MA Degree Show 2020:  Moss and a Hint of Astringency

Central Saint Martins  Online Graduate Showcase 

In my recent artwork called The Bed Becomes Moss-covered Overnight, I used a special material - moss. It is a kind of familiar but marginalised plant which creates a hint of a fragile sense of discomfort. It forms a unique spiritual tension —a kind of both fortitude and fragile temperament. I want to reevaluate something that has been identified as worthless and superfluous. The moss often appears in Chinese literature and poetry as a metaphor, to describe a place or something that has been forgotten. Sometimes I feel my body has been covered with moss. I feel a sense of self-referencing from my own work. Each artwork is a wound for exploring and analysing myself. I would like to see a process of tarnishing idealism and the toppling of emotional ivory towers because at that moment, it is both cruel and beautiful. Each of my painting or sculpture is creating a microcosmic space for settling myself; however it is not a peaceful inner realm. I choose to face some deep subconscious expressions, there is no established mode.

The Secluded Bed Become Moss-covered Overnight


Iron bed, mattress, moss, silk, linen, rice paper, rock with lacquer, wood with lacquer, silkworm cocoon.
May 2020

Details of The Secluded Bed Become Moss-covered Overnight :

I am interested in Eastern mysterious aesthetic and the ‘irrational’ dimensions of social life under the modernization process. I want to explore the clash between mysticism and modernity, reason and intuition in the current society to understand how it leads to a kind of aesthetic of contradictions as a continuous dynamic status. This binary tension shared similarities with Nietzsche’s concept - the duality of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. My practice is exploring the dialogue between eastern aesthetics and western philosophy, as a combination of Nietzsche’s Dionysian pessimism and Zen Buddhist awareness of contingency and impermanence.

Rock Garden
Mineral pigment, glue, black ink, silk, silver foil on paper, mounted on board
April 2020

My research on Nietzsche’s Dionysian pessimism allowed me to notice the importance of the paradox and unconscious dissonance during creativity. I want my work to embrace the natural chaos and intuition, and to find a continuous dynamic status rather than keeping a stationary status. The dynamic status does not mean the physical movement, but a flowing atmosphere and visual tension expressed by the artwork. I started to use more ink pigments and rice paper for my new work. The language of ink painting itself involved many unrealistic expressions. Due to the characteristics of rice paper and Chinese brush, it is not easy to control every brushstroke and the composition of the image. There are many unexpected effects and interesting blurred smudges, which offer many unknown possibilities of painting. This leads to a nonchalant spontaneity, which escapes perfection and definition.

The ripple
Mineral pigment, glue, black ink, silk, silver foil on paper, mounted on boar
March 2020

My artwork is trying to respect the beauty of imperfection, such as the damage of the paper, the discolouration of the ink, the weathering effect and the broken stroke. It is a philosophy based on the concept of the indefinite intuition and the aesthetics of ‘non-distinction’, especially the non-distinction of right and wrong, beauty and ugliness. I want to introduce a sense of astringent to my work, just like creating flaws in ‘white jade’ and highlighting the breakage. This notion is coined by Kuki Shuzo in his books ‘The Structure of Iki’: “The astringent signifies a non-active other-dependence”. As the opposite of sweet, it prevents the picture from being too mature and meticulous. It is a way to adjust the aesthetic fatigue from over-developed technique and decadence ‘fruit’. The sense of astringent is also a sense of restraint, a passion with distance. I am interested in making my art staying in the last one second before completion, which means being an unfinished status, but infinitely approaching to being complete. It allows the picture to maintain a sense of tension and aesthetic excitement. Compare with the complete and systematic things, I prefer the fragmented thoughts. The art in the dirty form with a sense of roughness, also produces a delayed satisfaction, which reaches a higher state of consciousness.

The Flow
Mineral pigment, glue, colored pencil, silver foil on paper and silk, mounted on board
Feb 2020

The Flaw
Mineral pigment, glue, black ink, mother of pearl, silver foil on paper, mounted on board
Feb 2020

I would like to combine western expressions and eastern innerness. I am testing on the texture of black materials, from black silk to rock. Finally, I found a beautiful material, Asian traditional lacquer. It is a natural material from the lacquer tree. The colour of black lacquer is not a dull black, it contains reflective effects like a mirror. Making lacquer pieces is time-consuming due to it takes a long time to spend on sanding and polish. It is a practice for patience and understanding the processes of abrasion that occurs on the surface. People's forgetting of old things is a kind of obliteration. Marcel Duchamp mentioned the act of sanding will create the ‘inframince’. It can be translated extremely thin or sub-thin and can specify a difference or an imperceptible gap, sometimes only in the imagination between two phenomena. I am trying to capture subtle beauty, like the heat of a seat which has just been left.

Infra-mince Series I
Black lacquer on board, gold powder, mother of pearl
Feb 2020

Infra-mince Series II
Black and red lacquer on board, gold powder, mother of pearl
March 2020