By Feng Boyi
Yu Fan’s solo exhibition was the 2012 Plastic Arts Nomination Exhibition for the Central Academy of Fine Arts, but it was also a retrospective and summary of his work from 2000 to 2012. His series are like studies of different topics, which present dialogues and exchanges within the history of Chinese and foreign sculpture. Yu seeks out his own place to stand in between East and West. After he moved away from the avant-garde experience, he became more focused on the understanding and experience of interior meditation and the continuous purification of sculptural language. However Yu’s work and life have always been “estranged” and “marginal” when compared to mainstream art. This estrangement and marginalisation is not forced marginalitsation and otherness of the 1990s “outsider” artists represented by the Yuanmingyuan Painters’ Village and East Village. Instead, Yu Fan has made a voluntary and active choice.
Semantically, “placed above” can be understood as the sense of towering height and high pedestals like that of many sculptures, but actually, it refers to Yu Fan’s sculptural return to spiritual aspirations. Although his work does not represent any actual forms, it embodies primitive emotions, like reverence, questioning, praying, adoration, and yearning. Amidst these complex emotions, people understand their own limited explorations of the meaning of life. Yu Fan firmly believes that this is the pillar supporting human advancement.
Yu Fan’s art is not restricted by outside social reality; it is artistic transformation and abstraction. His art drifts between artistic mastery and independence. Therefore, his art is rooted in independent thinking and does not drift with the trends or pander to the ivory tower. Yu Fan’s work does not attract too much attention amidst the clamor of reality or pander too intensely to the market, but there is something in his work, silently reaching or resisting for that something and consciously finishing it. As someone of his generation, I approve of the lifestyles and artistic methods of the generations before and after him; I see their restlessness and hesitation, their perseverance, and their immediate struggles, anger, loathing, and helplessness. We understand that the repeated collisions of their morals and beliefs are frustrating and cannot match the reality of people a decade younger. We understand their boundaries; the talented people of the 1960s know that there are ideas that can be acted upon, or ideas can be acted upon but are not.