Made in china 005

Duration:2018.03.17 - 2018.05.27

Venue:MOCA Yinchuan

Curator:Suchen Hsieh

In his Theory On Landscape, the Tang Dynasty poet and painter, Wang Wei (699-759), wrote: “distant waters are without waves, high and even as clouds.” This summarizes the goals of the ancients in terms of the language of visual experience for painting. Whether the ancients or people of today, we all use our eyes, minds, and mental perceptions to roundly encounter the subtleties of the world, in order to reach a state of unity between human beings and nature. [As written in the Book of Changes, translated by James Legge] the sages of the past had a deep understanding of this:

“… when Bao-xi had come to the rule of all under heaven, looking up, he contemplated the brilliant forms exhibited in the sky, and looking down he surveyed the patterns shown on the earth. He contemplated the ornamental appearances of birds and beasts and the (different) suitabilities of the soil. Near at hand, in his own person, he found things for consideration, and the same at a distance, in things in general. On this he devised the eight trigrams, to show fully the attributes of the spirit-like and intelligent (operations working secretly), and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things.”

– from Xi Ci II.

This represents a kind of synecdoche, in which objects or substances are used to metonymically signify some aspect of human sentiment that imbues the Chinese people's attitude towards these things with a deeper layer of “meaning,” which could be good or bad. Among these signifiers, clouds and water are relatively representative. Clouds and water are amorphous, yet they can embody myriad different feelings. Chinese people have an affinity towards clouds for their loftiness and distance, and water's unfettered character and its freedom. Chinese landscape painting is inseparable from this creative conception of clouds and the beauty of water. Poetry can neither be separated from this cloud state of mind, nor the refinement of water.

As the Song Dynasty poet Lu You (1125–1209) wrote in Contemplating Appearances – Clouds A Thousand-Heavy: “Clouds a thousand-heavy/ Water thousand-heavy / Living in the thousand-heavy clouds and water.” Besides this, renowned female Yuan Dynasty painter Guan Daosheng (1262–1319) wrote Poem of the Old Fisherman: “Look south towards 4000 Wuxing road / In free time, go the cloud water’s edge.” There are all these and other classic lines of poetry. In the Buddhist monasteries there are “cloud water monks,” a figurative expression for going everywhere, without obstacles before either heart or mind. The monks often use clouds and water as the focal point of their chants. The Tang Dynasty philosopher and writer Li Ao (772–841) wrote The Solemnity of an Eminent Monk Giving the Mountain Medicine: “I came to ask and nothingness said that the clouds are in the blue sky, and the water in the bottle.” These are profound words of the world's longing for the poetic life with moral meaning.

Clouds bear affect and yet are amorphous, however, people tend to abstract describable or reproducible styles in order to extract the artistic appearance from some original environment. Clouds and water have gradually come to be rendered symbolic and visually readable. The artistic works depicting clouds and water are innumerable. I have also tried in my own way to present the cloud-water inside my heart. Using paper as the medium for an abstract symbolic language to create a sacred space for cloud-water in my heart. I continue thus to work, aiming to explore expression on paper.