Uninhibited Scenery /Xu Sheng
One day Qi Lan said to Tu Hongtao,”from today onwards I will break with the sentimental things and will become a new person. I will give up writing and become a painter.” Now, one year later while writing the composition for the exhibition the sentimental things keep coming back.
People admired the well-spoken Qi Lan for his decision to become an artist. He understood well the quiet experiences; nowadays he would be delighted with the dynasty paintings. Tu Hongtao also had a new realization towards “being an artist”. He finally found a way to calm his heart, when he starts painting a landscape forms in his mind and he has the urge to smash his own flesh and bones and let his inner instincts free. Both of them discovered the recovery of eradicating the literary, leaving the visionary life behind. There is not only no space for nonsense theory but the deep thoughts can be dispelled in a free line of vision, it has to be done like this that ability has to borrow shape and a direct spirit – or to say it in other words, the shape itself is the spirit.
Nowadays it seems that every person that prattles worldly spirits or the metaphysics in China and the West is an expert, but actually most of it is just decadent music. There is also a group of talented people that are infatuated with the intense study of conventions, they want to attract the views with mystery in order to reproduce the success of the modernist model. But this is nothing more than lewd music, it is trivial. Actually we shouldn’t estimate today’s art too highly. When one looks at all times and countries, art has not been surrounded by peacefulness and artists can just find calmness for themselves and look for the spirit of art. Qi Lan and Tu Hongtao understand the worth of five books and a hundred thousand roads, but compared with a canvas all their capital turns into a cloud in a split second, the ravine of the mind appears on the painting and the actual situations become clear without words and turn into landscapes. Or to say it with the words of Henri Bergson, the memories cannot disappear, they make it impossible for humankind to lie, one can always tell. Tu Hongtao says it even clearer: if there is the slightest hesitation on a canvas, the slightest covering up of thoughts, one can tell instantly. The canvas is an authentic carrier: this honesty is not related to the artist, but it is the canvas’ natural quality. The reason for an artist being an artist is, that he accepted this authenticity. The reason why these two artists wanted to have an exhibition called “Headstrong Landscape” together lies just in this idea.
However, to see such realness is not a profound level, it’s just the start level. Qi Lan likes to search for this spirit from the ancients. He likes occasional talk with Pierre Bonnard, or to show supercilious to Huang Binhong, of course, by painting, or imagine - sometimes two might not be definitely separated. The way of learning from the ancients of Qi Lan is not following or copying, but provocation. His sinister eyes can grab light spots by the first glance. However, these light spots become "aesthetical” shackles, so they need be mixed into a pile of mud, then he can pull the nail out of mud. This nail is big enough, it is himself. Seemed in his eyes, the ancient time is like the collapsing virtual world in "Matrix" Episode 3, it begins to downpour heave rain. Qi Lan’s beat by piles of masters from places exhausted. When the crowd dispersed, he was lying on the muddy patch of open ground in the roaring wind and rain, until his body was buried in mud and his consciousness gradually trance. He is really becoming a nail, finally capable of distinguishing between real and unreal. After rude awakening, he felt that is not enough fun and cover the original painting with a new one. He likes Van Gogh, I would be affected, when every time I see his paintings, always think of Van Gogh goes a young man smoking a clay-colored skeleton, although the techniques and color are not mature enough, but he is bored of sophisticated and arrogant. For this reason it is probably to see him in a painting called "Mother's garden", I am signing: admit it, you hesitate to explore in the painting, like the prodigal son lost in his way; friends are scattered in the distance; you can always write to them, but they can never get back to you again. Occasionally homesick, you put that cigarette into the skull’s mouths, "[...] the distant friend / without my reading you are still you / But in addition to my reading / how much meaning has left in your letter [... ...] me and you / will never meet, such as two distant planet / in the same deep black canopy / apparent [...] ".
In the modern world "under the deep black sky", the artist's creation of the state becomes ever more complex, and Tu Hongtao want to be purified it through the canvas: get rid of narrative thinking, get rid of the right hand habit, get rid of a symbol, get rid of imagination, get rid of irony, get rid of lyric, get rid of innovation, get rid of nostalgia, get rid of science and technology, get rid of metaphysics, get rid of awareness (unconscious), get rid of history ...until he can really see critical and excess part of life. There may be nothing, there may be a mess, probably cannot get rid of it... ... everything is unpredictable. In any case, when he was confident enough, he would only need to describe the object left in impression that it is not conscious of the impression, nor is the visual impression, but between him and the object of the whole world. It is an eternal world, in which he has absolute freed, but they cannot make any choice. He made the only choice in the level of consciousness, only select the object itself, which cannot be explained, "I still feel relatively futile to explain this association, as if to explain why such a person in love. Fascination and love is there is no way to explain. " See herbs in spring, snow in winter. Rational and proud feelings are important by cause, nor the strength of the depth of expression, but rather really see the emotion of the object, to find them. In the discovery process, a distant memory will be revived, it splashes, it could also be a deep dependence. In his most recent screen structure, exposing a large emptiness, although it is only background, but the sharp gap between the visual, like the light old Jan Vermeer draw, where inner light reveals from. What may also be disadvantages, perhaps incomplete, but now, he cannot ask for brighter light, this is not what he requires, therefore they are pure.
It is the decadent "post-modern" which spoiled our character. We should often stand aside, and think over the main direction or value of art, which ultimately can only be superficial shown, as same as people stand outside of painting and think about the meaning of painting. Art is for sure related to reality, but the core of art has never changed. "Never mention homeland to a homesick people, but test new tea with new fire, enjoy love of wine and poem when still young". There is no need to say that ancients only understand beauty of landscapes, because they live in their "contemporary art", and they find the core of art, as well as what we are doing now.
Note 1: Quoted from Qi Lan's poem "To the distant friends - Charles Baudelaire”
Note 2: Quoted from Tu Hongtao’s conversation with Zhu Zhu, "In the present flow of time - Tu Hongtao interview"