“Ba Fon” Lou Nick’s solo exhibition
Artist: Lou Nick(李爻, Li Yao, Beijing)
Curator: Luo Fei
Art Critic: He Libin
Opening Time: 20:00, Sat, 8th of Oct, 2011
Exhibition Duration: 8th of Oct–4th of Nov, 2011(Sunday close)
Address: TCG Nordica Gallery, Chuangku(LOFT), Xibalu 101, Kunming
Web site: www.tcgnordica.com
Lou Nick’s CV and works: http://en.tcgnordica.com/2011/liyao/
“The Leopards’ Chamber” – an Introduction to the Solo Exhibition of Lou Nick (Li Yao)
By Luo Fei
Ming Dynasty in the peak time in China’s history when the feudal emperors like to keep and raise animals, there were various animals housing facilities built to the capital city, such as Tiger City, Elephant Room, Leopard Chamber, Pigeon House, Deer Farm, and Eagle Room etc. The Zhengde Emperor was particularly found of raising leopard as well as other animals. The “Ba Fon” (豹房 literally “The Leopards’ Chamber”) was set by Zhu Houzhao, the Zhengde Emperor, to house and feed leopards and to be used as a summer resort. It is generally believed that the Leopards’ Chamber was served as a location to keep animals, while those who have different opinions argue that there were no leopards in the Chamber, and it was but an administrative organ. An article titled “A New Discussion on the Leopard Chamber without Leopards” was published on the Beijing Cultural Relics News in March 1994, stating that the Leopards’ Chamber, Bao Fang in Chinese, was the transliteration of Arabic for “Ba-Fen”, which might be loosely translated as “a research center of academic artistry”.
The Leopards’ Chamber was, in a sense, a back garden of Zhengde Emperor’s private world used to indulge himself. There are people who think that was a way of escaping from his identity and responsibilities as an emperor, and rebelling against the expectation of the imperial household. Five hundred years later, Lou Nick(李爻), a Shandong farmer, found an echo in such a negative example of royal family education. Or shall we say, he found an excuse for the lineage of his Western avant-garde element. As to whether it is an excuse, coincidence, or just play on the theme of it, Lou Nick has come to realized that he, after all, is not the most withdrawn artist in human history, there had already been embarrassing predecessor like Emperor Zhu Houzhao.
Born in 1978, Lou Nick has never had any training from artistic institutions. A self-taught man, he is a now poet and artist. He has had his own opinions when he was asked to fulfill the meaning of life for the family since he was very young. He has immersed himself in his own world. With the innate wit and rebellion, he has created his own distinct style in art, poetry and music and has never tired of creating those works that are unusual, absurd, unbridled, sorrowful and pioneering. He believes all of the works during his rebellious years in his life belong to that of the Leopards’ Chamber, as a result of indulgence, withdrawn and narcissism. And this exhibition, to some extent, is to put an end to that phase of his life. After this, there will be a brand new one.
This exhibition will feature Lou Nick’s 7 “Burin Flow” stone carvings, one bronze sculpture, 2 video works, one audio work, 30 performance art photographs, as well as some poetry. From these different types of works to be put on display, we can see Lou Nick is an artist with great passion for and extensive experience of artistic creation and the mastery of crossover.
The opening reception of The Leopards’ Chamber Exhibition will be held on October 8, 2011, 8:00 p.m. You are welcome to join us to have a face to face communication with the artist. Thank you!
“Life of Sahā”*
By Lou Nick (Li Yao)
Many years ago, one of my forever grateful cutouts referrer suppliers told me that all of the music listener who began with heavy metals would inevitably move toward either one of the two finally, Classical or Jazz. For the Classical Music Symphonies, I have forgotten the boring Beethoven along the way and done with it at old Bach right before the coming of my daughter. While for Jazz, the left ones are Miles Davis, the Prince of Darkness, whom I can not forsake, and Nina Simone, the most beloved Mother of Jazz for those who are much restrained yet with his or her ambitions deeply buried inside them. I want look for another path, in which I am now immersed in, from the sound of impeccable benevolence, one is to combination of sound sampling and the field of micro-electronic, i.e. computing sound, and natural sampling, the other to be able to experience the ancient Indian music like the religious tune from the Tuvan music often. This has to do with the unnoticed stone carving method that has been redeeming my artistic creation, which I named as “Burin Flow”. In my work, sounds have always been monotonous and ever-lasting, and I have become satisfied with the way of understanding the world like that of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra. In this world, the sound and repetitive motion are ruminating ceaselessly: glass is glass, stone is stone, and the world is the world. I have constantly experienced joy in this sound, from ecstasy to smile to long-lasting joy.
The unfortunateness of the Age of Semblance Dharma has made us incapable of feeling the breath of the ancient cultures from the visual religious works that exist in reality. With this misfortune, I have been left utterly perplexed as to how to integrate the destruction that the Indian Gandhāra style, which was greatly impacted by ancient Greek, had done to the ancient Chinese sculpture after the Western Han Dynasty. A mixed love-hate emotion towards history has, for a long period time, kept me from maintaining a peace that could be absent of complaining or blaming. The Buddha statues in various museums have denied me the right of exploring for an intimate friend. The level to which their artistic creation could be able to achieve is a world away from the Dharma. For this reason, I have no choice but to look for an identity from the primitive text and music that I deem as right, one that come closest to my belief, and one that I can relate to by blood. My track down of such a kind has made me more and more withdrawn, while my works have become the only channel that I can get connected with what I believe. This is a way of verification as to how we communicate, as well as a kind of Sādhanā, i.e. a self spiritual practice.
True religious music lies not in the chanting that exists in the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet, though it’s easy for one to experience the power of faith when hearing the Brahma Chants in Tibetan Buddhism, except for the fact that the faith is not really the faith per se. There are sufficient deterrence and compassion, yet without enough ordinariness. Fortunately, some micro-electronic music such as that of Ryoji Ikeda’s has manifested well the characteristics of ordinariness. There are times that the common would be better received than the deterrence, which is the fundamental teaching of Pure Land Buddhism. The human nature that we often brag about can easily lead the personality to dissociation. The Western democratic institution of nearly five centuries has not nurtured less abnormal personalities than the split personalities that have been brought into being here. What an institution could present is only a possibility. Human beings of each age are nothing but periodic guinea pigs of that time. Human society’s quest for so-called truth has never been progressive, and human nature will never get changed as time goes by. On this issue, any ethnographic classification is but a sophistry of a Nazi. Africa has only become this much bloodier in the mixer of interests of all parties within the context of modern times, and the power of primitive spirit within her music is indeed the heavenly drum of our day. Why it is only among the people who have experienced the mutation from slave society to modern society could the strong notes and heartshaking artistic works be preserved. Let’s do not forget it was the African wood carving that gave birth to modern Western visual arts in Paris not too long ago.
Throughout the ancient Chinese arts, it was the visual art in the Qing Dynasty that was both most descending and nondescript. The taste of the ancient Greeks and that of pompous bigwigs of all generations for sculpture have failed to keep up with the native loftiness presented in picture scrolls of the literati during the times of Taoist ideological ruling, thus have gradually fallen into some sort of trifling “tricks”. Numerous stonemasons who had been chiseling on the cliff only took the making of statues as a job to earn bread for their families, apart from viewing the labor as a self-cultivation itself. The one thing they had in common was that none of their names were left. Reputation is sometimes beyond reach, and so insignificant. Together with Zizhi Tongjian (Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government), the Zōngjìng lù (Records of the Source Mirror) compiled by Master Yǒngmíng Yánshòu in early Song Dynasty have been regarded as two of the most significant works in the scholastic Song Dynasty, in it the Master said “we are to seek for live in death, and to find taste in vapidity”. For the inevitable coming death and the absolute boring life, the taste I created is to find a path that could be more closer to faith itself, and if along the way I am fortunately enough to find a intimate friend who can calmly face the stupefied departure of an old friend, I will surly gain something.
* Sahā(娑婆): The secular world; this world that we live. The corrupt world. The world in which Śākyamuni teaches.
Years of Chaotic – Lou Nick’s world
By He LiBin
It’s 2005 that I saw Lou Nick’s (Li Yao) works for the first time. At that time, for the “Jianghu” series experimental art exhibition we held in Yunnan, he come to Kunming from Shangdong by taking a train by himself for three days and three nights. Never met before, yet we were drawn together by the passion and dream. Fate of such a kind is quite in line with the ideas of “Jianghu”, having fun, going wild, and being a big family. The paintings of Lou Nick are crazy as well as absurd, like the world penned by Chaim Soutine at the first sight. Nevertheless, there are the simpleness and peacefulness of Oriental aesthetics to them if we are to take a closer look. Compared to the paintings, his sculptures seem to be more clumsy and primitive. Stones are in the process of transforming into creatures in chaotic surroundings, which presents a visual experience that overturns our conventional ways of understanding sculptures. Surfacing and modeling have always been the core elements in the aesthetic system of Western sculpture. They are still the most essential elements in those abstract sculptures after the Modernism, just that they are presented in other languages. In China’s traditional sculpture systems, modeling has always accompanied by concrete images. There are some basic principles of concrete modeling to be followed, from statues in the temple to reliefs in the cave or on the rock, orderly and naturally. The differences only lie in the partial adjustment or exaggeration done by individual craftsmen. Over the past hundreds some years, there have always been patterns to be observed, no matter how much time has gone by. Looking at Lou Nick’s works, I cannot see they have much connection with either the East or West modeling systems. They are but a pile of stone in a formless chaos of polarized relationships of beauty and ugliness, concrete and abstract, signifier and signified, evoking an uncomfortable feeling inside of the viewers, yet could not help but causing one to repeatedly look at them attentively.
Lou Nick has never been to an art school, nor has he learned from any master of folk arts. Perhaps from his perspective and experience, the stone is only a material, a mean that more suitable to express himself, it carries few significance as to whether any sculpture has come of it, or there were any elements of signified in it. He just enjoys the dialog with stone, attempting to understand thoroughly of himself through the stone. Bodhidharma, a patriarch of Zen Buddhism, achieved his enlightenment by facing a stone wall for ten years. I believe the facing and handling of the rock is also the process of Lou Nick’s enlightenment. Then I understood how toilsome and lengthy must the process be for Lou Nick to strike and chisel on the rocks. He has been trying to filter unwanted desires out his mind and body with prolonged and demanding physical labor in order to find for the flesh and soul a Pure Land of clear and bright.
The stones, being chiseled by Lou Nick, resemble themselves either as Buddha or Māra, as human or animals. It’s always in the state of finishing, in the process of illusory transformation. Marks of primitive chiseling and forms of vaguely shaping intertwine in time and light, with birth and nirvāṇa be part only in the moment. I believe there is a predestination for every life and Lou Nick is predestined to be connected with Buddhism. And he converted to Buddhism at the end of 2008. To face the stone again, he must have more new understanding for it! Buddha Dharma is boundless and profound. There are those who are enlightened to behold their own true nature, while other led astray and off the track. Let’s wish Lou Nick come to fathom the mystery of life after his prolonged conversation with the rocks, then his stones will surely reveal everything of the cosmos and that is the time when Lou Nick should put down the stones.
2011.9.1 from Yunyiyuan in Kunming