30 Years West

At the beginning of 1985, I finally made it to the continent with my savings. I went to the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, France, Hungary and Germany in this order. There was still that wall separating East and West Germany, guarded by American and British soldiers with guns and graffiti. I went straight into East Germany with my Chinese passport. The wall of the East German National Museum was full of holes created by the war, and there were many buildings bombed but not yet repaired. One deep impression was a big painting by Menzel under the sunlight in the National Museum. Museums were the only thing I was after, so in order to save money, I lived in hostels, ate bread and walked all the time, took ferries, buses and trains for long distance travel.

1985年始,我用畫像積攢下的錢踏上了向往已久的歐洲之旅。先後去了荷蘭、意大利、希臘、法國、匈牙利和德國,那時東德和西德還隔著一堵高大的圍墻,瞭望臺上站著持槍的美軍和英軍哨兵,附近的墻上畫滿了塗鴉。我執著中國護照直接進入了東德。東德國家美術館墻上,布滿了二戰時留下的彈洞,有不少飛機轟炸後還沒修復的建築。印象頗深的是,在國家美術館空曠的大展廳裡,我特意找到畫家門采爾(Adolph Menzel)的作品,擡頭望去,只見刺眼的太陽透過玻璃,直接照射在門采爾的大幅畫面上。為了參觀美術館和博物館,為了節約用錢,我每天就住青年旅社、啃面包、步行,采用的交通工具是輪船、汽車和火車。

I decided that I was to start again in art school in 1986. I studied at Maidstone College of Art in Kent for a year, then moved to Chelsea College of Art, participating in a three month exchange program to Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris. I received my first class Bachelor of Arts in 1989, and immediately enrolled in the Royal College of Art.

8 6年我有了新的打算,決定去美術學院從頭學起。在肯特(Kent)的邁德斯頓美術學院(Maidstone College of Art)學了一年,後又轉到倫敦切爾西美術學院(Chelsea College of Ar t),還申請去巴黎國家美術學院做了三個月的交換學生,8 9年獲得一等學士學位,同時考取了皇家美術學院(Royal College of Art)。

Under the influence of Thatcher’s politics and total privatisation, there was a lot of discontent amongst young people in Britain by the 1990s. Against this background, the Young British Artist movement was born, rebellious and free. You have Tracy Emin, the Chapman Brothers, Gavin Turk, Chris Ofili from the Royal College of Art, and even livelier in Goldsmiths, you have Damien Hirst and his fellow artists. “YBAs”, “Saatchi”, “Sensation”, the whole international art world paid great attention to British artists.

20世紀90年代,英國在撒切爾政治和經濟政策全面私有化的影響下一片蕭條,到處是民眾的抱怨聲,反叛現實和自由奮鬥催生了英國年青藝術家(Young BritishArtist)。皇家美院有崔西·艾敏(Tracey Emin)、查普曼兄弟(Jake & Dinos Chapman)、加文·特克(GavinTurk)、克里斯·奧菲利(Chris Ofili)等藝術家,而金史密斯學院(Goldsmiths College)更為活躍,湧現出以达明·赫斯特(Damien Hirst)為領頭羊的一批年輕藝術家。“YBA(年輕藝術家一代)”,“Saatchi(薩奇)”,“Sensati on(轟動)”,英國藝術家被照射在國際藝術舞臺的聚光燈下。

ART.ZIP Issue 11 Sep. 20142 copy

In 1991, after graduating from the Royal College of Art, I had no luck approaching galleries, applying for artist residencies or teaching positions, but I was welcomed by another international wave and started working within the field of cultural studies, Third World theories, post-colonialism and in the so-called ‘in-between’. For my dream of becoming an international artist, I spent a fortune renting a studio in King’s Cross and swore I would keep fighting the system.

91年,皇家美院畢業後,我申請畫廊、藝術家進駐和教師工作都沒碰上好運,這時又受到另一股新國際主義思潮的影響,在文化研究、第三世界理論、後殖民主義和所謂中間地帶工作,為實現做國際藝術家的夢想,我在國王十字車站附近(Kings Cross)租了一間工作室,發誓和體制繼續鬥爭。

More and more Chinese artists arrived in London. They were from all over China, and they all went down to the streets and worked for money, in the centre of London, Paris, Berlin and New York. In 1995, Ms. Jessie Lim from Lambeth Chinese Community found me and invited me to research an upcoming exhibition Journeys West, for the production of which they had recently received a grant. As Jeremy Theophilus, the curator, wrote in the catalogue: “The motivation for Journeys West has been the recognition that there is an important and growing group of artists in the United Kingdom whose roots are based in Chinese culture, yet whose identity and aspirations are focused within a European context.” I had previously published in 1994 in Orientations magazine (Hong Kong) and Overseas Chinese Huaren magazine (London) “A Study Concerning Chinese Artists in the UK”, in which I addressed problems related to the artistic practices of Chinese artists in the UK in the modern and contemporary period, and explored their situation through examining identity and cultural issues. I had seen something very distinct in Li Yuan-chia. Artist Li Yuan-chia was born in Guangxi, China in 1929 as an orphan.

He moved to Taiwan in 1949, and was a member of the Orient Movement. Li moved from Italy to the UK in 1966, settled in the Lake District in 1968 and founded his museum LYC Museum in 1972. He passed away in 1994. I saw in him the destiny and situational limitations of a Chinese artist in the UK.


1995年,蘭貝斯中國社區(Lambeth ChineseCommunity)的傑西林(JessieLim)女士找到我,說他們申請到藝術委員會的經費,要我為展覽做些研究工作,由當時在艾塞克斯大學畫廊的傑里米(Jeremy Theophilus)策展,畫冊前言中寫道:“ 這次展覽的動機是因為我們認識到英國有一群正在崛起的中國藝術家,他們根植於中國文化土壤,然而,他們的身份和抱負卻形成於歐洲的範圍中。由於各種原因他們從未在一起展覽和探討他們面臨的問題”。94年我曾在香港的《方向(Orientations)》和倫敦華人雜誌《中國人》同時發表過《關於留英的中國藝術家及其研究》,從近代到現代留英藝術家的創作看問題,從身份和文化認同上找原因。後來我在中國藝術家李元佳身上看到了一個不同的例子,李元佳1929年出生中國廣西,遺孤,1949年去臺灣,東方畫會成員。1966年,他轉從意大利移居英國,1968年定居在湖區,1972年建立了李元佳博物館(LYC Museum),1994年病故。從他身上我看到一個旅英中國藝術家的命運和環境的限制。

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