|Amelie Gallery, Beijing, China
Opening: May, 5th, 15:00pm
Artists: Cui Yanwei, Tan Jun, Huang Liyan, Zhu Zhengming
Curator: Tony Chang
The individual aesthetic “tastes” of the artist are the most fundamental personalizing element in artistic creation, the thrust behind the pursuit of spirituality in painting. Painting in China has passed the phase of studying the techniques and styles of the Western masters, and the waves of passion for isms and schools have begun to recede. Meanwhile, currents are beginning to flow towards the placement of conceptuality over technique in painting. The artists of this exhibition, Cui Yanwei, Tan Jun, Huang Liyan and Zhu Zhengming are staunch in their faith that “Painting is an extreme sport, a difficult ascent with no end (Tan Jun’s words).” Their works do not wallow in conceptual gimmicks or the painterly tricks of ink and brush but directly paint doubts about the self and the essence of humanity. Their independent stylized creations express unique individual tastes, weaving a secretive atmosphere with the traditions of ancient Chinese painting, calling to mind the highly individual literati painters of old, such as the dignified and understated Ni Yunlin, the outlandish yet elegant Chen Laolian or the aloof and solitary Bada Shanren.
Immanuel Kant once researched the intricate relationship between aesthetics and taste, concluding that taste is both personal and beyond reasoning, and that there is no universally applicable standard for taste. In the realm of oriental art, “taste” is similar to the concept of “pin” emphasized by ancient calligraphers and painters, as in the four classes of “pin” or taste emphasized by Zhu Jingxuan in Famous Paintings of the Tang Dynasty: the “shen,” or spiritual aspect, “miao,” or inspiration, “neng,” or capabilities, and “yi,” or the reclusive spirit, all attributes connected to the level of painting or the artist’s inclinations. For painting, “taste” is the fusion of multiple visual elements, expressed in the brushwork, colors, materials, texture, composition and form, and connected to the artist’s life experiences and cultural accumulation. On the other hand, taste seems to be innate, almost a destiny, abstract and difficult to put into words, existing within the artwork in a present yet invisible state, like stars shining from the bottom of a deep pond, muted yet profound.