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This is the last interview I’ll post from the research I did for Art Review. (That article should be coming in the October issue…). It’s an e-mail interview which gives its that weird formality, but at least allows me to post it bilingual. Huang Liaoyuan is a part of a growing self-protectionist movement in Chinese contemporary art. Let me know what you think. Also you have an interpretation for his last answer, I’d love to hear. I’m kind of confused…

黄燎原先生您好,

感谢您用您宝贵的时间回答我的问题。

Mr. Huang Liaoyuan,

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.

北京现代画廊一直致力于”把中国现在艺术留在中国”。您能更详细地对这一努力以及其动机说明一下吗?
The Art Now Gallery has been attached to a larger effort to “Support Chinese art now in China”. Could you please explain a little about this effort and what the motivations behind it are?

这是我针对中国现在艺术的现状提出的阶段性的口号。中国现在艺术的很多经典性作品大量地流到了海外,当中国的美术馆和收藏家意识到它们的价值时,我们要花非常巨大的价钱去买回这些我们其实可以唾手可得的作品,就向国家这两年花大价钱从海外回收古董一样。此其一。其二,我希望更多地培养中国本土的收藏家,我认为只有中国自己的收藏家队伍成长起来,中国的现在艺术才真的有希望。我们不能期望别人来做这个工作。
This is a temporary slogan I came up with based on the current situation in Chinese contemporary art. Massive numbers of classic Chinese contempary art pieces went abroad, and when Chinese art galleries and collectors realized their values, they had to spend much more to get these works back when we could have gotten them easily initially – just as the government is now spending massive amounts of money on buying the antiques back from abroad. Another reason is that I hope China can have its own art collectors. Only when national art collectors have matured, can there be real hope for Chinese contempary art. We can’t rely on others to do this work.

您认为,在经过现在的所谓中国艺术潮之后,为了保持中国艺术的长期健康发展,应采取什么样的措施或是方法?
What do you think is necessary to do to ensure the long-term health of Chinese contemporary art – beyond the popularity boom that it’s now experiencing?

冷静。艺术家、画廊、收藏家和拍卖行都要冷静。艺术家不应该为迎合市场而创作,画廊要尽量控制艺术家因为膨胀而要求的无休止提升价格,收藏家不要有过于强烈的投机心理,拍卖行尽量不要上拍艺术家的新作品。整个艺术的产业链要完善,每个环节各自建立并遵守自己的规则。
Calm down. Artists, galleries, collectors and auction agents all have to calm down. Artists should not create for the market, and galleries should control their prices – not submit to artists’ requests to raise them because of the exploding demand. Collectors should not be too opportunistic, and auction agents shouldn’t exaggerate the value of new art works. The chain of the whole art industry should be more integrated, with each part establishing and following its own rules.

您认为北京的艺术圈和艺术氛围与中国其他地区相比有什么特点?
What do you feel are the qualities that define Beijing’s arts scene from the others in China?

北京市一个越来越国际化的城市,接受的外来信息比较多,所以北京的艺术氛围明显活跃,而也正因为如此,北京的艺术分为不可避免地浮躁和杂乱。北京容易产生惊世骇俗的“大作品”,同时北京也容易产生短命的流行艺术。不踏实,是北京艺术的命门。
Beijing is a city that is becoming more and more globalized, has more opportunities to access information from all over the world and hence the art scene is obviously more lively. Also because of this, the art scene in BJ is unavoidably impetuous and rough. It’s easy to create amazing “masterpieces” here in BJ, but at the same time easy to create short-lived trendy art as well.

第四,您认为外界(国外及国内)对于北京乃至中国的当代艺术状况最大的误读误解是什么?
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the current state of contemporary art in Beijing and/or China?

在人类的历史上,从来没有过像今天一样存在着如此尖锐对立的两大势力(阵营)_____无产阶级和资产阶级(社会主义和资本主义),过去基本上是分为穷人和富人(纽约和耶路撒冷)的。这两大阵营分别产生了非常独立的文化(视觉和听觉经验),资本主义文化基本上是沿袭欧洲的古文明,而社会主义文化却像是孙悟空——凭空从石头里蹦出来。两种文化均带有不可磨灭的政治痕迹,和政治抵触情绪。西方世界对中国当代文化一直是采用偷窥的视角,认为是在揭露一个专制国家的黑幕,其实中国的政治已经今非昔比,中国正在融入国际大家庭,中国的艺术家也早就从被动写作变成主动写作了,艺术家笔下的中国现实是艺术家的个人观点,不再代表官方意志,同时也未必代表整个民众或者进步的知识界。
In the human history, the proletariat and bourgeoisie (Socialism and Capitalism) has never confronted with each other so blatantly, which used to be between poor and rich (New York and Jerusalem). These two groups produced their own unique cultures, through visual and audio experiences. Capitalist culture basically follows along with European civilization, while Socialist culture is more like the monkey king – it comes from nowhere, not based on any civilization. Both have undeniable political traces, and anti-political emotions. The western world is used to looking at Chinese contemporary art as a peep show, a revealing of a dictatorial country’s dark scenes. As a matter of fact, the political scene of China today is not comparable to its past; China is more and more integrated to the world, and Chinese artists have already changed from passive creation to initiative-driven creation. The art works by Chinese artists no longer convey the government’s will, but, at the same time, don’t necessarily convey the intention of the nation or the intellectuals, either.

Huang Liaoyuan is an art critic, curator, and Director the Beijing Art Now Gallery. Besides his art work, Huang is an influential contributor to China’s rock scene for years, as a critic, manager, and organizer of “Glorious Path of Chinese Rock & Roll,” a three-day music festival held in 2004 at the foot of Mt. Helan in northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

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