Liu Yaming: A Mental Rehearsal to Disasters Author:Jia Fangzhou Date: 2010-08-25 Size:
I was startled at the first sight of the painting: thousands upon thousands of people are coming from straight ahead from the deep side of the painting, horrified in panic.

At the end of last year, Liu Yaming invited me to his new studio to take a look at a huge painting he was making (280cm×1600cm). I was startled at the first sight of the painting: thousands upon thousands of people are coming from straight ahead from the deep side of the painting, horrified in panic. In the left side comes a huge reclining Buddha thronged by the crowd, the dark clouds in the sky are expanding like hurricane, and the atmosphere is extremely nervous and horrifying, seemingly indicating a catastrophe in the humankind.

I know Yaming is intended to express his deep concern for human beings in a metaphor and symbolic way. I once reminded him not to get himself into depiction of specific plots in case that the audience might misunderstand he’s showing some real disaster. Unfortunately, my worry came true. After the Wenchuan earthquake, I went to Yaming’s studio again and I was stunned in front of the soul-stirring virtual scene. What Yaming wanted to describe in the canvas one year ago became just the reality a year later: it seemed that the horrified and desperate crowd came from Wenchuan! One year ago (exactly speaking, it was May 2, 2007), it seemed that the artist was determined to make a warning to people with this painting and little did one think that it became a mental rehearsal to this disaster unexpectedly!

What’s more, the artist came from Neijiang, Sichuan Province. Could it be said that the painter from Sichuan had predicted the disaster? However, where did the indication and prediction come from? The artist can’t explain it, neither could we draw any conclusion like this. Anyhow, Yaming has invented a mental panic because of a disaster on the canvas. He is not a person of foresight, yet he’s just worried about the destiny of human, about the living environment and about the public without belief. We could see some signs from his Temporality series created years ago, which are covered with a strong sense of pathos and some kind of mystery.

Liu Yaming has always got a strong desire with magnificent narration, which has already been shown in the big size of Temporality series (280cm×220cm). However, trapped in a sense of tragedy from the beginning, he’s always intended to perceive the unpredictable future of human being with compassion to all, thus indicating the tragic destiny of human with sufferings and hardship. It has already taken the artist more than one year to create this painting, from its sample manuscript to the enlarged version. It’s supposed to be finished in two years and it’s 70% done till now. The Wenchuan earthquake has put great impact to the artist from Sichuan. In face of the virtual scene created by himself, he gets stupefied too.

As a matter of fact, intelligentsia with humanism is always sensitive with some kind of mental foreboding towards major events to be happened to human society. They might not be so clear about the foreboding, but when it’s approved, they get suddenly understood. There is no lack of this kind of examples at all times and in all lands. Take the Modern Chinese Art Show for example, the indications and signs from a series of events and many artworks in the show could be considered as the rehearsal of things going to happen six months later. No one could foresee the future and it comes nothing with psychic, but the foreboding does exist. It doesn’t matter that foreboder can’t explain either.

Jia Fangzhou, a renowned art critic

[Editor] Elemy Liu