Jewels of Impermanence 2020-
Through a reconfiguration of formal languages drawn from an array of visual and literary sources in history, Mengyun Han’s paintings reflect a form of translation, between text and image, the depicted and the imagined, the self and the cosmos, the mundane and the spiritual, suffering and emancipation. The pandemic prompted her to look at the meaning of life and death, the eternal themes that characterize her painting series Jewels of Impermanence. This body of work situates itself on the convergence of Buddhist reflection on impermanence and the 17th century Vanitas paintings in the Netherlands, probing the fragility of life and our existential emptiness.
Employing traditional Indian woodblocks for textile-making on to her can- vas, Han has turned this craft into a painterly gesture by embracing material incompatibility. Her interest in Islamic illustrated manuscript is reflected in the formal dialogue between the ornamented frame and the subject within. The diptych composition is reminiscent of the book form, inviting one to read an image and see a word. Han’s eclectic vocabulary is rooted in the hybridity of her cultural experience and interest in the lineage of art-making in the history beyond borders. Han regards painting in the same way Mallarmé envisions the book, where the world exists and ends.
Jewels of Impermanence
In the silent altar of the mind,
The soul awakens to whisper words of truth. That’s the gift from disasters
--A garland of quietude.
There is neither past nor future
In the coming days of menace.
The present is forever present,
That is also my present.
May the song of birds break the dawn,
May fear manifest itself as mere illusion.
The siege of clouds fails to capture
The night-dwelling moon, whose mission
Is to reveal the veractiy of light and compassion. My mind becomes clear and still,
Like a pond holding moonlight,
Like a mirror polished in the holy river.
The ancient Persians wear poetry like jewelery, I take impermanence for treasury,
Because I see the patina of death
Gleaming on the surface of life.
2020, in London