Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Youth Chronicles/Power Thonik's design

Youth Chronicles----the oil painting exhibition attracted people who were once the intellectuals sent to the rural areas to undergo life from 1968 to 1978. so it was no wonder that the majority of the visitors were aged about 50 years old. Two ladies even asked me to take pictures for them, taking one of the oil paintings as the background. I was sure that the special experiences would gave them life-long impressions. The artists of the oil paintings themselves were all among the young intellectuals at that time, they use these paintings to reflect the real life they experienced, such as reading letters from their families, working diligently in the open field, they devoted their youth to the construction of new China. Some of the paintings show the models who even devoted their life when struggle with the natural disasters such as floods. The oil painting exhibition brought back the memories of the unforgettable periods. At that time, oil paintings served as the propaganda tool to advocate the spirit of devoting, being obedient to Mao’s guide, but nowadays, they helped people to look back into the history, to recall the enthusiasm when they were young.

To be honest, I feel it a bit difficult to understand Thonik ‘s design. According to the introduction by the curater, Gong Yan, the work of Thonik leads us experience a mobile process of aesthetics which is coming from negotiation, comprehension and translation. The negotiation existed not only between brand and culture authority in the new house style design of the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, but also between the elites and the grassroots in the design of three campaigns for the Dutch Socialist Party, between the duplicates and the artworks in the carpets project made for Shanghai Art Museum. There has been always a negotiation between the habitual aesthetic experiences and the social reality.

We are living in a image-made world, every city desires for and also makes the image represent itself. The image is not the whitewash fro decoration, but is also another collective mood and spirit. It represents the temperament, the bosom, the spirit and the future of a collective. It seems that Thonik has been trying to answer such a question silently that what do we want to transmit finally by means of design after our meticulous efforts.

Thonik’s design aimed to build a bridge between culture and society, connecting artistic design to social responsibility so as to form a power which evoked the passion of the audience to communication and exchange. Thonik encountered the Chinese avant-garde in architecture, art, graphic design and fashion. The theme of the exhibition was Power, because his graphic work manifests itself powerfully both in the cultural domain and in the political arena.

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