The Importance of Ugliness

February 3, 2017 2017年2月3日

With a career spanning across two decades, Mr. OGAY has become one of Taiwan’s most prolific and well-respected street artists. Best known for his paintings of nude male characters, Mr. OGAY creates “ugly” art to invite critical discourse on beauty, humanity, environment, and society. Neocha had the chance to speak with the artist to understand more about his creative philosophy and insistence that “art can change the world.”

黑鸡先生是台湾最多产和备受推崇的街头艺术家之一,参与街头艺术创作已近二十年。黑鸡先生的作品以标志性的“裸男”角色而闻名,其作品出现在了台湾的多个街道角落,并曾被中国,日本,韩国,法国,美国和泰国的媒体报道。看似简单的作品以“丑陋”作为一贯的主题,引发人们对美、人性、环境和社会的反思。 Neocha有幸与这名艺术家对话,更多地了解他的哲学理念和关于“艺术可以改变世界”的坚持。

Neocha: How did the idea for the Mr. OGAY characters first come about?

Mr. OGAY: During my youth, when I was first figuring out my style, I found that I really liked to draw people. Afterwards, I decided that that would be my main focus. I added my own personality into my work, and what resulted are the characters that you see today.

Neocha: 可以谈谈你最初画这些人物的灵感来源吗?

黑鸡先生: 刚开始是从我年幼时画的东西去寻找属于我自己的创作脉络,后来发现我一直都很喜欢画人,于是我就决定以人为主题,再融入我自身的个性,就创造出了你现在看到的这些人物形象。

Neocha: How does your fine arts background influence your work on the street?

Mr. OGAY: My life-long fine arts education taught me about aesthetics and how to draw things beautifully. But in comparison to this “beautiful” approach, I prefer to draw things that are ugly. Ugly things will give viewers a deeper impression, but I’ll use beautiful technique to depict this concept of “ugliness.” This causes the viewer to rethink their own definition of beauty and ugliness, to more deeply consider the themes that I want to express.

Neocha: 你的美术教育背景怎么影响了你现在对艺术的看法和态度?

黑鸡先生: 从小到大的美术教育都是在教我们怎么画得美,画得漂亮,但比起美的事物,我更喜欢画丑,因为丑的东西可以让人印象深刻,而我同时也使用美的手法来包装、描绘「丑」,让观者可以去思考美与丑的定义,进而去了解我想要叙述的议题。

Neocha: How does mainstream Taiwanese society view street art?

Mr. OGAY: Taiwanese society is not really accepting of street artists. Because they lack a deep understanding of art, so they can’t understand what we’re trying to express. They’ll think that we’re just trying to vandalize or damage property, so our street pieces will usually only be viewable for a short time before they’re painted over. We need to spend a lot of time to explain and educate people about what we’re really doing.

Neocha: 台湾社会会怎么看待街头艺术家?

黑鸡先生: 台湾社会对街头艺术家并不友善,主要还是来自于民众对艺术的不了解,他们不知道我们在干嘛,只觉得是在破坏,所以最常遇到的就是作品很难保存,因为很容易被抹除。要花很多时间跟民众解释我们在做什么。

Neocha: What kinds of problems do you encounter while working on the street? What is the Taiwanese government’s attitude towards street artists?

Mr. OGAY: Taiwan’s laws against graffiti aren’t strict, which has allowed many young people to be able to paint in public without facing consequences. But most of these artists lack substance, so the number of quality pieces you’ll see on the street are actually very few. Government attitudes towards street art will differ in different parts of Taiwan. In some places, the government will try to use street art as an urban beautification project, but many times the artists who collaborate on these projects will have creative limitations placed on them by conservative forces. So most of the time, it works out better if we are self sufficient.

Neocha: 在街上创作的时候会碰到什么样的问题?台湾政府会支持本地的街头艺术家吗?

黑鸡先生: 台湾对于涂鸦的法律并不严,也因此造就了许多年轻人喜欢到处画,只是这些人大多缺乏观念,所以街上优秀的作品并不多。而政府也要看不同地区有不同的态度,有时候政府会想要利用街头艺术来提升城市的容貌,但常受限于保守民众的意见,所以我们多半是靠自己比较容易。

Neocha: How do you define your purpose as an artist? How do you hope people will react to your work?

Mr. OGAY: To me, the essence of street art is to be able to communicate directly to the public, as opposed to having to go through different stages of review or censorship. In the end, all mediums of art are about the people, so the concepts and philosophies you want to transmit are the most essential. Like I said already, I hope that when people see my works, they’ll be moved to consider what constitutes ugliness and beauty. That through humor and creativity, these works will make people laugh, they’ll cultivate people’s ability to think critically and care more for their surrounding environment and the world at large. Remember: art can change the world.

Neocha: 对你来说,街头艺术的精髓和最终目的是什么?你希望看到你的作品的人会有什么样的反应或者想法?

黑鸡先生: 对我来说,街头艺术的精髓就是可以直接的跟大众对话,而不用经过考核审查等精英养成阶段,但是任何艺术形式最终都还是回归到人的身上,所以你要传递什么想法及观念给人们才是最重要的。正如我前面所说的,我希望让观者看到我的作品,可以去思考美与丑的定义,用幽默猎奇的手法来逗大家笑,培养人们对事物批判和质疑的能力,关心自己的土地和这个世界,记住,艺术可以改变世界。

Instagram: @mrogay


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao
Images Courtesy of Mr. OGAY

Instagram: @mrogay


供稿人: George Zhi Zhao