About Cheng Yong’s work
Meanings out of Dots
By Shen Jingdong
There is no doubt that this is an era of reading pictures. People’s dependence on pictures presents the cultural features of fast food, which predicts the coming of the era of public culture.
There is no doubt that this is an era of picture deluge. People are surrounded with many large boards of advertisements on many buildings. Various exquisite vogue magazines, pictorials with stars and beauty heads are coming into our life every day, which not only beautifies the life but also pollutes the sense of vision. Digital cameras, Photoshop, 3 DMAX simplify all means, from photographs to cartoons, DV, TV plays, from static to dynamic, to make either classic masterpieces or modern life very clear.
Times, as a roller coaster accelerated suddenly, carry us turning up and down. Compared to the rapid development of science and technology, the development of art has been also the same. In the past century, art history has become colorful and wonderful as a kaleidoscope. . It is not easy for a strict artist to keep a sober brain. After many years of exploration and research, Chen Yong gave up all technological means in his artworks this year while he again presented dots—Braille which the blind can not see and the normal can not understand in the field of painting by means of simple abstract forms and pure rational minds. His works were entitled with Obstacle.The picture deluge exists because of its momentary understanding of readability, but Chen Yong’s artworks suppose a kind of non-readability in advance. Obviously, those Braille dots have meanings, but we cannot understand. There is some regret just like two deaf people sitting and facing each other, like a foreigner knowing no Chinese meeting with a Chinese knowing no foreign languages without a interpreter, like hoping to get to the other bank with a broken bridge and a sinking boat.
Chen Yong entitled these paintings with Love Letters, Sweetness, Tangling Love, True Voice. Perhaps, this is what Chen Yong’s philosophy is.We can realize that, behind the obstacle made by Chen Yong for us, he wants to express a kind of communication between two people, just as to express an uneasy truth on reading Braille, misreading eastern and western cultures, contradictions of races, religious beliefs, etc. Anyhow, what I see more is a kind of pleasure and state because the obstacle hampers us from judging the meanings of the paintings, we only face the pictures themselves and we can find the tidy colorful dots good looking. What’s more, the importance lies in the dots melting many individual seconds spent by the artist. Therefore, the artist’s behavior process itself is a kind of improvement and experience. I like this state almost like “Buddhist” in Buddhism very much.
As a matter of fact, nothing needs to be explained to it now. A dot is originally meaningless, so is time. But it is this meaninglessness that forms its meanings.
Exhibition Review By Ellen Pearlman, March 2007, Beijing:
A woman lies prone upon an eerie back lit dark and ominous glass examination table. The hands of six men wearing crisp white shirts and black ties touch her naked, dot infested body. It is unclear if she is ill, expired or resting.
This photograph “Diagnose Series I” by Chen Young is part of a series of photos, paintings and sculptures which explore issues of interpretation, barriers, and the break down of meaning by using a dot. Left to its own devices a small round dark circle is essentially devoid of meaning. The dot or overlay in this case is actually letters and words in the Braille language, but serves as a thin patina to obfuscate, not clarify significance. Another photo, “Angle Touch” shows a standing, ill looking woman with dark circles under her eyes also overlaid with dots. It is hard to tell if the dots condemn her, as in fatal sores and pustules, or heal her, as in acupuncture points.
The dots carry over to Chen’s paintings by using the Braille motif to contradicting basic pointillist notions of optical, instead of physical mixing of colors. The dots on his paintings are monotone and present themselves as a type of pixilation, which is the smallest dot of phosphorous color that can appear on a computer screen. Pixilation breaks down the visual plane into its theoretically smallest essence. When something is broken down into its most elemental part, it no longer carries the message of the whole, and thus is rendered insensate.
The dots are then placed onto a white, glossy sculpture not as dark, flat circles but as raised bumps. In this way they become a whole new set of encoded messages specifically rendered in a tactile way. They are hidden instructions, or keys to touch pads which hold a potential further unlocking of even more information. However, jumping between mediums, i.e. photography to painting to sculpture with the same underlying concept has its limits. The sculptures, though attractive, are on the fringe of Chen Young’s thematic motif. Standing on their own they embody entirely different matters of plasticity and spatial arrangement, but do not convey the same sense of disorientation or dislocation.