The Living Dongzhuang
Dongzhuang Drawings plays an important role in inheriting the culture from generation to generation.
500 years ago, it witnessed the friendship between the Literati Art Master Shen Zhou and the owner of Dongzhuang Wu Kuan. Now the amazing piece brings Xiao Gu and Shen Zhou together across the time and space, thus the remarkable Looking for Dongzhuang series came into being.
One day last year, I visited Mr. Xiao Gu and talked with him about the Dongzhuang Drawings. He said that therere few people knowing about Shen Zhous Dongzhuang nowadays. But I told him that I had read the catalogue of Dongzhuang Drawings long time before.
With Shen Zhous master techniques and artistic conception, everything in Dongzhuang came alive. The trees, flowers, fields, streams and different buildings constituted a paradise of idyllic beauty, in which the then hermits enjoyed their life and abandoned themselves in the nature. Shen Zhou finished the collection and gave it to Wu Kuan as a gift, trying to suggest him that he can also enjoy his life in art and nature. The man who concealed himself in the chaotic world actually processed an unyielding spirit.
The reason why Xiao Gu created this Dongzhuang Drawings lies in his pursuit of the inheritance of traditional culture and the continuation of the cultural context. He tries to show us an artistic world where we can find peacefulness in it. In the end, Xiao Gu and his art language found a homeland in the contemporary aesthetics.
Theres a mystery world hidden behind the images and our mind, where words cannot tell all the essence. Both the free spirit of Shen Zhou and the peacefulness of Xiao Gu all came out of the traditional Chinese cultural spirit, showing us the literati belief and the aesthetic taste of their own time.
Regardless the 500 years between them, Xiao Gu and Shen Zhou are spiritually connected. And the Dongzhuang, which both of them place their feelings for, is looking forward to be rediscovered and reinterpreted in the new era.
Dongzhuang may be a paradise that we reached many times in our dreams, or a place we yearned for a long time but had no chance to enter ever. Yet ultimately we realize that Dongzhuang lies in the bottom of our heart. It is a world of purity and sincerity; it forms our spiritual homeland.
Lets give our gratefulness to Xiao Gu, who links us with our spiritual home with Dongzhuang Drawings and gives Dongzhuang a new life.
d te�cs�@ � piritual hermit rather than the physical hermit in traditional way, which means once you cultivate your nature and comprehend the essence and seclusion, you can live a hermit life anywhere. Shen Zhou was one of the representatives of Jiangnan (lit. regions south of the Yangtze River) hermit in the middle of Ming dynasty. As the famous scholar of Ming dynasty Lu Can said, Suzhou has been famous for its profound culture and active literati, not only because those famous scholars who have great political career, but also for therere hermit scholars in different times. Among them, Shen Zhou was rated highly by posterity for his noble character and personal cultivation.
Here in this collection, Xiao Gu is trying to explore the spiritual core of Shen Zhous art and find out the literati nature hidden behind his hermit ideology. Piles of evidence indicate that it was the particular history background that led to Shen Zhous final decision. Back to the early Ming Dynasty, lots of Suzhou intellectuals were persecuted by the Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. According to the then scholar Lu Rongs recall, most of the officials at that time served the imperial government wholeheartedly, but in return many of them were cruelly punished for tiny mistakes. Only few of them could get a peaceful life in the end. The severe political environment frightened most of Jiangnan scholars in the early Ming dynasty, and the shadow remained until Shen Zhous time.
As a result, Shen Zhou never started his official career in his whole life. He regarded himself as a hermit. Although he had many official friends, he always kept a safe distance from the imperial government. In this way he was concealing in the crowd and abandoned himself to poems, paintings and the nature. The owner of Dongzhuang, Wu Kuan, was one of Shen Zhous official friends. Shen Zhou finished the Dongzhuang collection and gave it to Wu Kuan as a gift, trying to suggest him that he can also enjoy his life in art and nature. It seems that Shen Zhou was a coward who is concealing himself in the chaotic times, yet actually he was very brave and processed an unyielding spirit.
Xiao Gu has been working for Dongzhuang Drawings series for six years, during which time, he sticks to his unique pursuit of art and tries to utilize the deep but characterized cultural text to display his national heroism and aesthetic appreciation. In general, we define traditional Chinese art as artistic expression and western art as artistic representation, but its not the whole story. Chinese art pays great attention to the spirit and artistic conception, so does western art. Xiao Gus extraordinary understanding of traditional Chinese cultural spirit and incredible master of oil painting helps him transform the traditional Chinese art into a contemporary form.
Xiao Gu has always been working on art in his own way. With profound realism skills and his unique two-and-a-half-dimension structure, he innovatively creates the Chinese style paintings in an expressionist way. Those paintings are full of vivid Chinese art spirit and contain a transformed visual space. Figural still, but his art represents a combination of different colors and meanings.
Xiao Gus interests and thoughts in traditional culture leads to his success in combining the tradition with contemporary. To him, painting works just as a tool to express his spirit and thoughts. That is also why when you watch closely at his pieces, you will be strongly touched by the culture behind, and it definitely comes from the continuation of Chinese traditional spirit.