“Art is not there simply to be understood. … It is more the sense of an indication or suggestion.” – Joseph Beuys
約瑟夫·博伊斯 (Joseph Beuys) 是一位出生於德國的藝術家，活躍於 50 至 80 年代初的歐洲和美國。博伊斯的作品種類繁多，從傳統的繪畫、雕塑，再到行為藝術皆與那個時代的觀念藝術和激浪派運動有著緊密的聯繫。博伊斯以融合動物脂肪和毛氈的作品而聞名，這兩種常見的材料對藝術家具有深遠的個人意義。它們是作品中反復出現的主題，表明藝術、普通材料和我們的「日常生活」是密不可分的。
Joseph Beuys is an artist born in Germany who was active in Europe and the United States from the 50s to the early 80s. Boyce’s works are especially diverse, ranging from traditional paintings and sculptures to performance art, which is closely related to the Conceptual art and Fluxus movement of that era. Boyce is well-known for incorporating animal fat and felt in his works. These two common materials have immense personal significance to the artist himself. They were considered recurring themes in the works that showed the inseparable relationship between art, ordinary materials, and our “daily life”.
博伊斯是 60 年代激浪派運動的主要參與者。當時許多歐亞兩地的藝術家對「英雄主義」和抽象表現主義的藝術傳統感到不滿。這些藝術家背離了藝術界盛行的商業主義，轉而使用「日常」物品來創造短暫、突發、稍縱即逝的藝術品，和其他主要以行為為導向的藝術活動。
Beuys was a major participant in the Fluxus movement in the 1960s. At that time, many artists in Europe and Asia were dissatisfied with the artistic traditions of “heroism” and the genre of abstract expressionism. These artists decided to distance themselves from the art field’s prevailing commercialism by utilizing “everyday” found objects to create ephemeral, temporal, and impermanent artworks that are related to the latest issues of their current social context as well as other alleged action-oriented art activities.
Taking his famous performance artwork “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare” (1965) as an example, it may be considered extremely confusing for the audience to comprehend at first glance. The audience watched and observed the performance through the windows of the room and saw Beuys sitting in a chair with a stern expression, his head covered with honey and gold dust, the sole of his left and right foot was layered with felt and steel respectively, The highlight of his performance was him cradling and rocking the corpse of a hare in his arms, whispering unintelligibly for three hours in a room covered with paintings. When the door finally opened, the audience was allowed to enter the room, however, Beuys turned his back on the crowd and said nothing.
這部作品有無數的詮釋。然而，博伊斯並不希望人們以理性和邏輯的方式去分析他的作品。他承認，這個表演旨在提醒人類自己的局限性和無能 – 世界和自然包含著人類永遠無法回答和理解的奧秘。那個奧秘也深深植根於人性之中，只是人們在用邏輯推理來分解它。
There are countless explanations and interpretations for this work. However, Beuys did not want his work to be analyzed in a rational and logical manner. He admits that this work aims to remind humans of their limitations and incapability: The world and nature contain mysteries that humans can never answer and understand. That mystery is also deeply rooted in human nature, but people are using logical reasoning to decompose it.
In short, “Art is not there simply to be understood. … It is more the sense of an indication or suggestion.” ~ Joseph Beuys
Through his performances and sculptural works, Beuys suggests that art does not necessarily have to be a profession. On the contrary, art should be a heightened humanitarian attitude, or a way of life. Beuys’ work marks a new era, making art more relevant to current social issues and political events.
Beuys frequently blurred the lines between art and life as well as fact and fiction. He suggests what one believed to consider as “reality” in terms of human nature, action, and socio-political behavior is much more significant than the facts that are based on normalcy and norms, a mere reality that is fabricated by social codes and moral conduct.
Art comes from life. Boyce’s talent inspires his audience to search for art and beauty in their daily lives, providing insights into the intricate connections between secular activities and inner art. He teaches people that art can be found in ordinary objects. This transformative heritage is passed on in the art world and affects the development and history of latecomers.
Image courtesy to WIKIART
Text by Andy Shum
Cover Illustration by Alan Cheung