谢曹闽 XIE CAOMIN

 

Faithful Believer

A Faithful Believer,48x42" oil on canvas,2013

 

Group Photo Comrade

Group Photo2011#1_Comrades, oil on canvas

 

 

Group Photo 2010

Group Photo2010, oil on canvas 72x96"

 

Face and Facial Makup


Even since childhood,I was always captivated by the facial makups used in Peking Opera.I was devastated also anxious by the black and white patterns of the makeup and the exaggerated expressions the actors delivered under the cantabile facial makeup.I sought for their true appearance under the makups invariably until one day, I witnessed the whole process of an actor took off his performing makeup. As the paint slowly dissolved by the cleansing oil, then gradually washed away, I saw his faced changed from one appearance to varies images. Each year when my parents ask me what I want for my birthday I would say an opera makeup kit. However,this birthday wish had never came true.

When I entered elementary school, I saw another kind of makup; It did not appear on stage, instead, I glimpsed it on the poster of open trials the government posted out for political prisoners. For some reason, faces of culprits on the poster were always scribbled anonymously right after it was posted. Even some times the whole face would be ripped out, all it left for us to see was pieces of chaotic lineaments.I would think this might be people's way to let off their anger, disgust or fear towards the offender. Or maybe they did it intentionally because they are family members of the offender and did not want to be recognized by the neighbors. Time past by, rain and sun come and go, those scrawled faces on the posters were slowly corroded. The process was just like mimicking an opera actor taking off his makup, just there would never be a genuine human face coming out the corrasive poster images. Compare to the brief description of the crime on the posters, I felt more apprehensive toward the slowly distorted faces.

Since middle school, I started to take private drawing classes. Among all the objects, I felt portraits are the hardest to draw; even a slight deformation could make the image become someone else. My teacher always tell me: “when you observe the object, you have to lock your observaton out of your memory, image alters in your memories.”I realized the inconsistency between memory and observation through endless revising and finally could paint portraits with ease.

During High school, I browsed through the catalog of Norwegian Artist Edward Munch. He has a famous painting called “The scream”: Munch portrayed a figure with a screaming facial expression with his quivering brush strokes, or more specifically,the feature looks more like a screaming facial makeup. Every inch of the brush stroke was portraying a face, at the same time also sustained the “scream”; the high pitched screaming sound tremors the facial muscles thus caused distortion of his facial features.

In my school's library I saw some other catalogs as well, they were photo albums of Culture revolution. Some faces in the photo were scrawled intentionally, some were covered by heavy black ink and some used the same brush strokes like Munch did around the figures' faces, carefully painted around the outline. Some of the photographs were individual portraits and others were group photos: every person in the photographs sat square, looked up slightly, like they were waiting for others to make a final judgment toward the destiny of their face. I know those people whose faces got scrawled in the photographs were the ones chose the wrong side during culture revolution time. There is a technical term to describe the mistake they made called “ A historical mistake”. Face, as a status symbol were altered by the evolvement of history.In my opinion, by expressing through the same technique, Munch simulated the sound of scream but in else images, it bought out silence.

My major in college was sculpture. To sculpt and present a face through varies materials, I learned that with appropriate distortion sometimes could bring the figure more to real.I prefer to use clay, because the final work comes out through a long process of layering, alternation and continuous creation. It presents to me as a process of change and reminds me of the scene I saw in my childhood which the opera actor slowly taking off his facial makeup . I enjoy the process of creating a sculpture more than the final work itself. The face seems alive during the creation thus the final work presents more like a mask. Though I love facial makeups in Peking opera, I am not a fan of masks at all. Because there are too many masks has to be put on in the life I am living in today and there are too many art about creating more and more masks. Masks are stiff and solid, predictable and dull. Facial makeups are different, they are painted onto somebody’s face, they are soft and alive, they moves and changes with every inch and the facial muscle. They are fighting with our facial features and undertaking the fate together with our face rather than covering it. They could be altered or wiped away, each time they have been painted on will be different from the previous ones. Facial masks often make people anxious but also make us feel real; they always let people become something new instead of just covering ourselves.

Several years ago, when I was flipping through the daily New York Times, I saw an advertisement about Peking opera is going to be present by Metropolitan museum, on the opposite page was talking about “The Scream” by Munch was going to be auctioned. All my memories in the past has been brought out at that moment.

I think it is time to make some painting about the “Face with Makeup”.

 

unknown Hero

Portrait of an Unknown Hero,44x40" oil on canvas,2013

 

historical pictures

Historical Pictures, oil on canvas, 2010

This group of paintings are based on close-up portrait and group photos. They are my interpretation of the conception and misconception of identity, collectiveness and other.

Face is a metaphysical landscape of human being, the domain set in between a figure’s individuality and his social persona.

To twist the image is meant to escape from the face as the center of human being, and rediscover them from the painting’s surface.

Twisted and masked face causes randomness and chaos, which leads the figure escape from the trap of the identity politics to uncertainty, to the border of human and thing, which communicates the idea that a person is not composed of one, but many things. Human is not still within, but is random inside out.

screaming

Screaming, oil on canvas 11x9" 2013

"Significance is never without a white wall upon which it inscribes its signs and redundancies. Subjectification is never without a black hole in which it lodge its consciousness, passion and redundancies. Since all semiotics and mixed and strata come at least in twos, it should come as no surprise that a very special mechanism is situated at their intersection. Oddly enough, it is a face, the white wall/black hole system."

----Deleuze &Guattari, "Thousand Plateau"

 

doppelganger

Doppelganger, oil on canvas 56x70" 2013

A doppelganger is aparanormal double of living person.

Recent scientific experimentation has duplicated several doppelganger effects when electrical stimulation was applied to the left temporoparietal junction of the brain of a patient.

The temporoparietal junction (TPJ) is an area of the brain where the temporal and parietal lobes meet at the posterior end of the Sylvian fissure. This area is known to play a crucial role in self-other distinction processes and theory of mind, and damage to this area has been implicated in producing out-of-body experiences. OBEs may also be induled by electrically stimulating the TPJ. Electromagnetic disruptions of the TPJ have been shown to affect individuals' abilities to make moral decisions.

group photo6

Group Photo #6 oil on canvas 72x96" 2011

 

selfportrait

Selfportrait with facial Makeup, oil on canvas 2010

group photo other gallery

 

Group Photo Series, Exhibition at the Other Gallery, Beijing, 2012