Feeling it in the Body – Enlightenment in Confusion
Source: Author:Wang Lin Date: 2009-10-22 Size:
I’m not quite clear on how such an animal worked its way into Dong Zhong’s paintings. Maybe Dong Zhong, on some day in some month in some year, happened upon its irritating form.I like unique reasonableness, and I like this batch of recent paintings hanging in Dong Zhong’s Guizhou studio.

Afterthoughts on Dong Zhong’s Recent Works

There is a very special animal in Africa that is like a wolf or a dog, but also has a few traits of a bear. It is called the hyena. The hair on its nape is long like a horse’s main, and it has strong front legs and weak back legs. It mainly eats the corpses of other animals, so its sharp teeth are highly developed to aid in crunching through bone.

I’m not quite clear on how such an animal worked its way into Dong Zhong’s paintings. Maybe Dong Zhong, on some day in some month in some year, happened upon its irritating form.

Dong Zhong’s paintings are like the spirit of the mountain wilderness, always showing up at random times, odd, and eliciting feelings of perplexity and aesthetically uncomfortable. As the colors stretch out joyously, you suddenly come across scraggly, clammy dark things. It is as if the heart has been swept by a fine brush, arousing a tremble, but not to say that there isn’t energy – there is a lot of excited emotion. He does not want to be an expressionist painter and find ways to spew his personal emotions out from the depths of his heart. If there’s some connection, that is the hard-to-avoid emotional element of Dong Zhong’s creations: the twigs like fingers and eagle beaks, the trunks like insects and human bodies, and then there are the lips dangling cigarettes, slobbering tongues, and quivering schools of fecund fish. Primal desire is a drive, a drive that takes the body, an extremely individual feeling and perception. If you want to grasp this fleeting experience, you need to feel it in your body right on the canvas, let the mental state and the colors, the texture and the brush strokes exist together within the painting’s process of manifestation.

As Dong Zhong first smears flatly across a large surface, then adds pure colors, the painting is constructed with a refined and strong decorative quality, even evoking the bright and lucid Japanese Zen landscape paintings. But a closer look will reveal mutations. The clarity is full of blurred illusions, and the lucidity harbors odd beasts. There is no need for narrative language or the implications of metaphors, this stuff is directly put to use in the observer’s mental perception. With the tranquility of the decoration and the provocations of the expressions, the impulsiveness of the flat smears and the unevenness of the brush strokes, within the coordination of these mutually contradictory relationships, Dong Zhong has returned from a homely state of existence into the image, and returned to the ancient traditions of painting and calligraphy that he feels in his body. The only difference is that his body is located in the current era, and the body is individualized and private. This kind of expression can only make use of concepts, because in today’s cultural context, the individual and private realms have come under the control of power relationships, ideologies and cultural industry. Only with artistic creations that can challenge the cultural reality can we return to a feeling body and a body feeling and truly bring out the individualist spiritual method. The concepts are not idea intentions, but conceptual knowledge about the context and its relation to the work. As far as this implies, we can no longer live in the aesthetic realm that the ancients inhabited, unless your art is an imitation made within a fake state of existence.

From personal misadventures and caprice, Dong Zhong truly and wholeheartedly lives within the painting, with no regard to the cultural centers such as the currently popular Beijing. This mentality has determined that Dong Zhong’s works are as unique as they are. It is the hyena is not a dog, nor a wolf and especially not a bear, just a creation of the heavens, vivid, lifelike and living in Africa.


I like unique reasonableness, and I like this batch of recent paintings hanging in Dong Zhong’s Guizhou studio. Outside the studio window the locally famous Xiangbao Mountain towers overhead, sticking up suddenly. It gave me a start once when I opened the window.


                             
                                                                                                                             October 2, 2007
                                                          Aside Plum Blossom Hill, Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts

 

[Editor] Elemy Liu

    Artintern