Separating classical Chinese art from many others is not merely form. It is not simply the brush one paints with, nor is it the colors used. Distinguishing much of classical Chinese art is the subject. When approaching with a Western perspective, one might be bemused at the significance of, say, a painting depicting bok choy. After all, why draw a common vegetable?
The closets equivalent in the Western hemisphere to this art form may be the still life. In a way, Chinese aesthetic does quite literally draw from the concept of life. However, when taken to Impressionistic and Contemporary levels, the spirit of that still life becomes vividly apparent.
Being traditionally an agricultural society, the Chinese have always placed tremendous faith in the land. The land is very much a concrete metaphor for life. Introspection through tangible objects is a poetic tradition of the Chinese people. It is discovering the profound within the ordinary. To an artist, bok choy is not a block on the food pyramid; it is the blessing of a kind earth. A snow pea is not just a staple crop but a treasure chest of fertility and gratitude.
As with form following function, in art—beauty follows depth. And the depth behind such simple yet lush art is thousands of years of agricultural reverence and respect for the land. The riches that it yields do not only enrich our daily physical health, they enrich our spirit and wisdom. In the end, the land and all its bounty enrich our understanding of true beauty, and thus our hearts.
As always, LIULI continuously makes art for the good of the heart. Here is to the bountiful crop, the sweat of farmers, and the joy of life itself. Here is to being enriched.