First Class Magazine Coverstory, Issue 101, February 2013:

Text and Translation: (Courtesy of First Class Magazine):

安东尼奥•威利
画布不能承受之“厚”
Antonio Wehrli
The Unbearable “Heaviness” on Canvas

安东尼奥的作品有多独特,只消看看他的画室便能发觉。
别人的油画可以重叠存放,而他的一幅油画与另一幅油画之中必须间隔一定空间,如若完全贴合重叠则会损伤画面的纹理——那些纹理是凸显于画布平面而立体的,为此安东尼奥专门用木条自己组装了一个“存画架”,像一个顶天立地的层层分隔式书架。
Just looking at Antonio’s studio, you can figure how special his works are.

Many could put their paintings one on top of another. But Antonio keeps a certain distance between each of his paintings. It would break the painting’s texture if he puts them together. The texture is solid on canvas. Antonio made a wood “painting shelf” especially to store his paintings. It’s like a giant multilayer bookshelf.

别人的油画可以直接描绘于普通画框之上,而他必须在现有的画框背后加固数根木条以增加画框的承重力——他的画太重,以至于普通画框难以承受。
别人的油画可以等待自然干燥,而他需要专门腾出一间房子用作“干燥间”,其内抽湿机持续运作、灯光24小时不熄,像一个精密严谨的科学实验室——他的画太厚,以至于每一层油彩都要等待颇长时间的干燥过程,并且为了避免油脂向画面渗出而致使色彩变灰则必须通过24小时光照解决。
于是“立体”与“厚重”成为了我们对安东尼奥作品最直观的感受。但即便如此,当他从存画架上“搬”出一幅油画将之真实呈现于眼前时,我们还是被震惊了,它们的厚重程度已远远超过想象,抵达令人意外的境地。
Many could frame their paintings in regular stretching bars. But Antonio needs to strengthen the frame with several battens to increase the weight capacity. His paintings are too heavy so that no ordinary frames could bear them.
Many could wait till their paintings dry naturally. But Antonio needs a particular room as a “drying room” for his paintings where a dehumidifier works constantly and the light never goes off. It’s like a science lab. His paintings are too thick so it takes quite a long time for every layer to dry. 24-hour-lighting prevents the oil from oozing which could cause the color to turn grey.
Therefore, “solid” and “heavy” are our intuitive feelings about Antonio’s paintings. When he “moves out” a painting from the shelf, we still feel quite astonishing when we see it. Its heaviness is far beyond our imagination.

层层绽开的莲花
那是一幅色彩明快的莲花。和蓝顶艺术村里的很多艺术家一样,守着一池得天独厚的“荷塘月色”,荷花总会激起艺术家们的创作欲望,这里画荷花的人绝非少数,但各有不同,而安东尼奥笔下的荷花又尤其“另类”。
仿佛用九十度俯瞰的视角打量荷塘,绿到深邃的荷叶或遮或掩错落出不同的空间结构,层层盛开的花瓣立体地绽放在画布上,而黄色柱体的花蕊更犹如“杵”在画面上一般,鲜明地突兀着,这恐怕真是我们第一次见到被画成立体状的荷花。
Lotus Blooming in Layers
It’s a brightly colored painting of lotus. Just like many artists in Blue Roof Art Village, Antonio enjoys the moonlight of the lotus pond. Lotus always inspires artists to create their works. More than a few artists paint lotus here. But they paint differently. And Antonio’s lotus is truly special among them all.
It seems he looks down at the lotus pond. The leaves with a deep green color cover each other and make up many different spaces. Layers of petals bloom solidly on canvas. The yellow stamen looks like it’s standing on the painting, so vividly. This might be the first time we see a three-dimensional lotus painted ever.


惊诧的不止我们。2012年底,安东尼奥在成都许燎源现代设计艺术博物馆新艺术实验中心举办了自己在中国的首次个展。正如展览的名字《厚度》一样,他独特的厚重色彩和立体空间引来了不少观者的好奇,这么厚的质感是用纯油彩堆积而成的么?这么立体的形状是画还是雕塑?……答案很明显,安东尼奥希望自己的画和其他所有人都不同,而厚油彩正是其最为独特的艺术语言。把油彩堆积得如此之厚,很需要花些时间,等待一层干透再继续下一层创作,这样一幅作品往往要画几个月方能完成,但安东尼奥并不为此着急,在他看来,只有这样耗费时间、耗费油彩造就出来的厚度才会给人“一种激动与激情的震撼感”,而他之所以选择这一表现方式也因为自己孩提时代在博物馆首次见到厚重色彩创作艺术作品时,就为之深深迷恋与陶醉。
It’s not just us who are amazed. At the end of 2012, Antonio held his first solo art show in China at the New Art Experiment Center in Chengdu XLY Museum of Modern Art. Just like the name of this show “Structurism”, he uses heavy colors and solid spaces in the structure. Many viewers wondered if it really needs only oil paint to finish such paintings. Are these paintings or sculptures? The answer is obvious. Antonio wants his paintings to be different than anyone else’s. And heavy color is exactly his unique art language. It takes time to pile up the heavy oil paints. He can only paint a next layer after one layer is completely dry. It takes several months to finish one painting. But Antonio is in no hurry. In his mind, only such a “Structurism” that made from lots of oil paints and made through time can bring people “the shock of passion and excitement”. The reason why he chose such an expression is also his own amazing experience back in his childhood when he saw the similar type of art in a museum for the first time.

​不被设计的停留
哲学家说,一个人的行为与选择总能在过往的生活经验中找到映照,即为潜意识之驱动力。面对同一池莲花,安东尼奥会表现得如此另类,与他本身就与众不同有关,在蓝顶艺术村众多的艺术家群体中,高鼻白肤的他可能是惟一一个长期定居驻留此地的“异族艺术家”。
操着一口英式中文游走在三圣乡的小径、田间、荷塘畔,让人有些难以置信其实这个出生在苏黎世的瑞士人来成都不过短短一年时间。幼时的安东尼奥喜欢画画,而父亲却以“艺术家是个不稳定的职业”为理由加以反对,但这并不影响他自2002年开始研究以厚重色彩和纹理结构为特点的“结构主义”油画艺术,并在瑞士举办多场个展;25岁的安东尼奥决定出去看看,于是成为了游轮摄影师和艺术总监一路周游全球,2011年在武当山住了两个月后他和他的中国妻子来到成都。原本可能只是一次路过,却在毫无设计的前提下变成了长期停留,安东尼奥说“这里适合做他自己想做的事”,而且“我的心一开始就告诉我,我喜欢这里”。
国外艺术家对色彩大多有一种与生俱来的驾驭能力,尤其是鲜亮、饱和的暖色调色彩,这也使得安东尼奥作品相当吸引视线,在其“莲花”和“自然命脉”两个系列中体现得更为明显。
Stay without A Plan
A philosopher once said, one’s behavior and choice can be found in his/her early experiences, which is known as the driving force of subconscious. Facing the same pond of lotus, Antonio makes such special art because he himself is special. Among the artists in Blue Roof Art Village, he is the only one with a big nose and white skin who stays long-term here, known as the “exotic artist”. When you see this man walking in the roads and fields or by the side of the lotus pond in Sansheng Village or hear him speaking in Chinese with an English accent, it’s hard to believe this Zurich-born Swiss has been living in Chengdu for only a year. Antonio loved to draw when he was little. But his father disapproved because in his mind it was not a stable profession being an artist. But it had no effect to his study of structurism oil painting which is characteristic of heavy colors and textures since 2002. He also held several art shows in Switzerland. At the age of 25, Antonio decided to go out and see the world. So he traveled around the world aboard a cruise ship as a photographer and art director. After living in Wudang Mountain for two months in 2011, he and his wife came to Chengdu. It was supposed to be a stop-over but later became a long-term stay without any plan. Antonio says “it’s a place where I can do whatever I want,” and “my heart told me since the beginning that I love it here.”
Foreign artists mostly have the natural power of mastering colors, especially bright, saturated and warm-toned colors. These colors make Antonio’s works eye-catching, especially for the collections of “Lotus” and “Natural lifeblood” (AW).


无法预知的轨迹
“自然命脉”系列是安东尼奥画得最多的一组题材,没有具象的主体,色彩厚重而纹理细腻的蓝色与绿色交错分布,像闭上眼后脑海出现的幻影色块,也像浩瀚自然某一个神秘角落深处的秘密生命物语,它们是极致抽象的。安东尼奥说“画画是一种感觉,没有既定设计的轮廓,也无法预知画笔最终的轨迹”,他的画介于无意识和意识之间,有随机或即兴的某种因素。
曾经在武当山停留的两个月时间,安东尼奥住在道观里,爬山、种树、打坐、冥想。由此不能理解他自己对自己创作状态的形容:“这一系列画起来就像打坐一样舒服和宁静。”画面经常在冥想时显现出来,从中他发现一个吸引自己的片段,然后将注意力集中于这一片段图像,开始用意识加以完善和取舍,再不断描绘细节最终完成作品。这或许也是安东尼奥将这一系列命名为自然命脉的原因,自然意识是无可控而自由发散的状态,一切源自内心。他说以蓝绿色调为主的“自然命脉”会从AW1画到AW99,然后画布会“生长”出红色、黄色等更多色彩,而AW正是他自己英文名的字母缩写。
Unpredicted Tracks
The “Natural lifeblood” (AW) collection is the theme that Antonio paints the most. There is no concrete subject, only heavy and fine textured colors of blue and green distributed crossly, just like illusions made of color lumps bump up in the head when we close our eyes, also like the secret life stories hiding deeply in the secret corners of our nature. They are very abstract. Antonio says that “painting is a kind of feeling. There are no lines planed out. You can never predict the final track of your brush.” His paintings are between unconsciousness and consciousness, which contain some factors of randomness and improvisation.
During his stay in Wudang Mountain, Antonio lived in a Taoist temple. He climbed the mountain, grew trees, and did some Tai Chi and meditation. So it’s not hard to understand how he describes his own creation state: ”It feels as comfortable and peaceful as Tai Chi when I created this collection.” The pictures often showed themselves in his mind when he meditated. Then he found a part that attracted his most attention on which he focused his mind. And then he began to make it perfect with his conscious and finished the details till the entire work was done. This might be the reason why he named this collection “Natural lifeblood”. Natural conscious is uncontrollable and free. Everything is from the heart. He says he will paint “Natural lifeblood” with blue and green colors from AW1 to AW99, and then the canvas will “grow” red, yellow and towards more colors. And AW happens to be the Initials of his name.



​安东尼奥的“东方”
在安东尼奥的创作中,“佛”系列和“山水”系列带有明显的东方性,可以视为一个瑞士人眼中或心中的东方物语。
只不过,他的佛不是我们传统所见的样子,而是充满欲望的。身之为佛,却可以兼持手枪,安东尼奥说“他们是保镖呢”!似极了一句禅机“佛不见身知是佛”,一切宗教之佛都是身心灵的最终映照,西方基督也罢,中国佛道也好,你所看到的即是你想看到的一切,正如佛系列中的一幅“菩提沾花”图,成都人看上去觉得像大熊猫,而日本人看上去可能更像相扑士,安东尼奥笔下的想象可以有无数想象的可能,但最终得以照见心底。
而他的山水更有些似曾相似却又截然不同的观感,熟悉的龙与凤、迎客松与飞天壁画、乃至中国水墨古画的构图等等独具东方性的元素,却用安东尼奥式的厚度和立体结构主义色块表现出来,总有些魔幻与穿越之奇特语境,东方与西方就在他的画中相遇了。
“如果不来中国,就不会诞生这样的画了”,安东尼奥的作品里总有着西方艺术家看东方文化的独特视角,而这一独特性还在继续。
Antonio’s “Orient”
In Antonio’s arts, you can find an obvious oriental character in the collections of “Buddha” and “Landscape”, which can be regarded as the oriental stories in a Swiss eye or heart.
But he doesn’t see Buddha the way we do. His Buddha has desires. Being a Buddha yet holds a gun. Antonio says “they are bodyguards!” just as a Buddha maxim “A Buddha is a Buddha in any shape.” No matter in Christianity, Buddhism or Taoism, the “Buddha” in every religion is the ultimate reflect of the heart. You see what you want to see. In the painting “Buddha with flower” from the Buddha Collection, people from Chengdu see a panda but people from Japan see a sumo wrestler. There are numerous possibilities under Antonio’s brush which all show themselves in our hearts.
The landscapes in his paintings look so familiar yet different. Antonio shows the oriental elements like dragon and phoenix, Greeting Pine and Flying Guanying and even Chinese ink paintings with his own colors and in Structurism. It feels like magic and quite strange. The East and the West meet each other in his paintings.
“If I didn’t come to China, there wouldn’t be such paintings”. There is always a special perspective in Antonio’s paintings, which is the way a western artist understands the oriental culture. And this specificity will go on.

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