I always deem Mr. Cai Xiaohua as a professional painter, i.e., painting is his life. The title implies two meanings: his works are simple; and he simply persists in. He always reminds me of several persistent painters who seemingly forget the fads and buzzes in the art with a slow pace but who eventually surpass their time and leave their contemporaries far behind them.
It is not difficult to categorize the Cai Xiaohuas works into a certain artistic chronology; however, a predicament embodied in his works is unique and single. As a professional painter, he is acquainted with the painting language, painting form, style of writing and the like; particularly, he is such a rigorous painter who advocates the delicacy of the painting that his painterly work is of great enticement. However, his recent works are caught in anti-painting, which makes people feel perplexed. He almost completely eliminates the trace of painting, but he is really painting there.
This is a gorgeous trap elaborately created by him, which does not play a trick on others, but in which he jumps himself. He is in a quiet and bright predicament.
This is called Paradox which enables me to think what Socrates says, I know that I know nothing. Certainly, that he knows nothing means that he knows everything. Whereby, the predicament created by Cai Xiaohua can be interpreted into Im drawing but Im drawing nothing.
The reason why Socrates also is a very persistent person does not lie in that he is a there philosopher. In my opinion, he looks more like an artist (His father is a sculptor, and he studied and was engaged in sculpture). He loves predicament. It does not mean that he intentionally says some strange words, and is infatuated with the fast knot at the cost of his life. Therefore, he seems to be relieved and enables the future generations of people to get in chaos.
2413 years ago, Phaedo described that his teacher talked about the soul with his students before his death: when soul is combined with the flesh and migrates to the other world, it is not pure and is always polluted by the flesh; thereby, we must relieve the soul from the flesh to obtain complete freedom; and the soul which is taught in such a manner only cannot be killed, blown by wind and disappear when being away from the flesh, so that no fear is generated.( (Platos Phaedo) translated by Jiang Yang)
Three Kinds of Space: Wang Huangshengs World of Perception What have been expressed in Wang Huangshengs paintings in many years, are two different but related visual situations; one is a spatial situation constructed by fragments of building images, another is a situation of sense of time constructed by flowers and plants in the space. His artistic interest as well as his attention paid to life and things are represented on presentation level while in a deeper level, it is his humanistic emotion that is revealed, namely his experiences and care for the essence in the normal state of things and the transient changes among different conditions.
Therefore, we are often caught in all kinds of paradoxes like art and anti-art, content and form (whether the form without content exists or not, and vice versa) and painting and anti-painting. It is almost defined that the art is to create or express the predicament called Dualism in the theory of philosophy, conflict by the classicist and tension by the modernist.
In the Heaven and Earth series, Wang Huangsheng adopted a lot of symbols of buildings from southern part of China; the composition way they are on the picture is not the real condition of the buildings, but imagery represented by the artist based on his inner mood or rhythm of emotion. In one word, the heaven and earth under Wang Huangshengs brush is a world associated with east Guangdong province which is a southern area of his own living experiences; the space in the works usually possesses a increasing depth but is often combination of spatial fragments produced when being separated and blocked. He coloured the atmosphere of the space with well controlled inferior grey tone and produced the immersive effect like being in it by oneself. The scenery of a winding path leads to a quiet seclusion in ancient works became landscape with a winding place leads to a quiet seclusion in Wang Huangshengs paintings, like the spatial sense experienced by a nightwalker.
However, the final paradox in Cai Xiaohuas works is not in his painting but basically comes from the predicament of the philosophers life.
His Carefree series is different in content from the Heaven and Earth series. He has a different angle of view from both the existing tradition and other art masters of today. He chose the mien of flowers and plants in their life cycle with both bloom and decay, to draw the whole appearance of them in the large space of nature; thus he painted a kind of flower and bird with new conception. During this process, Wang Huangsheng is on one aspect pursuing ancient taste, his rich cultivation in classical poem and his poem creation started from his childhood enabled him to bring poetry naturally into the brush strokes in painting and both brushwork and ink colour in his painting of flower and plant featured delicate, vivid, fresh and clean. On another aspect, what he want to express is his yearning for going beyond the noisy world, thus, he always collects materials upon observing the nature and has a good accumulation in his mind; when he presses the brush on the paper, it is the overall manner and perception in his imagination and mind that is painted.
I think that Cai Xiaohua is exclusive and ambitious and has a sharp intuition on painting. But, he seems to resist biological existence with spiritual existence. The overflowing spirituality always tries to break through the body skin; and in the seemingly simple and quiet picture, a suppressed force is surging, which is a tension of heart and is a struggle between heart and body.
Heaven and Earth
The best way to appreciate these two kinds of artworks by Wang Huangsheng is to overlap them-in my mind, the spatial meaning of these two kinds of works can be connected and even mutually reflect and promote one another. It seems that only in this way could one acquire a good realization of his art: his art is between close view and meditation, between passionate reflection and reminiscent narration. Thereupon, I also feel that this creation approach of him is related with his work experiences in reality life. As the director of an art museum, he is very professional and senior in the art circles; his comprehension and research of contemporary art as well as his role in many contemporary art projects in Guangdong Museum of Art as organizer, curator and executer, have given him special perception and observation upon space; while his psychological as well as thinking characteristics has inevitably given him the sense of space, which is both visual and cultural. It seems that all his paintings are finished in the state in which memory, recall, favor and experiences are interwoven; transcendental yearn generated the historical sense in his painting, while the contemporary sense made the images full of direct visual charm. Therefore, his works have elegant taste and sustained flavor, together with the classical tradition in painting and modern expression temperament in fantastic and lyric expression.
At length, painting becomes a spiritual upbringing to remove the dirty body, and desires, bitterness and joy, even intellectuality can be given up, so that a simple and clean existence is obtained; and thus, our life is free, and the eternal life is gained.
Listening to the Voice of Heart My painting series Carefree Heaven and Earth
Fan DianDirector of National Art Museum of ChinaIn early winter of 2006
I always feel that painting is listening to the echo of heart. Heart is like a floating bell in the dimension of time and in the space passing through history and reality. Sometimes, it is blown by a gust of wind and its sound wafts from the boundless deepness and quietness, crisp and elegant, attracting echoes which are faintly audible. Listening to this echo with peaceful heart and breath, and feeling and conveying this echo in the ink rhyme and stroke charm, Im transmitting it with the structure and pattern of picture. I dont know whether it is Im intending to choose and mark the expression subject of Carefree Heaven and Earth or the old house, cloud and water, zigzag railings and oblique column are striking my floating heart, I paint again and again in trying to depict the waves of echoes once appeared.
Carefree Heaven and Earth is an ancient and eternal philosophical thinking. The highest state of oriental philosophical thinking often lies in integration of heaven and man. In Carefree Heavn and Earth, heaven and earth is the matter and carefree is mans psychological experience. Tao Yuanmings catch the sight of the Southern Mountain freely becomes the eternal coordinates of philosophical thinking and realm. Therefore, it can be said that the realm of Carefree Heaven and Earth is eternal rather than individual psychological. The individual psychology of man tends to be molded and casted in collective unconsciousness. In some rather self-proclaimed personalities, its potential factor is no more than a public personality.
Perhaps, my painting of Carefree Heaven and Earth also just belongs to this kind of public personality. There is no reason to flaunt too many meanings for this public personality. I just want to gravely paint the echo of my own hearts voice and listen to this crisp and distant timbre in the process of painting.
The philosophical thinking of Chinese people is actually solidified in any existing things such as the ancient Chinese architecture, the independent space separated by walls, columns, beams and tiles represents a unique philosophical meaning and aesthetic concept. There is a large universe in the small house which doesnt have enough room for moving around but enough for sleeping. Connecting the small space to the big universe, from the limitations of behavior to the boundlessness of thinking, surpassing the limitations, being self-sufficient and self-entertaining, transcending physics and seeking the metaphysical satisfaction can be seen as the spiritual characteristic of Chinese scholars. In some ways, this characteristic can be called spiritual pragmatism. The transcendence and satisfaction of spirit are relative to the constraint and helplessness of the material world. It is said that years ago, a Western scholar wanted to seek the quietness for heart resting and temper appeasing in China, but his friends discouraged him that there was not a single strip of peaceful pure land and everywhere was dirty, chaotic and noisy in China. I would, with a smile, say what other people said that experiencing the quietness of heart in dirty, chaotic and noisy world is the real peacefulness of mind and spirit.
In the Carefree Heaven and Earth series, what I seek to express is the remoteness beyond space limitations, expressing the remoteness and tranquility of heart and displaying a charm of cultural experiences.
At Guangdong Museum of Art on June, 1996