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16 February 2020 Li Zi

In between Life and Death is a Layer of Glass----Interpretation of Lizi’s Sad Diagnosis

I was deeply impressed the first time I saw the photo of the picture. I had planned to collect it before I went to her studio.

However, I was shocked when I saw the painting, which was so large and so magnificent in the sunbeam coming through the glass roof of her new studio at No. 1 yard in Wuzhuang village. The picture suffuses my eyes, my mind and my universe. For quite a long while, I lost myself in it. The great pity is this painting fits only a large hall, which is something that I couldn’t afford. How upsetting this is!

Art and literature are akin to each other and can’t be separated. A painting is like a poem, a prose, or a novel. As to Lizi’s paintings, some are as compact as little poems, some are as passionate as proses and some are as mysterious as novels. Her expression could sneak into your sub-consciousness. The aggressive force of her art is so powerful that it would pierce the darkness at the bottom of your heart, as is bitingly painful.

In her early series, Love is Colder than Death, all the figures are sexless, with whom she tries to interpret the pure, romantic and poetic love between souls.

In the series of Lost, the broken fragments of classical sculptures are discarded in the dark forest, and ghost-like figures loafing about in the woods. White and black, history and reality, material and spirit contrast sharply with each other.

In the 160 Decibels, lizi transfers the rhetorical device synaesthesia in literature into her creation, on which the lion is imprisoned in geometric space and are about to spring out of the canvas anytime and the roaring of the lion seems to deafen our ears.

In the Fifth Category of Forest, she combines all the elements like dark forest, sculpture fragment, figure of ghost, and geometric space together. One space overlaps the other space, exploring philosophical relationship of the soul and the universe.

In her recent works, Lizi tries comprehensive material, like iron bar, neon pipe, frame piece, etc., which all symbolizes reality. They may suddenly drive the audience minds from sub-consciousness back to the reality, which is always heart-breaking and disappointing.

I have known Lizi for more than ten years. The Sad Diagnosis, as far as I see it, is one of her best paintings so far. This painting contains all the essence of her creation experiences and is like a novel with intricate plots, full of all her artistic experience and social consciousness so far. The novelist of stream of consciousness Henry James said, “Art is the realm of all life, all sense, so art is all experience.” If we say that Henry James is a novelist who knows art well, I bet Lizi is an artist who knows literature well. I see all her life experiences in this single painting.

The whole painting is covered by caesious and misty color, which is dolorous. The trace of water runs downwards from above, like the melting frost, mixed with the dust on the window, running down along the glass. The audience, as if a peeper hiding behind the window, is isolated from the outside world.

The background view of the painting is icebound, deserted, deathly mountain and river. A man, drawn in simple planar line, is standing by the window, wearing helmet, mask and gown, his head leaning forward, his back arching a bit. He looks so powerless, so weak and so breathless.

In his hands is a painting frame, which is a real curved wooden one, covered with dusts. Lizi has fixed the dust on the frame with kind of transparent glue. The frame is so real and it breaks the scene of nihility outside the glass and brings the audience’s consciousness back to the reality. It is like the blurry and dreamy subconscious shocked and shuddered by kind of coldness.

Within the frame, there is a very small picture, a piece of printed paper, on which is a sculpture fragment with only the upper body, as is the sculpture sample of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, incomplete and twisted and in anguish. Two other stick-drawing figures, standing in a line with the sculpture sample and their hands laid on the waist of the one in front in a very harmonious close way. Their bellies bulge a bit, which is pregnant-like. Pregnancy always leaves people feeling of hope. The three dimensional sculpture and the two stick-drawing figures construct an absurd unification, but warm and sweet and family-like.

The originator of symbolism, the poet Baudelaire once said: “The entire visible world is but a reservoir of images and symbols. These images and symbols should be given his place and value by the poet's fantasy.” Looking at Lizi’s paintings, you will undoubtedly admit that Lizi is a poet of art. She, with her genius fantasy, uses very simple symbols and images in life into her works, which contains profound metaphoric meaning, powerful visual impact and artistic connotation.

The printing paper, as a symbol of modern civilization, is a media to record the history and spread aesthetics. The sad truth is that it has inherited and spread broken facts and twisted beauty. The frame is like dusty thoughts, holding lots and lots of illusory dreams, the unrealistic expectations on future, children, love, marriage, etc. The scenery outside the window reminds people of the reality in modern society, the smog, the bird flu, the atomic radiation, etc., all the natural and man-made disasters that draw people to the door of death. A single man, holding all the beautiful dreams, is located in the cold, deserted and lifeless world. The feeling of powerlessness and loneliness and bitterness and breathlessness is spreading out of the painting and penetrating into our minds.

I suddenly feel released and grateful that the glass has blocked that deadly world from me, so that I can breathe freely. But who is the one standing outside? Who is that? To me, he is so close but so unfamiliar, so real but so illusionary, so unreachable but so near at hand. Between him and me, there is only a thin layer of glass, very fragile and brittle.


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