"Garden of Autumn Vapours"
Garden of Autumn Vapours is Liu Dao's first solo exhibition in the art collective’s four year history.
At Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, the Shanghai-based contemporary art group is showing during August 2010, a special presentation of artworks that brings in the lìqiū立秋, the beginning of autumn in the Chinese calendar, to celebrate a nation between two eras, suspended in the warm airs of promise and premonition.
The shifting of seasons provides Earth’s sweetest of senses. A single hint of pollen in a crisp cold wind can invigorate those channels of a soul resigned to the conditioning of winter rather than spring itself, lighting up one’s airways with the foretaste of the world rewashed into yet another new earthly pallet; a splendorous form to come.
Nature’s cosmic breath of life is no better understood nor appreciated than by the Chinese scholar, lost in a bamboo grove. The garden is a natural landscape for some, and a sanctuary of social contemplation for others. But it is a symbol of hope and new beginnings for everyone. The garden is a skeletal world of Taizu stone, providing strength for the weary and offering courage to the weak. From its playful peonies, and lavish plums, lessons have been learned in the art of leisure - truly, the Mother of all philosophies.
The Chinese garden is a sphere. It is a delicate spot of earth from where the greatest Chinese rulers and scholars once sought inspiration, and from whence inspiration was given. Like the Chinese garden, works created and exhibited by Liu Dao in Garden of Autumn Vapours were born first from the tender branches of innocence, peace and tranquility. From the turning of the seasons, spring to summer and autumn to winter, (find yourself) like the Chinese scholar, lost in a garden of restoration.
Garden of Autumn Vapours is an exhibition commemorating these exceptional moments of unprecedented coalesces. In the 21st Century, new technology reinvents our customs before we have a chance to conform to those of the previous year. Eastern and Western societies, that once grew separately like trees, are now flowing into common bodies like rivers into an ocean, and, like the water that generates electricity through the Three Gorges Dam, the shared knowledge that flows through the network of human communication is vast enough to support the inspiration of a generation, passing thoughts and emotions onwards in the form of electric data intended to pollinate and light up human minds like buds on a tree under the technological advancements that belong to everyone.
Through the use of LED lights, Liu Dao inserts their contemporary artistic spirit with the softest simplicity into the body of traditional Chinese arts and the traditional Chinese garden.
Nothing in Chinese artistic history is forgotten in Garden of Autumn Vapours, but among the teak frames and translucent rice paper, the paper cuts of wild landscapes and images of fishermen and agrarian life, China’s newest generation is always present in forms of blinking, majestic butterflies fluttering fantastically between stalks of bamboo, radiating fish swaying ponderously along the perimeters of bonsai trees, and glinting sparrows darting across the sun. The network of electronic life inside each frame is homage to China’s cultural interconnectivity, and a replica of roots, veins and neurons found in nature and human life.
Liu Dao’s artworks in Garden of Autumn Vapours unite the modern to the traditional, bringing into light the timeless tale of historical truth. The sparkling appearance of the LEDs is likened to dew in the grass in winter, or drops of rain resting on the roofs of leaves in the vespertine light of spring. Some of their animated images shift like the patchwork of sunlight across shadows beneath a leafy grove in the sweltering summer, and other figures twinkle indistinctly through rice paper like figures in an autumn mist.
Nature is an artist ever-wanting to evade our boredom. In the garden, Nature adds and subtracts in an endless cycle of the reincarnation of Perfectionism. Forming and dissipating like clouds, cherry blossoms inflate and burst in the softest little explosions all around the world, swift and silent, gone in a matter of weeks and the artist moves on before one can be satiated. In these recent years, this ceaseless artist points China into focus, indefatigably reworking old techniques and turning sketches and layouts into realities.
Like a citizen, one LED on its own is meaningless and formless, a worthless puncture in a forgettable blackness. Only when an LED is connected to a larger framework does it deserve the moniker of pixel, acquiring a context and therefore a purpose of color and position. The more LEDs connect to it, the more crucial the LED becomes to upholding the overall complexity of the image. Like a citizen in a nation shifting in unison to display the brightness of its new position in the world, the LED finds that the power of community and relation to the communal cause gives a singular light its place and relevance in life. The LED works of Liu Dao are miniature representations of the energy flowing from person to person across the cities and provinces of China, mesmerizing global residents of all ages, enthusiastic with a childlike anticipation to witness the future.