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Notes of "The distortion of Eroticism"

Author: Peng De Apr,1993

The Distortion of Eroticism is an oil-on-canvas series created by Wei Guangqing (born on September 21, 1963, year of rabbit, in Huangshi). According to the Chinese fortunetelling, he is supposed to be somewhat of a philanderer. He graduated from the oil painting department of Zhejiang Fine Arts College (today's Chinese Fine Arts College). In 1985, he attended a painting lecture class by Zhao Wuji once, painting in the same classroom with twenty-six other oil painters, including Shang Yang, Gen Jianli, Liu Dahong. In December 1986, he created oil paintings, named Secret Festival and Yesterday Is ‘Not Forever' etc., which foreshadowed Mistake of Eroticism.

The Distortion of Eroticism is made in 1993. The painter superposed the nude woman cover of the instant popular magazine with modern version of the illustration of "Jin Ping Mei" to compose the image. The word of "eroticism" in the title is neutral. The word of "distortion" could be understood as "misapprehension", but whose misapprehension it, the erotomania, the ascetic, or both?

Notes on Eroticism

Shang Shu says: " Man loves the woman with beauty, so woman is equal to sex." Lun Yu says: "I never saw anyone advocates morality more than sex." Meng Zi says: "Food and sex are human natures." In the transcription of Buddism, sex is involved everything corporeal. Woman is the head of everything.

Emotion is instinctive psychology. Xunzi says: "Emotion is the quality of nature; desire is the response of emotion." Li Ji says: "What's sensation? Happiness, anger, sadness, fear, love, evil, and desire are natural without study." In Chou dynasty, "sensation" means secular and no such a word could be found in their literal symbol. Confucius mentions "sensation" twice all according to the civilian mood.

Eroticism, the word came about much later. Chinese people are erotic, but avoid talking eroticism. Every formal dictionary, such as "Ci Hai", "Ci Yuan", avoids setting up "eroticism" as the term. The fifth chapter of "Shui Hu" offers, "Originally, in the world, monk is the man closest to erotic." Monk doesn't edit dictionary, so the word of "eroticism" is doomed to be dirty due to literati's spurn.

Notes on "Jin Pin Mei"

"Jin Pin Mei", is the romance novel of Ming dynasty, which is included one hundred chapters. It is written in the period of Qin Long emperor by the nickname "Lanlin Xiaoxiao Sheng". The author is from Shan Dong province due to the dialect he used in the book. Someone guess he is Wang Shi Zheng. Some people presumed that he intentionally composed this book to apply poison on the edge of the book to kill his enemy Yan Shifan, who liked to flip pages by first licking his fingers. It seems that the past personages were suspects.

The protagonist of "Jin Ping Mei" is "Xi Men Qing" who is originally in "Water Marsh". Xi Men has a wife and three concubines as the story begins. He develops a lecherous affair with the Golden Lotus and he kills her husband, Wu the Shorty, with poison. (In 1993, Qing He County found the burial place of Wu the Shorty. Judging from the remains, Wu was tall man unlike what is described in the novel. Golden Lotus was known as a lady of both beauty and reputation. The story came from a rumor spread by an old friend of Wu, who failed to extract benefits from Wu while Wu was a local official. Leaving behind a good name by good deeds was a misconstrued concept.) Wu's brother comes to avenge his brother. Mistaking Li the Unlucky as Xi Men, Xi Men escapes justice. Xi Men then marries Golden Lotus, but soon after, he has an affair with Golden Lotus's maid – Spring Plum. Xi Men also marries Little Vase as a new concubine by sleeping with her first. Domestic struggle enthralls the Xi Men household. Litter Vase gives birth to a son. Golden Lotus plots and kills the baby. As a result, Little Vase dies of a broken heart. Golden Lotus and Xi Men submerge in their amorous relationship. Finally, Xi Men dies from an overdose of aphrodisiacs. Golden Lotus and Spring Plum both sleep with Xi Men's son-in-law. When the affair is discovered, Golden Lotus is expelled from Xi Men House. Wu's brother catches up with Golden Lotus in the exile and at last, revenges his brother. Spring Plum later marries Police Chief Zhou as a concubine. Winning his favor, Spring Plum bore him a son and becomes his wife. Spring Plum later meets up with Xi Men's son-in-law. Pretending to be brother and sister, their affair continues in Zhou's household. Zhou wins a promotion by vanquishing the Water Marsh rebellion. He later dies in the war against Jin. Spring Plum develops a relationship with Zhou's son from a previous marriage. She dies of a sudden death from too much sex. The invading force of Jin is at the gate of Qing He. Xi Men's wife escapes with their son. Enlightened by the Buddhist priest Pu Jing, Simon's son becomes a monk.

Yuan Hongdao was the first to spread "Jin Pin Mei" as literature, during the Ming dynasty. By that time, they juxtaposed the novel with "Journey to the West" and" Water Marsh" to be "the three fantastic books." "Jin Pin Mei" is called the first of these fantastic books.

The earliest edition of "Jin Pin Mei" is from 1617. There are three copies left—two in Japan and one in Taiwan. The popular edition in Mainland China is from Ming dynasty.

"Jin Pin Mei" is the standard pop fiction, but it never circulated among the general public. The original edition only printed 20 volumes, but it stirred the whole country. Actually, its distribution scale is always limited to the upper class. In 1957, Mao Zedong instructed, "'Jin Pin Mei' could be a reference of provincial leaders." Then two hundreds volumes were printed and distributed to the provincial governments. In 1983, the writer, Han Yingshan, abbreviated "Jin Pin Mei" from the original 1,000-thousands words to 170-thousands words, and published it on the magazine, "Sword Spirit", 1st volume, 1985. At this point, "Jin Pin Mei" finally obtained its popularity in this simplified form. In 1985, People's Literature Publishing House published ten thousand volumes of the shortened version without the erotic sections. In 1988, Peking University Publishing House released the unabridged version made in the style of Chinese books for the public, with the high price of 970 Yuan each. It roused great public discussions; it was a pure commercial event. In 1993, someone in Sichuan printed twenty-eight thousand volumes, which created the highest record of pirated copy sales. Until 1993, when various copies entered the market, "Jin Pin Mei" was not hot anymore, since it was readily available and not rare.

Someone read this book from special angle, for example, Mao Zedong said in 1960s: "have you ever read ‘Jin Pin Mei'? I recommend you to have a look. The book is actually about the real history of Ming dynast."

The price of the abridged version of "Jin Pin Mei" currently on sale is 35 yuan each set, but the price of the full-length set is higher than 300 yuan. The higher price is just used to buy the deleted 20,000 words of pure sexual description. People don't like the castrated "Jin Pin Mei".

Notes on Pirated Publications

In The Distortion of Eroticism, Wei Guangqing instantly uses the erotic covers of the pirated publications. In China, there are numerous small bookstalls, all over the stations, coach stations, and ferry terminals. The magazines with pornographic covers flood there. These magazines are the most popular prints. Its power of the penetration into the Chinese social life and civil spirit is deeper than what the officials or the intellectuals like to admit. In fact, the underground magazine is the roof of Chinese secular culture. The roadside bookstalls distribute almost all of the pornographic books. The roadside bookstall market enhances the transparency of Chinese social life, and it is the key to cancel the noble patent and handle the secret of the upper class.

There are almost three hundreds popular publications approved by the government, among which there are about ten magazines that feature pornography. These magazines occupy the obvious locations, rowing down the streets, and eaves with naked modern erotic photographs or portraits, and cause the walking orthodox men or women not dare to stare.

The 1990s was an age full of pornography, naked catalogs, nude albums, erotic cards, nude calendars, prostitutions, TV and radio advertisements of philters, beauty selection, sauna, massage, and so on. Someone predicted that the emergence of Chinese blue movies, playboy magazine, and red-light districts would come when the conditions are ripe.

There is just about half a step between abstinence to lechery. It's same for the individual, as is for the nation. Would the trend that Europe, the United States, Japan, Australia had formed submerge China without exception?

Notes on The Source of The Images

The Distortion of Eroticism uses superposition. David Salle's work of No Title has the same manner. (See Contemporary Art.) The modern models of The Distortion of Eroticism come from the covers of the popular magazines, cutting, and pasting the erotic photos and the nude models.

The pattern of line drawing of The Distortion of Eroticism comes from the illustration of "Jin Pin Mei." It is called the "embroidered image," which originally means the embroidered figure of Buddha or other portraits. Since the middle of the Ming dynasty, popular novels had illustrations of characters, drawings in subtle lines, and it was also called "embroidered image," making use of monochrome, wooden carve, wooden watermark. After the Ming Dynasty, they added color. Wei Guangqing partially uses the chromatic approach to solute the transition of the two different painting styles. However, Wei's use is different from the Ming's stereotypical chromatic works. The latter is used only in color lines to form multicolor on white background.

Notes On The Theme of The Painting

Wei Guangqing's The Distortion of Eroticism is about eroticism, but not erotic painting. It is thinking about the erotic situation. The Distortion of Eroticism is a personal self-indulgence and self-reflection of a taboo, not a realistic attitude of the sociality or government's hold on pornography. It offers a way to think about the history of eroticism or the historical opinions of eroticism.

Eroticism comes from the nature of human being. Biologist noted that mankind's predecessors as early as 3500 years ago would have been stagnated or extinct without sexual instinct. According to the author of "Proterozoic Biosphere," sexual activity began 11 million years ago in the form of plankton; sexual activity is a great progress of biological evolution, because the stronger vitality of a new generation due to combining the characteristics of the two sexes. The formation of human sexual taboos for several thousand years is not so much a moral requirement, but rather that the weak performance of the survivability of human society, organizational capacity, and ability of communication.

Each piece of Wei Guangqing' works uses bar codes. Bar codes lay an imprint for the trend of the commercialization and professionalization of eroticism in the 1990s.

Some people say that evil is the driving force for social development. Reflection: if a force could make the social development, how could it merely been described as evil?

---From "Art Trend"(Hong Kong), 4th volume, 1993

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