The Thinker, Cai Zhenyu, The Story of the “Competition Between Two Painters” and Perennial Philosophy: some thoughts on “The Pavilion of Three Mirrors, 2022, Issue 73
Pro Helvetia, The Dwelling Place of the Other in Me: Han Mengyun, Dorota Gawęda + Eglė Kulbokaitė, Power Station of Art, Shanghai
by Rubén Pose
Emptiness, we said in the previous issue of Dang Dai, was rejected by Europeans for centuries. In Western painting tradition, as Mengyun Han noted, it was impossible, as it is understood that a painting is a canvas completely covered in oil. By contrast, the Chinese tradition assigns an important place to the not-painted, to the empty spaces. Wandering Mind is born at the junction of these two concepts. Taoist´s aesthetic tensions, contrasts and movements of calligraphy, are expressed in oil on canvas, foreign materials, at least originally, for Chinese painting, which typically uses only rice paper and black ink.
The idea that the white is the white of paper, characteristic of Chinese tradition, is, then, in tension with the way white is used in Western paintings. Between these two alternatives, Mengyun have stretched the limits of materials and gives them new expressions: white, in its different possibilities, including that of the canvas unpainted, are examples of this challenge to go beyond what oil used to. In contrast with blacks, principles of traditional Chinese painting can be observed; Wandering Mind signifies by means of the dialectic of light and dark, of emptiness and fullness, of yin and yang.
The Wandering Mind series expresses this dialectic in multiple dimensions. American abstract painting created by a Chinese artist or modern Taoist painting which uses western materials? Identity and otherness are joined in these works. That which is represented only can be conceived by virtue of the unsaid. Thus, the abstract character of the paintings of Wandering Mind communicates with the possibility of concrete figuration and landscapes, trees, signs and traces that the observer might suspect. But these associations are not an end but signs that suggest us something.
In line with other aspects of the series, the title suggests a tension regarding the paintings: a scattered mind, wandering, yet thought-provoking, and that, eventually, will allow us a direct, intuitive, holistic understanding of reality. A wandering mind that knows.
These paintings remind of what is beyond us, which is not possible to represent. Wandering Mind can be understood, then, like a door, an invitation to lean out at what we do not know or even suspect.
Mengyun Han was born in Wuhan, China, just over twenty years ago. Her biography is marked by the encounter between East and West: she lived some years in the US, where she received artistic training, then in China, and now in Japan, where she studies Sanskrit and Indian culture. She has exhibited in numerous salons of China and the US and has been awarded several times. This young painter manages to amalgamate Western aesthetic traditions, especially in the form of abstract art, and the tradition of Taoist philosophy and art of China; a notable example is Wandering Mind.
Rubén Pose was educated in Argentina (University of Buenos Aires) and Spain (National Research Council). He holds a Master in Hispanic Studies (2008, Madrid) and a degree in Literature and Linguistics (2005, Buenos Aires). As a Lecturer of Diachronic Linguistics at the University of Buenos Aires (2003-2016), he carried out research in the areas of Textual Criticism, Historical Linguistics, Applied Linguisitics, Literature and Arts.
Dangdai, Rubén Pose, Manchas Taoístas