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The Hand and the Heart

The Line* Gallery

By Yu Runde

22 Mar, 2022 —  10 May, 2022

After several twists and turns, the painting exhibition is finally about to kick off and the album of the painting is ready for press. I do have a mixed feeling of tiredness and excitement, but deep in my heart there is a sense of tranquility, a state of “enjoying the sweet dream and sleeping the night through”. For this exhibition, I’ve collected several of my recent works and printed them in this album to exchange my views on art with others.

Like many other artists who thinks highly of their own works, I think the moils and toils of my preparation for the exhibition would speak for themselves. I would like to take this chance to share with you my thoughts and reflections during this process.

Remaining Faithful to What You Love

There is a maxim engraved on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi –know yourself, the Chinese translation being “know yourself”, meaning that everyone should have the sense of self-knowledge. I often take pain thinking about the reason of my busyness and the essence of my life, but it is not until the recent days that I realize the greatest significance and accomplishment of life is remaining faithful to what you love as always. Painting is what I love and I’ve never changed my mind to it.

To avoid wasting too much time on the way to and from my studio, I’ve arranged it at the same community with my apartment.

Still, I often got myself entangled with a great deal of worldly trifling issues everyday. When I found myself in the mood of painting, my body had already been too tired for the work. Fortunately, the due date of exhibition kept pushing me to move forward and make some progress. From time to time, during my trip from suburb to downtown or in the heavy traffic on the ring road, the moment of loneliness stimulated my inspirations for painting. There were other also moments that inspired when I caught a glimpse of the views through the window.

To be frank, I enjoyed keeping myself such busy, and what I enjoyed more was the moments when the inspirations flashed into my mind. There were times when I worked late till 10 p.m. before I realized it. Then I retired from the computer, turned on the heater, mixed the colors, selected the brushes to embellish my old works or prepare for a new one. During this process, I found myself totally separated from the earthly world and immersed in the peace of deep night as if nobody else was there.

Marcuse claimed that with the rapid development of science and technology, the politics rule has been replaced by technique rule; antagonism and conflicts are gradually disappearing, while integration and assimilation become the overall trend. Although above is the German-American philosopher’s prediction about the late period of capitalism, we could still find ourselves already in the middle of such “crisis” in contemporary era –we are gradually “losing our diversity into a unitary society that has no antagonism but agreements”. “Whether in economic and political system or in science, technology, arts, philosophy and everyday thoughts, people have lost their creative and critical thinking; every field of our life is moving toward a single dimension, tone and voice.” Needless to say, there is a sense of estrangement and indifference prevailing among people, and the code words of our age has become desire, material, money, body, spirit, desperation, struggle, growing old and hedonism. Despite the main trend of material worship and amusing ourselves to death, however, there should always be a certain conscious voice to remind people of the chaotic social states, the mental paralysis of the majority, and cultural predicament we are faced with, however weak the voice might be.

In this sense, my collection of paintings provides the possibility of rebuilding our antagonistic spirit which is long lost during the course of modernization, meanwhile I feel deeply sorrowful for what we are encountered with here and now. As one’s work is a metaphor of his own thoughts and reflections, my aesthetic intuition impels me to focus my concern on the current living situation, on the relationships between man and man, man and society as well as man and himself. During the course of painting, my subtle emotion, my bright imagination and my true self are mildly hinted in my works.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “I only know one thing; that is I know nothing at all”. Instead of advocating agnosticism or the idea that the ignorant person fears nothing, he put forward in real sense the endless circulation of self-denial, self-recognition and self-improvement in human being’s life. In the context of contemporary arts, perhaps many people would feel the sense of “knowing nothing”, which is in fact an appeal for self-refreshment and exploration. In this sense, only by sticking to the original convention of the cause of art can one making progress persistently.

My schedule had originally been arranged for four causes: teaching, reading, preparing for the exhibition and painting, yet the real life was much more complicated than I expected. Therefore, some strong emotions deep in my hearts has been always calling me to retire into my shell and rest for a while, so that I could completely devote myself into painting, reading, tasting tea, playing Chinese traditional musical instrument. Once I was cut off from the outside world, my spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling would lead me to compose a genuine painting with sincere emotion. Although I know such an idea is nothing but daydream, still I long for this kind of life as I has always been.

In his work Analytic Dictionary of Characters, Xu Shen explained the character “One” in this way: both the Great Ultimate and the Tao originated from One, from which the heaven and the earth derived, and then the universe came into being. Therefore, everything is inferior and related to the One. I name myself “Jue Yi”, (“Yi” is the pronunciation of One in Chinese), meaning the persistent pursuit for the One. This alias was named for the idea that everything starts to make sense when one feels it, and everything finally ends in the One. It is unavoidable for one to get busy living, what should always be kept in mind is his faith to what he loves.

Keeping a Peaceful Mind

Beauty is the gift from God; it’s everywhere around the world and it contains broad senses. Leaving aside the its aesthetic definition, one doesn’t have to get bothered to find that beauty is ubiquitous with its wide extensions. To Hegel, beauty is the emotional embodiment of sense. In my opinion, the manifestation of beauty is diverse and open to multiple contextual experiments.

Shklovsky, Russian literary theorist, once put forward the well-known theory of “estrangement effect”, encouraging us to refresh our feelings for the daily routines, the surroundings and the world, to get released from the habitual relationships and daily conventions, to view the familiar world with an original and creative perspective instead of the traditional automatic and mechanized way, so as to get unusual feelings and novel discoveries from the everyday objects that we were once blind to ” In some of my recent works, I did make some attempts on the effect of estrangement as I tried to combine as many as possible artistic elements in my paintings. As the old saying goes that “by toning the ink skillfully the shades of color black separate themselves into five degrees”, the secret of plotting a vivid scene with only three colors of black, gray and white, one needs to devote his emotion wholeheartedly into the composition apart from his skillful techniques, therefore through the various shades of ink within the one-meter long art paper, the painter’s own interpretation of the scene is expressed, the spint of exploration is exposed, the visual tension and intensity are presented, and the unity of the painter’s inner self and the outside world is acquired.

It is difficult for the works of art to touch the bottom of the audience’s heart. I’ve watched exhibition of various scales and types home and abroad, such as oil paintings, wash paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, photograph, installation art, yet few of them left impression on me or deserved my deep meditation. Truly, it is not easy for a piece of art to acquire stirring effect, which keeps me think about the origins and the ends of art. The famous Chinese philosopher Wang Guowei beheld that people with realms of lofty thoughts form their own fashions and ways. The road of Chinese art ahead is long, therefore contemporary artists are supposed to break the conventional thinking mode, create their own pattern and reject the common mundane way, meanwhile keeping an eye on the everyday life for source materials. They need to speak and act out both of what has been commonly agreed and what is yet to be accepted. They have to touch and soften their own senses before exciting the audience in a mild gentle way or bring thrilling effects, either to arouse sympathy among or to acquire the transcendental spiritual freedom. By the time an artist finished a painting, he has already gained peace in his mind.

Retiring from the Earthly World

The 19th century German romantic poet Holderlin wrote in his poem Amid the Gentle Azure Blue, “Full of merits, yet poetically, man dwells on this earth”. This line was later quoted by the existential philosopher Heidegger in his own paper. “Dwelling on the earth poetically” should be the lifestyle of every human being, or at least it should be our perpetual spiritual pursuit.

This rule also makes sense to the cause of art. An affecting piece of art requires the artist to express the uniqueness of his mind with poetic language, which contains both the ultimate concerns for the reality and the free flow of mind. The artist experiences the outside world while responds with his own feeling at the same time, so as to avoid his spirit being trapped by the secular troubles.

Under the rule of “estrangement effect”, the manifestation of art works become various and changeable. Whether the vivid depict of the graceful dancing steps or the interweaving lights, or the accurate portrayal of the character’s confusion, anxiety, struggles and restraints, the whole painting seems to be a labyrinth set up by the artist himself, reflecting his own living situation and spiritual world. The character in the painting might be a certain real person, but it might also be the painter or the audience as well-

-the ambiguous identity of the character serves to achieve sympathetic effects. The magic of shades and lines is the representation of artist’s spirits and poetic grace, conveying his intense antagonism and agitation. The form of arts that the mortality of human being is presented through the infinite time and space stimulates people’s rational thinking, transcendental minds and emotional feelings for the unspeakable sense of life, for which they hold the sublime aspiration of becoming a free will to reach the eternal and the infinite.

In chapter On the Origin of the Way of the book The Literary Mind and Carving of Dragons, there is a saying goes that “language generates from a critical mind, and then followed by the literary grace, which is the natural way of writing”. This could explain the rule of painting as well, which is also the externalization of one’s mind, the aesthetic manifestation of sparkling mind, an epiphany and a sense of beauty that follows the natural order. The fluid and graceful lines running on the rice paper embody the flowing mind of the artist, which is exactly the most charming poetic elegance and an unusual sense of freedom.

We live in an era of hedonism and money worship, yet we should by all means follow the inclination of our hearts against all kinds of sensual attractions or potential ventures. As we live in the city, we are surrounded by concrete, cement as well as other elements of modern society. It is worthwhile to immerse ourselves in the world of art and cherish the beauty of nature, through which we have, to the most degree, dwelt poetically and got transcended from the earthly society.

Hearing only the Deep Bells and Tingling Chimes

It gives me great pleasure to render the painting with multiple interpretations during my course of composition. It is interesting for both the audience and myself to understand the painting from various perspectives. Since the possibility for multiple interpretations and the complexity of the context are shared by any pieces of arts, thus there being a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes. In other words, the appreciation of arts is not confined to a certain moment or from a certain perspective. For this reason, the course of art appreciation is not for all the people but for all the individuals.

Nowadays, most people seem to get accustomed to living in the busy and noisy environment. Hardly do they know that the state of

“All fretful stirrings of the world now hushed, I only hear deep bells and tingling chimes” is what to be cherished the most. Instead of acquiring its meaning through the numerous and disordered voices, a piece of art works, such as a novel, a poem, a prose, a melody or a painting only makes sense when the surroundings become tranquil. Appreciation of arts is like talking to a like-minded friend who requires no repeated interpretations or the assumption of overtone; rather, he presents to you clearly the sense of life, the pursuit, the inclination, the subtle thoughts and worries within your mind; he shares with you the same aesthetic pursuits and concerns, having an insight into the worldly affairs as well as a good taste to the genuine pieces of arts. He is as candid, refined, pure and emotional as you.

In this sense, I’ve move a big step to my ultimate aesthetic end.

It is a huge challenge to me as well as other artists to undertake the cause of painting in such a chaotic world that is filled with pluralist values, changeable aesthetic criteria and self-consistent rules. To survive in such a situation, one has to construct and present a brave new horizon in a unique and irreplicable way. It doesn’t matter–nor is it within your control–to what end it is, whether significant or worthless; what does matter is the personal imprint you have left in such a complicate context, be it ever estrangement, attraction, indifference, meditation, confusion, sadness, sorrow, imagination, or expectation, intensity, mildness, nihilism, satiation, reminiscence, excitement, joy, and so on.

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