Grasping at Ghosts: The Portraiture of Liang Fu
By Heinz-Norbert Jocks
Translated from the German by Alexandra Skwara with Ben Lee Ritchie Handler
In contrast to photographic portraits, the subjects of Liang Fu’s figurative works are fluid beings—they emerge from nothing and disappear again. The paintings within corps célestes are not the expressions of captured moments, but rather allegories of transition. The bodies appear to function as if unobserved, left to their own devices, and completely alone. They are introvertedly engrossed and lost in thought as they fade in and out.
Fu’s human figures are presented without gender-defining signifiers or characteristics. Faces are veiled in translucent fabrics so that the viewer can only guess at their features: eyes, ears, mouths, and noses are obscured, fragmented, and riddled with gaps. Deep blues contrasted with lighter hues betray density and tease a transparent weightlessness, like the negatives of a photograph. Fu’s execution challenges us to fill-in the missing pieces, to pin-down an apparition, but ultimately we are grasping at ghosts. Occasionally the figures are headless torsos frozen in flux, suspended in movement but propelling forward (or backward) in time and space. His subtle interplay of colors and shapes, light and darkness, opacity and transparency, allows the strength of the spiritual to reveal itself within the aura of the incarnate. These works are intentionally and uniquely anonymous humans-as-portraits, not the other way around. Identity is unnecessary. These celestial bodies are specific in their individuality, yet anyone and everyone all at once.
The works of corps célestes oscillate between absence and presence, abstraction and figuration, the real and ethereal. A contemplative atmosphere asserts itself in the in-between as in both traditional Chinese painting and western modernism—there is a great tension when a void is defined as much by its subject as the subject by its surrounding void. Fu recalls the painting Angler on a Wintry Lake, 1195, by Mǎ Yuǎn of the Song Dynasty. Within the composition, a lonely, bearded man crouches on a little wooden boat with a fishing rod, gazing at the wave-tossed water, full of expectation. Rendered with a few strokes, the monochrome emptiness of water and sky spreading out around the man is as essential as the figure himself. The two exist in opposition, yet perfect balance. To Fu, Yuǎn’s piece is not dissimilar from the still lifes of Giorgio Morandi. His vases, bottles, bowls, and flowers are delineated by their isolation, their existence articulated by the lack which envelopes them. Fu expounds on these traditions within his practice, his paintings are defined by absence and emptiness and the transitory nature of each.
When every object, every figure is in a state of articulating and undoing itself, the idea of permanence is just a construct draped over reality. In contextualizing corps célestes, Fu cites a passage from the work “Water and Dreams” by the Frenchman Gaston Bachelard. For the poet and the philosopher, a drop of water is a second in time, and the flowing of a river is eternal death. Fu’s celestial bodies encapsulate the constant back and forth between existence and death, earth and stars, time and space. They are a drop of water in the river of the cosmos.
Liang Fu (b. 1993, Sichuan, China) lives and works in Paris, France. He received his BFA and MFA from National Fine Arts School of Nantes in Nantes, France. Recent exhibitions include DISEMBODIED, Galeria Nicodim, Bucharest (2022); Intangible, Nicodim Upstairs, Los Angeles (2022, solo); Peripheries, Newchild Gallery, Antwerp (2022); Moonstruck Noon, Linseed, Shanghai (2022); petit beurre, Maia Muller Gallery, Paris (2021); Emergence, Riseart Gallery, London (2021).
corps célestes, Fu’s second solo exhibition with Nicodim, opens October 27 in New York.
作者：海因茨 · 诺伯特乔克斯 Heinz-Norbert Jocks
英译：亚历山德拉 · 斯夸拉与 Alexandra Skwara & 本 · 李 · 里奇 · 汉德勒 Ben Lee Ritchie Handler
与摄影人像恰恰相反，付亮画布中的人物是流动的存在 —— 他们从无形中现身而后销匿于无形。《星体燎原》中的作品不仅仅是定格的瞬间，还是过渡的寓言 。画布中的人体未被察觉时就已悄然出现，若有所思，孑然一身。他们思绪万千，飘入飘出。
付亮作品中的人体没有特定的性别指示。半透明织物蒙住了面孔，而面纱下唯一能用于感知人物面部特征的眼睛、鼻子、耳朵和嘴巴又是如此地朦胧和支离破碎。深蓝色与浅色调形成的鲜明对比描绘出一种独特的失重感，如摄影底片飘浮于半空中。付亮的笔触引导我们自行填补其中缺失的部分，锁定一个灵，但最终我们只是抓住了虚影。有时，这些人体是在流动中定格的无头躯干，虽静止于运动中，却能自由地在时间和空间中向前（或向后）推进。他 / 她游走于颜色和形状、光和暗、不透明和透明关系的微妙转换中，使精神的力量化身为光环而显现出来。在这些作品里身份是不必要的，它们是有意和独特的匿名人物肖像。天体拥有它们独特的个性，但同时体态万变。
《星体燎原》中的作品在虚空与存在，抽象和具象，真实与空灵之间游走。如同介于中国传统绘画和西方现代主义之间，一种沉思的形态在此间弥散——一种巨大的张力也随之而来，源自付亮将画布中主体与背景之间的关系拓展成为双向的定义与被定义。正如1195年南宋马远的画作《寒湖独钓》中描绘的心境：一个老翁拱坐于他的一叶小舟之上，垂钓于寒水。通过几笔简单的渲染，老翁与其周遭单色调的天空与湖水融在了一起，模糊了背景与主体的对立关系，慢慢趋于平衡。于付亮而言，马远的作品同乔治·莫兰迪 (Giorgio Morandi) 的静物写生有异曲同工之妙。莫兰迪的瓶、碗、罐和花因其孤立性而被勾勒出来，而周围包裹着的负空间则阐述它们的存在。付亮在他的创作过程中阐述了这些传统，缺乏和虚空以及其稍纵即逝的特征探讨了他的绘画。
当每一个物体，每一个形象都处于一种自我表达和消解的状态时，永恒的概念只是覆盖在现实之上的一种构想。将 corps célestes （个展的法文标题）带入语境时，付亮引用了法国作家加斯东·巴什拉（Gaston Bachelard）作品《水与梦》中的一段话。对于诗人和哲学家来说，一滴水是一秒钟的时间，一条河流的流动是永恒的死亡。付亮的天体囊括了生与死、地与星、时空之间的不断来回。它们是宇宙恒河中的一滴水。
付亮（生于1993年，中国四川）在法国巴黎生活和工作。他在法国南特国立美术学院获得了艺术学士和艺术硕士学位。最近的展览包括 DISEMBODIED 《脱胎换骨》，霓凯典，布格拉斯（2022 年）；Intangible《如影随形》，霓凯典4楼，洛杉矶（2022，个展）；周边，Newchild，安特卫普（2022 年）； Moonstruck Noon，LINSEED，上海（2022 年）； petit beurre，Maia Muller，巴黎（2021 年）；出现，Riseart，伦敦（2021 年）。