“Minds' Eye Open" - Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational
“Approaching Tao With A Clear Mind”
— A Preface for Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational
by Yifei Gan
Zong Bing, a master landscape painter in ancient China(375-443 ad), had a famous saying “approaching Tao with a clear mind”, which teaches us to understand the essence of the universe, nature and life when the inner world achieves clarity. In this way, what an artist creates can harmonize with the painted objects. Borrowing the saying from our ancestor, this exhibition seeks to elaborate and add new content to it, so as to remind us to be clear headed and pure at heart, which, I believe, is the precondition for one to seek the ultimate art.
China nowadays has been almost the second economy in the world , and its culture has been getting more and more diversified. However, the alienation towards humanity brought by materialism and the political power, which are a result of the inconsistency between material and spiritual civilization, pose a significant obstacle to its culture development, or the advance of Chinese contemporary art in particular. Although much has been achieved in contemporary art over the past years, its social function has been threatened by the erosion by political system and market, greatly hampering the spiritual independence of artists. It is a common task for us finding a way to let art on its right track and in a quest for the core value of life and culture. The present exhibition would like to address exactly the same issue.
This exhibition is a continuation of the previous ones, including “Spark” and“Tracing the Origin” Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational, in an attempt to continue the reflection on the relationship between art and society, what its meaning is and how to pursue free spirit. Participants are all famous Chinese artists, some of whose important positions in art history are laid on their portrait of Tibet or Daliangshan Mountain. It is this group of people that pointed at the right path for Chinese art to develop after the Cultural Revolution ended in the 1970s and gave rise to one wave of art innovation after another. The later healthy development in the art scene owes much to them. Due to their great significance and continuous influence, it is imperative for us to look at “Scar Art ”, “Rustic Art ", " life stream and Cultural-root Seeking”, “Poetic Sentiment-ism” etc. when reviewing the development of Chinese art in the past 40 years. Otherwise it would be impossible to discuss the country’s contemporary art, which is now raging with changes. Chen Danqing, He Duoling, Cheng Conglin, Gao Xiaohua, Luo Zhongli, Shang Yang, Qin Ming, Pang Maokun... What such trend setters did to Chinese art in the past has a direct bearing on the present or even future. The consideration and passion they demonstrate for “humans” and “life” has been and will still be our core value. The question is that while the root-seeking practice aims to put the cultural institution in the right place, whether the tasks facing Chinese contemporary art remain the same or become much more complex, now that the society has now embraced diversity in a rapidly changing cultural context. Together with younger artists, the aforementioned masters are returning to Daliangshan Mountain and continuing their pursuit of art. Will it be a continuation of the “cultural-root seeking” activity, or serve as a point of reference to clarify and question the current core value of Chinese art? And, when we put the consideration of “humans” in a new context, how should art present the particular method to be adopted, as well as the process or even the result? Can contemporary art go on to exert a positive influence on the transition of China’s cultural development? If so, what functions it will have exactly? It is our intention to respond to such issues when planning this exhibition. What’s more, to gather different generations of artists and our colleagues from home and abroad together would provide an opportunity to pass on wisdom, generate new thoughts and perceive art from a different perspective.
We believe that the unique natural and cultural environment at Daliangshan Mountain would serve as an ideal background for artistic creation and further reflection on the relationship between the development of China’s material and spiritual civilization. Back at the first “Spark” exhibition, we advocated the organic integration of artistic quality, conceptuality and contemporaniety as well as the natural combination of traditional art techniques and the current context, which, we believe, is a way for art to help with the China’s cultural development. For this particular exhibition, we organize a group of artists to revisit Daliangshan Mountain, so that they can regain a lucid mind in the face of nature and the ultimate selves, thus explore new possibilities and hopefully erect new landmarks in Chinese contemporary art.
If we take history as a product woven out of a series of accidental and predestined events, then some of them must be important chapters in China’s art history. At a time of reunion, which pages we will turn to and what art journey will be launched? The answers, most probably, lie in the collision and interaction between artists and the society, the nature and their own lives.