By Wang Lin
We can see the great heroic complex of Liu Ruowang on our first sight of Liu Ruowang’s sculpture artworks. His worship to Three Kingdoms and Water Margin and his recognition of the red propaganda as well as his never lost dream to be a commander, all made us believe that he is creating grass-root heroes with languages similar to those of the Terra-cotta Worrier.
Actually, it’s not that simple. The key point of artworks is viewing——namely visual thought, rather than words of the author. Liu Ruowang did adopted the shaping form of traditional tomb worrier which is brief, integral and big, to form his own artistic style; yet what’s more important is the creative development to turn worrier sculpture to be unrealistic. Liu Ruowang exaggerated the replacable nature of tomb worrier to the utmost hight and motion of figures are even more exaggerated. This kind of fierce exaggeration and the unreal feature has gone far away from the way of Chinese revolutionary monumental sculptures. The latter is to prove the correctness of revolution, legitamacy of system and rationality of history, in order to turn exaggered things into reality under the collective guidance; therefore it’s called the combination of revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism. However, Liu Ruowang’s sculpture is, on the contrary, trying to exclude this assumed reality required by ideology.
This is not an age that hero commands the collectivity. Clone heroes in the film Avatar were so bold and powerful yet finally they couldn’t save human. Liu Ruowang’s heroes are nothing but his personal fancy and Liu Ruowang himself who has been encouraged to go all his way through to today by heroic complex. It’s nothing but an adoption of the shell and there’s not that much representation of nation, history, region and people. Only if you take a look at those figures who are stabbing the Roaring Lion with a Spear、slaughtering the Cruel Dragon with a Sword、hammering the Missile、and chopping the Aircraft Carrier with an Axe, you could understand that the author is mocking the life and reality. The only questions lies in why is the author mocking heroes when adoring them. Please note that figures in his art are all past tense who dance with swords and were highly skilled in martial arts while the objects are symbolic, no matter these objects are snarling animals or the terrifying powerful weapons. Here resistence lies in the conflicts between personal memory and wish as spiritual strength, and reality of life and culture. The exaggerated modeling and conflicting scene are bringing sense of tension to and arouse psychiac reaction in indivisual viewers, rather than making a compelling narration about collective consciousness.
This point is especially highlighted in the large scence sculpture “Wolves are Coming” by Liu Ruowang.
Constituted by 111 single pieces of sculptures, this group of works include 110 wolves and 1 people. The shape are all larger than the real with wolves longer than 2 meters and people higher to be c.3 meters. With castd iron the material, they are rusted all around and look dark red from distance. The wolves have various fierce looks showing their teeth; the people has a long sword in his hand, get ready to attack. They are confronting with each other in a tense and fierce air. Everything is so impressive, while being so full of sense of ceremony and drama. This symbolic unreal scene makes the viewers both present and absent: the hero is gone, the scene is just a memory; the memory is still here touching us. I have no idea if there is any connection between the number of wolves 110 and the alarm call 110, but the contrast between 1 and 110 is quite strong. I don’t know if the topic “Wolves are Coming” is relevant to the forced demolition happening to the art community recently in Beijing, but everybody can feel the aggressiveness and crisis brought about by China’s rapid economic and social development. “Wolves are Coming” is an old tragedy story about a shepherd boy telling lie to get adults help because of his fear for the wolf but finally he didn’t get any help. Now the wolves really showed up, people are really helpless. Artists don’t want single people have nothing to do; although it’s difficult to achieve anything without support and it is hopelessly to be outnumbered, hero complex of struggle is still in his mind. This is an artist’s call for personal power and for individual spirit. Living in a modern authoritarian society which is utilitarian, maybe only in art can one fight against the ubiquitous power and the temptation of interests, to maintain the dignity of individuality and human spirit. Thus Liu Ruowang’s sculpture of hero become the beckon for citizen’s ideal and the symbol of spiritual independence of ordinary people.
Wolves are coming but the people is still here; undefictible hero left us the spirit of boldness. With such kind of persistance, contemporary China has art and can have art.
March 6th, 2010
At the Peach Hill of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute