"The diversity of the relations of line to line must be indefinite; on this condition, it incorporates quality, the incommensurable sum of the affinities perceived between that which we discern and that which pre-exists within us"
A. Gleizes and J. Metzinger
I'm always wondering to myself, "What is art after all?" Surrounded by hyper-excessive visual media, almost being paralysed by mediacracy and information manipulation, what does painting mean to me compared with other numerous artistic expressions, especially living in the epoch of post-Marcel Duchamp, who revolutionarily wiped out the meaning of art, or else seemed to declare "Art is dead" in presenting a "ready-made" toilet as a work of art? Of course, I’m very interested in the discussion, and I admire how Duchamp could sublimate the ideological nihilism that only those who have experienced the world war can express, and his prowess in making the art world of the time recognise this as a definite ideology. But is it possible to say that art is all about that? How can I challenge this intricate contemporary society through visual art, if at all?
I believe that art is the essential part of humanity, and human creativity is rooted in the human spirituality. At the end of the 20th century, some earliest cave paintings were found in southern France, and scientists determined they were created 30,000 - 35,000 years ago. However, more recent archaeological discovery showed the oldest cave art found in Indonesia is estimated at least 45,500 years old, and likely to be even older. It could be created by the Neanderthals, not early modern humans. It is the earliest known representational work of art in the world and the researcher believes the artwork was made by Homo sapiens, as opposed to now extinct human species like Denisovans.
Whatever happened, the fact remains that humans created drawing/painting far earlier than the invention of writing. It is generally agreed that cuneiform in Sumer, the ancient civilization in Mesopotamia, is the earliest writing, which dated back to 3000 BC. So, there is a great gap of at least 42,000 years between the creation of drawing/painting and the invention of writing. Interestingly, a Japanese neuroscientist Makoto Iwata proposed that the definition of human should be “Homo pictor (painting man)” rather than any other definitions such as “Homo sapiens (wise man)”, “Homo faber (working man)”, “Homo ludens (playing man)” and so on. I’m just intrigued by how and why such a core communication tool shifted from drawing/painting to writing. I believe, drawing/painting have served as a fundamental means of human communication for shamanic communities in the prehistoric era, then for the invention of writing (some might argue that there are still numerous tribes without letters in the globe and once were significant civilizations such as the Inca Empire), and even for forming civilizations. They also served to educate illiterate peoples, cultivate and develop cultures, and inspire human minds throughout history.
It was around 2002 when I looked into the link between drawing/painting and writing alongside exploring something new in terms of technique. I happened to find a book about art from the neurological point of view entitled "Inner Vision" written by Dr Semir Zeki, a professor of Neurobiology at that time and now Neuroaesthetics at the University College London. Dr Zeki dedicated one whole chapter for the importance of line in his book, and stressed that the processing-perceptual system of the human visual brain processes for the perception of form, space, and colour by the oriented lines predominantly. Dr Zeki delves into “art and creativity” unique to humanity with immense neurological data, and hence he has set a precedent for Neuroaesthetics. However, what I’ve found myself intrigued most was this cognitive process of our visual brain that perceives objects predominantly by oriented lines. It drew me to create a new method of brush hatching technique using Japanese sumi ink and acrylic. The body of work, hence consists of "oriented lines". This is also inspired by the concept of disegno, the aesthetic approach based on drawing established at the Florentine school in the early Renaissance period. The use of Japanese sumi ink, which was propagated from ancient China, and which Japanese artists adopted as the unique style of ink painting called “Sumi-e” (Hasegawa Tohaku is reckoned to be the best of all), is the key element of my practice, which aims to bridge East and West by sampling the rich cultural, artistic and ideological heritage of both.
Now we humans are facing the most radical change we have never experienced; the dawn of AI (Artificial Intelligence) era. At that time we will certainly encounter the identity crisis. What is human after all? Art sprung up from within the core of the human entity, namely human spirituality is the key, I believe. I'm in quest of my answer to it with my art practice.