ARTS MANAGEMENT MAGAZINE
ARTS & MUSIC | Meditating in the Artworld of Bingyi
by ELIA ZHANG
Bingyi’s creative process is about seeing—to see, in the same paper, the same ink, the vision of what there is again and again. It is to confront the vision in the heart multiple times until it becomes irresistible and you have to paint it down. The genre of ink painting is based on the metaphysics that everything about the world can be expressed in all colors between the deepest dark and the cleanest white. It is the language that reveals not the clothing but the soul of this world.
For Bingyi, her work is not about describing, analyzing, or representing something else—it is about being, and being nature itself. It is said that during the evolution of primates, their survival skill was crucially based upon the ability to visually anticipate the distance between each tree in a forest. Hence vision was the start of the development of our sense perception, and for that reason, vision is our most prominent sense of all back in nature. Is there anything about Bingyi’s painting that she is trying to convey, that is, to restore our most primitive ability to see what there is? “Always, look at life in the face,” Virginia Woolf once said. “The truth does not lie in what you want to see, but in what it is,” said Bertrand Russell in his last interview. Such a natural capacity that was intrinsically linked with our connection to nature has been weakened during our presence in an increasingly artificial world, in our daily navigation of society, politics, our self and others. In such a man-made world we begin to take too many things for granted, and to cultivate the Aristotelian sense of our second nature. As a result we are alienated from who we are in the most natural state, and gradually lose our natural capacity for pity and love as expressed by Rousseau. Meditating in the artworld of Bingyi is to return to the state of nature while recollecting our most primitive ability to see what there is. Big as a wave, small as a flower petal, or something like a pond which surface is being blown upon by the wind and touched by a leaf—no, it is not just the substantial world that Bingyi is trying to see. Beyond the realm of the substantial, there is the realm of Forms, the ideal that comes prior to any materialistic features of the ink and paper. It is from this Form and order that we have such an extension of the materialistic realm that we can touch and see, and the Form is what gives energy, what enlightens its shadows. This Form that Bingyi’s painting strives to capture is by nature, beautiful.