深圳当代艺术的发展最早可以溯源至85新潮时期，当时深圳作为一个新兴的、充满想象张力的城市，催生和兴起了一些零星的艺术行动和个体实践，但其时，深圳的使命还是在于经济和政治领域的试验与奇迹创造，文化艺术的发展处于 “萌而未发” 的状态。
深圳当代艺术呈现出个体迁徙、频繁流动的状态，我们对 “深圳当代艺术家” 的界定也因应这种特质。他们中既有深耕二三十年的艺术家梁铨、周力，也有在深圳开启其艺术的重要岁月后又北上的蒋志，还有新生代的80后艺术家李燎；既有近几年离开学院迁徙到深圳的薛峰，也有处于候鸟状态、将深圳作为 “落脚城市” 的沈少民。我们都将他们纳入到深圳当代艺术家的范畴进行考察、梳理和展览呈现。我们当然深知其判断本身一方面会推动地方艺术生态的基础建设，同时也意味着这个工作会充满挑战和艰辛。但我们坚信，发展到今天的深圳当代艺术，亟需对自己过去短暂而丰富的历史进行回顾、梳理和审视，并对此时此地的现场形成观察和判断。深圳当代艺术要继续靠前走，就需要有一些自我的审视和冒险。
记得已故的深圳当代艺术的重要推动者、艺术评论家黄专说过一句话：“不是什么时代都能进入历史，只有那些真正改变了我们的生活价值的时代才能进入历史；不是任何人都能进入历史，只有那些真正具有创造能力的人才能进入历史。” 坪山美术馆就是在寻找那些 “改变” 和 “创造”，并将其编织到当代艺术的深圳叙事之中，我们希望以此为深圳、为中国南方当代艺术生态搭建出一些牢固和有时间重量感的 “基础设施”。
“离娄之明，公输子之巧，不以规矩，不能成方圆” 出自《孟子·离娄章句上》，它的意思是 “即使有离娄的视力，公输般的手艺，如果不用圆规和曲尺，也不能画好方和圆”。
1978年以来中国艺术打破了社会主义现实主义的单向度，进入了百花齐放的多元创作，艺术家王川便是其少数破局者中的一位。和二战后西方艺术中 “第二波国际现代主义浪潮” 相似，1978年以后的中国抽象艺术也可以被理解为这一浪潮的全球化传播，而在绘画抽象性上的探索使王川无可争议地成为 “85” 中国艺术变革的先行者。
和西方世界观 “此岸” 和 “彼岸”、“精神” 和 “物质” 的二元对立不同，中国的世界观呈现为二元互补，“三生万物，负阴而抱阳”。中国艺术的抽象性也并非如西方艺术那样是对彼岸精神性的追求和超越，所以它并未达到弃绝具象的 “纯粹” 抽象，而相反是源自于活生生的日常生活、化形于自然世界。中国艺术欣赏 “似是而非” 的中间状态，在泼墨和草书之中，在园林的假山环绕之下，一切都介于可辨识和不可辨识之间，耐人寻味。
在对西方 “国际现代主义” 的吸收之外，王川的抽象实践无疑继承，并发展了中国的美学传统。他从水墨和书法中来，跨入油画，长期形成双线创作。他的抽象既不追求至上的几何，也不陷入无尽的 “潜意识” 深渊，而是居于中。他在意念和日常现实之间游走，在抽象中蕴含着多重意向，不置可否、似是而非……
“方-圆” 作为本次深圳坪山美术馆的王川个展的标题，一方面取自于他创作中的两个核心元素 “方” 和 “圆”，另一方面正是希望勾勒出他艺术创作的本质，即 “居于中” 的状态。“方-圆” 同时还有规矩和法度之意，作为中国当代艺术的先行者之一，我们也希望在此重新梳理王川的艺术贡献和成就。
The development of contemporary art in Shenzhen can be traced back to as early as 85 New Wave period. At that time, as a burgeoning and imaginative city, Shenzhen gave birth to some sporadic art movements and individual practices. However, Shenzhen then was obligated to undertake the mission of conducting experiments and thereby working miracles in the economic and political fields. As a result, culture and art were emerging, with dramatic growth yet to come.
Until 1997, Shenzhen witnessed the building and opening of He Xiangning Art Museum and Guan Shanyue Art Museum in the same year. Contemporary art in Shenzhen has shown an increasingly clear academic positioning, while demonstrating the rise and vitality of Pearl River Delta in the contemporary art context. In 2005, OCAT, initiated by Huang Zhuan among others, was formally established in Shenzhen, marking the awakening of the subjective consciousness of contemporary art in Shenzhen. It can be concluded that Shenzhen position and its independent efforts concerning Chinese contemporary art have helped facilitate the academic research and value construction of Chinese contemporary art. At this stage, the contemporary art in Shenzhen has also witnessed the sprouting of non-indigenous and events-based art when a surprising number of biennales came out. Objectively speaking, the series of practices loosened and cultivated the soil for contemporary art in Shenzhen, while promoting and shaping the basic appearance of the development of contemporary art in Shenzhen today.
Against this backdrop, Pingshan Art Museum was established as the times demanded. Over the past two years of work, we have been emphasizing historical perspectives, contemporary pivots and prudent judgment, which should play a role in the construction of contemporary art scenes and local art. Based on the realistic situation and development stage of contemporary art in Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Contemporary Artists Series is expected to promote the major construction of contemporary art in Shenzhen by means of inspiring, assisting and inheriting acts. We hope to present the structure and texture of Shenzhen contemporary art through the analysis of individual cases. The richer the texture, the greater intellectual thickness and potential the city will have.
The contemporary art in Shenzhen presents a state of individual migration and frequent movement, which prompts the definition of “Shenzhen Contemporary Artists”. Among them are the artists Liang Quan and Zhou Li who have been involved into the field for 20 or 30 years, Jiang Zhi who went north after the momentous years of starting out a career as an artist in Shenzhen, as well as Li Liao born in 1980s. Besides, the said artists also include Xue Feng who has left school and moved to Shenzhen, and Shen Shaomin, who treats Shenzhen as a temporary place of lodging like a migratory bird. We categorize them as Shenzhen contemporary artists for inspection, sorting and exhibiting. Certainly, we are aware that the judgment itself will promote the infrastructure construction of the local art ecology on the one hand, which also means that this work will be full of challenges and hardships. However, we firmly believe that the shenzhen contemporary art today needs to be reviewed, sorted out and examined concerning its short yet rich history, thus resulting in observations of and judgments on the scene here and now. Should the contemporary art in Shenzhen advance, it needs some self-examination and adventure.
I recall that the late Huang Zhuan, an important promoter of contemporary art in Shenzhen and an art critic, said: “Not all times can go down in history. Only those times that have truly changed the value of our lives can make history; not everyone can go down in history. Only those who are genuinely able to produce creations can pass into history.” Pingshan Art Museum is looking for those “changes” and “creations”, while weaving them into the narrative of Shenzhen contemporary art. We hope to build some solid and time-honored “infrastructure” for Shenzhen and for the contemporary art ecology in southern China.
Liu Xiaodu, Director of Pingshan Art Museum
Zhong Gang, Editor of Readers of Shenzhen Contemporary Artists Series
Wang Chuan: Circumference
“Despite the excellent eyesight of Lou Li and the supreme craftmanship of Gong Shuban, one cannot draw a circle and a square without a compass and a ruler.” This is the opening line of a Chinese Classics Mencius: Li Lou Part 1. In this classic text, compass and ruler together represent a systemic structure that guides the modus operandi and informs one’s way of being-in-the-world. It is here where our journey through Wang Chuan’s explorations is set in motion.
Since 1978, Chinese art has gone beyond the unidirectionality of Socialist Realism. Chinese artists blossomed under the pluralist creative currents. Wang Chuan was one of the few pioneering artists at forefront of such transformation. The second wave of the international modernist movement began to set the pace for the artistic movements in the West after World War II. Chinese abstract art also flourished in the post-1978 era as a part of the global movement. Wang Chuan’s exploration of abstract art through forms and boundaries, made him undoubtedly the pioneer in the ‘85 New Wave period.
The strong influence of the international modernist movement on Chinese artistic conventions made ways for pluralist praxis. Although the movement has changed the unitary way of artistic practice in China, the general public was not ready for it. In the 1990s, Pop Art’s impact on the development of Chinese contemporary art was wide and mainstream. It was not until the second decade of the 21st century did abstract art become more accepted by the general public. Today, as Wang Chuan’s relentless exploration of abstract art continues, it is also worth re-examining this odyssey.
In comparison to the binary oppositions between appearances/things in themselves and spiritual/material in western worldview, Chinese conception of binary relations is one of complementarity – where the ying and the yang work together in the creation of life. By the same token, the idea of abstractness in Chinese art is unlike the pursuit of metaphysical transcendence in the West. It is, therefore, far from the pursuit of abstract purism. Rather, Chinese abstract art comes from the everyday life and takes form through the interaction with the natural environment. The state of in-betweenness is the essence pursued in the interpretation of Chinese art. In the liminal space between splashes of ink and strokes of cursive script, surrounded by manmade features in Chinese gardens, lies all that is ambiguous and thought-provoking.
Wang Chuan’s journey has not only internalized the international modernist influence from the West, but also externalized his creations in abstract forms that remain in dialogue with the traditions of Chinese aesthetics. From ink painting and calligraphy to oil painting, he continues his endeavors in parallel. He is neither obsessed with geometrical transcendence, nor the extreme depth of the subconscious. Indeed, he is somewhere in between. Wang Chuan meanders between ideal abstractness and everyday life , with multiple images, in a non-committal and ambiguous way.
The title of Wang Chuan’s solo exhibition at Pingshan Art Museum, Shenzhen is Circumference (square and circle), signifying rules and statutes. The exhibition is put together with two intentions. One is to reflect the core components of fang (square) and yuan (circle) in Wang Chuan’s works. The other is to outline the essence of his creation, and that is the state of in-betweenness. This exhibition is, therefore, a tribute to the contributions made and accomplishment achieved by Wang Chuan, as one of the pioneering Chinese contemporary artists.
Jiang Jun, Curator