[Aesthetics & Aesthetic Education Research Centre of Beijing University]
The acquaintance of me and Cui Zimo was due to a great Chinese art master: Badashanren. It was during the period of time when I was deeply attracted by Badashanren’s art, Zimo’s research book of Badashanren named《Seeking the Simplicity of Tao》give me big inspirations.
Later on, we became friends and I had more time to appreciate his works. I feel that he is an artist with endless creativities. He is very good at calligraphy, sealcarving and painting. His paintings are delicate in flowers and birds, mountains and rivers, Buddhism statues etc. I remembered that once I met him at an exhibition, I was totally convinced by his molding capabilities in Buddhas paintings as well as a copy of Chinese ancient painting scroll 《Eighty seven immortals》, and I believed that he is an artist who loves the traditions and who arrived a high level in Chinese paintings.
Lately Zimo came to Yan’nan Garden and he showed me his recent works. I was quite astonished at the beginning that if it was not he told me, I would have thought that he was showing me someone else’s works. This new series of abstract Chinese ink paintings are really distinguished in their forms. It was not only because of the artist’s non-stopping exploration spirits, but the works themselves brought me unspeakable enjoyment. I was immersed in his elaborately built art world. I felt gradually closer to his works while listening to his telling me about his new creative thinking solemnly.
First, I perceived that Cui Zimo is attempting to break through the single space expressing module. Generally speaking, all elements in composing the space structure are interpreted by its inherent meanings, one work is an entirety, a life unit. But each new work can be divided into many small works, therefore many different small spaces with different senses showed up in one visual unity. In his words, if you cut out any parts of it, it can be a new sense unit and get a new life. And these new sense units are no more elements to the whole unity, which don’t need to be searched from the whole layout. This kind of demonstration wonderfully coincide with the idea of “Self-sufficiency and complete” in Chinese philosophy. Maybe it’s because of his long time studies of Buddhism especially Zen studies, that the intelligence of Zen has gave him inspirations in his form investigations. In the philosophy of Zen, a flower is a world, a grass is a heaven, and a small flower can be considered as a satisfactory complete world, just as a thorough life universe. Therefore, one is all and all is one. The moon prints its radiance to each mountains and rivers, but everywhere there is only one moon. The thinking of whole and part is not the thinking in the Chinese philosophy in which the intelligence lays on endowing “each existence” a self-meaning. From this sense, I think that Zimo’s exploration has important art value.
Secondly, I considered that Cui Zimo’s new works are pursuing unique rhythm of paintings. Recently, when I was doing the research of Chinese artist Yun Nantian from Qing Dynasty, I found out the essence to understand his paintings of old trees and withered vines, as well as his poems of cold mist and weeds lays on a word “random”. He said “reading his paintings from the random of inks”, and “disorder stones and splashing springs, then endless delights appear in the painting”. I also saw the emphasis of “random” in Zimo’s new works. They are like millions of messy willows, immense isolated rivers, fluffy ends of reed by a wind, pressing fly of crows at dawn. The “random” of Zimo lays stress on a special rhythm. Heavy or light ink, stop or continue gesture, quick or unsmooth speed, structure reflects etc all composed the relationship between forms and the inner context. The sense of rhythm is the basic of shapes as well as the support of inherent rules of resemble. The “random” in paintings, is to break this rhythm, break the persistence of forms, break the pursue of resemble and break general rules. A word “random” is to set up a new principle, to discover orders in disorder. Thus to endow strange forms surprising feelings, as to have autumn in the eyes by spring scenes because of the “random” ideas spread out in the minds.
Thirdly, Cui Zimo was seeking in his new works an origin impulse which had normally been deprived by reasonable world, clear knowledge world, and endless distinguishable world. Lao-tse said: “Great wisdom shall not be divided”. The gloomy, confused, faint and endless world of “Tao” is “Pu”. “Pu” is the round sphere hasn’t been broken by knowledge, and in which all things emerge or perish by themselves. The space is solitude forever. “Pu” is return to the harmony at the beginning, the impulse of original life. Reading these new works of Zimo, I have feelings of confused and faint, I can’t find boundaries or clear indications. Using his words in the paintings: “uncertainty”, “chaos” and “dark matters”. His art world is “non-clear”. “clear” can be described by knowledge, while his “fuzzy” is to break the normal description. Zimo might focus on “presenting”. Obviously, he is not emphasizing on so-called “Vagueness Aesthetics”, he is not fond of ambiguous or overwhelming confusion but care about the inner stream of natural life.
I was moved by his new works, and expressed myself out with these words. Maybe they are not enough precise, but my congratulations and joyful feelings to Cui Zimo is more than sincere and clear.
At Yan’nan Garden in Beijing University, Gengyin lunar spring.