Liang Quan's Ode to Infra-White: Retreating into the Prosaic
Source:artintern Author:Xia kejun Date: 2014-05-27 Size:
There are a few key connected factors which led to the immense success of Japanese culture and art in the twentieth century. First, it made its own philosophical contribution, provided by the Kyoto School which began under Kitaro Nishida and continued for five generations.

There are a few key connected factors which led to the immense success of Japanese culture and art in the twentieth century. First, it made its own philosophical contribution, provided by the Kyoto School which began under Kitaro Nishida and continued for five generations. This school of thought used the "emptiness" of Zen and Buddhism to engage in a dialogue with the "nothingness" of the West, and it is the only contemporary Eastern philosophy to be accepted in the West. Secondly, in terms of the internal transformation of their own culture, the Japanese continued the Japanese ways of Zen calligraphy, transforming the formal language of "few character" or "single character" calligraphy, which was marked by the emotions and bearing of the individual, and came to form the look and feel of Japanese ink art in the 1960s, successfully engaging in a dialogue with the Western contemporary abstract formal language and even coming to influence it. Third was the Mono-ha school which matured in the 1980s. The school’s founder Lee Ufan studied philosophy under the Kyoto School, and held a doctorate in philosophy. He expanded Western minimalism, supplementing the connections between abstraction and the Eastern approach to material. Of course, there is also the fourth factor, which is the set of popular forms comprising such things as anime and Ukiyo-e, the so called vulgar culture, such as the work of Yoshitomo Nara. Chinese contemporary art has produced such things, including past genres such as kitsch and cynical realism, but Chinese contemporary art lacks a more richly spiritual refined culture.

Chinese ink painting must reconstruct its traditions, particularly the refined cultural traditions of literati aesthetics. Ink painting is not merely a skill or a category of art—there is a "Dao" of ink painting. It is reminiscent of Chuang Tzu’s story of the "dexterous butcher," whose skill with the knife "approached the level of Dao." Ink painting has always been a form of philosophy, not just a form of art. For Chinese culture to take the initiative in the present day, it cannot engage in its dialogue with the West merely in terms of ink painting as an art form and a set of techniques. It must approach this dialogue from the "Dao," expanding contemporary ink painting through higher principles. The art of Liang Quan has greatly expanded contemporary ink painting through his explorations of the naturalness and emptiness of ink painting.

The "Dao" of ink painting lies in its conveyance of spirituality. Unlike the times, ink has always been born "in reverse." In these bustling, competitive times, the significance of painting is, conversely, its awakening of an attitude of "retreat." If ink painting is a unique attitude, a quotidian attitude, then it is its "retreat" into life through artistic means. Duchamp once retreated from his artist identity and artworks for twenty years, but there is a need for a more total understanding of the aesthetic and philosophical meaning of this "retreat."

 "Retreat" is a state of mind, a retreat from the logic of the human world, a retreat from the struggles of interests in the human world. Only in this way can a person turn around and look at this world from the margins, from the edges, from the virtually impossible exterior, and thus see the tattered, fragmented state of the world, see that it is nothing but a rubbish pile, the ruins of the mind or heart. The world cannot depend on the world to save it. This is the beginning of retreat. But those who retreated in Chinese culture, those noble literati gentlemen, did not pray for an external, transcendent redeemer. Thus, they discovered nature outside of the human world. The nameless individual, body or mind torn to pieces by the world, waits for nature to mend it, to comfort it, to smooth it over. Here, our intention is not to pursue and praise this hermit culture history. In this modern era where there can be no more hermits, how can we still retreat? How can we have new connections to nature?


Related Links:

[Editor] 曹英

    Artintern