography and painting. His works come into being by the destruction of the photographic images. This is not only because the incomplete remains carry the vicissitudes of history, but also because, within the mutual relationship of different cultures, the integrity of a certain culture doesn’t exist. The demand of this integrity starts always from the cultural hegemony. In a sense, Huntington believes in Western culture-centered theory, so that he draws the conclusion: cultures are bound to conflict, world is bound to split. Cultural and religious fundamentalism can’t succeed in our times. The traditional culture is scattered and fragmentary, the contemporary culture is open, tolerant and integrative, meanwhile both are inseparably interconnected. In the works of Fu Wenjun, you can find that the different cultures with a very long distance and time can be juxtaposed harmoniously, so you can feel that nowadays people really live with a new cultural psychology.
To Fu Wenjun, diverse cultural integration is a very natural thing; what he should face is just the computer screen that gathers all images. Photographic source materials have left their original situation, go into the computer and become the information that will stimulate the artist’s inspiration. What he is doing is to feel the relationship between history and present time, the objects and the individuals. Because Fu Wenjun has the freedom of destruction and the possibility of recombination, he doesn’t care about the documentary nature of the photography, neither the style of painting. Thanks to scrawl lines, freely-appearing or hidden forms, unexpected light and darkness, simple or cool-warm combined colors, and various photo post-treatment methods, his artwork images are very variable: juxtaposition and transparency, high definition and obscurity, solid and dreamlike effects, harsh brushstrokes and slight changes. Fu Wenjun has really entered a computer quick processing and freely on-the-spot creative state, which is phylogenic and stepwise. The formation of his personal style is not rational nor based on the regulations, but is the result of the interaction and the mutual promotion between the subjective conception and the potentiality stimulation. From the mottled, bright, abundant and even extremely complicated color effects, we can feel Fu Wenjun’s excitement during the art creation, filled with intense art endowments and impulsive aesthetic pursuits.
In Fu Wenjun’s works, post-production is an important part, but different from computer painting, he never gives up with the images shot and throughout the illusory image drawing he always loves the relation between photography and reality. His photography is the result of a continuous drawing and altering process; his “painting” is a “painting” which can’t be finished by hand. Just along with the endless changes of reality and illusion, fact and fiction, the art probably can catch the secrets within history and human beings, human beings and history.
Inspired by Fu Wenjun’s distinctive creation as a photography artist, I call his recent works “digital pictorial photography”.
摄影术借助光完成对现实的复制，从其诞生伊始，便冲击了以透视和解剖为安身立命之本的西方古典绘画传统。波德莱尔否定摄影，认为它对自然的客观摹写俨然成为“绝对的艺术（the absolute of arts）”，磨灭了个人、个体及个性的演绎空间。时至今日，摄影蕴含的独特艺术魅力，已重归尊重，达成共识。颇多艺术家在固化的现实情境中，不懈地尝试，以求争取艺术自由表现的可能性，傅文俊便是众者之一。他在创作中融入电子技术，手动操作以表达原定的预设想法，从个人情愫的感受出发，呈现对社会、生活、历史的反思。
Show Vividly Traces of “Ink”
— Reading of Fu Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography
I taste intensively the term “Digital Pictorial Photography”, and I feel its excellency in summarizing ingeniously the technique applied and the image formation effects. Compared with the single – classified terms of Abstract Photography or Holography, it has distinctive qualities, affording me much food for thought. So what does Digital Pictorial Photography refer to? With the application of computer digital processing, depicted image representation is manifested. Certainly, its decisive difference from digital pictures consists in the close link between photography and reality, providing Digital Pictorial Photography the possibility to display profound expression of humanity reflection within already existed objects.
Photography, with the help of light, accomplishes the task of duplicating the reality. Ever since its invention, it had impacted the Western classic drawing tradition that had been developing on the basis of perspective and dissection. Charles Baudelaire denied the photography. He believed if its subjective imitation of nature became “the absolute of arts”, this fact would leave no space for the interpretation of a person, an individual and his personality. Today, the unique art charm endowed by photography has achieved its respect, which has come to an agreement in the society. Many artists are trying constantly, in the fossilized reality context, to fight for free artistic expression possibilities, and Fu Wenjun is one of them. In the creation, he gets the digital technology involved, operates manually to delivery pre – defined messages, starting from a personal emotional feeling, with the purpose of presenting his reflection towards the society, life and history.
In the recent photography works of Fu Wenjun, there is a clear change regarding the logic aspect of language expression. His previous works manifest a dramatic feeling provided by the imaginary placement of time and space, in which human figures and objects are featured in an overlying, multiply depicted way, intending to explore a grand relation of history and culture, social transformation and personal dissimilation. It belongs to Clement Greenberg’s definition of photography: narration and concepts of “technique + storytelling”. While these recent works have changed, they show a pure mental state. His creation method remains the same, which can be summarized in two aspects listed below. First, to make disappear the image details, and to attach importance to the form sensation of blurry objects. Second, traces of “ink” turn up; the treatment of white and black relation is manifested vividly on the low gloss yellow paper, tasting excellent to the last drop.
In terms of the first aspect, the disappearance of details has intensified the character of the objects captured by the camera, giving them more imagery. In the process of dissociating original figures, that is a process of gradual disappearing, what is highlighted is the contradiction existed between the reality depicted by the image and the natural original reality. The objects’ image can be restored only with the help of local features, but the veracity seems to go far away. The anti-sharpen technical treatment has changed, replaced, removed the fixed figures existing in the nature, harmonizing the separated parts with an overall balance. Clearness and blurry, veracity and reality, clarity and confusion can still be found in the gradually disappearing images, as well the patterns for distinguishing, recognizing and thinking. In terms of the second aspect, flowing “ink” traces are actually a shading effect known in Chinese traditional painting produced by Chinese painting brush on the Xuan Paper. The recent works of Fu Wenjun aims at exploring the expression border of photography, creating a dimly discernible atmosphere with a specious expression. The imagery tendency after the dissociation of image patterns is realized by some traditional Chinese ink painting layout methods like the blank-leaving. The photography on the visual sense has a vivid display inspired by ink painting brush strokes. Whatever animals or architecture, the qualities of expression, imagery or Xieyi (drawing the spirits of things) are fully manifested in Fu Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography.
The recent works of Fu Wenjun has widened the expression possibility of Digital Pictorial Photography through his exploration. His transformation of image patterns has expanded in a new way the traditional Chinese ink painting experience, which provides him a new space for his personal presentation, and brings thinking to the image patterns of figurative and abstract. His works contain an elegant and elaborate conception as well as complicated techniques, and with no doubt the narration, concepts and Xieyi presented in the works, with the basis of contemporary point of view, can give new inspiration to our art.