"Some say all arts tend to be music, but now, I think all arts tend to be poetry. Poetry encompasses the realm of music and the content of literature, but here it does not refer to literary paintings, but the whole poetic content of the painting itself. In my opinion, the paintings of Xu Jiang possess poetic power. Therefore there is always a sense of vicissitudes in his paintings, feeling like looking into the distance from a high mountain, looking at the vicissitudes of history and of remoteness. He strived to reveal the essence of human life, presenting a series of experimental artworks."@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ - Wu Guanzhong
Xu Jiang was born in 1955. He graduated from China Academy of Fine Arts in 1982, and was chosen and sent to further his studies in Germany in the late 1980s. Leaving for the West, Xu Jiang's generation of Chinese faced a 'post-colonial' West, while the world was experiencing globalization, the boundaries between 'global' and 'local' were intertwined and mutually integrated. At the same time, Xu Jiang came face to face with the experiment of new media in Western avant-garde art. All these changes, nevertheless, prompted Xu Jiang's "double return", of which in terms of thinking is the return from Western knowledge to traditional culture, and in terms of artworks is the return from the experiment of cross-media forms to a sense of self-enlightenment in paintings.' This kind of 'returning' art journey, is a continuation of 'Creating arts of the time', a motto advocated by Lin Fengmian, the founder of the National Art Academy in Hangzhou, heading towards 'the path of national arts' opened up by Lin.
To Xu Jiang, the Sunflower field is his idea of 'homeland'. Xu Jiang's painting is a constant send-out of the sunflower field germinating in his heart, adopting a vast and magnificent composition that reflects his inner world which continues to extend. Twelve Views of a Sunflower Field was created between 2004 and 2006.
"XII is the last picture from Twelve Views of a Sunflower Field. Now the Twelve Views has had its scale, the air of melancholy in the distant autumn garden has already been lessened, but the romantic expression of nostalgia has not come to the end and is still lingering upon. After all, nostalgia is only a guise, the grief of time is like an annotation, and the real narration is all about the true feelings of the wilderness. However the wilderness is not mere barren, the abrupt withdrawal of the 'prosperous life' is the fatal desolation. Until then, the wilderness itself is laminated with various traces, birth and death happen in the same body, sadness and happiness come mixed up in a pair, deep affection and forced departure intertwine like tangled plants, dazzling, and sorrowful as well. The original thought was to laugh at the absurdity of this intertwining of flowers and shadow, but the lingering and boundless chant of life at heart is insuppressible, and at last it results in this atmosphere of indulging dusk and the condensed sentiments between the heaven and the earth. Absurdity is difficult to grow, but melancholy is spreading, the endless sorrow of the wilderness finally becomes the leisurely environment of the world."
- Xu Jiang
Twelve Views of a Sunflower Field XII is an important piece in this series, and has been displayed in many important exhibitions. Xu Jiang chose the colour of sombre brown and used powerful brushstrokes to depict the boundless sunflower field. Growing tall from the ground, the sunflowers are not facing the sun but towards the same direction that the sun has risen from. The blossoming sunflowers have gone through the summer, with the brilliant colours of yellow and green all worn away, the aged sunflowers stand in perseverance. The dying sunflowers' immense protection for their seeds creates a sense of co-existence of both the passed away and the future, melancholy and solemnity. Just as Chinese traditional culture in face of the gigantic wheel of globalization, it must be determined to reconstruct in order to be rejuvenated and reserved. Looking at Xu Jiang's paintings, we experience their magnificence, persistence, perseverance and vicissitudes. These bits and pieces of experiences gained by looking at the paintings are also experiences of life, the intended guidance provide by the artist to lead the audience into the historical spaces, setting foot on the way to home.