Appreciation of Beautiful Articles|Folk Aesthetics Author: Feng Jicai Reading: Wang Hui

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Author: Feng Jicai Reading: Wang Hui

Those colorful woodcuts from the fields, The mud toys with their heads tilted and their heads twisted and rough, the country earth plays with shouts and shrieks, and the kind of temple fairs that are crowded with people for three days in a row, are they beautiful?

Since ancient times, most literati were dismissive. Thinking that it is all a vulgar villager’s trick, it is difficult to enter the hall of elegance. Therefore, most of these folk cultures created by illiterate people survive on their own while passing down through oral transmission.

Of course, in ancient times there were also some literati who appreciated the simple and natural folk culture, mostly poets. Their poems will flow with the light and shadow of folk songs as clear as a stream. This is true from Li Bai to Liu Yuxi. However, the ancient painters were different. They advocated literati paintings and regarded folk painters as painters. Few painters were willing to take a look at folk paintings. The trend of learning from folk in the art world has been influenced by the West in modern times. There is no “literati painting” in Western painting, so from Michelangelo to Picasso, it has always been in communication with folk art. In their hearts, elite painting is a “flow”, while folk art is a “source”.

In human culture, there are two cultures that are the source of primordiality. One is primitive culture and the other is folk culture. But after humans left the primitive era, primitive culture disappeared. The “source” of folk culture has always existed.

Elite culture is conscious, primitive culture and folk culture are spontaneous. “Consciousness” comes from thinking, while “spontaneity” comes directly from life itself. It has the essence of life. Therefore, Western painters always draw the motive force of life and the temperament of life from the two “sources” of primitive and folk.

Therefore, the beauty of life is the first element of folk aesthetics.

However, folk culture has always been used only. Used by elite culture as an aesthetic resource. It itself is not placed on an equal footing with elite culture.

In modern times, the part of folk culture accepted by people is also the part close to “elegance”. For example, Beijing opera in drama can be favored due to its tendency to be elegant, but many local operas are still despised. Therefore, some local operas in China are now on the verge of death. For another example, in the folk woodblock New Year pictures, the more urbanized and refined Yangliuqingqing paintings are easily accepted, while some purely local prints are difficult to be seen by urban people.

Folk culture has its own unique aesthetic system. Including aesthetic language, aesthetic methods and aesthetic habits. Those old women in northern Shaanxi who are good at paper-cutting will grin while cutting chickens, cats, tigers and dolls with scissors. Their silent “artistic language” can make their hearts go wild. Another difference between folk culture and elite culture is that folk culture is irrational, purely emotional, and purely emotional. This feeling is a living and living emotion. There is the impulse of life, but also the ideal of life. There are spiritual imaginations and realistic desires. Their language can be understood by everyone in the vast fields and mountains. At a glance, they feel the same, and they are each other’s best friends.

Therefore, folk aesthetics is also a folk emotion. If you understand folk aesthetics, you can feel folk emotions, and if you have folk emotions in your heart, you will be able to understand folk aesthetics. Why do we only learn English and communicate with foreigners? Why don’t we ask about folk words, talk with our own villagers, and experience this charming emotion on our land? Plus it’s a beautiful and visual language. The language is frank, cheerful, free, and natural. There is no aesthetic self-compulsion, all aesthetic spontaneity. They are not as profound, innovative, and self-conscious as elite cultures. They do not express individuality, but only pursue the identity of the villagers; what they pursue is actually a commonality. As for the individuality of some folk artists, it is purely a natural presentation. They use a method that is passed down from generation to generation. The significance of vertical historical accumulation far exceeds the value of individual excellence. Their most distinctive personality is regional, and their aesthetic language is all kinds of aesthetic dialects. Therefore, the important feature of folk aesthetics is regionalization, that is, the dialectization of aesthetic language. This makes folk aesthetics have a very strong cultural content.

Writing here, I figured it out – in the past, we judged the beauty of folk art based on the standards of elite culture. In this way, we not only accept a small part of folk art, but also fail to see the cultural beauty in folk art, that is, the cultural connotation of folk aesthetics.

Today, we are in the transition period from the era of agricultural civilization to the modern civilization of industrialization. All the creations in the farming era have gradually become historical forms. We should transcend the prejudiced perspective and narrow concept of folk culture in the past, understand folk culture from a broader and deeper cultural perspective, and feel the unique aesthetics of folk. In this way, the creation of the ancestors will be completely transformed into the wealth enjoyed by the later generations.

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