Taotie displays a vast amount of images that consists of the spirits of mountains and lakes, beasts and birds, grasses and plants. It takes on the form of each vivid image like running water shaped by whatever it encounters. In this way it unrolls a magnificent scroll of mountains and seas which encompasses all brilliant and virtuous things and provokes mediation on eastern poetic tastes and fantastic imaginations. A total of 60 works are exhibited in this section.
The work is engraved in the art form of woodcut, and the subjects are taken from the Classic of Mountains and Seas, which show the gods as well as the mythical and fable scenes and natural wonders appearing in the book, including the floods, the sky and the earth, the treacherous clouds and the spectacular peaks and rocks. The author brings his originality and ingenuity to the fore, using the artistic techniques of exaggeration, variation and absurdity, to fit the scenes in the Classic of Mountains and Seas. As a result, a bizarre, mysterious and treacherous dream world is created.
By using two very different materials, techniques, painting elements, and images that are not identical on the two images of my work, I try to explore my “traces” between Eastern and Western cultures.
For me, staying in the middle ground between the two cultures is not a taboo, but rather a relatively open and balanced position, full of mystery, which, once the distinction of the intermediate medium has been accommodated, becomes easy to understand and follow.
“Supernatural Animals” present a collection of portraits of enchanted characters in a subtle and iconic blend of archetypes, Kitsch and narrative mysticism. The magical creatures with pink faces and large eyes appear brightly, and the works are placed in ornate wooden frames designed by the artist. These carefully hand-carved frames are also part of the work, extending the traditional flat image.
Leyden’s modern mythology is always accompanied by two inseparable temperaments of comfort and danger. He mentioned: “Most of my works explore the connection between the material world and the spiritual world.” His work presents a crossover between the spiritual world and the real world, in which nostalgia for the past, the extended memory and death, are always present.
The series is presented in a chaotic and disorderly manner, with no clear subject matter in the images, and the genre cannot be simply classified as still life, landscape or figure painting. The artist tries to create a world of his own, an all-encompassing world in which there are no protagonists, no spatial relationships, no time clues, and no inevitable connections between objects, so that his thoughts can run freely in between.
Running on the way to get the scriptures in the Western Heaven, if the pace is as fast as the rotation of the earth, then before the darkness, one can always see the sunglow on the bottom of the thick curtain-like sky that never fades. On the terminator, morning and evening are reversed, and it is difficult to distinguish morning from evening. These grass-filled specimens are frozen in the eternal dawn.
Stories of giants 2:
In an upside-down molten cave, a dried-up arm of the deceased reached in, with numerous fish and animals gushing out from his palm or being sucked in, either involuntarily or willingly. Under the arm is a half-cut human face placed on the stone block of the Summer Palace, with three microphones from the first half of the twentieth century inserted in his brain, eyes and mouth.
Stories of giants 3:
Two children, one with a dragon in his head and one with no eyeballs in his eyes. They are respectively standing on a dried -up leg and an elephant bone. The leg and bone are playing with each other. Dinosaurs that are competing for the stone wreath are flying in the air. In the lower part of the picture, the jade suit sewn with gold thread lies on the edge of the abyss.
The continuity of the paper has become an important extension of language expression. The gathering, scattering, undulating, and folding of the paper presents us with a set of unpredictable pictures. With colorful paper, the work carves a colorful world map model, which, when being unfolded, presents its audience a beautiful fairy tale world, deliberately stacked and arranged.
The work is from his “Spreading Series”, which focuses on exotic cultural contexts. The artist searched the comic materials from all over the world that are open to the public, dselected some of them, and combine them through fabric collage, installation, painting, animation, etc. to design and produce a creative picture.
The artist has worked on the group of works on and off for five years since 2008, and images of thirty-five animals have already been completed. The most interesting part of the process is the research on animal descriptions, which satisfies my curiosity about the origin and passing of life. I believe in their existence. Each strange animal has its name, the origin of its name, its archetype, and the region where it appears. From a zoological point of view, the artist strives to come as close as possible to a scientific explanation and adds his own imagination to make the image of the animal interesting. It is an interesting process – simply creating an image and giving them no meaning. Photographing here provides a condition for recreating “reality”. I can only get infinitely closer to the reality, but can never touch it.
The artist has worked on this group of works off and on for five years since 2008, and has already completed thirty-five pictures of animals. The most interesting part of the process is the research on the descriptions of animals, which satisfies the artist’s curiosity about the origin and passing of life. In the Classic of Mountains and Seas, each strange animal has its name, the origin of its name, its archetype, and the region where it appears. From a zoological point of view, the artist strives to come as close as possible to a scientific explanation and adds his own imagination to make the image of the animal interesting. It is an interesting process – simply creating an image and giving them no meaning. Photographing here provides a condition for recreating “reality”. We can only get infinitely closer to the reality, but can never touch it.
The five tree-like sculptures made in brass are: poplar, maple, plum, tung and oak. These bizzare trees constitute a shimmering grove that encompasses the above-mentioned animals. Each tree sculpture has two layers, and each layer is a separate image from a group of paper-cuts created by the artist between 2003 and 2004, especially during the severe SARS epidemic in Beijing. These paper-cuts are called “Daydreams”. These images are like the illusory friends who accompanied the artist through the panic during that period, and they are also a response of abstract individual spiritual experience to the catastrophic real crisis, so they constitute another kind of invisible but living “reality”.
Faux specimens , musical instruments, iron plates：
Five animal specimens, tiger, plum deer, sheep, goose and rooster. Each animal is a bit abnormal, such as the tiger which has nine heads, the deer whose eyes are on the back, etc. These animals are like those described in the Classic of Mountains and Seas, and they carry the mysterious prophetic message because of their physical abnormalities.
The five specimens are also musical instruments, and when they make their own sounds, they are like complete “signs” with both form and sound, and the audience can see their images and hear their sounds; when the five instruments perform together, the music played is like some kind of unexplained group phenomenon that is unexpectedly created by the gathering of “signs”.
This work contains the artist’s thoughts on the mythology of the Classic of Mountains and Seas and the roots of the myths, using figurative wings and feathers to represent a pair of lovebirds, and other chaotic parts to show the artist’s expression of “roots”. The color of the work shows the artist’s thoughts of the frescoes. The work is depicted with natural pigments such as lapis lazuli, malachite, and cinnabar. The contrasting colors in the frescoes are the legacy of the time, and since numerous human beings draw strength and comfort from these frescoes, the colors without a storyline are of the same importance.
This is a work that combines painting, animation, sound and video, scattered with the sound of children’s babbling, like the inexplicable gibberish in a bizarre dream. The “hush” sound made by an instrument in the background music sounds like a warning in the adult world. We can see countless round eyes twinkling. They are the eyes of children as well as those of gods, constantly flashing in the alternating images of life and death that contain nature, aliens, flames, blood vessels and tiny creatures. They also jump to the beat with alternating images of reality and dreams, drawing a fascinating world brimming with emotions.
This collection is based on Xuyijianzi (《续夷坚志》) , literary sketches of mystery and the supernatural by Yuan Haowen (A.D. 1190-1257), a literary man of the Jin ethnic group of the Song dynasty. Literary sketches are ancient people’s subjective interpretation of the unknown world, as well as the re-recognition of the world around them through refined words. I take these literary sketches as a clue to find interesting subjects and recreate those sketch stories in the form of paintings, so as to express the re-cognition of the world in the intertextual tradition.
1. Spiritual herbs: the origin of the herb wolfberry.
2. Wonderful changes and spectacles: animal mutation and harvests.
3. Ghosts and droughts: the imagination of supernatural forces.
4. Auspicious things: rare plants and auspicious signs.
5. Lingzhi among the stones: strange creatures.
6. Wonder scenery in the forests: the wonderful scenes of animals in nature.
The work presents to us a dream immersed in the mountains of books. The pages of the book turn themselves with the gentle breeze. We, like the smartest animals, enjoy ourselves by reading a book leisurely and falling into a deep dream in warm sunshine and gentle breeze, as if there is no one else. In the electronic age, people has gradually abandoned the traditional way of reading—book-reading, but indulge themselves in images and videos. All they are receiving are nothing but fragmentary information like online news. The piles of books are generally medical or literature works, mostly body-related ones and few literary or spiritual ones. The latter two categories, concerning people’s fundamentals, are weeded out, and eventually gather here through various channels to form another “parallel world” of knowledge.
Based on a little-known story from the Classic of Mountains and Seas, “Nvchou and Crab”, the work incorporates some modern ideas about the relationship among humans, animals and cities, namely, “rational escape”. What is a pleasant way of living? Can the rapid urbanization really enable our life to live up to our expectation? What is behind the escape? It is worth pondering over.
The Great Flood, which early civilizations around the world have recorded in their religious literature, was a common experience of ancient civilizations and became a common conscious memory of people in different countries. The world is a community of shared future with these memories intertwined. As for the divinities in the Classic of Mountains and Seas, can they really exist? Is their annihilation and extinction caused by such a natural disaster?
The work presents a hypothetical scene: in Heze City (used to be called “Daze” or “Qingqiu”), Shandong Province, where the nine-tailed foxes used to come and go. The divine beasts in the Classic of Mountains and Seas were unearthed by the “archaeological” excavation, and both the evil beast Xiangliu and the good beast Nine-tailed Fox died under the force majeure of the powerful flood. We restore the civilizations’ common memories of the disaster by restoring the scene.
These works are prints under the theme of the “Four Divine Beasts” in traditional Chinese culture. The Four Divine Beasts, also known as the Four Images, or the Four Spirits of Heaven, are the Green Dragon, White Tiger, Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise, all of which are the products of a combination of ancient mythology and astronomy. These works are created with the wood engraving method, a kind of woodblock printmaking using the cross-section of pear wood as the plate material for delicate engraving and drawing. This series of works, through exquisite engraving and painting, expresses the character of the four divine beasts to the greatest detail, and is ingeniously created on the basis of the combination of traditional patterns, with a focus on the combination of realistic techniques and decorative language as well as the unity of traditional aesthetics and contemporary concepts, thus resulting in the images of the four beasts with contemporary aesthetic characteristics. In the picture, we use water surface, auspicious clouds, other patterns and signs such as waves and lake rocks, and the geometric figures echo the four beasts. Therefore, these works display the charm and aura of the four spirits of heaven from multiple angles.
When I created this series of works, my life was going through some changes, as one of my family members was ill. For myself, investing time to slowly infuse my feelings into modeling was the best way to relieve myself. The elephant, the cat and the deer are three works in which I infused three different states of mind: helplessness and sorrow, uneasiness and transformation, and stability and calmness. They represent the forced growth when there is no choice given to me.
I would like to explore the conditions of some words that have already “gone” in current grammar, and of course there are some ancient Chinese words included. Those words nowadays are constantly being consumed, preserved and repeatedly categorized and applied. Thus, a kind of “unwarranted naturalness” comes into existence, human rights are in ceaseless expansion and variation, and language is in continuous construction and reconstruction. These words have seamlessly integrated into these systems of power, and are expanding at an accelerated rate. In their expansion and application, cracks are also widening and boundaries expanding.
Based on the doctrine of “Asian and American sharing the same origin”, the work combines the Mayan script with the birds and animals of the Classic of Mountains and Seas, and recounts a cultural exchange between the two continents in the form of pseudo-archaeology, extending the infinite imagination of history. The ancient civilization of America interprets the Chinese cultural inscriptions, and above the fragmented forms emerges the harmonious coexistence of Asian and American civilizations.