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Epiphanies of Tao

Epiphanies of Tao


Space Station will launch Jiang Guorong’s solo exhibition Epiphanies of Tao on July 1, 2017, which, following his exhibition Morning Sunlight – Nightfall Shade, is his second solo exhibition held in Space Station. Trees and woods came to be his subject-matter; and the spaces of these works provide with the audience a close sense of being compassed, in which the resident, through trees as a mediation, feels a nostalgia for the natural world. His works made the viewer, like a visitor, walking across the woodland as well as relaxing under the luxuriant trees. These trees are the link of man to the world, and the eternal dialogue between nature and man. Jiang, by practical observation, constructed with trees a space, which is changeable, open, stable, but continuous, a space that is bright and dark, soft and hard, flat and undulating, filling with fluctuation and streak, not only in two dimensions is full of rhythm but extends its depth and breadth in three dimensions. “This world is the real world that I want to show you”, said Jiang.


“After a long observation, you will find that every tree is different: their branches grow recklessly, and the leaves make out the shape of trunks in various forms.”


Jiang understood the tree as a living, dynamic, creative, and physical presence. The shape of a tree cannot be invented; each tree has its own uniqueness as if the tree has its own body: it is not just a tree in a landscape, but also a thing of the world, hence of the universe. From Jiang’s extremely objective characterizations of trees, peeling off the accumulation of cultural imagination of trees, it would be seen that the authenticity of trees, at the gap of the time as well as at the fractured loci of the field, emerged with their existence, which is a pure presence and a clarification of existence.


In Jiang’s pictures, the trees construct the environment in the form of life center, forming a complete and independent life circle. They, lofty, outstanding, or canopying, lush, make the space structure sudden collapsed and disordered with a kind of coercive and shrouded atmosphere; and continue to expand in depth, so that the picture has become a kind of experience of falling.


Having not only the aesthetic connotations of the concepts of shape, composition, and gorgeousness emphasized by the West, but also that of the artistic conception, genre, and otherworldliness highlighted by the Orient, Epiphanies of Tao, introducing Lao Tzu’s concept of Tao into the aesthetic field, is a very important factor in aesthetic activity. Tao, derived from Chinese tradition, is one of the essences of the aesthetic theory system of Lao Tzu and Zhuang Tzu. The principles of Epiphanies of Tao advocate that one should maintain a completely subjective state before representing nature, and take the state as the beautiful, and appreciate this experience as such,and regard nature as the utmost beauty, which belongs to the Taoist aesthetic system, hence to the Chinese traditional aesthetic system; on the other hand, seem to be reminiscent of the issue of Edmund Husserl’s intentional reconstruction in his phenomenology, and that of Martin Heidegger’s Dasein ist Sein in einer Welt. Both the Orient and West, thus, created a “thing” with reconstructive value as aesthetic object, with “Tao” mirroring onto the “thing”, achieving to “cheerful mood”, which is also the highest pursuit of Chinese Sansui Paintings by Zong Bing, a painter and critic lived in Nan Dynasties, who believes that all interests assimilated into mind will achieve the state of subject-object as a whole, to the extent that the subject feel comfortable, with the epiphany of Tao, that is, the highest level of painting aesthetics.


Jiang, in his naturalism context, depicted the twilights, woods, and mountains of the natural landscape in boldly bright and flamboyant colors, which forms a distinctive and gorgeous style of painting. In recent years, Jiang, like a conjuror who is following nature, had been in his own way, in which he inquiries into nature in the language of painting, to explore an eternal form to embody nature and the idea of the oneness of Heaven and Man. The thought of harmony between man and nature, which rooted in the physis, and which taken the joyfulness as the highest realm, diverted him from the pursuit of real shapes and eternal vision to self-expression, and the inquiry into the fusion of man and nature, and the balance between nature and lifestyle. As Cezanne put it, “Painting doesn’t mean copying the reality blindly, rather, it means seeking harmony in all relationships.” Jiang, through the study of constitutes of visual art, comprehending points, lines, planes, and color languages, continued to explore new artistic ideas and to create the combination of painting and nature to reconstruct nature, emphasizing on the coexisting harmony between art and nature. The artist, in the face of the appearance of nature, did not rigidly adhere to the reality. The depiction of objects, instead of getting stuck in a rut, reflected certain emotions that they can arouse in the heart. The vastness and tranquility of nature make his art life natural and no desire. The appreciation is so, and the creation.


“What I am really interested in is not nature in nature, but it is really a delicate language that can be used by me.”


This words, came from the world-renowned visual device art master Olafur Eliasson, is also the deepest experience as to the artist Jiang Guorong. For art and nature are merely similar not the same, in order to, more reasonably, apply the principle of the contrast among colors and their mutual relationship, he spent a lot of time to observe and study the green which is very difficult to describe and control; and perceived that it is by the light that the virescent transparency is informed. The verdant woody mountains and trees exuded seductive splendor in the sun, while the artist, feeling, touching, analyzing, boldly expatiating, and capriciously splashing, gave the green more subtle and rich changes, so that the green natural images obtained the maximal color rhythm, and approached the overall harmony in the complex changes. In face of nature that is neither untamed nor reserved, Jiang, giving insights into it in a hermetic state, perceived the abstruse and smoothed down the inner, so that he formed his own color system, being truly like his paintings.


Jiang had a carefree childhood. He, as young, showed an affinity for nature. Nature made him feel close, relaxed, comfortable and cheerful. He lived in semi-retreat in his studio on the outskirts of Chengdu; and as the hermits lived in the Song and Yuan Dynasties, he advocated a natural inaction attitude towards life, abandoning himself to nature. Jiang was deeply fascinated by Chinese Sansui Painting, which, as one of the most important Chinese ancient traditional painting, has been passed from generation to generation, and in which the ancients innovated in the inheritance and made breakthroughs in the traditional themes, e.g. retreating, wandering on the way, abandoning oneself to nature; however, Jiang’s creation state is largely lined up with its realism spirit and the aesthetic ideal of “Clarifying the Mind to Apprehend Tao”. Jiang, advocating the mining of the inner of things from the natural features, put his perceptions into the paintings; and maintained the balance of nature and lifestyle and the creation state, perhaps as David Hockney put it, “Maybe the way I see the world is not as the same as others’. But I did look carefully at how I watched it, which was important to me.”