Liu Libin To See a World in a Grain of Sand—— My Understanding of Xu Longsen’s Small-Scale Works

2011-03-24 16:39

By Liu Libin

Some of Xu Longsen’s works are large-scale ones that bring about visual impact; some are small-scale ones that enable us to see a world in a grain of sand. The two types are different, but they do share a lot in common.

Xu Longsen dexterously integrates the heaven and the earth, mountains and waters in his small-scale works. Despite their size, the small-scale works are equally vigorous and vibrant and in no way inferior to their large-scale counterparts.

How does the artist achieve this?

Instead of depicting landscapes, Xu Longsen tries to create a new world with his works. Instead of painting thing as they are, he paints how they come into being. When he paints, he regards himself as a creator, instead of an imitator. It is the artist’s obsession with the chaos state of the universe that motivates him to paints this way. In a sense, he inherits Shi Tao’s one-stroke painting style. His painting follows his ink; his ink follows his brush; his brush follows his hands; his hands follow his heart; his heart follows nature.

Who are the people obsessed with the chaos state of the universe. I think they are the people who transcend average persons’ understanding and observe the world from completely different perspectives. Xu Longsen stops the prediction of his future and leaves each of his works unfinished. I do not know whether we should call this sorrow or joy. But I do know it is a kind of state unique to him.

In addition to these qualities, the artist is also a warrior. In his eyes, China is facing rapid and huge changes. And Chinese painting are confronted with challenges like never before, meanwhile have unprecedented great opportunities. The artist likes to regards himself as a brave warrior, who combats in his large-scale studio and bedroom. The triumphs are marked respectively by his large-scale and small-scale paintings. Paper is his battlefield; brush is his knife; ink is his armor; water is his moat; mentality is his general; intelligence is his assistant general; structure is his strategy.

Li Xiaoshan once said that Xu Longsen is an unusual man who does unusual thing. I think the aforementioned qualities are the basic attributes of him as an unusual person. The unusual thing he does is to revive Chinese landscape painting. In both his large-scale and small-scale paintings, I see a hope, I see a possibility. What we are waiting for is the birth of a hero.