TEXT BY 撰文 x Peng Zuqiang 彭祖強
It’s coming to the time of the year, when many art graduates are moving out of the studio spaces that they have worked at for several years at art schools. When asking them the big question of ‘what’s next” after their degree shows, one common reply is that “…I will need to find a studio space first…” Indeed, for many, a studio is a pre-requisite for maintaining their art practice. However, there are also other students who simply consider their laptop or bedroom as their studio spaces.
Studios can be considered as birthplaces for many art works, on the other hand, certain artworks never moved out of the studio. The artist might discontinue it, or it might not attract the eyes of the curator and collectors. Studios in the classical era often appear in the form of workshop, in which a few assistants and students would help an artist to produce paintings and sculptures. It is common to see on the labels of renowned paintings, that the ‘workshop’ rather than the leading artist makes them. Famous examples including paintings by Workshop of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, that are on display in the collection of National Gallery in London.
工作室或許是許多藝術品的誕生之地，反而言之，也有許多作品永遠無法離開工作室，它們可能被藝術家放棄，或是沒有被策展人或收藏家所欣賞。在古典時期，工作室常常是以‘作坊’（workshop）的形式出現。這其中，藝術家會有諸多助手協助其完成一幅畫作。而作品最終的署名也會以整個作坊的名義。一個有名的例子，就是在英國國家美術館中陳列的老彼特·勃魯蓋爾工作坊（Workshop of Pieter Bruegel the Elder）的一些名作。
Art production was never a single genius’s work. Studio is still considered to be the place where the artist’s genuineness and inspirations reside. In the modernist era, when the ‘genius’s artist figure’ is further amplified by the mass media. The studio is usually presented, in forms of photography or documentary, as an almost sacred place that is coherent to the artist figure. Sketches, prototypes, and materials surround the male masters of painting, usually alone in their own studio. In the recent exhibition ‘Mondrian and his Studios’ at Tate Liverpool, his studio space at Paris was recreated in the exhibition space. Mondrian’s studio space seems to be the very first place where he experiment with how painting would influence a three-dimensional space. Seeing how his own paintings interact with the furniture, and colour grids on the wall spaces, it is not difficult to discover why he will become such a great inspiration for many designers and architects. But the idea of showing the studio in museums and gallery is an interesting one, since the studio therefore also becomes a piece of art work, open to spectators to find out the relation between the studio, the art works, and the artist. And certainly in the case of Mondrian, the space of his painting and space of his studio forms an interesting comparison.
大多數藝術品通常並不是藝術家們的天才之作，儘管如此，藝術家工作室仍常常被看作是藝術家靈感和天賦的來源。步入現代藝術史時期，藝術家的‘天才’形象被大眾媒體進一步放大。而藝術工作室，則通常借助攝影或是紀錄片的形式傳播於媒體之中，它們往往和藝術家的形象高度統一：繪畫大師（通常為男性），獨自一人在工作室中作畫，身邊擺滿草稿、模型和材料。在泰特利物浦當前的展覽《蒙德里安和他的工作室（Mondiran and his Studios）》中，蒙德里安在巴黎的工作室被復制重現於展覽空間之中。蒙德里安的工作室看上去是他探索如何用繪畫來影響立體空間的實驗場。他的畫作和室內家具及墻上的裝飾交相呼應，由此不難看出蒙德里安的作品為何會成為許多設計師和建築師靈感的來源。而在這個展覽中，工作室本身也成為了一件藝術作品，觀者可以自主探索工作室和藝術家以及作品之間的關係。而蒙德里安精心布置的工作室空間也和他同樣注重空間幾何的繪畫風格形成一組有趣的比較。
Curators and Critics practice something called studio visit. Those who visit the studio get to see the work before its final presence in the exhibition spaces. From there the completion of an art work also includes contribution from the visitors. A work in the studio is usually different from a work presented in a museum. Take Matisse’s practice for instance, it can be argued that Matisse’s paper cut outs were considered as part of an ‘environment’, the different cut-outs are together to form a ‘bigger picture’, as they are arranged in his studio space, rather than being framed, and displayed individually as art objects in the exhibition form we are more familiar with these days. Out of the studio space and in the white cube space of museum, the work is presented out of its original context.
In the post-studio era, the image of the studio has diversified. The contemporary studios, range from the huge artist factory to a powerful laptop, from a research lab to a desk in the artist flat. It is not necessarily a place where hands and clothes get dirty; the idea of physical space is no longer a major concern for many. The definition of ‘The Studio’ accommodates the increasingly expanding understanding of art practice, and evolves with it almost simultaneously.
However, what a physical space does provide is the peer group environment. In art school, the art practice modules are often named as ‘Studio practice’. In an art college setting, many students would share a room that is divided into different studio spaces, or just ‘tables’. Despite the limited space given, the accompanying of other students, the conversation and inspiration one can get in a studio environment are both crucial to many young artists’ development. This also carries on benefiting the artist in the earlier stage of their career, when they need to share rented studio spaces with others. Therefore, the studio needs to be open. Events such as ‘Open Studios’ these days, invites the public to see arts in non-exhibition formats. It opens up the gap between the private and the public.
The increasing amount of foreign residencies rejects a narrow definition of the studio as fixed and local space. As artists nowadays complete their research through traveling or swap studios with artist abroad, the space of the studio has moved beyond its white walls. It is becoming increasingly fluid and temporary. Many artists consider the cyber space as their studio; artists live online while the storage is left to the cloud. Nevertheless, in this so-called post-internet eras, as increasing amount of artists are advancing their technology. There’s no need to have a physical well-lit space, and the overtly often conversations and exchanges could even be considered as redundant to some artists. This is a reflection of the shift from a labor-intensive art production; to the increasingly conceptual-led or technologically informed art practice.
Nowadays, studio is no longer a sacred place where only the artistic gestures are performed, the artist is more than anytime in the history, situated in a network of the art world. Studio therefore is also a space where emails and other daily mundane tasks are resolved. The art admin works that continues to demand artist’s production hours is taking over much of the ‘practice’ time. The indoor labor of art production to many mostly operates through a laptop. Throughout history, studio serves as the temporary space for a piece of artwork. Studio never dies, it is only been increasingly understood in its expanded forms.