文/周彤 ｜翻译/Dr. Dimitra
By ZHOU Tong｜Trans. By Dr. Dimitra
Sometimes I thought it would be fitting to transform the lilies of the song into art. The lyrics somehow describe the attitude of the true lover of art toward their work: “I love you,I miss you, I think of you,I hate you, deep love never changes.” Chang Yu常玉 (1900-1966) is an example. A lonely artist in Paris, the United States, and Taiwan, he was never at the centre of artistic circles during his time, but it was his love for art itself that made his works, after a century, gain the love of the Chinese public.
There will always be artists hiding in the desolate corners of the ravine, looking upon a different scenery compared to accepted artists. But they have their own worlds to live in, tirelessly devoted to their work. The young man I am introducing here is one of those artists. Every spring, on the hill behind his studio, when I look carefully, I am sure to find many desolate wild lilies blooming there. There is a kind of warmth underneath a guise of pride and aloofness, and a humbleness in the aesthetic appreciation of nature which stand out—this is Liu Yangwen.
Floral still lifes have always been prominent in painting. From Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) to today’s art school classes, artists from various countries and schools have used their own understanding to develop and expand still lifes, and there always seems to be a new perspective. Belonging to the post-95’s generation, Liu Yangwenhas in turn placed lilies at the centre of his creative work, studying and exploring them. From his very first painting to the dozens of works he has created until today, whether large or small, one can trace a relatively clear connecting thread. Liu continuously works on developing the bouquet he has in his mind, with repeatedly self-referential foldings, thinking about it from various angles, and focusing on it in different ways.In this process, the petals, the stamens, and even the shape of the flower are gradually broken up, until the artist slowly and steadily rearranges thedeformed lines. Within the structure of these images, and through careful thought, Liu arranges, composes, and expands the shapes, until the original three-dimensional flowers, folded and flattened, become more and more abstract. But the content of those flowers is not lost with deformation. Quite the opposite—the reconstruction of the lines gives the work more power. The initial, absolute quietude of the still life gives its place to a dynamic impulse, in which the boldness of youth and clear-headed design come together in an interesting way.
Only when the essence of art becomes the object of wild, unrestricted reflection cancreation be brought to the place of no man. Depicting a river boat, Du Fu 杜甫 (712-770) writes that “on the country road the clouds are black.” Only in absolute darkness can the bright light of thought illuminate existence more clearly, and the rain that seems to be timely and behind all things moistened, stays hidden, unseen. In Liu Yangwen’s paintings, we can see that his artistic method is to proceed painting by individual painting, which makes it impossible to see the whole process in one single piece.But when all the works are exhibited together, we can see revealed before our eyes how through the years, inch by inch, he has been removing layers and polishing his still lifes. Only when the sunlight at dawn carries back the darkness of the night, can the beautiful city, surrounded by flowers, reveal its true face. If literature can describe Liu Yangwen’s line of creative thinking, Du Fu’s poem “Welcome Rain on a Spring Night” seems to be closer than any critic’s review, and leaves more space to imagination.
For a young artist, exploration in aloneness is invaluable. What is special about Liu is that when so many painters in the world have worked or are working with flowers, he offers his own unique insights and answers. If one takes mature, accomplished artists as a standard, Liu of course still has a long way to go. If one looks at his work in terms of development, every step of his progress is clearly visible.
Developing one’s own technique and making sure the development is apparent is in fact the path of an accomplished painter. By “technique,” I am not referring to anything found in books, art galleries, art academies and schools, but to the thinking of silent explorers working in their desolate studios. This is something Liu Yangwen understands in his heart and depicts in his paintings. It is also the hope for Chinese art in the future.
/展览现场 Exhibition Site