Vena Gu - An Alternative Still Life
Remembrances: The Representation of Representations
And if that later age is itself concerned precisely with the remembrance of earlier ages--looking to “things that survive,” yi-wu , and “traces of what was,” ku-chi --then strange doublings may
occur. Researchers of that later age, reflecting on texts and artifacts from the past, may discover there the mirror of their own interests, someone in the past reflecting on a still more distant past.
There are chains of remembrance, linking one past to pasts still more remote, and sometimes also reaching into a speculative future that will remember our remembering. And as we discover
and commemorate the rememberers of the past, it is easy to conclude that in remembering we ourselves will be remembered and will be worthy of memory. --Stephen Owen
Vena’s new seris features a series of paintings of books, picture albums, and everyday objects. These vintage books and picture albums render beautiful and poetic still lifes on the canvas:
some books are closed and piled together, while others are opened, showing the illustrations and texts of the books. Subtle and harmonious colors and a hint of delicate atmosphere unites
objects of similar yet different shapes. Taken as an entirety, they appear as both spatial objects and temporal media. The images in the picture albums illustrate mostly natural objects, captured
via either photography or painting. They are like thin slices of time, not only reflecting the moment that the original picture depicts but also connecting the viewer to the moments before
and after. A part leads to the envisioning of the whole, and the present leads to the imagination of the absent. This represents a world beyond the one we live in; a remote world. The artist
treats the books as an embodiment of nature, memory, and experience, transcending time, space, and cultures. The natural objects, initially depicted as images in the picture albums and
books, are reinterpreted and represented as paintings by the artist. Essentially, these paintings become representations of representations, a particularly delicate way of remembrance.
These paintings remind the viewer of the still life paintings of the Italian painter Morandi or the Chinese classical Shanshui paintings. Through observation, reproduction, and representation of
these already depicted objects, the artist explores a personal, introspective, and simple yet genuine artistic language, connecting the viewer to the cultural and artistic traditions preserved
in the books and picture albums while extending them. In a way, the artist is constructing spiral resembling the way the universe evolves: The present becomes the past, the past becomes a
memory, and the memory sometimes reappears in the present moment. The paintings make us wonder -- how do we perceive existence and time; how do we keep things that are unkeepable?
Art endows us with a possibility to record and represent these transient and delicate things. The painting, although static, implies the passing of time. The destiny of things, in a sense, reflects
the destiny of humanity. As Stephen Owen puts it, “in remembering we ourselves will be remembered and will be worthy of memory.”
成为了回忆的对象，成了值得为后人记起的对象。』-- Stephen Owen