This exhibition of Fang Lijun's new works opens on 18th December 2013 at Hanart TZ Gallery. It will showcase the artist's latest works, including oil on canvas, works on papers and ceramic sculptures. Since graduating from the ceramics department of the Hebei School of Light Industry in the 80s, this is the first time in Fang’s career he has returned to ceramics. These ceramics constructions in a seemingly collapsing state highlight the material's natural fragility, and bring to mind the vulnerability that underlie the buoyancy of today's volatile political economy.
方力鈞的繪畫沒有人會看了不喜歡的。他的場面恢宏，色彩繽紛，寓意警世，而且隠約讓人在意識裡泛起似曾相識的意會。這些畫既易懂易愛，又似乎隱藏了 某些時代的秘密。方承繼了新中國視覺圖像。 他的色彩對親歷毛澤東革命的一代既十分熟悉而且溫馨。五彩杜丹與藍天白雲，加上節慶的歡樂，大眾同心的情境，正是社會主義革命在中國本土化以下的圖境。 在北韓、蘇維埃、南美，同樣是鮮花、群眾、慶樂，只是各用當地熟悉的花卉和當地流行的舞蹈衣飾。 就這點來說，方力鈞的畫既屬本土，也帶着國際共同語言。以一個八十年代末出道的藝術家來說，方力鈞與八五新潮的藝術家已有一個明顯距離。八五新潮標榜西方 廿世紀新浪潮，標榜前衛的個人風格，和以推翻舊習的姿態創作。 雖然他們大多其實在重蹈西方舊徹，不完全在開天闢地，但個人主義的立場是肯定的。 方力鈞個人風格的建立雖然也很「現代」，很「個人」，但他着眼的內容卻是另類。 他着眼於社會主義傳承的「集體」、關注個性與造型都近似的群眾。 一九九三年啟用的色調和寓意的社會主義圖樣更清楚地陳示了這淵源。 自九十年代以來，方力鈞以這繪畫語言為對象，逐步打開隱喻在圖像形式背後的人生目的和世界圖景。
Few viewers coming to Fang Lijun’s art for the first time would not find it delightful. To the Chinese audience, the grand vision of the images, riotous profusion of colours and direct allegorical references, intimates memories long buried in the past. The work is seemingly easy to appreciate, but on close encounter threatens to reveal secrets best left untouched. The obvious reference is the visual political language of New China. Fang Lijun’s art refers to colours and imageries familiar to that generation with personal experience of Mao Zedong’s revolution. The multi-coloured peony
blossoms, bright blue sky and festive joy that celebrate public unity, echo exactly the mood of Mao’s Socialist Revolution. This is the same mood one finds in North Korea, the Soviet Union and South America, and the same motifs repeat themselves: profusion of flowers, happy masses, festive celebrations; each differentiated only by its regional flora and native costumes. This is one dimension of Fang Lijun’s art that links the local with international idioms. For an artist who did not emerge until the late 80s, an obvious divide separates him from artists of the ‘85 New Wave art movement. The ‘85 New Wave artists mostly chose as their model Western trends of early 20th century; they adopted an avant-garde approach that celebrates individual style and seeks subversion of received traditions. Even when in fact most of them followed in the tracks of the West, and had not taken steps as daring as claimed, their position was idiosyncratic. In the spirit of the time, Fang Lijun also established a style that was “modern” and “individual”, but the message he delivered was somewhat unusual. He focused on the “collective” that socialism pays attention to, and concentrated on figures with similar features. Intimation of socialist imagery and colour scheme that first appeared in 1993 grew increasingly explicit. Since the mid 1990s, Fang Lijun has employed this painting idiom and metaphoric imagery to explore the implicit nature of the worldview embodied in this artistic language.
方力鈞所陳述的象徵和寓言卻並不費解。 社會主義的樂觀歷史進程、上天在神明庇護下普照的光明燦爛景象、生命被無形的大神的手所扶持與掌控。 這對社會主義國家的觀眾都是熟悉的意象，和具體的生活感受。 到了近年，作品開始呈現集體群眾被囚籠、被蹂躪，而這也是全球資本主義社會生活的感受。 用毛澤東時代的話說，群眾對方力鈞的作品的確客易「喜見樂聞」。 但他那「喜見樂聞」的基礎是把社會主義的繪畫語言帶入了資本主義的全球。 他有精湛的繪畫技巧、奇觀的景象、切合現世的全球圖境與全球關懷。 難得的是方力鈞在標榜個人精神、獨立個性的資本主義社會現實中有力地刻劃了個人的集體真相。現代人的被整治、被囚牢、被操控、是不分社會主義或資本主義、 共產或民主制度的。方力鈞的心得，恰恰就是穿越了兩個意識形態的陣營，點破兩者的共通秘密。
The symbolism and allegories in Fang Lijun’s art are not intended to confound. They seem to be intentionally straightforward. Whether it be socialism’s optimistic vision of historical progress, with a bright future promised by the gods on high, or the controlling hand of an invisible and almighty sovereign, these are familiar imageries or even real life experiences for viewers in a socialist country. In recent years, his works show people collectively being entrapped or manipulated, while they are provided for in happy plentiful material wellbeing; which reflect the experience of individuals living in neo-liberal capitalist societies around the globe. To quote Mao Zedong, Fang Lijun’s art fulfills what the public “loves to see and hear”. However, this “love to see and hear” is founded on his ability to export the idiom of socialist visual culture into the world of global capitalism. Fang is not only a skilful painter, he understands the power of the spectacle, and is able to intuit the global predicament through a personal perspective on today’s society. What is special about his perspective is the ability to grasp in artistic language the manipulation of the “collective” within the reality of a capitalist society. The fact that modern man is being disciplined and manipulated is not particular to socialism or capitalism, communism or democracy. Fang Lijun’s insights cut right across the two ideologies to reveal secrets shared by both of these positions in modern daily life.
方力鈞近十年的作品經常意喻無上神權對萬物的操縱。 但萬物的集體被操縱是被放在一個有目的、有歷史方向的動線上。 這恰恰就是「現代」給于世界的承諾，意欲把人類帶領到一個更美好的將來。 而意識形態藝術的功能正在於描述這個世界的面貌。 方力鈞近年作品出現的負面醜陋景象，掀開了操縱手在幕後掌控的寓言。 情感煽動以至物慾的煽動，最終同樣是為了把人整合為群眾、成為無名的集體。 無論那是毛澤東的「持續革命」史觀，還是資本世界與物慾誘惑，作用是相同的。
In the recent decade the work of Fang Lijun often hints at the manipulation of all creatures by a supreme being. The collective body gets manipulated by virtue of a converging force of historical purpose. This purpose drives the universe, and it is exactly parallel to promises made to the world by “modernity”. Through the arts, the modern world expresses its intention to lead man to a better tomorrow, and delineates the shape and colour of this future age. The ugliness and unpleasantness found in some of Fang Lijun’s recent works expose the dark side of this dream, and reveal the nature of the manipulating, controlling hand behind the scene. Whether it be the incitement of revolutionary fervour or the arousal of desire for material gains, the goal is the same; the end is the incorporation of individuals into collectives, turning the living multitude into manageable crowds. Mao Zedong’s “continual revolution” and the capitalist world’s management of desire ultimately meet on the same plane of institutional control.