Cultivation and Attainment: On Zhang Kaixi and His Paintings
Source:Artintern.net Author:Qiu Guangping Date: 2013-08-14 Size:
Zhang Yong, the old name of Zhang Kaixi, is a common name as well as a popular name. Just due to the commonness and popularity, people easily forget it. But when you stand in front of Zhang Kaixi’s oil paintings, you will be touched deeply as if stung by a bee – a little ache and a little itching. The dense brushwork is like a swarm of ants hurting the nerve terminal of the viewer.

  Zhang Yong, the old name of Zhang Kaixi, is a common name as well as a popular name. Just due to the commonness and popularity, people easily forget it. But when you stand in front of Zhang Kaixi’s oil paintings, you will be touched deeply as if stung by a bee – a little ache and a little itching. The dense brushwork is like a swarm of ants hurting the nerve terminal of the viewer. The surrealistic scenes are like huge magnetic fields that can pull you up close, closer and closer. This is an art stylite who has been working on canvas silently for decades. All energies come from his inner world, deep and thick that is written at the tip of his brushes little by little.

  Zhang Kaixi, as old as me, is a townsman with me, so we have maintained a very good relationship. He worked as a teacher for a few years and broke away from his town to pursue art in a bold manner nonconforming to his character. It changed his life since then as the outside world was so complex and so noisy that almost suffocated him. Then he chose to evade it and remains within doors living, reading and painting even when being physically in a metropolis; it has been his mode for many years refusing to remain in touch with others while being short of money, too. During those years he said he seldom saw the sunshine. Man lives in his spiritual world and Zhang Kaixi has built a very powerful spiritual fortress in his inner world in which a supreme spiritual leader of art is worshipped. He spent years making up his shortage of techniques by trying to get a complete understanding of classicism and impressionism either occidental or oriental. Like a devout Buddhist, he has a heart as still as water that delicately feels the dribs and drabs art has brought to him. But art is developing and changing forward ceaselessly. On one day when Zhang Kaixi opened his long-closed window of mind, he discovered that the outside world had unveiled a new horizon, in which impacts caused by various novel artistic ideological trends exerted a great shock to his inner world. He decided to review the world as he wanted to take a look around.

  Outside old pals mostly have given up their artistic pursuit and disappeared in the changeable world. When I saw him again, Zhang Kaizi told me he still had a dream fro art and would not give up, showing an expression in his eyes with aspiration and expectation. I encouraged him to sit for examination for postgraduate studies so as to change his life style and mood that may offer him new trials. The moment he turned and went away, he was in calmness without any disconsolation. In the next three years Zhang Kaixi would call me every time after his examination for postgraduate studies and would not bat an eye even when he failed in the exam, producing a smile and promising to take part in the exam again next year. Till now I’m still not clear how he spent the three years while taking the examinations. In hot summer in Chongqing, he cloistered with his family in the low, small apartment of the hilly city, working diligently for his ideal cherished deeply in his heart. It was in 2007 that he called me to say he had passed the exam and I just relaxed a little bit for him with an emotion to cry. I know it was an important day in his life, which he had been expecting for years – the sun had last cast its shine upon him, thus he couldn’t help gulping the fresh air outside.

  During his postgraduate studies, Zhang Kaixi produced a large number of excellent works as he let off all of his inspiration that he had gained in his years of meditation on the canvas. As he was not good at speech, he took painting as a best means to express himself. He was invited to participate in a number of major academic exhibitions both at home and abroad, at which his works caught the attention of collectors and were collected thereafter. His exquisite techniques were given full play in his series of oil paintings titled Mass Production and received good appraisals from his peers in the circle. In his Living on the Fringe series, he began to put his focus on social reality and seeking of inspiration and reflection in the deep bottom of man’s nature. His frames still keep his usual realistic style in veiled, massive colors that show both classical flavor and postmodernist ideas. Such frames are rarely seen in the contemporary artistic context, and just because of that, we can believe this rarity will become particularly precious and will open up a new horizon in the near future.

  Zhang Kaixi is a diligent painter, a well-cultivated painter in the inner world, a painter whose reasoning exceeds his sensibility and a very persistent painter as well. He often says that he almost has no hobby other than painting, which is a happiest thing in his life. He can stay in his studio all day long even without blurting out a single sentence as he is exchanging ideas with himself. It’s already more than a decade since I made acquaintance with him, but I remember that I have never seen him losing temper; he talks gently, works gently, and walks gently as an immortal who has attained the doctrine. In the society today there is a lot of fickleness and uneasiness, but when staying with Zhang Kaixi, you will be infested and purified so that you will feel just taking a cup of green tea. I think this is a realm. Now that Zhang Kaixi has graduated from his postgraduate studies, he says he wants to teach at school, to stay with the unsophisticated students. I concur with him and wish him good luck as I know he will begin another round of meditation on the way. Meditation and attainment depend on how one understands in the heart. Today with a pious and kind heart, Zhang Kaixi continues his journey on the way to art. Perhaps a few years later when we catch him again, he will be a person who has achieved attainments.

  (Qiu Guangping: artist)

[Editor] 常霞

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