Christian Exhibition 'The Day is at Hand' Opened in Shanghai, Expecting to Bring Hope in Post-Pandemic Era

Daozi, a Christian poet, painter and artist
Daozi, a Christian poet, painter and artist
By Ruth WangApril 12th, 2021

On the afternoon of April 3, “The Day is at Hand," a Christian exhibition of poetry, painting, and calligraphy works kicked off in Moganshan Road, Shanghai.

Daozi, a Christian poet, painter, and artist, is now a member of the Chinese Society for Aesthetics, a member of the International Society for Aesthetics, and a professor of the Academy of Fine Arts, Tsinghua University. After 2000, he began to create “holy ink paintings” by combining his understanding of Christian faith with traditional Chinese ink art. In 2015, his work “God and Gold” won the 20th German Misereor Foundation Award for Artistic Creation,  acclaimed as a rare masterpiece that combines traditional ink freehand brushwork with the spirit of Christ.

In addition to one of the works in the “God and Gold” series, Daozi has also exhibited more than 20 outstanding works created from 2011 to 2021, including “Towards the Promised Land”, “The Day is at Hand”, “Tour with Candle at Hand” and two cursive scrolls.

During the preparation for the exhibition, renowned painter and art critic Chen Danqing sent his art review on Feb. 26, paying attention to and appreciating the many imagistic expressions of Dao’s Chinese ink paintings.

Chen commented, “The sun, the head, the sea, the candle, and the deformed wings… Are those Daozi ’s preferred images or themes?”

Then he talked about the biblical influence behind those images. “Then the Bible looms. The Bible, by no means a mere reference to religion, is a constant resource for artists: Verbal, imaginative, directed, unbounded, and timeless... It is a road when there is no way out, and the Bible is very ‘concrete’. When Daozi suddenly received the ‘promised’ painting out of verses (he must have been overjoyed to see his first picture was about to come true), the bible immediately promised him and made him find another self."

He also said that among the works on show, his preference was the painting “The Day is at Hand”.

Zeng Yulan, the curator of the exhibition, summed up his feelings about Dao’s works with the words “Eternal Thoughts - Another Experience of Ink Paintings”.

Zeng stated: “In Mr. Daozi ’s paintings, as a unique ‘experience’, the ‘ink paintings’ are neither Chinese nor western. From scheme and content to spiritual orientation, they’ve all been thoroughly transformed. They’re no longer the echo of traditional culture and ideas of Confucianism, Taoism or Buddhism, nor the display of formal language under the guise of ink painting media, but the transformation from apocalyptic literature to the ‘vision’ of ink paintings; They are not superficial symbols or hidden sounds, but are full of tensive competition between emotion and rationality. They are the witnesses of the creator’s rich experience. They are all ‘present’. "

He continued, "In these works, there is the criticism of the current problems, the perception of life situation, the echo of history, the re-interpretation of the original classics, the image of poetry, and the hope for the future... Therefore, these works can cross the ocean to be accepted by people with non-oriental (non-Chinese) cultural backgrounds. Meanwhile, they are so excellent that they’re also warmly welcomed by people with oriental (Chinese) cultural backgrounds. I think this is the charm of these works, and that’s why this exhibition is held and what this exhibition wants to tell all viewers. In this kind of dialogue and interaction, what new ‘experience’ of ink paintings will be inspired by Mr. Daozi’s experience of ink paintings? This is what’s exciting about this exhibition.”

He explained the theme of the exhibition, “When the day is about to end, the day is also at hand. Mr. Dao’s works tell us not to circle on the spot or in the present and give us a reflection on the constant things beyond our experience. This spiritual orientation and transcendental dimension are exactly what is missing in China’s current art world. So this other kind of water painting experience that Dao brings is now showing its value and significance as a unique voice.”

On the opening ceremony of that day, Dao also had a dialogue with many audiences, sharing his creativity and feelings in his works. When it came to the original intention of holding this exhibition, Daozi shared that artists had three concerns in creation: the first was the concern for aesthetics, the second lied in the concern for the current era, society, and environment, while the third was an ultimate concern.

Considering that one of the biggest changes of the world in 2020 was the pandemic, which made people face death, anxiety, and turbulent environments, he confessed, “There is no border for the pandemic, so is art. Therefore, some works of the past 10 years are selected this time, and I hope that they can comfort people and convey peace through art.”

The whole exhibition lasts for nearly 2 months and will end on May 29th.

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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