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The “Way” of Art

Source: People’s Daily Author: Feng Yuan Date: 2014-11-21





       The elegance of art lies in creation. In addition to complete mastery and successful application of skills, art is more about non-repetitive creative activities. The yardstick for measuring the success of an artist is deep thoughts, proper selection of subjects and original artistic language. 

  I admire stalwartness, with an effort to produce a powerful sound in the noisy world. I draw history and people to erect monuments for our nation. I paint tumultuous sea to imply the bleakness and transiency of life. I paint the heaven because I have realized the limitless smallness and bigness. I do writing because I have appreciated what the abstract structural beauty of calligraphy has in common with painting. I draw arhats and poetic paintings to strengthen traditional painting techniques and explore the expressive scope and potential for water and ink to transition to abstract and freehand brushwork…

  Art provides a form and produces visual effects to connect and identify with the viewers as a way to achieve spiritual communication. The components of the form are accomplished through skills. Skills are like languages that can communicate the artistic conception. And it is the spirit that is driving skills. The spirit, the form and the skill are all indispensible. They can play either a main role or supplementary role, depending on the perspectives of the viewers. But successful works excel in all the three aspects.

  For decades, I have been working hard in artistic creation and what I have been thinking and pursuing is all embodied in my works. Just as the world is endless, the painting endeavor is limitless and it takes one’s whole lifetime to devote to artistic and academic pursuit.

  The culture of Qing and Han Dynasties gives me broadmindedness while the culture of Sui and Tang Dynasties influences me with uprightness and splendor. The culture of Song and Yuan Dynasties influences me with meticulousness and prudence while the culture of Ming and Qing Dynasties gives outstanding clearance. The culture of the north makes me simple and firm while the culture of Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang gives me exquisiteness and dynamism. The western modern art expands my cultural vision while the treasures of the various ancient human civilizations guide me to seek the ultimate artistic state.  

  In the complex world, it is important to keep the peace of mind. That is so important for Chinese painters but to have that peace of mind is not easy. Reading consolidates the foundation and learning clarifies knowledge. I want to think serious thoughts about life, improve ourselves, reflect good characters, and foster independent cultivation and preserve the ideal despite the complex world. I want to abandon vanity, ignore reputation and work with full dedication to create lasting works with a pure heart by means of the rich ink, color and language in an effort to express my thinking on the Chinese artistic spirit and cultural vision and capture the image and spirit of contemporary China as embodied in philosophy, culture, history and visual art.

  It is not easy to judge one’s own works. But one needs to know better about oneself through self-examination and self-reflection in order to make continuous improvement. As an ancient saying goes, “calligraphy and painting are signs of the heart”. When I look at my works, I can find both successes and failures in clear details but I never regret. Creation, innovation, more thinking and more exercise of skills will add to the value and thus taking me closer to the “Way”. That is my view, and it is up to the colleagues and future generations to judge what is right or wrong and what works are good or bad.