Child: Ouyang Chun Solo Exhibition



From September 15th to the 28th of 2012, Ouyang Chun’s Child exhibition will be on display at the Today Art Museum. The two floors of exhibition space in Hall 3 will feature  over forty pieces of Ouyang Chun’s artwork completed over the course of fifteen years, including his earlier classics and most recent art piece completed in 2011, The Birds are not Afraid of the Scarecrow. The exhibition is a commemoration to the artist’s career.

Why name it ‘Child’?

The artist describes, “Nietzsche uses three spiritual realms to describe the metaphor of life through the camel, lion and child. Nietzsche believed that during the course of human existence we transform ourselves from a camel to lion, and from a lion to a child. The camel represents reality as a burden, as something depressing and anxious, all the time seeking for life’s oasis. The lion represents force and a brave counterattack to the camel in the possibility of humanity to obtain life’s purpose and meaning through it. The lion’s survival techniques allow the individual to eventually calm down and quietly begin to observe their surroundings, and like a child, return back to nature.

An artist’s value does not come through their work, but through their life experiences. By naming the exhibition Child, the show portrays Ouyang Chun’s return to childlike simplicity and happiness, which are important foundations to his artwork. Child represents something  of a rhetorical state of mind: children are forever happy and don’t experience distaste in life- they remain cheerful and innocent, adapting to change whilst always full of curiosity and hope. In the eyes of a child, everything is pure and rich.

Ouyang Chun’s paintings signify a series of development beginning from around ten years ago when he experienced ‘enlightenment’ during his visit to Beijing. At that time he observed the prevailing market of contemporary arts and placed it into two categories: premeditated and clueless passion. As a consequence of opposing the artists‘ style through his own work, he created his own personal framework and technique. Ouyang Chun’s characteristic presentation of the history of art is like a big tree growing separate twigs from the outset, occurrence and development stages. Ouyang’s current exhibition, Child, in addition to his previous displays,Tale of Whaling, Painting the King, and future exhibition, My Story, are similarly all twigs of the same tree.

The state of the child (which gives great joy in the process of painting) is present in all of his artistic creations. Ouyang’s feelings of pressure, confusion and emptiness that he experienced on the road to success were looming in his life for an extended period of time, until two years ago when he decided the negative emotions need to come to an end. In this exhibition we can observe fifteen years of work all generated in one moment of creation- how he faced the impressive development process from a camel to a child, even he doesn’t know how to recount.

Why is it a ‘Child’?

According to Ouyang Chun, he has experienced the life of a camel and lion, and has finally returned to being a child. Or to put it more precisely- he has returned to pristine nature, like a child, and has distanced himself from all social impacts and nasty desires. This is probably a simple form of desire, but in the current era and in his stage of life, it is worth conversing about. Here Ouyang Chun describes the reason for choosing the exhibition title- “I have experienced both affluence and poverty, both of which can be torture for an artist. To make art is like being in exile.  When I am at a loss sometimes I think to myself, ‘lion, camel and child.’ If I look at an artist’s life in fragments, I eventually piece together a ‘child’.”

Feng Boyi comments on Ouyang Chun’s paintings reveal the following, “The artist’s contradictory imagination subvert the integrity of the paintings in the past to imply a rebellious theme. I reckon this is a deliberate act portrayed through his graffiti to process a complex mix of information through a simplified, interspersed and superimposed arrangement compiled amongst a beautiful mix of forces. Ouyang Chun’s fragmented structures are a combination of reality and fictional reconstructions of visual effects to portray an intuitive and unique perspective integrated to create a mutual inquiry and dialogue between the artist and viewer”.

In Ouyang Chun’s written self introduction, he goes into detail how he has spent two thirds of his life working towards his artistic career. Born in Beijing in 1974, he moved to Xi’an during his youth (due to the turbulent life story of his parent’s and grandparent’s) and graduated from the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts Department of Education in 1995, which at the time was not as of yet a fully developed discipline. Nonetheless, several years after the ‘retreat’, Ouyang Chun underwent a transformation. It is difficult to describe Ouyang’s unusual case, how for the most part being self-educated he can produce such consistent aesthetic manifestations that coincide with Western anti-academic contemporary art. His paintings frequently portray a natural innocence contrary to established contemporary art traditions.

“From Ouyang Chun’a perspective, this painting provides complete self-satisfaction. He is like an intelligent and reckless child, one that is curious and explores his surroundings with passion resolutely within a world with no clear focus”, claims curator Guo Xiaoyan. In  Ouyang Chun: Jigsaw painting she began to comprehend Ouyang Chun’s contemporary style: “ Whilst working on the Child painting, with his experience he fully understood the original intent of the painting, and advanced further to illustrate the symbolic message behind the image. Ouyang’s Jigsaw image has the effect as if it’s frozen in time and there lies a hidden, unspoken truth behind the picture frame. This hidden message is captivating and the image begins to reveal itself as if you’ve never seen it before. It is only once you understand the secrecy of it’s features does the symbolism disclose itself to the viewer.  Ouyang’s world of paintings are intricately layered and expose themselves to the viewer through a narrative with an absent viewpoint and deliberately vague theme to uncover his knowledge and intentional use of sentiment.