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Charting the Roamer’s Space

At the beginning of the century, setting out from different levels, fields, and points of departure, several young artists moved towards a common space for the sake of artistic exploration and experimentation.

From there, they embarked on a new search for as of yet unknown spaces….

Xu Encun
Translation by Xenia Tetmajer von Przerwa

Deng Jianjing

To these young artists who are interested in experimenting with art the continuous moving from one space to another is self-evident. It will be an endless ascetic road. It may be only this road of ‘no return’ that can genuinely reveal the outlook of these roamers spaces.
The trend in conceptual painting that is coined ‘spatial roaming’ evidently signifies a certain unusual aspect of painting. At the same time, it also shows the transformation of the times, the historical evolution of the artists and their works, as well as the exterior reflection of a latent and profound interiority. The era of ‘transformation’ in China undoubtedly provides artists with an enlarged and freer space for profound thinking. It allows them to make an artistic choice between the unidirectional and the multi-dimensional, to travel between reality and fantasy, to meander between the material and the spiritual, to ferry between form and the formless…. As a result, their art embodies previously unknown characteristics of experimentation that involve both ideas and materials in a variety of ways. The range of approaches explores all aspects of the possible.

Lao Dao

Undoubtedly, these young artists situate themselves within a process of exploring and conversing with pure forms. It is the visual richness achieved by a large degree of novelty, a previously non-existing visual spectrum, and a reflection of spatial variations that stands out in their art and attracts people’s attention. Through the confrontation of space and the searching for form and the self, ‘spatial roaming’ emerged as these artists’ common guiding problematic. The pioneering enthusiasm and the conviction of this group gives them substance and earns them support.

Without a doubt, ‘spatial roaming’ is the one vanguard manifestation that breaks with the traditional principles of space. Under the banner of contemporary consciousness, it passionately defines the relationship between the traditional and the actual and identifies new values and meanings. To these artists, searching for new spatial and linguistic forms is an untiring and joyful process. They challenge inertia and fixation by moving from one space to another, from one type of communication to another, by shifting between various forms of manipulating reality, and by strongly driving towards the development of aesthetic value and form and thunder apart the traditional principles of painting, replacing them with self-experimentation and self-expression. In doing so, these young artists challenge the orthodox painting principles and their artistic mainstays.

Feng Feng
Zhang Cheng

Through all this, the ‘spatial roamers’ established a movement of personal cultural form. What these artists are seeking is not another set of eternal values but a kind of cultural product that absorbs the conditions of the market economy and popular culture. Against the background of space ‘transformation’, it is again the manifestation of the necessary relationship between spiritual and the real that creates a kind of experimentation with spatial form and visual experience.

In this way, the artists obtain contemporary meaning and purpose. Therefore, from a certain point of view, the group of paintings that are coined ‘spatial roaming’ lay bare certain basic principles of artistic trends.

‘Spatial roaming’ is a present-day cultural symbol that embodies obvious characteristics of incompleteness and ‘self-consciousness’ and, furthermore, increasingly tackles the self’s social reality and conditions of existence. The artists choose their own modes of manifestation within it. Obviously, this is not an inherent law of art. In an increasingly open and economically globally oriented society, art confronts common problems. Therefore, as the ‘spatial roaming’ works clearly show, what people increasingly care about are the personal experiences of the basic problems of human existence. Whilst the artists are concerned with ‘the self’, they also express their concerns for humanity at large.

Xin Yi
Lin Chunyan
Wang Huaxiang

What is important is that ‘spatial roaming’ is not fixed in its changes but increases the freedom of space and time. Thereby, it carries out a meaningful experiment of both ‘facing art’s self’ and ‘facing the human self’ whilst connecting with a specific historical moment. Looking at it from a certain point of view, their works all possess a certain ‘man-made’ characteristic. As they are not natural but man-made objects, we can-on a certain level – see traces of ‘technology-ism’ having entered the picture plane.

Undoubtedly, it is searching for space within space and the exploring of the explored that provides the fundamental existence of contemporary art. Some of the art history’s significant facts and phenomena that managed to manipulate its historical development originated in this process.

Whilst the artists aim at challenging three-dimensional space they still have to search for the breaking point within the three-dimensional picture plane. Despite their attack on the tradition they are unintentionally bound to it. As a result, their works still cannot totally discard the shekels of three-dimensional space albeit the level of freedom is markedly different. There are, from the point of view of the foundations of contemporary art, two explanations for the movement’s emergence: 1) a sense of crisis towards the three-dimensional space of the classicist painting doctrine and 2) a development in which contemporary scientific ‘technology-ism’ is increasingly replaced by enthusiasm for thought and geometric structures and vibrating dots, lines and surfaces are replaced by an enthusiasm for intellectualism. All that said and done, the ‘spatial roamers’ still have to continue their journey; only then can they reach the shores of intellectual art.

To these young artists, the completion of this migration in a complicated and multi-dimensional space still is a difficult and onerous artistic quest. Thankfully, their enthusiasm knows no bounds and is full of self-confidence and desire. The main characteristics of the ‘spatial roaming’ artists are the nature of reality and the continuous production of new forms and ‘languages’. Their practice is just as the English critic Herbert Read described — it is a spiritual reflection of our era’s life, soul, and reality. If we cannot understand and appreciate them, then we have no way of understanding the meaning of contemporary life.

Xu Encun
Translation by Xenia Tetmajer von Przerwa

Topics: Xu Encun,Lin Chunyan,Wang Huaxiang,Xin Yi,Zhang Cheng,Feng Feng,Lao Dao,Deng Jianjing,contemporary chinese art,art,chinese art,modern art,chinese painters

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