An Interpretive Painting Guide: How to Make a "Self Portrait of a Great Curator?
开放性绘画指南 ——如何画一幅 “伟大策展人的自画像”?

March, 2021

“With every stroke of the brush a new field of inquiry is laid open; new difficulties arise, and new triumphs are prepared over them.” 

—— William Hazlitt, 

“On the Pleasure of Painting”

Painting is a journey of one's inner psyche laid bare with each stroke of a brush. Similarly, every curatorial attempt is the curator’s “constant self-reflexivity” put out to the world.

 

Tara McDowall used “Shapeshifters” as the name for a curator’s symposium, curators such Harald Szeemann, Kate Fowle, Hans Ulrich Obrist and David Levi Strauss used a list of many professions to decode what a curator does. Indeed, I find it impossible to pin down a definition for a curator because it is an amalgamation of many fields and subjects yet the role is ever-changing due to circumstances. It’s no surprise that to the general public, a mysterious cloud seems to loom around the title of “curator” making it both alluring yet unapproachable. 

 

Inspired by the ways of street artists, I believe a curator should bring art to the world instead of bringing the world to art. In order to make art more accessible, I feel the need to demystify, democratise and decentralize the idea of a curator. In the step by step guide of interpretive painting, the values of a curator are integrated into each step. My intention is by following the steps, anyone can create a visual representation of a curator using their own interpretations. As a result, the idea of a curator would take shape organically in a highly individualized fashion. When developing this guide, I focused on the core attributes of a curator and the development of curatorial methodologies rather than the tasks a curator would undertake, in hope that the list bears wider applicability and endures the test of changing circumstances and time.


I find great resonance in that the notion of exhibiting art is at the heart of curating, therefore choosing the process of painting as an analogy for curatorial practice was an intuitive decision. Yet the methodology was developed with deliberate consideration. As Walter Hopps puts it, presenting an exhibition requires “as broad and sensitive understanding of an artist’s work as a curator can possibly muster. This knowledge needs to go well beyond what is actually put in the exhibition.” Through participating in the process of artmaking, a better understanding of an artist’s practice can be formed therefore leads to a curator-art/artist relationship beyond the exhibition.

Echoing Hazlitt’s words about painting, curating is also very much a test of vision and skills. The difference is, whilst the painter may not always be aware of her audience, a curator should always put the audience in her forethought. Although curatorship requires a lot of introspection, an exhibition is only activated when it’s put to an audience. With this in mind, I’ve broken down the process of painting into instructional steps, put them together as a guide to help people navigate through the values and attributes of curatorship using visual language. Similar to curating, the painting guide requires the participation of the painter to fully realize its function.   

 

In the guide, painters are required to follow the steps with their own interpretation. The guide mimics curatorship -- upon the underlying supporting academic structure, the practice requires flexibility and adaptability in the application to garner complete creative control over the end result.

 

This guide attempts to keep the elements and attributes involved in curating clear and straightforward within the steps. Each step is a small prompt for a painting action, as a reflection of the curatorial practice. The steps aim to provoke the painter to inquire into her methodology and then making informed decisions hereon. The guide is meant to be followed at each person’s own discretion until she sees the painting as complete. The “Before We Begin” and “Preparation” sections are also made with close attention, they are imbued with core values such as commitment and patience, and it emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinarity. 

 

The demonstration and the finished painting was felt to complement the painting guide as they offer a possibility of interpretation. The demonstration is an effort to help painters to get started, find their visual styles, and shape their thinking processes. The final painting shows how critical understanding of the curatorial practice can be manifested through visual language. As Maria Lind writes “the curatorial is a viral presence that strives to create friction and push new ideas, whether from curators or artists, educators or editors”, this painting guide plants itself amongst the painters and welcomes customization and experimentation to prompt a dialogue in curatorial exploration. ||

“每一次落笔,都会打开一个新的领域;新的困难出现了,但克服它们的新胜利也已经浮现出来了。”

——威廉·哈兹利特 (William Hazlitt)

《论绘画的乐趣》


 

绘画是一个人内心的旅程,每一笔都暴露无遗。同样,每一次策展尝试都是策展人向世界展示的“不断的自我反思”。

 

塔拉·麦克道尔 (Tara McDowall) 使用“变形者”作为策展人座谈会的名称,Harald Szeemann、Kate Fowle、Hans Ulrich Obrist 和 David Levi Strauss 等策展人使用了一系列职业来解读策展人的工作。的确,我发现不可能给策展人下一个定义,因为它是许多领域和主题的融合,而其角色却因环境而不断变化。毫不奇怪,对于普通大众来说,“策展人”的头衔似乎笼罩着一层神秘的云彩,既诱人又令人难以接近。

 

受街头艺术家的启发,我认为策展人应该是艺术来贴近人们,而不是人们靠近艺术。为了让艺术更容易接近,我觉得有必要去神秘化、民主化和分散策展人的想法。在解释性绘画的分步指南中,我把策展人的价值观融入进了指南的每一个步骤里。我的意图是通过遵循这些步骤,任何人都可以通过他们自己的对“策展”和“艺术”的理解来创建对“策展人”的视觉呈现。因此,策展人的想法将以高度个人化的方式有机地形成。在创作本指南时,我关注策展人的核心属性和策展方法论的发展,而不是策展人将承担的具体工作任务,我希望这个指南具有更广泛的适用性并经得起环境和时间变化的考验。

我找到了很大的共鸣,因为展示、解读和呈现艺术是策展的核心,因此选择“绘画”作为策展实践的类比是一个直觉性的决定。然而,该方法是经过深思熟虑而开发的。正如沃尔特·霍普斯 (Walter Hopps) 所说,举办一场展览需要“策展人所能达到的对艺术家作品的广泛而敏感的理解。这些知识需要远远超出展览中实际展示的内容。”通过参与艺术创作的过程,可以更好地了解艺术家的实践,从而形成展览之外的策展人/艺术/艺术家关系。

呼应哈兹利特(Hazlitt)关于绘画的话,策展也是对视野和技巧的考验。不同之处在于,虽然画家可能并不总是意识到她的观众,但策展人应该始终将观众置于她的先见之明。虽然策展需要大量的反省,但展览只有在展示给观众时才会被激活。考虑到这一点,我将绘画过程分解为教学步骤,将它们以指导步骤的方式呈现,帮助人们使用视觉语言了解策展的价值和属性。与策展类似,绘画指南需要画家的参与才能充分发挥其作用。

 

在指南中,“指南使用者”需要按照自己的解释来遵循步骤。该指南模仿了策展人——在底层支持性学术结构的基础上,该实践需要应用程序的灵活性和适应性,以获得对最终结果的完全创造性控制。

 

本指南试图使所涉及的元素和属性在步骤中有最清晰和直观的体现。每个步骤都是绘画行为的提示,作为策展实践的反映。这些步骤旨在激发“指南使用者”探究方法,然后在此基础上做出自发的创作决定。每个人都应自行决定遵循该指南,直到她认为这幅画已完成。“在我们开始之前”和“准备”部分也用心制作,它们诠释了”一诺千金“和”耐心“等策展人的核心价值观,并强调了策展中跨学科的重要性。

 

演示和完成的绘画被认为是对绘画指南的补充,因为它们提供了解释的可能性。该演示旨在帮助画家入门,找到他们的视觉风格,并塑造他们的思维过程。最后一幅画展示了如何通过视觉语言表达对策展实践的批判性理解。正如玛丽亚·林德 (Maria Lind) 所写,“策展人是一种病毒式存在,致力于制造摩擦并推动新的想法,无论是策展人、艺术家、教育家还是编辑”,这幅画作指南植根于画家之间,并欢迎定制和实验以促进对话策展探索。||