3 - 21 Nov 2010
CHONGGANG DU | AMBIGUOUS
Artist Statement, 2010
1.Three inch golden lotus, 2010, 111.8 x 91.4cm, oil on canvas
Bound feet were considered intensely erotic. Qing Dynasty sex manuals listed forty-eight different ways of playing with women's bound feet. Some men preferred never to see a woman's bound feet, so they were always concealed within tiny "lotus shoes". If you remove the shoes and bindings, the aesthetic feeling will be destroyed for them, the erotic effect was a function of the lotus gait,the tiny steps and swaying walk of a woman whose feet had been bound. The very fact that the bound foot was concealed from men's eyes was, in and of itself, sexually appealing. The other primary attribute of a woman having bound feet was to limit her mobility, altering the means by which females were allowed to be a part of the world at large. It also gave the woman an irreversible dependency on her family.
In ancient Chinese society, the status of women was subordinate. A woman was considered to be a man’s plaything in a sexual aspect, and therefore was denied the right to show initiative. Before a daughter was married, her mother was responsible for her “enlightenment” - sex education. She would be taught how to ‘serve man’. As mothers often found it difficult to bring these matters up, ceramic figures were used, as well as books and erotic paintings describing male and female roles in sexual intercourse. These items would be included in the dowry box that the daughter carried when she was married. Therefore, the erotic paintings spread in civil court and the public. This was especially prevalent during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
2.Pose, 2010, 91.4 x 121.9cm x 2, oil on linen
The painting is divided in to two parts, left and right. The left part is composed of a pair of forbidden shoes and a post card resting on an opened book. In the post card there is a 20thcentury Chinese girl with forbidden feet leaning on a classical bed, who reads and have immersed herself into imagination.
The painting on the right juxtaposes two books which depict two portraits in different eras, which illustrates different styles of painting in 19thand 20thcentury, aesthetics of different eras and the development of civilisation.
The portraits of Eastern and Western in different era and style placed together to form a strong contrast, which describes the change in people’s aesthetic ideology and culture differences. The pose of the model shows the trend and concept of that era.
3.Nest, 2010, 91.4 x 111.8 cm, oil on linen
Civilisation – urbanisation and industrial productions is altering the nature. Cities, skyscrapers, pollution from automobiles, mass use of pesticide depict the human mass material requisite, leading to the extinction of other creatures. How can we live longer than them? Birds symbolises life and nature, books and newspapers symbolises the civilised tactics from the subjective will of human which makes futile attempts of saving and accommodating nature.
5 & 6.Book TowerNo. 5 & 6, 2007, 121.9 x 91.4cm, oil on linen
Religious structures, such as cathedrals and temples are the tallest architectures in the cities before modern civilisation. Reason for it is that the architecture itself symbolise humans' desire to be closer to God. Nowadays, contemporary societies reveal its focus on materialism, human ambitions and desires through the making overpowering skyscrapers.
Book Tower symbolise the two believes - spiritual cultivation through the advance of one's soul; and the constant upgrade of materialism desires.
7.Tree and Books, 2007, 182.8 x 121.9cm, oil on linen
This is from part of my 2007 series Civilized Phalanxwhich aim at depicting the development of contemporary civilizations. Nature -what all living beings are relying on is on its edge to being destroyed. The population growth, accompany with advanced technologies have pushed human greed to an even higher speed in wasting natural resources.
Trees represent nature, and books represent the human in consumerism age invading nature.
8. SisterNo.1, 2010, 137.2 x 137.2cm, oil on linen
The picture comes from internet, it shows women in early 20th century China. The pictures haven been altered and enhanced to recreate a very isolated feeling, a world that's self-admired, traditional, and closed, just like China at the time.
9. Sister No.2, 111.8 x 91.4cm, oil on canvas
Erotic paintings are a type of culture in ancient China. The paintings reflect the judgment of the society both aesthetically and psychologically. By placing two women having sexual intercourse in a blank background works like as a stage effect, their bodies, movements and the use of rosy colors are all enhancing the sexy depiction which were forbidden traditionally and morally. Through their tiny feet, one can sense they cannot escape the group consciousness and cultural traditions. These hint the ridiculous reality in the society at the time.
10.Secret, 2009-2010, 121.9 x 91.4cm, oil on linen
A pair of embroidered little shoes placed on an opened book; the illustration on that page presents a peeking young maid hiding behind the screen. Beautifully embroidered shoes suggest sex in the feudal eras, where “male authority” driven society became a tradition. Women did not have rights; they are subordinate characters of marriage and sex. Because of these depressions, they form a devious aesthetic appeal. The sexual demands of bound feet women in feudal periods became their illusionary world.
11.Wrap No.2, 2007-2010, 121.9 x 91.4 cm, oil on linen
The mass media and public opinions are the tools of decorations and packaging of politics and large groups. To bewitch people, splendid coats and effective words must be involved. And the falseness hides within them. How much of the stories written on the history are true? And how much of them are lies? We do not know. The appearance of small embroidered shoes are pretty and lovable, however, the products wrapped inside are deformed and represent vulgar culture.
12.Cage, No.2, 2010, 121.9 x 91.4 cm, oil on linen
To fool people, the ruling class formulates every kind of commandments to lock the freedom of opinions and thoughts of people. During the imperial power and the uniformity of politics era, there exists “Inquisition” – to discover, suppress and forbidding new thoughts and concepts. Likewise, in free societies, humans often have their own inherency of opinions – conserving thoughts and reject new ideas; hence the cage formed in these personal or communal prejudices undoubtedly locks the thoughts and activities of humans. Knowledge can educate human, and concurrently, it can imprison human’s creativity.
13.Private garden, 2007-2010, 121.9 x 91.4 cm, oil on linen
This is a scene of a wealthy man and two women in their private garden, in Ming Dynasty. This suggests the absurdity of social reality.