12.29.2016 → 03.20.2017
Three Man Exhibition is an ordinary name which could also be the title of a common exhibition. Just like the names of Nine Persons Painting Exhibition and Park Exhibition which only name themselves with the number of artists and the location of the exhibition, the Three Man Exhibition recalls us the original, simple and pure form of an exhibition. At that time, those exhibitions would print the invitations, hold relevant open talks and publish some reports on art media. Besides, without the identity of “curator” or so-called “artistic circle”, the situation of art ecology was not complex at all and everything went simply and clearly. Moreover, as a platform for like-minded artists to gather together and communicate with each other, exhibition is only a small part of an artist’s career.
With specified requirements in different fields of art, the term of “exhibition” only serves for artist, which concretes the history and experience of art, reflecting the artist’s understanding of the paintings. When the artists discuss about painting, the topics involve the style, skill, talent and what kind of genre has influenced it. The name or the text of an exhibition could not determine the value of the painting. Instead, discussions and comments among peers are more important to criticize the paintings. Most of time, the process of criticism is not complicated as the artists could judge an artwork and express their feelings about the work quickly. Actually, the subjective opinions of artists are more real than the theoretical research as they are intuitive judgments caused by practical experience in painting. Though the judgment of painting concerns the epistemology, experience and even prejudice, comments from peers of art are the rules to evaluate the artworks.
For the artists nowadays, the mode of “exhibition” can only approach a period or several stages of the artists’ career instead of their whole works. Therefore, as the curator of the Three Man Exhibition, instead of proposing a strong opinion or making a historical comparison, I select three artists – Xia xiaowan, Mao Yan and Ma Ke – who share the similarities such like excellent drawings, outstanding style, extraordinary and independent personal methodology. Furthermore, all of them are free from the mainstream culture for ages.
I aimed to pick up the works of the three artists and form a conceptual clue with a strict logic. However, through in-depth communication with the artists, I changed my mind because not all of the works could be connected with a certain relation. Actually, there are several ways to curate an exhibition: you can construct a narrative structure when selecting works and you can also just present all the works simply without any internal relation among the works. In regard to this exhibition, it shows the individual intention and state of those three artists: the consciousness of “free deformation” throughout the various periods of Xia Xiaowan’s creation; “Portrait Series” is the only clue of Mao Yan’s painting subject; “The Image of a Painter” appears in Ma Ke’s painting repeatedly, either overt or covert.
Thus, the implicit clue – repeated diversity – is revealed from the paintings of those three artists. Accordingly, as a curator, with the perspective of repeated diversity, I raised a couple of discussions as below: How to look at the similar information of the works by the same artist in different periods? Is there any common structure among the similar information? What the information implies? Alternatively, the painting embodies the artist’s perspective, which shows the artist’s taste and judgment of art. As we know, the long and focused work of art creation neither can be presented in an exhibition nor can be identified with a specific value. In so doing, just like an interlocking chain, not only can we hardly judge a painting from the exhibition, but we cannot criticize an exhibition only from the presented works. So here comes the question: How could the artists make relevant adjustments when they face to their works again after the exhibition?
Without making any conclusion or much decoration, in this exhibition, only the paintings and white walls could be seen in the space. Consequently, visitors can calm down and appreciate the paintings without distractions. Those vivid and well-honed paintings not only preserved the original spirit but also accepted the correction and verification constantly in the meanwhile. Additionally, they unfold the artists’ innate talents, showing their fleeting inspirations in a visible and sensible way.
The Three Man Exhibition happens today making the concept of exhibition both familiar and unusual. With the aim of seeking a simple and straight perspective, this exhibition explores the idea of exhibition as well as the meanings of exhibition and future self.（by Cui Cancan）