Kingsley Art Talk at Crocker Art Museum 2019
I often ask myself, what’s America? In my opinion, All in one is America. - different culture, different background, different creative thinking, work together as one. Our group is a perfect example. I love our group very much.
I really like Picasso's words: "I used to study for four years as well as Raphael, but I spent the rest of my life learning how to create like a child."
As an artist straddling both east and west, I aspired to create the language as well as the setting behind the art. I subvert the skill of the traditional ink art as to inherit the spirit of it. The brushless style emerged from my consistent try and error.
Through research and discovery, I have been striving to achieve a conversation and amalgamation between people and nature.
The Universe and Man in Reflection
As a Chinese-American artist, a rebel in the artistic world and in life, one thing I felt proud of was my persistence in being a man who is creative and a busybody. I spend most of my time thinking about how to introduce a more vital and relevant Chinese art onto the international art stage. Chinese art is a mirror of the unknown world and a mysterious part of ourselves. Our souls require this mysterious mirror.
For 500 years through the Tang and Song Dynasties (600 to 1279) and 100 years during Bada Shanren time (around 1700) art reached its pinnacle. Since then, Chinese artists have continued to replicate the old forms of art in the name of cultural inheritance. This has led to a state of confusion and decay.
The spirit of traditional Chinese art is still here but the body that contains this spirit has vanished. The spirit is the ethereal ink, the legacy of millennia of eastern art. The body is the pen-brush/ink and the techniques for its use, which once expressed the highest form of Chinese art. Today the brush and its techniques should only be studied for historical guidance, not as a template. Unfortunately, the idea that the use of the brush is the standard by which art should be judged, has led to generations of facsimile.
If life allows, I hope to lead a different manner of artistic pursuit with a form of ink painting that is my own. The work I have created over the past 10 years is meant to solve the riddle of how to combine harmoniously the spirit of ink with the openness of the 21st century.
The spirit of oriental arts is existed in its ink trace and the amorphousness not its manual technique. The function of the 21st century youngsters is to subvert the tradition than to learn blindly the skills from the masters. This spirit has been created and developed to its peak. It should be documented in the history rather than providing a template for the generations to come.
My aim has been to honor the soul of Chinese art. I wish to acknowledge the eastern philosophical grandeur of unity between man and the universe and express my gratitude for the spiritual presence that exists in nature.
I put down the brush, put down the techniques, and sought a new way to enter art creation. What emerged was the natural element of moving water with ink, with its strong and also its soft manifestations. Water seamlessly combined imagination and creativity with visions of nature. I work day by day, making the best of things as they come, using water and the ethereal ink soul. I understand that subversion is one way to inherit the spirit and most importantly to pass on.
The combination of ink and water on nearly transparent silk allows for both structure and visual paradox in my work. Impressions are left on the silk, sometimes strong, sometimes vague, almost always a shifting combination of possibilities, which is one entrance into the spiritual world.
When I laid down my brush, I also gave up traditional framing and reliance on walls for display. Soft and transparent silk, in harmony with wandering ink and water, is best seen in a dimensional space with the possibility of movement and changing light. The hanging silk, away from walls, creates a living environment, based on simplicity and layered visual experience.
In China I majored in Chinese figure painting. When I came to America, I spent over 10 years creating installations. The installations slowly morphed into my method of ink painting. I have always been someone who crosses artistic boundaries and engages in a process filled with trial and error. This has benefited my exploration of the convergence of art and living space. Art and living space, space and shadow, in and out, people and nature, the ever-shifting vantage point between audience and the art—all of these reflect a synthesis of the mysterious spiritual realm and an amorphous artistic domain of eastern art. I am reminded of a saying by the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou, who asked, "Did Zhou dream of the butterfly or did the butterfly dream of Zhou?"
May 1st， 2018, California
我系中国画人物专业出身，但在美国近二十年的艺术生涯，却是从当代艺术装置创作开始，渐而进入当代水墨。近些年我对绘画艺术与人居空间融合性的研究和摸索，得益于我一直以来所崇尚的极端跨界的艺术思维和艺术试错的创作经历。以我的系列绢上水墨 2017《太极水墨》和 2019《阴阳之间》作品先后在加州，广州个展为例，成功的结束了依附于墙壁绘画艺术装饰陈列，转换成为悬空在人居空间里的通透意象对话媒介，透过这层轻盈飘逸，墨韵空灵的艺术媒介，东方艺术和东方哲学的博大玄妙之效果表现的更加准确和智慧。
Transcend Yin and Yang
November 20, 2018, I was captured by “The underworld” from a train on the way to visit my mother in hospital. On January 20, 2019 much gratitude to my American friend in the light, I was rescued.
Next day, I sat in front of a mirror. I could not believe that was me I saw. Recalling my life in the past, I never doubted what I see. Either as a kid eating only sweet potatoes or during my mid-life years with meals of beef steak, I have not had any moment when I questioned the person in the mirror. Could the two months’ time in the underworld have altered my spirit to such a degree as to change my appearance?
I made a cup of tea for myself and sat down again in front of the mirror reexamining my tortured and yet still spirited eyes under thick eyebrows; also, there was the twisted body battled with evil and hairs that turned white overnight. I regret to not have made a self-portrait before going into the dark on November 2018.
At long last, I have awakened from nightmare with the sun shining; riding untamed in the wind, let water and ink rise graciously to the top.
Sincerely, much gratitude to my friend for the rescue, to the kindness in light.
January 20th, 2019 in Guang Zhou
As an artist straddling both east and west, I examined my years’ artworks in America retrospectively. Starting from expressing my sentiments to Chinese tradition with hard visual effect installation, I aspired to create the language as well as the setting behind the art in the sense to inherit traditional Chinese ink art, but subversively apply the pen-brushless skill emerged from my consistent try and error. Through research and discovery, I have been striving to achieve a conversation and amalgamation between people and nature. My creative ideas are to reflect the "nothingness," "mirror," and the traces of "water," and "Ink." I encourage a zero-threshold entering into the creation of art that reflects the heavenly earth.
In an appropriate exhibit opportunity and space, my work should exist across boundaries with an infinite possibility.
A place that blurs the boundary between interior and exterior of a structure. It should have no disturbances of limits and shackles but exist purely in nature. As the works hang in the air, the audience could freely traverse the columns of artwork to enjoy or to rest. Through the ever-changing landscape and shifting lights from sunrise to sunset, the viewers could observe the art and each other, relishing the beauty of art in people, as well as the people in art. From the ray of sunshine piercing in until the enlightenment of the moon, there is the manifestation of imagination and thoughts on revived art. The viewers are experiencing the power and creativity of the ink art that exists without any limitation.
During the exhibition, we invite 24 art enthusiasts, ten from each category of elementary school, middle school, high school, and college to participate in a pen-brushless ink work creation. There is no prerequisite for them. In the last week before the closure of the exhibition, we display the students work along with my art. We invite educators, artists, art critics, student representatives to join in a seminar for evaluating the artworks and sharing an exchange of views.
September 16th, 2018 in California