The Weight of Time
A sculptor once said: any work comes with the galloping passage of time. It’s been both immersed in the eternal flood and implied in the most distant future.
And then in one evening, at a certain place, and in a book, it was the words from Andrei Tarkovsky that quietly emerged – filmmaking is sculpting in time. And here, it could probably be rewritten something like “recording or witnessing history is sculpting in time”.
For a decade, the Heyday Collection has been sculpting in time and chiseling memories, in its own way. Looking back, those recordings might just have been ordinary things or common fragments. What we hope to do is to find the weight of time through those few isolated words and phrases that have revealed the changes of times and historical accumulation.
These fragments might be the finest cream of time that painstakingly has chiseled and fine-tuned the details. For that, life has been sublimated to art. For these fragments might be a sudden enlightenment, or a practice that need time to deal with. It is the best annotation of the silently passing years. By restoring and recording these fragments, we have found that only time is the real wise man. At the same time, unknowingly, time has accumulated the touch and preciousness.
Thus, as the epitomes of time, these ordinary fragments, even the most mundane things, have been full of influence that’s far-reaching yet often ignored. They are bright enough to illuminate the era of its every forgotten detail, and powerful enough to make us feel the tangibility of time. The process of time passing is the process of life itself. The time when the elapsed time comes out from the words and from the yellowing images and memories, it has become so evident to us that time indeed can be weighty!
Therefore, we are grateful for the time, especially when it appears in a way that is on the screen. It allows us to touch the charm and profundity of the city, and its even more possibilities provoked somewhere in between: a painting, a building, a piece of tea leave, a road full of flowers, an anecdote of the city…
So, we have a new life – the TV Gallery, a platform for different galleries in Kunming to showcase themselves and for the artists to have their works exposed to the public at close range.
That’s where the “Run with the Dream” comes in. Like all poets who run with their dreams as horses, we would choose a career of eternity. With the most sincere emotions, like sculpting in time, we are to continue chiseling the memories and eternity for the year of the Horse…
Run with the Dream or Feed with the Dream
It is again the year of the Horse.
I’m immediately reminded of various stories, images and phrases about horses in Chinese. Among which the most haunting ones is the saying of “Run with the Dream” or “Feed with the Dream”.
That’s because the poet Hai Zi, as well as the Classic of Mountains and Seas or Shanhaijing I read when I was small.
In 1987, Hai Zi wrote a poem – “Motherland (or Run with the Dream)”. Then, it was the time when Hai Zi headed to his heyday, somewhere in the middle where he was writing the epic poem “Sun – the Seven Books”. For this reason, this poem perfectly coincided with Hai Zi’s writing status and aspiration at the time, at the same time it also foretold his tragic fate as the “Poetic Martyr”. Today, he has passed away, as I revisit this poem, and it is as if I am reading the declaration and prophecy of the poet himself. It’s full of the grief and holiness of an epitaph.
Like all poets who run with their dreams as horses, Hai Zi said: “I shall be a loyal son of the land remote, and a transient lover of material things.”
This is a generous desire for eternity. It’s the language that reflects the aspiration that to have the fire bloom and shed like flower in the sacred motherland, and to watch over the peaceful homes. However, could we still find that quality in today’s artists? In other words, is this still an era running with the dream?
In fact, I prefer the saying “Feed with the Dream” more than “Run with the Dream”. In the “Classic of the Mountains: West” of the Classic of Mountains and Seas, there was an account about a divine beast called “Meng Pao” (or “Fierce Leopard”). Hao Yixing, a scholar in the Qing dynasty, noted in his letter about the “Classic of the Mountains: West” of the Classic of Mountains and Seas that “Meng Pao is Mo Pao (or Tapir Leopard). As Meng and Mo sound similar, so they the same thing”. That’s how the term “Meng Mo” was born. The legend has it that “Meng Mo” was a strange and mysterious creature. As divine beast, it could exorcise evil spirits. In the hazy moonlight nights, it would come out from a serene forest, wandering about where the human beings live and sucking away the nightmares of the people. “Meng Mo” mooed like sweet singing, putting people to sleep with the sound before taking away their nightmares gently, one after another, into its lungs. “Meng Mo” quietly vanished into the woods after eating people’s nightmare, continuing living its own mysterious life. “Meng Mo” fed itself with dreams. It could both swallow up the dreams and make them show up again.
Feed with the dream, enjoy the time. This is the imagination and romance that goes beyond the reality, and is unique to the Chinese.
Therefore, each and every sincere poet and artist desires to be a horse herself or himself, living by eating dreams, flying and galloping above this earthly world. Because both poetry and art are great elevation and redemption of humanity, though they bear the hell yet they are highly above, maintaining the ideal temperament and freedom and dignity, running with the dream and preventing the spirit from degrading.
Yunnan, the land where the iridescent cloud appeared in the South and the South Land of the south lands, has always been a kingdom of dreams. “Run with the Dream”, “Feed with the Dream”, and “Life on Clouds” are about a spiritual temperament, an aesthetic expression. Above everything else, they are about this never ending lifestyle that has been passed down from generation to generation.
That is why the works from these ten artists, namely Tang Zhigang, Yang Yijiang, Gao Xiang, Janeric Johansson, Yang Jing, Li Fan, Chang Xiong, Wang Rui, Liu Jin, and Li Chunguo, are not merely about depicting horses but also dreams and Yunnan. Because we have the same homeland and dreams that are under the same pretty clouds and starry sky.
“Run with the Dream” or “Feed with the Dream”, is an artistic and poetic expression of the poetical and romantic way of life in Yunnan. I hope that more artists and poets could show us with their works that human being does not only have the desire to write, to draw, but also to live a life like how the wrote and drew.
And this is my preface.
January 6, 2014, Kunming
There is a Horse Living in our Youth
I once read the “Riding Couple” by Wassily Kandinsky in the history of the west art. I was amazed by the elegant posture demonstrated by the figures in the painting, and I suppose they must have been heading to their happiness at a far distant… Or as I look back at our Chinese history of arts, horses have always been the inspiration for the painters, such as the “Night-Shining White” by the Tang Dynasty painter Han Gan, the “Five Tribute Horses” by Li Gonglin of Song Dynasty, and the “A Man and His Horse in the Wind” by Zhao Mengfu of the Yuan Dynasty. They all demonstrated to us the “temperament of good horses”. These “horses” were the definition of how to be “elegant”, and that have embedded in our memories.
It is true that the horse has always accompanied us as a positive image. Due to its close relationship with human being, there are many occasions where even the spirit of people is connected with the horse. The horse has become a particular image in the historical and cultural symbolic system of humanity. So whenever the horse comes into mind, there would always be sparked in the soul a sense of enthusiasm and passion. That’s why in this special year of the Horse the Heyday Collection had the idea of planning this Exhibition. At the beginning, I was thinking about what quality the horse possesses that has made so many artists so fascinated in depicting it? It occurs to me that it could have been the distant dream carried on the horseback! So when it comes to the theme of this exhibition, it could not be more appropriate to borrow the idea from the poem of Hai Zi – “Run with the Dream”.
Like all poets who run with their dreams as horses, Hai Zi would like to be “a loyal son of the land remote, and a transient lover of material things.” It’s also the case for the artists in terms of the aspiration for dream and freedom along the way of their most sincere life pursuit. At the same time, it is also based on the manifestation of the “youth” temperament derived from the meaning of life. And the essence of “youth” is the spirit of always “On the Road” that had been advocated by the Beat Generation in the 1960s America. It’s about the never-ending impulse and the genius of game of life that boldly venture to the remotest corner of the world. Thus, the horse has been transfigured into a fire of dream, making the artists like all poets who run with their dreams as horses – and with this fire, they shall live through the boundless nights of the whole life.
All ten of these contemporary artists participating in the Exhibition have had the horses poetically depicted as the special images for youth and dreams! Tang Zhigang has always been keen on painting horses, and had created a great series of paintings about horses in the early 1990s. His “Dali Horses” this time around were accomplished by joining his student’s sketching practice communicated to every one of his students the “youth” temperament and the game mentality when it comes to artistic creation by using the painting language of relative expression. Yang Yijiang’s “Outpost” was created in 1987. Being contextualized in those special years, it presented a unique experience of that era through its own sincerity and romanticism. Gao Xiang is more like a poet wondering between the tradition and the modernity in his creation. Perhaps it’s because of his unconscious favoritism for horses, so almost all of his works are related to horses. Horse might be the extension of his ego, or the other that could have dialogs with him. The mutual integration manifests the traditional Oriental aspiration that an artist has to revere the nature and the contemporary life experience. Janeric Johansson is an artist from Sweden. He was once resided in Kunming for his creation due to art exchange programs. Johansson is a charming artist who is keen to experiment on mixed media, while also focusing on the way of viewing the works from different angles. Just like the interaction and collision of different cultures, each angle could bring new surprises. Yang Jing’s work is more of a conceptual one. “Monkey on Horseback” was based on a China’s traditional theme. By interpreting and portraying in light of the modern context, he made a new exploration and practice on traditional values in this painting. In Li Fan’s works there is a carefree game mentality like a young adult. On the sand table of just one square meter, history has become but games being put on stage. Chang Xiong is like a wanderer, walking and sing. There is this youthfulness so beautiful, tranquil, and dreamlike in his landscapes. In it the horse is somewhere between the dream and reality and is so quiet and gentle. Wang Rui’s painting presents us with a fresh visual experience. There is the simple and plain countryside life experience of the artist in his handling that so close to the Chinese landscape paintings. The horse behind the twigs is like a bystander, waiting for the arrival of the spring. Liu Jin’s horses have a youthful sincerity, looked serene, elegant and gentle. There are wonderful ideas and fantasies to Li Chunguo’s horse. The horse from his hometown is so much alive and energetic.
Yunnan’s beautiful and relaxing atmosphere has always stimulated the artists’ inspiration and imagination. Yunnan’s slow lifestyle has so wonderfully manifested under the sun. However, this attitude towards life seems to be out of place in the process of the current era, just like the horses were almost at the edge of a cliff in the face of the arrival of the Age of Machines. Horses as well as this kind of free and slow life attitude are on the way of perishing. So the distant dream carried on the horseback is just like Yunnan’s sunshine that’s so beautiful to the extent that makes you feel sad. It’s seemingly void yet desirable. They two are common in this awkward situation, yet on the other hand this has made them the most invaluable wealth in such a modernity dilemma. It’s my hope that through this Exhibition each and every one of us could feel both shocked and joyful when looking at these “horses”, as if the long missing or long abundant dreams have been found! Like all artists who run with their dreams as horses, there is a horse living in our youth. It is a divine beast from heaven either leads us for vagrancy or guides us to the distant where the dream is…
Thank Ms. Zhang Hui for her tireless efforts to make sure this exhibition a successfully event. Thank Mr. Guan Yuda for his academic support. My gratitude is due to each and every artist who has so actively participated in this exhibition. I would also like to express my appreciation to Mr. Gao Xiang from the Yuan Xiaocen Art Museum as well as his fellow staff for their assiduous work. I am also deeply indebted to every teacher, friend, and colleague who has provided guidance and help to make this exhibition possible!
Midnight, January 7, 2014