The 9th of May Nordica reopened its door after the long hibernation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We opened with a festive exhibition of renowned Yunnan artist Tao Fa. Here you can see pictures of the opening and Tao Fa’s art, read his own reflections on his art – enjoy!
We will make the paintings shed light and glory again. We will reshape our art language, so that we could have dialogue with reality directly through painting. We want to abandon falsehood, let truth and beauty return to life again!
Some of the artist friends around me used to tell me that they could not understand what I was painting. They felt like I was making doodles, and not very refined ones either. I didn’t say much about it at the time. Later, after we got along for years, he said he understood, he said that he felt I was drawing something big, and he said that is not something easy!
Many people think that my paintings have an improvisational feeling. I feel that there is no improvisation. I have my own system of painting, and in it everything is interrelated. The development of things is interrelated, for example, after growing for a period of time, a melon tree can bear fruit. It just spontaneously grows a melon right there, but it is still the fruit from the same tree! I don’t want to plan for when it should bear fruit, but when the time is right it will come naturally. This process is decided from the roots, and when the tree has grown to the point where it is time to grow a new melon, it will also come naturally. I don’t think it is impromptu or accidental just because the creation is instantaneous. What people don’t see is the long process of preparations, all the effort of collecting energy and nutrition, that leads up to growing the melon. So, I don’t think there is anything improvised about the melon, but it is a necessity. When there is enough energy it will grow how it will, so we shouldn’t be talking about whether or not I rely upon it, but the natural course and necessity of it after taking root in mother earth.
Since I am not painting objects, I paint space. Without space there is no existence, and without existence there is no sense of freedom within existing! So, what I paint is space, not objects. Here in the east, it is called ”xieyi” (freehand brushwork in traditional Chinese painting), in the west it is just painting space! Space is the most important thing. The space I am talking about is not the natural space you can see with your eyes, but the elasticity of the existence and cognition of life itself. This is what makes us human, and enables us to establish a scale for ourselves and everything else!
The standard comes from the artists certainty and grasp of truth. If you know the truth, you will inevitably know with confidence when to take the brush from the canvas, without the slightest hesitation! The opposite proves that you don’t know it! An artistic language comes from just that confidence, and in contrast if you don’t have an artistic language that proves you haven’t grasped the confidence and power of truth! It also proves that you don’t know how to be yourself! The greatness of the great masters lies in the language, the language is what can bear the weight of the everything of everything! The language proves everything, and at the same time it verifies characteristics and human nature of the artist as a person! Confidence in a unique and strong individual language is proof of having a strong and powerful life and cognition, that is sound and coherent with the truth. Of course, the necessary foundation for these are a natural gift and an enormous passion for art, long term concentration and devotion, and even a spirit of self-sacrifice and not sparing anything in the pursuit of perfecting ones art. Some historic examples of this are Zhang Zhi, Wang Xizhi, Zhang Xu, Picasso, Rothko, to name a few!
Supernatural and super-sensation are my perception of the relationship between reality and eternal existence in the limitation of everyday life! To me, ”super-” means the metaphysical! Sometimes it is both real and unreal. When I get this feeling my paintings often come out abstract or half-abstract! Something completely abstract is trying to express something in existence itself. I personally like Laozi’s saying of ”The Tao that can be told of, is not the absolute Tao”. In my understanding, existence is everywhere, so the style of everything is also my style, and this is what I have been seeking all along! So I observe reality. Mankind has lost its sense of existence, and so it has lost the home of the soul. That is the reason we live scared, busy and miserable lives! The crazy lives of people thinking we are infallible! We lost the ability to master our own lives, and that is the root of all mankind’s suffering and tragedy! When it comes to drinking alcohol, that is something that I can have or be without, it is just a little better if there is alcohol… to me it is the bridge between reality and dream, and before alcohol was the merely a gateway between my reality and the eternal existence… now I don’t need it to pass between the two unhindered, it is just that good wine is really nice! Wine is a good thing, it is the quintessence of the natural and an embodiment of Tao! But wine is absolutely not an excuse for the weak, nor is it a helping force for the strong. My ego and power come from my self-value and self-identification. My passion comes from my respect for the senses, my strong longing and obsession with love, life and human ecstasy, and my love for heaven and earth. I meditate in the sunrise and sunset. I cling to the forest and birds. I am in awe of the powerful and ever repeating four seasons, and I put my faith in deities. All of these things make me ecstatic, they make me cry, they make my heart race and shake my soul! All of these make up the richness, fullness and lustre of my life! This is the real me!
There is no boundary between reality and nature. It is only humanity’s self- imprisonment that give rise to this boundary! Otherwise mankind could live naturally in reality. Our education and societal activities do not respect the natural, so we are only living unnatural lives! Unnatural is unhappy, unnatural is unauthentic, it is a tragedy without light or warmth. Binding yourself up can only give rise to feelings of self- inferiority and self-fear, it will bind people! But when the whole world of society is like this, we are living unnatural lives that are pitiful and miserable, it is an insignificant and shameful existence! If this environment doesn’t improve, the coming generations will also live these kinds of realistic lives. We cannot say anything about the future, thenatural is the only future. The natural is civilization. Without the natural, there is no creation, there is no beauty, and there is no genuine human life!
Reality stimulates my impulse and passion for art creation, so creating art is my way of responding to life and ultimately leading life! I will not and do not want to escape from life, this is the proof that I exist! So I will always face the existence of human life and my own existence head on, and continue to create!
– Tao Fa
Below is a little selection of Tao Fa’s works – all to be seen at TCG Nordica until the 9th of July.