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Critical Analyses

Jiessica Stockholder


In the Post-grad Forum of Unit2, I mentioned 2 questions:

1. How to transform the physical data or historical events obtained from the research into more symbolic and abstract expressions? (Back to a visual communication)

2. Could these Symbolic and abstract expressions give strong senses of the research result and mental reality?

If people asked me what is my “type of practice” two months ago. I would see myself as a “Research-led” artist. It means that the output of the work may be slow, and the final presentation may tend to be more literal or even just be an essay. In the past six months, two of my works have been suspended. Research-led practices often take a long time to track things down, find historical reasons, and even establish a value system.  When time is taken, I do not hope my artwork and making practice to take second place in a project. I am not sure about how to full play the power of texts. So I have been trying to find a way to transform the presentation of data and materials.

Stephen Willats’ work aim to show a dynamic, interactive social function of art. He composed geometric figures with a lot of original data and photos, which tell the potential story and connection among the reality under humans’ construction and emotion. His research has involved interdisciplinary processes and theory from sociology, systems analysis, cybernetics, semiotics, and philosophy.

I found possibilities in Stephen Willats' works. His works are diagrammatic, showing his information extraction ability. The time significance of them is using art and technology as a trigger for social networks and self-organization.  He offers me a new way of seeing and narrating.  

Society of the Spectacle


Guy Debord's Society of Spectacle discusses many of the rules of visual diffusion in a view of the world that has become objective. In this context, viewers are passive. Spectacle serves ideology. This makes the visual content often more confusing, which inevitably leads the audience to confuse the signs and the thing represented by signs.

In unit 1, my works revolved around the way the subjects exist in different social-cultural contexts. This process involves the practice of semiotics and my study of Psychogeography. I have been connecting my identity, cultural background and works. When I continue to find some "atypical symbols" of Chinese culture, I have encountered many problems.

The " Chineseness" performed under "Global Concept" is an early role set. In modern history, the "Oriental" that opposes the "West" obscures "China". In the contemporary era, when globalization comes, a "Chinese non-Western nature" has obscured the " Chineseness ". I deeply feel that those behaviors or cultural products that skillfully manipulate Chinese folklore and political symbols are not confirmation of identification or cultural self-confidence. On the contrary, this is a crisis of identification - people can only and have to use such a visual act to convince themselves. At the same time, it is necessary to face the reality of the reduction of self-explanatory ability.

When I read this book, I was thinking: How can we achieve a balance while using signs? Many abstract works have reached a certain height of extracting meaning, so people will not care about the nationality or cultural background of the artists. At the same time, there are still many outstanding artists who have made a lot of works based on “abstract” but full of cultural “feelings”, which blurred the symbols. This is a very metaphysical balance that is difficult to describe in words. It is also the balance I explored in later works, which tend to have more geometric and abstraction.

Hybrid: International Contemporary Painting


In 2001, an exhibition entitled "Hybrid: International Contemporary Painting" was curated in Tate Liverpool. I knew it accidentally when I was reading a book. This exhibition gathered eight critically acclaimed contemporary painters, whose work, although diverse and individual, shares some common concerns in extending the traditions and language of painting. To me, it’s content, from which I expended researches on the development of contemporary painting under the context of cultural hybridization.

As an artist who has a 5-year experience concentrating on representative painting, painting to me is a medium and carrier of concept. Because of the clear separation of “concept” and “medium”, while I have developed my research question, I have kept being trapped in the doubt of “How much can a painting express?” Although the name “painting” is still being used, today's paintings are no longer an art form that is absolutely loyal to a relationship composed by a single pen, pigment, and flat.

In this exhibition, Argentinian artist Fabian Marcaccio’s artworks were a good example of the diversity of materials. His work consists of a mixture of plastic, metal, paint, canvas and printed materials, and was coated with paint. From the fact that it looks more like sculpture than painting and Fabian was invited to participate in the painting exhibition, we can see that the painters are trying to challenge people to “painting” while maintaining the possibility of using paint to create possibilities. Similarly, contemporary curators are also trying to guide the trend towards this more integrated approach to painting.

In my work “Fall, Suspension, Thorn” I tried to paint in a totally different way compared to my previous practices. There are a lot of things about painting waiting for me to explore and a lot of prejudices waiting for me to break. As Jonathan Harris (2003) commented on the exhibition, “What is contemporary, international painting will continue to ask questions.”

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