Voice of youth: Su Zihan's paintings
A researcher working on the history of the erotic arts will find an interesting thing: erotic paintings of the Republic of China period don't necessararily induce the sexual passion of the people living in Han Dynasty, while such paintings of the Shang Dynasty might not be sexually inviting to the Tang Dynasty people. The expression of eroticism varies from dynasty to dynasty in the history of china. Even people of the same period have different stimulating points in this regard. The expression mode of Su Zihan, a young artist, is to highlight the depiction of lip, tongue, waist and fashion of a woman; he does not focus on the hip and direct nude body of woman, which are traditional objects for artists.
Whether in Chinese tradition or in western cultures, open expession of sexual urge is not welcome, We could find few erotic paintings among the legacy of our ancestors; most of them have been destroyed, so as not to entail woe on the after ages. For example, none of roughly 20 erotic paintings custom made by Pope Leo X, a humanist enjoying the worldly life, at the beginning of the 16th Century is preserved no. The huge collection of erotic paintings and sculptures then kept by the Medici family in the palace of Fontainebleau all have disappeared now.
Su Zihan's paintings titled Only Love Strangers freely express a strong desire and love for sex, as well as intoxication. Great changes that have taken place in China over the past 30 years have changed the way of life, mentality and value of youths. The sexual awareness of youths has become much more direct and complicated. Over the past decades of years, sex has to be inhibited again and again among youths, just as China's modernization drive needs the full efforts of all the people, and young people should not waste their youth years and energy due to too much time spent in sex affairs.
Up to now, labor has been under no pressure for purpose of living, and the economy is showing a momentum of overall growth, thus youths begin to pursue the satisfaction of various desires, of which the sexual passion and desire are the most important. The statement of desires and youth years made by Su in his paintings titled Only Love Strangers, greatly impacts the past social awareness, and praises those youths who are brave to work on their puesuits. Through publicizing the longing for sexual passions and satisfaction of desires as shown in the paintings, youths will reject the past values and conduct standards of the old generations. Is this possible in China? New generation artists including Su Zihan are exploring the possibility.
Su Zihan once points out that the contemporary Chinese art are witnessing a great change. Despite this process is a required and unavoidable one, he refuses to represent the times, as he is unable to do that. Most of young artists including Su Zihan, on their own part, don't highlight political role alone and undertake social responsibility as old generation artists did, but try to uncover the actual life and mentality of individuals through artistically expression. As a matter of fact, however, the political and social influences are mirrored in their paintings.
For these young artists in their thirties, they grew up and their values were formed in the years when the capitalist market economy and socialist planned economy clashed, and when the well-off society blueprint conflicted with the fact of countryside lay-off. This led to the dissatisfaction and disappointment of youths towards political reality. In addition, they know they themselves could do nothing under this political regime, and so refuse to play a role in it. For them, it is better to take good care of their daily life than to abuse their mental and physical efforts with political expectations. In the daily life, e.g. in the online community, some political initatives could also be archived, such as Utopia. If we say artists of Su Zihan's generation have some misgivings about thoroughly rejecting the subjects of political and social significance, most of newer generation artists have rejected their poetical and social ideas completely.
Simulatin and use for reference of negative paintings effectively solve Su's problem of choosing social themes or individual themes. Negative paintings mean a warning against the way of drawing, painting layer, angle of view, as well as women, desires and appearance. The most important feature of negative paintings is the complementing of colors, just like mutual conversion between positive and negative electrodes. The negative paintings of Su Zihan reveal the two-pole situations he often comes across in his life and phychologically, such as virtual vs reality, beautiful vs danger, appearance vs essence, and stability vs change, etc. Young artists like Su Zihan have been much under the influence of online games. For them, internet is not the secondary world serving to complement the actual world. In many cases, internet is upgraded to primary world. The fact that youths periodically shift between the primary and the secondary worlds, and rapid changes of surroundings occur freuently, lead to the feeling of them that the actual space and actual life appear more complicated and confusing.
Some dangers are hidden behind. If we gaze fixedly at the girl in the negative painting of Su Zihan for long, we will feel something horrible: stylish jewelry articles become tools of kidnapping, and the nice face turns into that of a devil. What is the essence? In the history of eroticism, beautiful women are usually considered dangerous. The nice appearance of women is usually considered to be formed by artifical decorations. There are also some decoration articles in Su Zihan's paintings, e.g. fashion, sunglasses, handbag and decoration articles of girls, which are collectively considered by the warner as false appearance. But the more important intention of Su Zihan's paintings is to depict the life of youths, and highlight the influence of the times evolution on youths, to gradually build the image of youths. In his paintings, young girls are always in fashion dress, and have excellent taste. They are the group well understood by the artists in his living environment and the evolution of times. Some factors on these nice girls are stable and traditional, while other more important factors are variable and current.
The development of the arts history shows that the inviting erotic pictures in western countries in the early years showed a violent style. In the paintings created from the Greek and Roman Mythology, raping appeared time and then, just as Apollo did to Daphne. Later narration of erotic affairs became more detailed and complicated. In the paintings of Su Zihan, original desires have been minimized, while the needs for affection and artistical appreciation are highlighted, conveying the vitality, creativity and young spirit of young girls. Thus the paintings appear exquisite.
The simulation mode of negative painting mirrors the soul and insight of an artist. In the early years of photography, some people even mistook the principle of camera for that human retina, believing that the image of the retina was independent of the idea and sense perception of human being. This totally neglected the difference between photography and imaging of retina, and particularly underestimated human thinking and control capabilities. The simulation of negative paintiong by Su Zihan strengthens the observation of the artist and enables him to play a key role in painting, and provides the expression mode for mirroring the individual changes and social trends.
Born in Chuzhou, Anhui Province
Graduated from Fine Arts Department of Chuuzhou College, Anhui Province, China
Studied in Fine Arts Acadamy Oil Department of Anhui Normal University, Anhui Province, China
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Su Zihan's Works, Jianwai SOHO, Beijing, China
I Only Love Strangers, Bada Contemporary Hall, Beijing, China
Beautiful Happiness, Bada Gallery, Beijing, China
Selected Group Exhibitions
History and Future, Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China
Chinese and French Contemporary Art Exchange Exhibition, the Royal Castle Museum, Tours, France
Fleeting Log - Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Kouvola Fine Arts Museum, Finland
Spiritual Ceremony, Chambourg Art Gallery, Beijing, China
Shanghai Art Fair, Shanghai Mart, Shanghai, China
The 10 artists from Beijing, the Netherlands
Merge, Beijing Legend Time Studios, Beijing, China
Passing 2008 - Retrospect and Prospect, Shanghai Xiangdi Art Center, Shanghai, china
Good Luck 2008, Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China
Seoul International Art Fair, Seoul, Korea
Touch•Dynamic, Shangshang Art Museum, Beijing, China
Shanghai International Art Fair, Shanghai, China
Contemporary Group Show, Original Art Creation Center, Beijing, China
In August, Lin Space 798, Beijing, China
From Beijing, VIP'S International Gallery, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
From Beijing, VIP'S International Gallery, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Flashy World, Xiangdi Art Center, Shanghai, China
Openning Exhibition of Fangzhou Art Center, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
Release, Songzhuang 897 Art Space, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
Made in Songzhuang Part 2, Sunshine Art Museum, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
Contemporary Art Exhibition, East Harbor ·Beijing Trade Center, Beijing, China
Nucleus, Art Manssion·Beijing No.1 Art District, Beijing, China
China International Gallery Exposition 2007, Beijing, Chona
Made in Songzhuang Part , Sunshine Art Museum, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
China Songzhuang Art Festival 2006, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
Seducement, Square Art Center, Beijing, China
Invitation Art Exhibition, Art Seasons, Beijing, China
Art and Front, Front Gallery, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
Melt, Arists Courtyard, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
China Songzhuang Art Festival 2005, Songzhuang, Beijing, China