Art reflects life, what the artwork presents and expresses are often an artists understanding on life, only such understanding is expressed through unique artistic modes. To which, art history is in fact the humans understanding about themselves, a portrayal of dissecting their own lives.
The main theme presented in Jiang Hengs works depicts the fashionable urbanites of beautiful women of all forms. These fashionista embody the current thematic image, in other words, they are components of a unique landscape in this consumption society: the various product advertisements, various television entertainment program and beauty pagan competitions, the miss of all levels, image spokesperson and etc all contribute to the current social life. Such fashion and its irresistible attraction and its powerful impact rush toward us, that filter through in all aspects of our lives, to everyone not only to women, but to men as well are all involved unconsciously to certain degrees, and have assisted its formation, and a member of such conspiracy. This is the reality of our current life. What is hidden behind it are the naked commercial interests and the purposefully constructed and promoted material desires. This is what I have understood from Jiang Hengs artworks.
Jiang Hengs works portray a series of various , fashionable women with bright vibrant colors, flat composition, and cartoon-like exaggerations. Such intended non-realistic artistic approach distanced the femme fatale in his paintings from those found in real life that provides the view with a faux impression. Therefore, the immediate association of viewing these paintings prompts one to imagine the mannequins in a store, whereas Jiang Hengs other works (Idol Era I, II, III, IV) seem to have literally alluded to such associations. As the saying goes, eyes are windows to ones heart; although the feminine figures in Jiang Hengs paintings come in all shapes and forms, however their common characteristics is their empty gaze, all of their big eyes are ornamented with soulless glass balls. Those purposefully soulless eyes seem to tell people that, I am a soulless fabricated doll. Moreover, such outcry is notdolorous and timid but joyful and agreeable, or even with certain sense of pride because of the smirk they present to the viewers. They are like Venus who lost her soul; they are the doll-like femme fatale produced by the consumer era.
We are happy yet soulless, in other words, a happiness without spirituality. Perhaps this is the fashion of this consumer era. To be living in this era, are we fortunate or should we be sad about it.
Art historically speaking, the feminine figure is always associated with beauty, she is an expression of peoples understanding of ideal beauty of their era, and also an expression of the aesthetics of that era. For instance, Venus, Birth of Venus, Mona Lisa, and Stream are all as such. Therefore, Jiang Hengs femme fatales can be seen as the expression of the ideal beauty of our era and the concept of aesthetics of our time. Obviously, the beauty depicted in these works is shallow, superficial and meaningless, false, or bubble-like. The flattened composition and its non-realistic approach to a certain degree hint to and strengthen the expression of such concept. For this reason, if we compare Jiang Hengs work with the aforementioned classics, one would obtain an even clearer picture. Hegel has once stated that, Beauty is the sensational representation of sensations. Whereas the beauty represented by the femme fatales are obviously lacking any concept, but simply representation of sensations, which explains its emptiness and falsehood.
The fashionable femme fatale represents the fashion of these beautiful women, and such fashion represents the concept of aesthetics of our era. The reason such beauty is false is because fashion is constructed with hidden material desire. Therefore, the beauty formed through fashion is nothing but a coat to cover ones timidness. We are living in an era of consumption, everything is transformed into an object to be consumed, and of course beauty is not an exception. When beauty becomes the consumable object, beauty becomes nothing but an empty void. As for specific examples in our everyday lives, there are many fashionable entice of plastic surgeries, cosmetics and such to sculpt the fabricated beauty, a trend on the incline. One can image, if ones life is surrounded with similar and sculpted beautiful faces, just as Jiang Hengs beauty series, one might not share the true aesthetic experience. Some would remain dumb and exhaust. In fact, the fashionable beauty fabricated in the name of beauty has already let to aesthetic exhaustion for many people in this era. Since the early 20th century, the reason why art no longer represents beauty is essentially because in real life, beauty has already departed us, moreover, replaced by the gradually inflated fashion run by material desires in the guise of beauty.
As early as the 1930s, Benjamins Artworks in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction has made the infamous distinction between traditional art and contemporary art: traditional art has a unique sense of glory, which is represents its artistic beauty; the essence of modern art resides in its producebility, that causes the glory of art to disappear. The reason I mention Benjamin is not to explicate his theories, but to appropriate his distinction to distinguish beauty and fashion. In my view, the beautiful objects all emit unique glories, such glory includes certain impenetrable kind of mystery allowing it become the unique and irreplaceable this, capturing ones attention and inebriates them. whereas, the essence of fashion resides in its endless reproducebility, the unique such could never have became any fashion. It is precisely the consistent reproduction of certain objects gathered will slowly form into a type of fashion.
The consumer era is an era driven by fashion, moreover fashion is an empty form of literal objects. For this very reason, which conveniently became its reproductability. Therefore, fashion is also irrational. As for fashion, one does not need to understand. It does not require a soul, but devoted followers. Those who roam about in Fashion are the public who talk about it. while reproducing each other, people obtained a type of sense that I am part of the fashion trend by which to confirm or inebriates oneself.
For this reason, Jiang Hengs art can be seen as a figurative expression of the current society. The mutual reproduction, lack of characteristics, soulless happy and fashionable female figures, composes into the revelation on the essence of fashion.