Qionghui Zou’s Solo Exhibition, which named “The Cicadas’ language & Zen State”, is about to be held in Today Art Museum. This album of painting is published to match up with the exhibition, audience can catch the profile of the exhibition by reading it , and the creation pattern of the artist in recent years will be obviously presented.
——By Fangzhou Jia
Honorary Chairman of Annual Meeting of Chinese Art Critics
Living Forever in Burning Flames, Mixed Media, 70.9''X98.4'', 2014
Qionghui Zou is an associate professor of Chengdu Academy of Fine Arts under Sichuan Academy of Music. In her early years, she graduated from Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts with excellent academic performance, and then engaged in advanced studies in Beijing Film Academy and Central Academy of Fine Arts. She kept creating and thinking in her studies, and formed her own art style and painting pattern in that period.
Although some paintings depicted human beings and the natural views, the cicadas existed in most of Qionghui Zou’s art works as a symbol of life, and then established the meaning of her works as a cue, that’s why the exhibition named “The Cicadas’ language & Zen State”. To be one kind of the insects, cicada has its unique pattern of lifecycle: the larva of cicada has to go through a miraculous ecdysis, it will “walk out” of its body, and leaves its outer form alone. The artist was awakened by the continuity and rebirth of its lifecycle, consequently, she took the insect into her life narrative symbol system and changed her art into a fantastic visage. The cicada turned into a life symbol and visual vocabulary of her art, and it’s the signifier, the phan and the code word in the same time, implied the human life metaphorically.
Qionghui Zou keeps putting these symbols into her works with different colors, different structures and different artistic conceptions. Some of the cicadas are hidden in the dark, while the others are obvious in the surface; some of them are concentrated, the others are scattered. The cicadas are just like people in the society, the people’s life condition, their circumstance, their sadness and their destiny are just like the cicadas in the paintings. As a result, the images of cicadas are the very images of the human beings and their lives.
Every individual life communicates with the others of the same kind, they all have their own “language”, included their body language. Although we human beings can not understand what the cicadas talking about, we know they do “talk”, they can communicate with each other, they can have a conversation, they can pay court to their lover, and so on. Every year, people spend the summer at leisure with chirping of cicadas, and the Chinese poets always put the cicadas in their poems: “the forest is more peaceful while cicadas are chirping, the mountain is more secluded while the birds are singing”(by Wang Ji), and when it comes to autumn, the poem showed another views:“the summer on the past is hasten on by the cicadas, the autumn on the new is bring on by the wild goose” (by Bai Juyi), and when it comes to the late autumn, the poem could be “Cicadas chirping plaintive and pressing, when I turned my face to the pavilion in the evening, a sudden downpour stopped a moment ago”(by Liu yong). It is thus clear that the cicada’s world and the human life are combined, people can feel the elapse of time and the transition of season. In consequence, the art of Qionghui Zou brings the audience to the ancient poetic realm, and furthermore, it brings this kind of original art into a new cultural construction by new conception, new schema, and new materials.
The theme of Qionghui Zou’s art is clear, she wants to understand life from the cicada’s life course. But how to express it personally, was the big problem she have to face up to. She could express it in her oil paintings without doubt, but she wanted to find a new way better, so she began to research the new materials. The advanced studies in the material studio of Central Academy of Fine Arts provided the technique and expression method of the materials, and her style of abstract art were also established in that period. In her Cicadas’ Sentiment series, the artist attempted to use the new ways just like collaging, rubbing, polishing or just burning, in order to find a new way according to her interest. She wanted the color of her works to be pure and dignified just like the old bronze ware and the ironware, which used to be rusted. So she made her art works like that, which have an appearance of mottled and wrecked, and the audience can feel the historical sense of the art works. The Cicada’s Language series in 2013 are much lively since the artist absorbed the technique of traditional ink painting and watercolor. She expressed her feelings of the society and life with rich colors and the chance effects, and the using of the meaning of cicadas are more consciously. The two big works of this series expressed the artist’s intension much clearer with modern architectures in the background, which suggested the false prosperity scene of the contemporary life, that the artist kept a watchful eye on our society which is full of problems. So many images of cicadas in the painting were seemed like the stream of people, they lost themselves and their belief just like a group of ghost on tenterhooks. Qionghui Zou collected thousands of cicada sloughs to constitute her installation art works, in order to put the metaphorical meanings to a high-point. The images of cicadas are the images of human beings, the audience can see themselves in it, and they should introspect themselves of the error. The artist is calling back the rationality, the justice, and the truth of the society in her art works.
Qionghui Zou made great efforts in her works in order to achieve the best effect, she did everything to explore the possibilities of the new materials and new techniques, which forms a unique and original art that is different from other artists. She rubbed and polished over and over again, and the works need a lot of patience and artistic talent. For the artist, she didn’t feel suffer from it, on the contrary, she treat it like studying Zen, so she felt peaceful. I can feel the real meaning of Zen in the artist, and in her timeless work. When I paid the first visit to her studio, I was startled by the quantity and the size of her paintings. She created a great amount of works in a short period, and each of them needed so much efforts, so it is difficult for me to imagine the workload of her, and it is naturally for me to admire her enthusiasm for art. Generally speaking, I felt the existence of the Zen State in Qionghui Zou’s studio, and her work is a practice of Zen in art, so I think that is the sublimate from “Cicada’s Language” to the “Zen State”.