The Lost Glory – Wang Limin
When reading carefully on “Praise” series by Wang Limin, sensitivity comes to me. Art works from artists’ real emotion always have a special attraction.
Wang Limin’s resent works “Praise” series expresses the artist’s deep care of lost spirit . There is an extraordinary sensitivity in his works, which is represented by the thought of critical social issues, as well as the accurate expression of people’s attitude.
In his work “Praise 2006 NO.1”, the artist shows us a picture of a fashionable girl standing in front of the national flag and red stars, showing her beauty, sexiness and attraction of youth. Her eyes can see others are staring at her, but she doesn’t feels nervous, so as her smile. Apparently this girl is one of the younger generations growing up in the popular culture. Her look and attitude reminds us of those super stars created by the media. In this painting, the artist adopts the method of photography, of which it should be a successful piece of word. When looking at this kind of pictures, people will say “well done” or “great”, but no deep impression left. This kind of images is way too common in our daily life nowadays. They can be seen from the media, advertisements and all kinds of photo albums. However, when the artist put this image together with the national flag and the shining red star, the whole painting immediately has a strong power to the audience. The power comes from the sense which people
feel familiar but in totally different situation.
The combination of flags and shining red stars is the most recognized picture to Chinese people since 1949. For long, it has been the symbol of glory and nobility. In people’s mind, only serious looks are suitable to them. When the artist integrates these two popular images of two different times, the beauty and energy of the girl contradicting to the glory of national flags and red stars makes people fees the changing of time and lost of spirit.
It has been 20 years since Chinese introduced the open-up policy. Since then China has been experiencing the greatest change and adjusting, which has been into every aspect of people’s life. China has become an open, modern country. The way of thinking and concept of value has changed thoroughly as well. Many out-of-dated habits and thoughts are abandoned, replaced by new and more suitable ones. However, during this whole process, many valuable things we once had disappeared without our consciousness.
Award diploma was once the most common item in Chinese life. It has been the most influential to young people for their career, study and personality in particular. It meant double identity; the identity the giver to the receivers of their success, as well as the identity the receivers to the giver of their authority and value system they represent. In those materially short handed but still passionate years, Award diploma was the major comfort to hard working people. But gradually, Award diploma has been away from our life and become old fashioned. In the world of business, the value system Award diploma represent has lost its authority, coming along with the feeling of lost glory in people’s heart.
Maybe it is hard to say the stimulating system of Award diploma is good or bad to Chinese people’s personality, but the feel of lost glory is obviously the negative effect of Chinese reformation. Corresponding to Award diploma is morals and self-restraint. The feeling of accomplishment is a positive effect to the society, and connected with “altruism” spirit, which is the core aspect of traditional Chinese value. In the materialized word, people lose their character and this spirit was lost in the stream of tradition destruction.
The artist is well known of creating certain emotion presenting the details of daily life with the content of history. “Praise 2006- I love Tiananmen Square” can easily help people to think about those days when awarded workers taking pictures in front of Tiananmen Square. In their heart, Tiananmen was the place of sanctity, taking pictures there meant a lot to people of that time. In this work, two girls in front of the camera are smiling and stylish, showing their beauty. In real life, this kind of faces is supposed to be pleasing and attractive. But when the artist put it into this kind of sense, into the context of history, the audience naturally will compare those unsophisticated and passionate model workers with the young confident girls. In such contrast people feels the lost of traditional values which were deeply influenced Chinese in the young generation’s mind, as well as the consciousness of the artist.
In “Praise No.11”, the artist expresses his deep regards about the lost spirit. Under the flags and red stars, there standing two young students with different looks: one is elegant, decisive, forceful and full of faith; the other is slack, weary and so confused. The artist is trying to compose a symbolist image of complications by double metaphor of simplified vision. Obviously red stars and flags are representing the faith of dignity and glory. The decent and forceful image is the representation of this spirit, meanwhile the weary and confused student indicates the lost of value and faith. However, Wang Limin’s works are not simply criticizing the younger generation by glorifying the decency, besides the very energetic and unique younger generation is not supposed to be criticized. In his works “Praise 2006 No.5” and “Praise 2006 No.6 ”, the artist has presented the confusion and faith of blankness, formality and blindness, comparing to “Praise 2006 No. 1” and “Praise 2006 No. 2”.
In this series, the artist has tried different kinds of expression, which is obviously the exploration of the best kind. His works show us an exceptional sensitivity, which represents by his care of social issues, as well as the accurate expression of people’s attitude. In “praise 2006 No. 2” he vividly describes the favorable smile. In “Praise 2006 - I love Tiananmen Square”, the smile on the girls’ faces is touching. This kind of sensitivity comes from the artist’s heart, because of which he can catch his real feelings deep in his heart. Because of his honesty, he can walk into others’ world, observing their feelings. Because of his true feeling and understanding, he enriches his works of unique influence. In “Praise No.10”, four girls each have different looks and characters, which are fully delivered. They are only abrupt to the audience in this certain situation created by the artist. Alternate allocation endues the works a strong tension, emphasis the consciousness of the artist, also raising the emoti
on of the audience.
By Fang Zhiling, visiting scholar of Central Academy of Fine Arts.