The Ministry of Education's Mandarin Dictionary has three definitions of the character " cūn " (皴): (1) In his poem, Du Fu of the Tang Dynasty wrote, "Without a letter from Central China, I cannot return home; my chapped (cūn) hands and feet are frost bitten." Therefore, as a verb, cūn indicates chapping of the skin from the cold, and refers to irregular cracking similar to that of chapped skin; (2) As a noun, cūn refers to the accumulation of dirt on the skin or the peeling of surface skin, such as in the folds of the neck and body; (3) Cūn also refers to the texture wrinkling technique for painting rocks in Chinese landscape paintings, where once the contours are defined, lines are dabbed and tinged within the contours to create a wrinkled texture. Therefore, cūn is also a general technical term for depicting textures, veins and bumps in rocks in Chinese landscape painting. Moreover, the cūn technique is often the overall expression of an artist's detailed and objective observation of nature and reflects the artist's inner feelings and perception.
Through dabbing and tinging, Chinese landscape artists reproduce on paper their experience and appreciation of their interaction with nature. Cūn is a skill and symbolic language exclusive to Oriental painting. Compared with the single point perspective in Western painting, Oriental paintings adopt multiple/dynamic viewpoints where the artist simultaneously wanders, observes and paints according to the artist's personal way of thinking. Cūn was originally a shape for enhancing a sense of reality, but paradoxically, in the process of learning landscape painting, later generations often first become confined to copying and memorizing the technique, and then applying it to their works. As such, cūn has become a ready-made template, like a seal for rubber stamping mountains and rivers. Consequently, imaginary reality is replaced by surreal collage, and the landscape painting is not real anymore. Lurking in the crevices of imagination and memory, images of landscape slowly emerge and superimpose. In my work, West Coast Diary, I used the cūn technique that I painstakingly memorized during my adolescence to conjure up a painting of my West Coast road trip in America a few years ago. Moving slowly along the scroll used in Chinese landscape painting, I gradually unfurled my journey from departing, boarding, touring around the lake, staying in hotels, climbing mountains, getting lost, and then leaving. All my memories exist simultaneously, as if repeatedly exposed and pressed into one screen and time axis, crowding up the rice paper scroll. To view my work, the audience must move their body, and this simultaneity and unfolding create a sense of shared memory between the audience and the creator.
Parting creates memories. This exhibition is an extension of the 2016 My Dear Lovers Solo Exhibition, and continues to use portrait faces as the theme to explore the relationship between memory, time and defacing. Defacing is used to summon from my memory faces that were most intimate yet most unfamiliar. The patterns and strokes on the faces project my emotions toward and interpretation of them as they tried to live in my memory through my thoughts and expectations. From the past to the future, because they have left, I can only weave my personal image and story of them that are neither past nor present. Such a memory network is in fact a brand new past, as if using a cūn template to arbitrarily collage "my future past". However, the difference in this exhibition is that I rolled previous moments into a time section, an event or a journey.
Pain creates memories. These memories are also like the cracks and peelings on skin that are chapped from the cold. They invariably crack or peel without warning when the season changes. Although not excruciating, they can be uncomfortable when purposely or unintentionally touched during the activities of daily life, and may even tear. After endless salving, soothing and collecting, I thought that my chapping has healed, but wondered if it would return uninvited the next winter. Chapping, perhaps not always on the same part of the body, nonetheless always evokes similar memories. Like an old future, my "future past" is like a stubborn lingering shadow.