Art and Politics in China

Art and Politics in China 1949-1984
The Chinese University Press(Hong Kong), 1998

Art and Politics in China 1949-1984

Art and Politics in China 1949-1984



1 From “Small Lu Yi” to “Big Lu Yi”: The Formative Stage, 1949-1956
2 The Vacillating Years, 1956-1966
3 The Stormy Years of the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976
4 The Discovery of “the Self”: A New Era for Chinese Art, 1976-1984

Selected Biography

第4章”The Discovery of “the Self”: A New Era for Chinese Art, 1976-1984”から。

It can be said that, just as China was attempting to modernize scientifically and technologically, the real problem facing Chinese artists in the 1980’s(one that had faced them, indeed, since the collapse of the dynastic system) was how to “modernize” Chinese art. The difficulty in achieving this lay partly in the fact that artists had to contend with the demands of Communist ideological conformity; in addition, they had to overcome the antipathy toward notions of individualism embodied in Chinese culture itself(p.209).

Traditionally, Chinese society was dominated by Confucian values which strove to draw all aspects of social, political and cultural life into an integrated, holistic entity. This resulted in art, along with all other cultural activities, being considered as an intrinsic part of the entire social system, inalienable in particular from prevalent philosophical-moral thinking, an attitude clearly revealed in the ancient saying “the arts are an embodiment of social-political ethics(wenyi zaidao((文以戴道))). We can see evidence of this as early as the time of the Confucian classics, in which Confucius extolled the virtues of certain types of music and poetry for contributing to universal harmony and for putting men in the right frame of mind to carry out their social duties(pp.209-210).

From earliest times in China, then, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the social effects of the arts. For this reason, any work considered part of Chinese high culture generally had to remain within a framework of what was notionally considered to be socially and ethically acceptable and beneficial. As a result, the scholar-official class in imperial China developed a highly refined and broadly uniform style of painting, with a limited range of subject matter, technical application and materials. If one aspired to membership of the elite in imperial China there was little scope for major deviations in one’s artistic work according to one’s own predilections. In fact, major innovation on one’s own initiative would simply not be part of one’s general framework of reference at all. The Confucian system as a whole mitigated against tendencies deemed too “independent”[….](p.210)
著者は李澤厚を引いて、儒教的価値は「藝術それ自体の美学的・形式的法則」の追求を「脇に置く」ことを中国のハイ・カルチャーに強いたと述べている。そのため、20世紀になっても、伝統的な中国美術や”western academic realism”から外れたアートは”a cool reception”しか受けることができなかった。例えば、1930年代における”Jue Lan Association”の挫折(p.211)。また、John Clarkが指摘するように、だからこそ、趙無極も朱徳群も中国を離れ、仏蘭西を拠点にせざるを得なかった(pp.211-212)。

The Chinese experience of art after 1949 comprised almost solely traditional Chinese painting or Socialist Realism, based on academic realism, both of which are inherently conservative, the former depending almost exclusively on early models, and the latter, norm-governed and constrained to achieving a certain degree of similitude vis-à-vis the object or scene being depicted. Such a situation was not conductive to the ready acceptance by a Chinese audience of modernist art styles(p.213).
1980年代に中国が現代アートを受容するに当たっては、”a major paradigm shift in the Chinese artist’s framework of reference”が必要だったし、当然それが伴っていたということになる。
Galikowskiさんに突っ込みを入れるとしたら、儒教の役割に対する過大評価ということだろうか。著者は李澤厚を援用しているわけだが、その李澤厚自身がたしか『美学四講』の中で、中国文化を美的な側面で救ったのは老荘思想であると述べていた筈。著者自身も、本書の最後の方で、中国のアーティストによる”Daoist philosophy”に対する「新たな関心」に言及している(p.232)。