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Tokyo Gallery+BTAP(Beijing)
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Beijing, 100015, China
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Non-Being · Emptiness: An Intellectual Dimension of Contemporary Art
by Tokyo Gallery+BTAP(Beijing)
Location: Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Beijing)
Artist(s): GROUP SHOW
Date: 5 Jul - 2 Aug 2014

Tokyo Gallery + BTAP will hold an exhibition titled: “Non-Being · Emptiness: An Intellectual Dimension of Contemporary Art,” curated by Wei Xiangqi. The six artists invited to participate are Li Huasheng, Liang Quan, Zhang Yu, Jiang Ji’an, Wang Guangle and Wang Lei. Each artist will show a total of six artworks in ink-and-wash and mixed-media genres.

In the 1960s and -70s, Tokyo Gallery endeavored to promote art of the Mono-ha School, which pursued “pure experience” that was Oriental and Zen-inflected. This school had considerable influence on contemporary art concepts in the West. In 2003 Tokyo Art Gallery + BTAP invited Mr. Li Xianting to curate an exhibition titled “Rosary Beads and Brush Strokes.” He sorted out a way of seeing and working which emphasized time-textures and notional immersion. However this was not born out with sufficient accuracy in artworks selected for the exhibition.

Starting in 2013 Tokyo Gallery initiated exhibitions around the rubric of “New Morou-ism,” intending to explore a future path and direction for Oriental and Western art. The core curatorial idea of Non-Being · Emptiness aims to evaluate a certain creative mode of Chinese contemporary art: it is an introspective semantic structure which originates from the spiritual tempering process of quieting the mind. It is not only a record of action but also a state of affective and psychic absorption. Together with “New Morou-ism,” it is a way to illuminate new linguistic form and theoretical space. As for how to read and explicate embodiment with respect to painting, these ideas represent discoveries in knowledge structure and a new cultural horizon. They look beyond limitations of the language medium and enter wholly into a domain of thinking.

“Non-being” is relative to “being”: this pair of contraries implies multiplicity vs. sparseness of “form.” The Daodejing tells us that “the great image has no form.” Even so, within “non-being” there still remains some kind of umbral “form.” In China’s initial acquaintance with Buddhism and dhyana, we conflated the concepts of wu (“non-being”) and kong (“emptiness”) in the process of translation. However, in the Eastern Jin (317-420 A.D.) period it was finally pointed out that “emptiness” refers to the lack of inherent, fixed nature in phenomenal things. In lack of any inherent nature and indescribability by language, one finds the veritable existence of things, which can only to be encountered experientially by the inner mind. In other words, “non-being” corresponds to seeing in which only a minimum of the visual remains, but “emptiness” is a purely spiritual, perhaps transcendent kind of experience. In this respect we should not oversimplify the pieces on exhibit as works of “abstract art”; rather, through an Oriental mode of contemplative viewing we can “encounter and recognize them in silence.” In this way we can gain a new experience of seeing. 

In this exhibition’s artworks there is a performative awareness in the creative act which relies on applied rationality and mindfulness. A cautious, painstaking state of creative work turns each line, stroke, wash, paste-up and plait into a ritual act for encountering one’s own feelings and life-force. In a quiet temporal dimension, these artists bodily transcend the hindrances of a mundane lifestyle, making their conceptions pellucid like a breeze in the natural world. Thus what is called for in looking at these pieces is not just the viewer’s eyes. More than that, these pieces can inspire the viewer to enter a state of thoughtful reflection. In a realm of open-ended possibility, the viewer can be fully cognizant of each breath, thus casting off temptations of the heavy corporeal body and illuminating his authentic inner nature.

*image (left)
courtesy of Tokyo Gallery + BTAP 

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