Painting has the power to create a parallel world, like a promise that everyone can look forward to. Yet that world appears forever a dream. While art is certainly beyond reality, it is not merely a product of imagination – it is a reflection from the heart.
The unexplainable game between art and reality dates back to the very beginning of humanity, like an inescapable maze to ordinary men like ourselves.
After two years, it is a pleasant surprise to see Bo Yun’s new works.
I know him as a man of superb perception. The characteristics of his abstract oil paintings integrate his appreciation of landscape of the Song and Yuan dynasties, as well as his understanding of humanism of the Western art scene. (Figure 22.214.171.124)
1.<<辉煌的时代>> 160X70X(3) 2005
2.秋天的阳光 The Autumn Sunshine160X220 2005
3.雾锁江南 Fog Over Southern China160X70X(3) 2006
4.我是光的使者 Messenger Of Light 100X120 2006
We often hear the comment that abstract paintings are impossible to understand. Indeed, abstract paintings are not re-creations of tangible objects. Yet they re-create the spirit behind the objects, which also represent the feelings they inspire. The abstract re-creation is also based on an image, yet not a concrete image, as for concrete images only project a specific kind of feeling. The abstract attempts to convey a broader and more metaphysical collection of feelings. To better put it, the abstract language only resonates with one’s inner whisper during a deep meditation. Yes, the abstract is for the cultured and sophisticated souls who often choose to self-reflect. Yet not all abstract paintings are noteworthy. Like everything else, there is a mingling of good and bad in the space of the abstract.
I have seen a few types of abstract oil paintings. First, the Accidental Effect. There exist many works of nature beyond the bar of artistic beauty, such as water stains on a white wall and grains of rock and wood. Hence, there come groups of abstract painters who splash paint onto plain canvas, let it flow or apply recklessly heavy brushstrokes, and then pick the most painting-like ones. This technique dates back to Pollock and there are plenty followers around. Paintings of this type look decent, and are good for decoration, but anyone can copy them. More importantly, they often lack substance and the ability to touch souls. Second, the Pattern. This is a kind of cold abstract originated from the West, exemplified by Mondrian as a form of rational art, usually consisting of meticulous patterns, plain, repetitive, and monotonous. I was absolutely astounded when an America gallery owner told me she was sometimes moved to tears staring at such paintings. Third and last, the lyrical, a form of abstract more readily acceptable to the Chinese audience. Zhao Wuji and Zhu Dequn belong to this group. Instead of being figureless, this kind of abstract paintings use brushworks and light tones to create artistic conceptions that are no less concrete than traditional painting techniques. In other words, it enriches the ways of artistic expression, without disrupting the audience’s original concept of art. This kind of paintings stir the pond of emotion of their viewers, in very much the same way that traditional paintings do, only with the potential to bring the thoughts of the viewers further.
I believe Bo Yun is an extraordinary representative in last kind of abstract paintings. Unlike the distinguished older generation lyrical abstract artists Zhao Wuji and Zhu Dequn, Bo Yun’s works incorporate many characteristics of the ink painting, including its brushstrokes, rich varieties of the ink color, smart use of blank space, and non-focus perspective. This unique technique and perspective only comes from an artist from the East.
Strictly speaking, Bo Yun’s works are not that abstract. Among the dense ink, you can see ranges of mountains, gale blowing over grasslands, landscape after a drizzle, or rising sun shining on land covered with thick snow, just like portrayals of nature. As far as I am concerned, he has gone beyond the line separating the concrete and the abstract. They make no difference to him anymore, instead what he sees is the everlasting essence stripped out of a forever changing reality. That is a world beyond what one sees with his own eyes – a world only visible to the heart.
At the beginning of 2014, Bo Yun his revisited Chinese Ink by painting ink landscapes (Figure 126.96.36.199).
5.秋风 145x37 2014
Wind In Autumn
6.秋风秋雨图 137x33 2014
Wind And Rain In Autumn
Twilight Rain Over West Hill
At Friend’s Cottage In Autumn
These new ink landscapes are different from his ink paintings during the “Star Exhibition” period (Figure 188.8.131.52).
9.泊50x50 1979 第一届星星美展
10.渔村 50x50 1979第一届星星美展
Fishing Village 1979 First Star Exhibition
Watery Land 1979 First Star Exhibition
12.啊 长城50x63 1979第一届星星美展
Ah! The Great Wall 1979 First Star Exhibition
He used traditional vertical scroll of dense ink, with distant objects as black mountains, sky just clearing up, the sun at twilight, or thick clouds. Close-ups are depicted with shades of bamboo and boats on waves. In contrast with his ink paintings from 30 years ago, while the sentiment remains the same, the objects and landscapes are now broader and deeper.
Then he began to put on canvas the world that he has been tirelessly building in his mind for decades, using only black and white. These paintings are for no one, catering to no one, and constrained by no one, but only a pure reflection of the world in his dream. For the past year, I only quietly admired the photos he sent to me from time to time, without offering any feedback, so as not to impose my thoughts on his creation.
Now, his world presents itself in front me, in only black and white. It feels like walking through one powerful scene after another - surging tides by the ocean, a chilling storm, dark clouds overcastting the sky, and the sun emerging from a light rain. These scenes are deeply moving, profound, and peaceful, reminding me of a symphony from the distant horizon.
Most importantly, while keeping the same sentiment and artistic conception in both ink and oil spaces, over the past few decades he never stops exploring new languages to express his art. His paintings have always exhibited his peaceful but determined struggle versus fate, resonating with the mysteriously sacred force inside every one of us, encouraging us to stay positive and march forward.
Everyone artist’s work speaks about the author like a biography – paintings do not lie.
It is not necessary for me to write about the originality and value of Bo Yun’s art. They are crystal clear to the right beholders.
Paintings are for the pleasure of people who understand and appreciate. Any more words will be redundant.
Arthor Lee (诗人，艺术评论家）
Arthor Lee (Poet, Art Critic)