A Window to Let the Air In: Reading Ji Dachun
Collecting art is a very important part of my life, because most of my time is dedicated to work. Although my job may seem exciting, often requiring me to travel to different places where I can meet many people and encounter many things, I often feel that on a spiritual level, those people and things that appear so diverse and complex are all much the same, almost unchanging. But with art, it is quite a different matter. Art always stimulates my thoughts on many levels; you could even say it has developed me.
To begin with, I tended to consider what we could get from art; later, I would make my own interpretations from subjective musings, and things became more complicated. But that was not bad thing, as the value of art often emerges at the point where we think we understand it but are not quite sure. With contemporary art in particular, sometimes I have no idea how to interpret or get into it. Ji Dachun’s work came as quite a surprise to me, because although it usually renders me confused and baffled for a brief time, I am then struck by a slight realization, a realization of something so simple, so ordinary, that I can’t help giving a knowing laugh, as if a joke had been played on me. After seeing a large quantity of his work, and repeating this reading experience, my thoughts and feelings began to expand, shift, overlap, contrast, compare and so on, but the interesting experience of sudden realization still remained.
As the realm of contemporary art fills up with more and more emotional styles. Ji Dachun displays a lack of urgency quite out of tune with the times, a form of expression that is digressive, like words without substance. However, this also reveals a sense of subtlety and elegance seldom seen in contemporary art these days, but which is prominent in Ji Dachun’s work. Over the course of my acquaintance with contemporary art, every time I came across one of Ji Dachun’s paintings, I always felt that a window had been opened to let some fresh air into a stifling room.
As a conclusion, I have summed up a few experiences of reading his paintings.
1) Openness and Secrecy
In the seemingly wide-open expanses of these paintings, I read secret experiences that are not easy to share with others, especially from a male perspective. Ji Dachun’s critique of masculinity is relatively direct, as though it does not cause him any pain.
2) Fortuity and Necessity
On the surface, the painting appears arbitrary and without deliberation, but a closer look reveals fine and careful brushstrokes. Having noticed them, one can’t help but imagine what considerations and calculations the painter made when painting them.
After I met Ji Dachun one year ago, I came away with an additional feeling:
3) A concealed wisdom, both in the man and in his paintings. -Yao Qian (Musician, Taiwan)