Painting Practice of Lei Ziren
Most of the Lei Zirens paintings are set to focus on people. His recent works can be roughly divided into three types: one is representation of various postures with love as its theme. The figures on the painting are deprive of time and space and are confined within a narrow enclosure, instilling sense of pressure and urgency into the viewers. Both the Scenery in Love, featuring static images, and Flower in Water series, marked by dynamic nature, have constructed a restless atmosphere, acutely constructing the images of people with composure and pleasure. Especially in the latter series, the dislocation and mobility in the arrangement of a couple playing in the water have seized the viewers with impressive visual and psychological gaps.
Landscape over Windowsill series, which record the rapidly changing urbanscape, are typical cases of the second type. In contrast with the first type, the painter tends to hold back the passage of time and grasps the moments that are constantly going by with hustle and bustle of urban lives. The last type is marked by a combination of rural sceneries and real people. The idyllic Painting of Beautiful Garden on Pleasant Day is just an example in point. Different from the first two, works fall in the third category usually create an extraordinarily peaceful ambience. The painter depicts, with the ink and brush, the joyful young men and women as he has done, for many times, to the lotus, the scene of kite-flying and the bygones. All the images represented on his paintings are from his dreams or, in the words of Lei Ziren himself, they are everlasting fairy tales in his life.
In spite of the differences, all the three types of paintings are expressions of the painters true sentiments, both reality and fantasy. The diversity of artistic representations may be the very pursuit of the painter, who intends to reveal varied complicated feelings that are common among human beings, from fantasy, loneliness, disappointment, loss, anxiety to expectation. The paintings of Lei Ziren are simple in subject matter but profound in artistic conception. The ink painting languages he applied are also of original natures without excessive pomposity and exaggeration. Correspondingly, every touch of the depicted figures is swept in ideal romance rather than the secular obsessions.
Actually, the paintings of Lei Ziren are not all about his personal emotions. Instead, they are also a reflection of his accumulated experience of and yearlong interaction with multiple cultures including western modern artistic style, folk arts as well as Chinese traditional art. In creating figure paintings, Lei not only adopts the core styles of Chinese ink master painters such as Dai Jin, Chen Hongshou but has also drawn on the essence of western modernism masterpieces produced by Cezanne and Henri Matisse.
In addition, other artistic activities such as designing, paper-clipping and pottery have also inspired Lei in his painting creation. The innovative way of integrating elements of traditional folk arts into ink painting have been widely adopted among contemporary Chinese painters. As a young artists graduated from CAFA, Lei acts in line with the institutions tradition and keeps on the pursuit of innovation. The unique quality of Lei lies in his attitude of detachment in the course of combining different artistic forms. As for artists of his generation, they had an open perspective, from the very beginning, towards varied art forms, eastern or western, traditional or contemporary, folk or classic. They have no emphasis on any particular style and are therefore inclusive to all.
Ink painting is, as the other art forms, a medium available for both Chinese and western artists to communicate with their real lives while the major distinction lies in its ingenuity of expressing the subtlest feelings deep in our heart. Both sense and sensibility are indispensible stepstones for our pursuit of spiritual freedom. Although much emphasis has been laid on rationality and social and political issues in contemporary arts, sentiment and emotion are still the ultimate appeals of most viewers. Inheriting the humanistic traits of traditional Chinese painting, Lei Ziren attaches more importance to sensibility and conveys both his personal affective experience and the average peoples state of living during Chinas transition from agricultural society to urban civilization.
Lei Ziren is a hard-worker, impressing viewers with thick stack of recent works. On top of that, the value of Leis creations is not just about his diligence or talents but closely connected to the contemporary meaning of ink painting. Numerous artists have made contributions to the transition cause of ink painting language. Lei Ziren , a dynamic link in inheriting and passing on the cream of traditional ink painting, is also an active one of them. Against the special background, when China is going through a period of social transformation, a host of obstacles will surely stand on the way of art development. With the duel burdens of maintaining traditions and incorporating modernism, the artists inevitably find it hard to innovate. However, modernity is in fact diversified by nature. Lei Zirens practice has just provided an example for us to regard the unique representation mode of Chinese paintings as an enrichment to modern art.