• Wild Things

    Date posted: October 31, 2008 Author: jolanta
    Su Zi-Han’s series of paintings titled I Only Love Strangers freely expresses a strong desire and love for sex, as well as intoxication. Great changes have taken place in China over the past 30 years, which impact directly on people’s way of life, their mentality, and young people’s values. The sexual awareness of youth has become much more direct and complicated. In the past, sex had to be inhibited as China went through modernization and required its people to focus on economics, discouraging young people from spending time and energy on sex. Image

    Duan Jun

    Image
    Su Zi-Han, I Only Love Strangers No. 1-1, 2008. Oil on canvas, 100 x 130 cm. Courtesy of Tian’s Art Space.

    Su Zi-Han’s series of paintings titled I Only Love Strangers freely expresses a strong desire and love for sex, as well as intoxication. Great changes have taken place in China over the past 30 years, which impact directly on people’s way of life, their mentality, and young people’s values. The sexual awareness of youth has become much more direct and complicated. In the past, sex had to be inhibited as China went through modernization and required its people to focus on economics, discouraging young people from spending time and energy on sex.

    Nowadays, however, labor plays a much smaller part in economic development, and China’s economy is growing fast. Young people begin pursuing their desires, such as the needs for sex and love. The statement of desire and youth made by Su in his series, I Only Love Strangers, criticizes the past social standards, and praises young people who are brave enough to go after what they yearn for. Through publicizing the longing for sexual passion and satisfaction from fulfilling desires as shown in Su’s paintings, he seems to say that young people would reject the traditional values and behaviors of old generations. Is this possible in China? Artists from the new generation, including Su Zi-Han, are exploring the possibilities.

    The negative-like effect in the paintings solves Su’s problem in choosing social or individual themes. The negative-like imagery stands for a reminder, a reminder of his way of painting, layers and composition, perspectives and angles, as well as a warning of women, desire, and appearance. The most important feature of negative paintings is the complementing of colors, like mutual conversion between positive and negative electrodes. The negative paintings of Su Zi-Han reveal the bipolar situations he is often in, such as virtuality vs. reality, beauty vs. danger, appearance vs. essence, and stability vs. change. Young artists like Su Zi-Han have been under the deep influence of the Internet. The Web, for them, is not the secondary world serving to complement the actual world. In many cases, the Internet becomes primary. The shift between the online and real worlds, and rapid changes of surroundings usually blur the line between reality and virtuality.

    Danger lurks behind Su’s imagery. If we look at the girls in his negative paintings long enough, we would gradually feel the horror: stylish accessories become tools of torture, and the beautiful faces turn into those of devils. What is the true nature of these female figures? In the history of eroticism, beautiful women are usually considered dangerous. The exquisite female appearance is usually thought to be accomplished by make-up. There are some things that dress up girls in Su’s paintings, like fashionable clothes, sunglasses, handbags, and accessories, which are usually considered superficial. But the more important intention of Su’s is to depict the life of young people, and highlight the influence of the time on new generations, to gradually build an image of these young people. Young girls in his paintings are always in hip dresses, and seem to have excellent taste. They are the kind of people that the artist observes in his life. Some factors that make these girls pretty are stable and traditional, while other more important factors are changing and current.  

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