Leaving the Stage
The photographic work Leaving the Stage created by Fu Wenjun presents to the audience the figures of the abandoned and useless locomotives and factories. The theme and the visual effect of the work show that the artist, from a post-modern position and perspective, displays and expresses the modern industrial civilization. That is, the pictures shot by Fu Wenjun and the reconstruction of them not only let the present industrial civilization have high visibility and be presented in art form, but also historicism. This means that, to the artist, the importance doesn’t lie in the fact that the locomotives and the factories after a long time of use become old or are replaced by the more advanced equipment, leaving the history stage; but it lies in the cultural, artistic and aesthetic position and attitude the artist has towards these industrial civilization symbols.
I think, Fu Wenjun is interested on these leaving-the-stage locomotives and factories for two aspects: the first one is their formal beauty. Obviously, the beauty is achieved thanks to the artist’s photographic techniques as well as the artistic process and reconstruction of the pictures. In works like Rhythm, Linear structure, Where came from, where to go etc., the artist strengthens purposely the contrast of the black and the white in the picture, in order to establish a tense relation and a visual beauty among the strong lines and the geometric color lumps composed of black, white and grey. This beauty, I believe, comes from the modernized machinery aesthetics, namely an abstract, rational, arranged and cold beauty. However, this more-or-less cold beauty, as the product of the modern industrial civilization, is warm and happy in Fu’s works，which may be related to his special emotion towards it, I think. Except for this visual beauty of the modern industry, the artist shows his respect to these locomotives and factories that have left the historical stage. In works like Reclusion, Power, Condense in the time, Spine etc., he intensifies the sense of heaviness and vicissitude of the locomotives and factories, in order to show their assumed responsibility and the contribution made in the human historical process. So, as for the formal beauty, those locomotives and factories are graceful and lofty.
For the second aspect, the rusty and mottled locomotives and factories in the work, as well as the old picture’s visual features seem to tell and recount the audience the history and the literary meaning of these things. This history memory processed by Fu’s artistic techniques and narrative methods is fully displayed in works such as Story, Where came from, where to go, National economy and people’s livelihood, On watch again, Reclusion, Leave behind. No doubt there’s some nostalgia, but as for the connotation of the personality given to the locomotives and the factories by the artist (for example, On watch again, Left behind), the nostalgia is permeated with human warmth.
---"The Meaning of History", by Zhou Yuejin (Professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts)