Painting From the Heart
When a connoisseur encounters his favorite works, we believe there must be karma between the connoisseur and the works. They confide in each other, admire each other. As time goes on, their trust and understanding gradually deepens. The real artworks are tried-and-true, just as true love and real friendship.
I came across Weng Bing and her husband Chen Yougang at a party. They were modest, even shy people. I was attracted by their low profile. In an age of a shallow and showy eyeball economy, the four-flushers can elicit applause, the people wearing the emperor’s new clothes can go through the streets arrogantly. Modesty is not a virtue worthy of being encouraged any more; today’s societal snobs even take modesty as lacking of confidence.
After I got to know the couple well and made an intensive study of their artworks, I found they are only loyal to the art and their hearts, honest and unpretentious. They do not care about fame and wealth. Still waters run deep, the empty foam can never feel their grandeur and perseverance.
The couple enjoys their secluded life in a corner of increasingly internationalized Shanghai, far from the madding crowd, delving into their respective art worlds. Weng Bing’s works present a beauty of tranquility and harmony, naïve and inornate, just like nature itself. Some of her paintings remind us of the poems from Han Shan and Wang Wei, the Tang Dynasty poets, implying endless Zen sense.
Fast-pace life makes people lose patience and interest in the essence of being. Superficial artworks attract eyeballs. However, Weng Bing never shows off her genius and technique on the surface: her paintings integrate western oil painting skill and traditional Chinese culture. Weng Bing researched ancient Chinese characters, such as Oracle Bone Script, inscriptions on drum-shaped stone blocks and bronze inscriptions. Han Dynasty seal, rock carving of Han Tomb, rock painting, fresco, traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting all influence her brushwork: they endow her oil painting epigraphic tactile sensation. In her paintings, Weng Bing expresses her deep love of traditional Chinese culture. They are a medium for understanding the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
Weng Bing’s works can be categorized into philosophical painting and still life. She is good at applying Chinese hieroglyphs and allusions to her painting, revealing a meaningful philosophy. There are two different traits in her philosophical paintings, one of the traits expresses serious theme, for example ‘human or ghost’? The other one delivers sophisticated theory via light form, for example ‘half of the sky’, ‘family violence’, etc.
In her still lives, unostentatious images convey childish innocence and Zen. In front of the paintings, you can feel harmonious and tranquil, and touch the artist’s naïve heart.
At French Fondation SYRO D’arts Gallerie invitation exhibitions of 2008 and 2009, Weng Bing’s paintings attracted many fans, especially in 2009, half of her paintings were subscribed for on the day of opening ceremony, one painting even was snapped up by different collectors. The indication is that Weng Bing’s paintings are beloved by people from different cultural backgrounds.
Qian Zhongshu, a prestigious Chinese literary scholar and writer, once asked, “ Is it necessary for one to know the hen if one loves the eggs it lays?” My answer is yes. I cannot believe that a person whose mind is occupied with fame and fortune can paint beautiful and pure artworks. In a commercial age, we have no reason to ask an artist not to care for wealth and fame. But the eggs from a hen with too much poison must be not healthy.
When I admire a painting, I always cannot help wanting to know the artist. It takes time to know a person well, so does a painting. I am happy to know Weng Bing and her paintings well: she devotes her genius and beautiful mind to her paintings. I asked her why not buy a so-called celebrity’s praise, it could make her paintings attract more attention. That kind of deal is an open secret. But Weng Bing says she is not deluded by flattery, her painting and herself all need true friendship. In her art and life, Weng Bing pursues the truth, goodness and beauty; she believes that every connoisseur or collector has discreet and independent judgment.