Shi Jing's Solo Exhibition - Existence In Blankness

Aug 27, 2011-Sep 25, 2011

Shi Jing


Text/ Lucien Y.Tso

When we look at the works of Shijing it can be difficult to grasp their meaning, as it can be challenging to reflect on something that one has never really taken the time to consider or understand before. The first impression the viewer is left with is of a blank canvas bereft of even the hint of a message and a multitude of doubts. This exemplifies the way in which Shijing’s art differs from the styles embraced by contemporaries. Through the duality of these almost completely empty graphic spaces, he experiments with and asks important questions about the nature of painting and its interrelationship with observed objects and existential meaning.

Re-presentation of the reality in painting is no longer the mission in Shijing’s work..Instead, he strives to convey the simple but difficult to elucidate truth of “existence.” With the paintings on display in this exhibition Shijing deliberately eliminates color, leaving just the pure white of the canvas. Against this colorless backdrop devoid of contrasts of light and shade, the artist uses light and brushwork as his method in seeking of sensuous clues that tend to be more “instinct” rather than “experience.” Because the use of color and contrast in painting to some extent always depicts artist’s ability to feel, their original appearance can easily be distorted as part of the interpretative process. In weighing the strengths of this approach, the artist has chosen to retain the physical property of light in his attempt to capture the actual state of objects as they exist in space, against a simple background. This cannot be recorded by using imitating the appearance of objects as it is difficult to delineate their parameters with any certainty. However, the traces objects leave in space are clearly live in the process of painting and viewing.

When viewing a seemingly blank surface, the traces left behind gradually reveal themselves as the viewer examines the work from different angles, discovering their existence within the fixed range of a particular perspective. This is how the viewer strives to identify the messages hidden on the canvas plane. By doing so, this approach also changes the distance and two-way relationship between painted object and viewer as presented in the convention of painting and graphic form. Consequently by moving the position of the viewer, disappearance and re-presentation are brought forth onto the same picture plane. This arrangement creates a special moment that simultaneously yields rationality and uncertainty; and as such goes one step further to creating a concept of time. It is through such split in time that viewers are enabled to identify the signs of objects that once existed. However, these are limited or even disappear as the angle of perspective changes, never quite been seen in full.

Shijing’s work is difficult to understand from any artistic styles or to define as belonging to any particular artistic movement, though in strategic terms the artist’s methodology tends in the direction of rationality. Through his distinctive approach to art the selection of a viewing point offers an intriguing starting point for the viewer, who is restricted, but at the same time allowed to control when and what to be seen on the two-dimensional plane. This creates a unique viewing philosophy imbued with eastern thinking that showcases Shijing’s reflections on existentialist meaning. Whether an object ever exists or not is meaningless to Shijing because what he is truly interested in is the natural spirit of objects. It is this “empty” consciousness and the way in which it transcends form and concrete space that allows us to differentiate between “abstraction” and “emotion.”

The phrase “what exists beyond physical form is called Tao” offers a different way of thinking and viewing in Shijing’s painting. Looking over the field of contemporary Chinese painting, Shijing has mapped out a path all of his own, one that is less mysterious and more substantial, heading towards the exploration of the essential nature of existence.

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