Tai Xiangzhou uses ink paintings to create ‘immortal fantasy’

2021-02-23 03:04     Comment:0

Prisca Tang

        Mainland artist Tai Xiangzhou told The Macau Post Daily last week the aim of his ink painting exhibition was to create an “immortal fantasy” for the audience.

Tai made the remarks at his exhibition at the Grand Suites at the Four Seasons Hotel Macao in Cotai last week during an interview with The Macau Post Daily.

Tai said that the Chinese title of his exhibition “Ying”means good fortune, adding that according to Chinese myth “Ying Island” is a fantasyland where the immortals live. He also said he hoped that the title would bless the visitors to his exhibition with the wealth from above. He pointed out that the myth behind the title also inspired the idea for the exhibition’s English name – “Abode of Immortals”.

Tai also said he hoped that through his artwork he could demonstrate people’s desire to have an immortal spirit.

Tai said that the word “Ying” in Chinese can be written differently, pointing out that he purposely chose this way of writing it because the “yang” in the middle resembles the symbol for the national currency, the “yuan”.

Merging the traditional & contemporary

T.S. Elliot once said in an essay that “this historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes [an artist] traditional.” When Tai was asked how he was striving to maintain a balance between being historical, traditional, timeless and temporal, he said that in order to be all that, one first needed to hone one’s basic traditional skills.

Tai said that Song Dynasty ink painting was the “most traditional” and “most mature” ink painting. He said that knowing how to paint like the Song Dynasty’s ink painting was a basic skill, adding that while practising the basics one would be able to find one’s own style.

Tai also said the Song Dynasty’s historical paintings inspired him to think about cosmology and astrology, and when the two ideas merged they became a product of traditional, contemporary and timeless artwork.

Tai pointed out that sometimes just being traditional could only draw people’s attention in the short term, but what could really draw a museum’s attention would be artworks that used traditional techniques to express one’s unique style in a contemporary way.

Tai said that the exhibition displays different phases of his life. He pointed out that during a certain phase of his life he was focusing on “historical review” and worked on a lot of Song Dynasty-style ink paintings. He then became intrigued by different forms of rocks that he saw. He said his artworks’ rock collection was mainly inspired by what he saw in real life. He added that he also has a collection that was inspired by cosmology and fantasy. He underlined that the latter is a manifestation of the merging of traditional and contemporary techniques.

Inspiration comes unexpectedly

When asked where he usually draws his inspiration from, Tai giggled and said that inspirations come unexpectedly. He noted that he has been showcasing his work in the United States for 10 years, adding that one time he was strolling down the streets in New York when he saw a shop’s display of rocks, and he was fascinated by what he saw.

“I did not know what kind of rocks they were but I was attracted by their beauty,” Tai said. He added that later he realised that the rocks were comets that had fallen from the sky. He said that was the beginning of his love of rocks.

According to Tai, he also has a strong background in Chinese calligraphy. He said that when he was little his father would send him to a teacher for calligraphy classes, and he was very patient as a child. He pointed out that his childhood and younger experiences developed his interest in ink paintings and later he furthered his studies at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, Tsing Hua University in Beijing.

Tai’s exhibition runs until March 14 and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Grand Atelier, Level 6, Grand Suites at Four Seasons Hotel Macao in Cotai. Admission is free.

Mainland ink painting artist Tai Xiangzhou poses in front of his work “Celestial Chaos – Enchanted Landscapes No. 2” last week at his exhibition entitled “Abode of Immortals” at Grand Atelier, Level 6, Grand Suites at Four Seasons Hotel Macao in Cotai.

Photos: Prisca Tang, Camy Tam

Click refresh authentication code