How to Use Painting to Mock Painting--Bao Dong
The attraction of Duan Jianyu*s paintings lies in the subtle balance between different elements. Naturally forming fabrications, dry narratives, magnanimous play, excellent vulgarity, painstakingly controlled rashness; all of these are unified in her painting, which gives her paintings enormous capacity.
She has fabricated a character, Big Sis, dressed up as a flight attendant, always busy with all kinds of stuff in all kinds of settings around the world, as if she*s always on the road. Connected to this is a set of luggage, moving from Paris to New York to Zhumadian; are they ※Big Sis*s§? Big Sis 每 Flight Attendant 每 Fly 每 Travel 每 Luggage; this is a typical rhetorical metonymy, because where there*s luggage, then there must be Big Sis, and because there is Big Sis, it seems as if everything connected to Big Sis actually happened.
       Duan Jianyu has concealed this elegant narrative rhetoric into her creative works, and this goes as far as to link all of her works together into a single, long story, and it also beckons us to see her works as a connected, unified whole, because her creations are always in a state of metonymy.
This metonymical relationship does not emerge merely between artworks; it also takes place between artwork and reality. With her, the relationship between art and reality is no longer about reflection and the reflected or vehicle and tenor, but about proximity and metonymy. In this kind of relationship, art and reality appear as two linked phrases in a sentence, or two related chapters in a novel. In this light, Duan Jianyu*s paintings are no longer a world bound by a frame; they can extend endlessly. Nor is painting used as metaphor for reality, instead it is used to mix up reality, like an aside in a story 每 just a little tangent 每 effortlessly, the original plot is broken and the narrator begins another story.
This calls to mind the films of Luis Bunuel, which move lithely from one event taking place to another event, maybe because of a person or an object, and this narrative mixes up our experience (a narrative mode we are used to), leads us to doubt, not about the movie but about our own experience 每 does every event necessarily require a sound ending?
This narrative expansiveness and openness makes Duan Jianyu*s paintings virtually capable of containing all resources, from art classics to grassroots stories, from urban life to pastoral songs, even from the inside of painting to the outside. In this sense, we call her a painting because of our bias. She is actually someone who often uses paintings to weave stories, just like the role she played inLife Guide.
In fact, for her, painting is a place where she can freely scribble pictures. She has never had appealed about how paintings should be painted, and she doesn*t feel the pressure of needing to paint in a certain way. As far as sentences that begin with ※how§ are concerned, Duan Jianyu has always maintained a mocking posture. Taking it a step further, she doesn*t care one bit about any standard constructs such as ※how to relax oneself in the highlands§, ※how to spend the night in the grassland§, ※how to love life with a passion§ or ※how to shape one*s sentiments§, including constructs about painting.
For this reason, painting gains liberation in self mockery. In painting she tries all kinds of methods 每 including chickens, watermelons, bad taste, dirty paint, wisecracks, the mundane, commercial paintings, pretense, cheapness, clumsy imitation, girlishness, etc 每 to make a mockery of painting. This is the method Duan Jianyu uses to grant freedom to painting.
Overall, metonymy is her collected rhetorical technique, and self mockery is her grandiose and careless posture. So called painting is but a reason for us to be entranced with it, a strategy that springs from the depths of her heart.
       ㄗTranslated by Crosby Jeffrey Danielㄘ
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