05 August 2021
For a long time I have felt that there is a big gap between my paintings and what I want to express, and I have tried for a long time to cross this gap, but I still can't find the freedom in my own pictures, and as I have said before, I am not proud of my paintings. There are many people who like my paintings and get warmth or strength in them, and although I am happy, I am not proud of this in my heart, because in my heart I have always felt that my paintings are not my own, that the expressions I use now are not my own, even if they do come from my hand.
Until I recently took a collage course and started using collage again in my drawings, I used to feel that using texture and materials in my drawings was cheating, like contemporary art now relies on textual interpretation, as a competent artist I should impress the viewer with the meaning, colour, shape and content of my drawings, shouldn't I?
When I talked about this with Mark, the course tutor, he said that when you like a novel, do you only like the story itself? The story itself can probably be told in one sentence, but the words in the book, the style of diction, the descriptions of the landscape, the subtle and hidden emotions and plot, it's the collage of these things that make up the novel, is that cheating too? This is just the language you use to express yourself.
When you understand the world with a collage mentality, you will find that everything is collage, not just a collage of your favourite elements, objects, colours, textures into your picture, a collage of your favourite posters onto your bedroom wall, and a collage of your favourite clothes onto your body; this is not plagiarism, but a collection and imitation of references. Yohji Yamamoto once said, 'to be yourself and then start copying what you love, to copy, copy, copy, and in the end, you will find yourself.' All the things you love are the raw materials to make you and your work, truly your own.
In the same way, a collage in a picture is never just a copy and paste, it is an output after absorption, it becomes the vocabulary of your expressive sentences and becomes part of your written style.
I believe that the spirit of collage is to be willing to experiment, not to be afraid to make mistakes, to have fun like a child, to live in the moment.
There is no right or wrong in collage, when you put it up and you think it doesn't work well, you can tear it down or cover it up with a new piece of paper, and the torn texture may have a more unexpected effect. It is a kind of experientialism, an attitude of life that is not designed to expect the unexpected. Don't strive for perfection, don't take the work you are doing too seriously, you will be scared when you are drawing, scared of destroying your work and scared of the unknown, but you are brave, love the fear, enjoy the moment more than the finished work, every piece you make can be the raw material for other works, know that nothing you do will go to waste.
Many viewers, when they see a painting, will ask the artists what they are trying to say in this painting. Mark gave me an example when he said that when a child is playing a game, if you ask him, 'What are you playing this game for? What are you trying to say? He'll probably think you're weird, because he's not thinking that much; the point of playing itself is just to play. To play with all your heart, soul and mind, to play with pleasure. Playing with enjoyment does not mean that you are not taking your artistic creation seriously.'
We cannot predict in advance who we will be like by the time we die, but we can be brave and enjoy every step of the way, and experience the world without regrets, and then, no matter how it ends, we can say that the game was fun and that I played it as hard as I could, with all my heart and soul.
Collage can go on endlessly, and to improve our artistic skills is to know more clearly when to stop.
We don't need to set any themes or meanings for our images in advance, most of the time 'the how' is more important than 'the what'. As an artist you have to trust your images, trust your materials, follow the language of the materials, listen to what your images themselves want to say, and when you are finished you will find that your subtle emotions and stories are actually hidden in the images, and even if you don't say anything, you have to trust your audience and trust that they will tell the story themselves and will see their own story in the mirror of your work.
Love and joy are the most important things, you have to love art, love your creations, go forward with determination, courage, joy and with conviction. Be a collage - be a poetic person.