2011 Recalling Problems in the History of Painting

The earliest human paintings were cave paintings that recorded things in life. However, they were able to make a breakthrough to objectively record nature, constituting painting as human creativity, which is shown in the consecutive double-square or four-square in original ethnic containers. Those patterns manifest that creativity is continuous “rhythm” and “vitality.” Its existence was positioned by anthropologists as a cultural phenomenon under the “universal animism” system of a theological nature. However, the major accomplishments obtained by the concept of painting in modern times is humans breaking away from the gods and using themselves as aesthetic criteria to create the concept of “art.” These formed paintings were used to express the creative mode of human emotion. This emotion is the source of aesthetics. At the same time, it is also the foundation of using emotions for learning and tasting, thereby creating the concept that painting is art.


For a long time, paintings were often used as a starting point for our observation of “beauty.” Learning painting is practically cultivating taste constructing, or forming the ability to beauty appreciating. In fact, the constructing of “taste” was influenced by the reproduction process of nature. That is manifested in the expression that beauty is the “reproduction of nature.” However, the development of the concept of art eventually went through a change of perspective due to human technology. This is presented in the way that cubism is expressed in art, tossing aside taste (the problem of beauty or ugliness) to seek “truth.” We must seriously take a look at cubism to make a breakthrough of picture frames which hold the thoughts of a virtual vanishing point and virtual three-dimensional space. Its meaning is closer to the truth of the matter and more accurately views our observations as actually being a live observation process. It is not seen as an alleged viewing method for traditional “beauty.” The discovery of photography and printing technology gradually destroyed the authenticity of the painting’s “aura,” and shook up the narrative structure formed by traditional painting. After successive waves of attacks, a trend of painting giving way to photography, composite media art, and art installations was already becoming commonplace. Yet, the self-proclaimed avant-garde still appeared to move towards the declaration that “painting is dead.”


“Is painting dead?” This is the artistic question that I have been pondering over the recent years. Of course, thinking like this, apart from the reluctance to depart as a creator from “painting” as a study process in the exploration of the self, this declaration of “painting is dead,” has seemed to also stir up my sense of responsibility within “painting.” Perhaps the existence of painting, as others have said, “seems to have entered the Forbidden City.” However, when faced with human “emotions,” painting has many qualities that other art cannot replace. So when conceptual art uses the form to reflect my own attitude towards art, perhaps they neglected that the origin of art stemmed from the inherent characteristics of life. This kind of palpitating is related to “emotion,” “temperature,” and the “actual functions of the body.” Of course, my concern is not purely returning to the original position of painting, but what direction painting should take in the future! As to this direction, I believe that the temperature of “painting” is a key concept. Even if minimalism wishes to lower the temperature, they cannot go without temperature and lower it to zero. This process illustrates that “painting” should be viewed as a subject. “Concept” should not be viewed as a subject. This is the direction painting should take.


(Organized by CHU, WEN-HAI)