Hi Art, February 12, 2014, special feature
Zhu Wei On Zhu Xinjian: I Never Think What He Paints Are Women
By Wang Danyi
Before the interview, I had no idea that Zhu Wei had never met Zhu Xinjian. But as an old friend of Hi Art, and as the topic is about Zhu Xinjian, whom Zhu Wei always pays attention to, Zhu Wei told us his idea frankly and immediately by email.
Hi=Hi Art Zhu=Zhu Wei
Hi: Could you tell us what you think of him?
Zhu: I don't know what happened recently, that a lot of artists passed away this year, and you don't even have time to cry. If we fly the flag at half mast for artists, the flag probably will stay at half mast for quite a long while.
I don't know Zhu Xinjian, nor have I met him. I have seen his paintings in the Art Newspaper of China in 1980s. Then I read some articles about him written by art critics like Li Xiaoshan, Li Xianting, and so on. He was a pioneer in the exploration and practice of contemporary ink and wash, and he was so successful that even in the current so-called New Ink Fever which is very commercial in history we can find his shadow. Looking at his paintings, you can feel this is a guy who is free in his painting, who has ability to create new things and give consideration to tradition in the meantime. From this point of view he has the qualities that a good artist must have. He and I were peers. Both of us paint ink and wash. It's easy to cheat outsiders, but for peers who are doing the same work in the same context, it's basically impossible to fool them. People are stricter with their peers than with others, which is so-called peers tent to scorn each other. Zhu Xinjian is one of the few artists I admire.
Hi: How do you think of his self-mockery and self-pleasing life?
Zhu: This is his standpoint and attitude toward life, but even he said so, it's very difficult for people who have experienced the Cultural Revolution to own their real life.
Hi: When you looked at the "defected" and "loose" women in his paintings, what was your first impression?
Zhu: I never think what he paints are women.
Hi: How do you understand his taste of creation?
Zhu: I agree to what Lu Hong said in his article: "Some critics argued that the value orientation of his works was enjoying flowers and moon, which was associated with both Bohemianism and Zen, but if you look at his works carefully, you will find that he was, in fact, satirizing and teasing the popular life attitudes and values in the mass consumption society." This is his taste, or his creating attitude, or you can say, his angle to start creating. Not every artist is able to have a hand in life. Some artists just stare at the big world and cannot include any of them into their painting. Zhu Xinjian, so to speak, is the first contemporary ink and wash artist who successfully integrated the real life into his image, while the other artists who paint in the same way later basically didn't make any breakthrough.
Hi: What in his artworks does appeal to you?
Zhu: Not soft, not artificial. His calligraphy went so far as to influence the creation of many calligraphers.
Hi: Do you think the world understands him now?
Zhu: The world understands him so well. What people do not understand are those artworks which are empty or look unnecessarily mysterious. What is contemporary art? Contemporary art is to remove the aesthetic and decorative characteristics, to reflect reality and criticize reality, to interact with the current real life. Contemporary ink painting, as part of the contemporary art, shares the same standard with contemporary oil painting, performance art, installation art, and multimedia art.
作者 / 王丹艺