Art, Bacon said, is man added to nature. All man-made art is but a byproduct of nature. lt is always the beauty of nature that makes people want to travel. When they return, they are inspired to paint. if people can learn to be closer to nature, understand nature and make use of nature, it becomes much easier for them to become an artist. If my paintings are worth looking at, it is because the mountains and the rivers are themselves beautiful paintings created by nature.
I believe that the essence of art of painting is all about using oils and paints to transform natural artworks into man made artworks. It is a process by which the material is extended into the immaterial.
The key to this process is the expression of the artist’s inner landscape. Before I can paint the landscape, I must become a part of that landscape and make it a part of my inner being before releasing it all through the tip of the brush. Stylistic landscape paintings in particular must go beyond the form of the landscape in order to capture and convey its spirit. Only then does it become true art as I understand it.
Western painters have traditionally focused their energies on conveying the form of the object, leading to the rise of many scientific theories on technique. Chinese literati painters on the other hand focus on the spiritual world and start from the principle of “conveying the spirit”. This led to the development of many philosophical empirical techniques. l was trained in Western painting techniques but my creative philosophy remains rooted in Chinese sensibility. The ultimate realm of Chinese painting is the spiritual connection between time, space and man. When l paint, I strive to give it meaning first then expressing my feelings through the scenery second. l know that if l find a landscape without meaning to be unconvincing, then it certainly won’t reach out to other people either.
Chinese landscape paintings emphasize the expression of the inner self and the crafting of a certain state of mind. l often rely on my intuition to arrange mountains and rivers within the foot-long Canvas. As a contemporary artist, l might understand the scientific principle of perspective but I deliberately turn away from science in creating abstract art. I am therefore using an anti-contemporary method to pursue another form of the contemporary, something that can be rather quite thought-provoking. Through the colors of painting, l am actually trying to convey its inner spirit. l hope that the audience can view the painting with their inner sight as well because where the naked eye sees only shape and colors, inner sight can see the spirit.
This painting collection brings together 52 artworks that offer a rough outline of some old memories and my recent travels, painting style and creative approach. Where the expressiveness of the artwork may fall short, l supplemented it with text to help describe the spiritual realm. For the sake of editing and reading, l divided the artworks into four main categories based on my thinking at the time: Art of Nature, Dreaming of the Mountains, Circulation of the Essence, and Enraptured. These should offer the viewer a glimpse into the interactions between time, space and the human spirit.
This collection is inspired in “The Art of Nature”, a poem by Huang Tingjian on the nature of human relationships and the landscape. What can be finer than appreciating the masterpieces of nature with like-minded friends?
A gulf always exists between the creation of art and artistic achievement. I am still painting to try to bridge this gulf even though my goal may always seem beyond reach.