The Primordial Universe has roamed around as it wills and seen cultural sites, celebrated gardens and imperial palaces throughout its journey. Having witnessed historical vicissitudes, it longs for a harmonious world for which Heaven and human both contribute, an Eden where all natural things live and die according to providence. A total of 43 works are exhibited in this section.
This is a multi-media installation work that combines the senses of sight, sound and smell. Through poetic meditation, the artist reconstructs stories from the ancient mythology that took place in the beginning of the chaotic period. These works are the modern theatre of the absurd with temporal and spatial dislocation and full of contradictions and meanwhile a mesmerizing image of the world. In the eerie sound of ocarina and silkworms and the scene of wine, we seem to vaguely find clues such as the three-legged bird, a mythical creature called Pinqi, Kuafu, Houyi, Apollo, Dionysus, etc., and find enough shocking remnants of the current ecological crisis on the earth ……
The sunflowers of the artist rekindle the tradition of “poetry speaking of the will”, which contains a kind of sentiment. This sentiment is not a lyrical sentiment, but a “sentiment of all things”. This will is not a mere idealism, but a feeling in one’s heart and chest. It is not a metaphorical or symbolic expression, but is realized in the complex relationship between the painter and the sunflowers. Xu Jiang implanted the sunflowers in the vast world, and achieved a historical “distant view” by “looking down”; gradually, the sunflowers were detached from the land and got rid of the poetry of the wilderness, but were placed on the theater/altar, becoming the “landless flower” to be sacrificed and venerated.
The colorful clouds drawn on the silk used for traditional Chinese realistic painting create a huge illusory space, making each incomer seem to be riding the clouds, catching the moon in the sky, running to the moon like Chang’e, or walking among the clouds like a martial arts master. The world in the painting is seemingly realistic, but at the same time illusory, as if people were entering an oriental idealized heavenly, mythical world. The colorful clouds, auspicious clouds, and dark clouds originate from Chinese tradition, and the artist reinterprets the oriental ideal of heaven and earth, as well as the thought and philosophy of qi, such as the qi of heaven, the qi of earth and the qi of people, in various cloud images.
The work is colorful and full of idyllic pastoral charm, and the fluorescent paint on the picture gives it a phantom dazzling effect. The virtual landscape painting in the style of the Peach Garden is as epic as the custom painting, with a strong narrative meaning and absurd and fictional details, all of which constitute an interesting dramatic feature. The clouds, mountains, fog, water, bizzare trees and rocks in the picture represent the various aspects of the world in the artist’s eyes.
The work is not really abstract, but displays a change of perspective, as well as tangible geographical imprints. I was inspired by the pictures I saw when looking down on the land of Xinjiang from an airplane. I like maps, and when I look at them and change my perspective, time and space change. From the perspective of a roc (an enormous legendary bird transformed from a gigantic fish), a few strokes on the map are a few thousand miles travelled by the roc. During the long journey, the numerous living beings, sorrow, joy and prosperity, just like the details, tea marks and ink stains enlivened by these strokes, are both colorful and involuntary.
The artist takes the natural landscape of Jingmai Mountain in Yunnan Province as the blueprint for his creation, and explores in depth the expression of life experience and subject-object existence in the image; at the same time, he uses “natural materials” and brushes in the painting, in which fallen leaves and decaying trees are interwoven, and sunlight and mountain flowers are intertwined, outlining the weathered landscape of the “thousands of acres of ancient tea plantations” of the Jingmai Mountain.
The ancients admired the majestic bird, which lived outside the real world. The painting uses this metaphor to refer to the origin of life through the sudden appearance and disappearance of the giant bird. The fog in the painting symbolizes the frightening state of breathing and psychological representation in a special context, and the overall image allegorically embodies “day/night”, “breathing/exhalation”, “yin and yang/life and death”, reminiscent of the ancient vast realm of chaos, and the visual tension of dichotomy is highlighted by the interweaving of red and green colors.
Nestled in verdant hills, the West Lake glinted in the sun, and egrets flied high in the sky. The blue water reached as far as where the water and the sky met, and was shimmering under the Kuahong Bridge. Countless beautiful legends and myths and the scenery of the West Lake set off each other, leaving room for people’s imagination and contemplation.
The work takes the two major classifications of plants in the Classic of Mountains and Seas, “good wood” and “bad wood”, as hidden clues, and brings imagination to full paly to create a mysterious and enchanting place in the ancient times that is uninhabited yet vibrant.
Using ink and wash, the artist organically combines painting, collage and sculpture to incorporate Chinese mythology into the contemporary art, thus opening up a new possibility for the contemporary exploration of traditional themes, and the audience will also gain a new experience.
The work is based on the Classic of Mountains and Seas and draws on the artistic language and forms of Dunhuang murals of the Tang Dynasty to depict a magnificent painting of the interconnectedness of world civilizations and the harmonious relationship between man and nature. A new classic of mountains and seas of this era is constructed in a visual way.
As a cultural treasure and a current hot topic, the Classic of Mountains and Seas offers endless new ideas for artistic creation. When faced with this theme, the artist chooses the ritual gods and goddesses which are seldom painted as the prototypes. The images of the gods and goddesses portrayed in the Classic of Mountains and Seas are mostly fierce and intimidating, and appear more primitive and rugged than those depicted in later generations. They are mysterious, grotesque, and have a unique mysterious character that makes people fearful but want to explore. Fear and reverence for the unknown is an immutable character of human beings. Therefore, in terms of materials, the artist uses traditional clay tablets, trying to restore the primitive, rugged and desolate ancient style.
The “image of the world” originated from the Classic of Mountains and Seas always hovers in the depths of the picture, from which the nature and various signs emerge. The signs include the silent mountains, the surging undercurrent, the clouds and the standing rocks, and Shi Bowen’s view of the world derives from it.
The work is divided into twelve images in four seasons to tell the process from the vast universe, to the birth, growth, prime and aging, the cycle from one shore to another – the land of rebirth. The anxiety in prosperity, the life in decay, and the common vitality of man and nature merge into one. The existence of “I” becomes multi-dimensional and blurred, but everything is in a self-designed “spiritual” order that follows the imagery and emotions.
The two figures juxtaposed left and right are androgynous, “And God set up a garden in Eden in the east …… various kinds of trees that grow out of the ground to please the eyes of men, and the fruit thereof is good for food.” As Eve was originally a rib of Adam, the two were one, after being tempted by the serpent and committing a sin, the two felt the obvious difference between each other. From then on Eden became a lost garden, and “garden” became the place of the “original sin”. In both the East and the West, the descriptions of human ancestors are extremely similar. In ancient Chinese classics, it is also said that “Huaxu gave birth to a man named Fuxi and a woman named Nuwa” and that “Fuxi had a scaled body and Nuwa had a snake body”, and Fuxi and Nuwa were often represented as the same androgynous figure with intertwined snake bodies. They represent man’s imagination of his own origins, as well as the essential definition of his own ideals and weaknesses. The image of the left and right human beings in the work is obscured and blurred, and the snake-like objects entwined in their bodies are both the embodiment of desire and the source of confusion.
The aim of the work is to depict a picture that blends the ancient and modern cultures as well as the Chinese and foreign cultures with the methods of traditional Chinese painting. Drawing from the Classic of Mountains and Seas and Dunhuang murals, the work is linked to Peter Bruegel’s masterpiece The Tower of Babel, introducing the emerging elements of the modern times to the mysterious and absurd stories of the Classic of Mountains and Seas, recreating the traditional myths and foreign beasts to show a fantastic and happy future world, allowing history and future to intermingle organically.