Farewell wandering abou ¡ª¡ªcomments on Wang Wang Wang¡¯s Brief Encounter

Written by Yu Jie Translated by Stella

In 20s of the 20th century, when Lu Xun published his best short-story-collection: Wandering About, he may not realize explicitly that the Chinese will be in the doubt and pain of ¡°no where to wander about¡± on the way to ¡°modern¡± in the following 100 years. In China where neither the brilliant starry sky nor inside moral precept exists, the ¡°throne¡± in the Forbidden City possesses both of the values. From ancient times till now, the minority of monarchs were aiming for the throne at the loss of millions of deaths, while the majority of populace living at a loss in the fog of ¡°10 steps outside left only total darkness¡±. Today, we have to declare with sadness that every time we made a choice after careful consideration, it was actually a worst choice. Today, we have to declare with sadness that every time we start a revolution, overcoming the hardships, it would leads to the on-stage of ¡°counter- revolutionary¡±. We still haven¡¯t walked out of the ¡°precious mirror which can Reflect Romantic Affairs on one side and reflect skeleton (metaphor of cruel reality) on the other¡± of the great works of Dream of Red Mansion; haven¡¯t walked out of the signs in the Song of Hao Liao,( a poem in the great works of Dream of Red Mansion )---¡°my turn comes after your singing in this noisy place, considering elsewhere as hometown.¡±.
Does ¡°hometown¡± still exist in China? Where is Chinese¡¯ ¡°hometown¡±? Today¡¯s China is materialistic on one hand, and belief starving on the other. The contradiction of ¡°many¡± and ¡°few¡± intertwine oddly. Under this social background, Christian painter Wang Wang Wang¡¯s new works Brief Encounter could be described as the most excellent metaphor of the destiny of China in the 20th century---on a wide and flat highway, in the flashing rear view mirror of a car, fixing such a miracle moment: Jesus in a gown coming towards us leisurely, but a strong athlete in a vest and shorts is running away towards the opposite direction. They may encounter---spatially; they still don¡¯t encounter---spiritually.

Obviously, highway and cars are the most representative of the industrial civilization of the 20th century. Meanwhile, they are also the mark of Chinese people¡¯s ambition to ¡°surpass the western countries¡±. It seems that as long as China possesses longer highway and more cars those of the westerns, it wins. Compare with the highway and car in the picture, I¡¯m more interested in that long-distance runner. For me, he hints the abnormal development of ¡°sports heat¡± in China for more than 20 years, and ¡°the dream of developing China with sports¡±. Since 70s of last century, the modernization of sports is the fifth modernization beside the other four: at that time, ¡°Five consecutive championships¡± of the Chinese Women's Volleyball Team had been linked to ¡°rejuvenating China¡±; when entering 90s, facing the tremendous faith-vacuum, sports, being expectant faith, began to play an important role in Chinese people¡¯s daily life after filling up the Fanatical nationalist emotions. Sports has been far away from the true meaning of the Olympic games of ancient Greece, not the display of beauty, strength and peace, but the monster of politics and commerce, and also the spiritual opium and palace acrobatics of some countries that lagging behind in the civilization degree. Some people do utmost to make this kind of logical thinking and implementing them to the ordinary people: several athletes getting gold medal is the victory of the whole nation; the victory in the field of sports is the attribute of the strengthening of the comprehensive national power. Therefore, following this logic, sports can definitely play the role of ¡°the carved marble pillar¡± (Chinese totem pillar) representing ¡°the great revival of the Chinese civilization¡±. However, Wang Wang Wang gives us a totally different answer through this painting. He thinks that the running athlete not only turns against Jesus, but love; not only missing the opportunity of spiritual dialogue, but the chance of reborn. Actually, the running athlete is the miniature of the ¡°China¡± that has been ¡°chasing¡± for the whole century. Wang Wang Wang shows us with his painting that both ¡°midnight running¡± and ¡°midnight wondering about¡± are blind. Without the complete abolishment of the old and establishment of the new on both the level of art and culture and the level of the soul, China¡¯s basic problems still can¡¯t have a fundamental solution, and the Chinese still can¡¯t really say goodbye to the living status of ¡°wondering about¡± even if there are longer highway, more cars, better range of the number of gold medals of the Olympics, the ¡°running out Asia, going into the world¡± of the football. Yes, does it matter of running fast? If we are poling apart, the speeding up can only lead to a bigger mistake.?

Being a Christian artist, Wang Wang Wang¡¯s excellent artistic creation and real life journey, demonstrate the fresh-and-blood ties between faith and contemporary Chinese art. Since the 80s of last century, Wang Wang Wang had started his artistic journey with post-modern rebellious attitude. He rebels not only the traditional Chinese culture, but also modernism and the whole western artistic history. However, after buzz and tumult, after shocking everybody and self indulging, Wang Wang Wang discovered ¡°wasteland¡± with ¡°nothing left¡± in front of him. After that, it is a long period of artistic stagnation, the indulging of the body and the struggle of the soul. When he realized that rebellion can¡¯t make artistic update, and aesthetic can¡¯t obtain the harmonious of life, he finally became closer to the truth, to love, and to God, becoming a Christian. At the turn of the century, a large number of artists and young intellectuals made the same choice coincidentally. And this time, the choice was not in vain again. Liu Xiao Feng put it like this in Safe and Ramble:¡± when people feel that he is away from the world he lives, there would be two ways to let people reunite the separated world, basing on the condition of affirming the true value.¡± One is the way of aesthetic. It leads the limited life into a world which sings in immersion, as if the limited life is charming and attractive, although sad. The other way is saving. The ultimate of this way is: the lack of the people, the world and history would be saved by the love of God in the embrace of the divinity of God. The way of aesthetic bears the lack of life in the form of the perceptual individual, while that of save leading the lacking life in the form of divine bestowal. Wang Wang Wang went from aesthetic to save. So when we are interpreting his works, we should put it into the background of his ¡°faith journal¡± in order to receive a clear and right understanding.

Wang Wang Wang¡¯s choice is not only a choice of artistic attitude and cultural standpoint, but also a choice of spiritual state. Wang Wang Wang reveals the reality of ¡°brief encounter¡± between contemporary China and the truth, which is not only living but also horrible and shameful reality. This is a times furthest from the soul, and this country is the furthest one from the soul. ¡°Right now¡± is the most dangerous moment. A scholar Fan Xue De mentions in his article people are pitiful without God of great scientists and thinkers¡¯ understanding towards faith. Pascal said that men lack heart; they would not make a friend of it. What is the mark of ¡°men lack heart¡±? That is first men could not know God; second men could not know themselves. If a man could not accept Jesus as his master, and then, he is impossible to know God; and if a man could not know his sin, and then, he is impossible to know himself. it is inseparable between people¡¯s refusing of knowing themselves and their refusing of knowing the God. As Pascal said: ¡°Man is, then, only disguising, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in him and in regard to others. He does not wish any one to tell him the truth; he avoids telling it to others.¡± In our real life, since long ago, it has been ¡°lying and ¡®moral¡¯, violence and ¡®justice¡¯ existing together¡±, and law becoming the slave of money, ¡°basic boundary of ethics¡± being broken through. Every one of us is living a ¡°dual life comfortably¡±. As Pascal said that few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, few doubtingly of skepticism. We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.¡± Wang Wang Wang¡¯s works is showing the same thing: we are ¡°people in the mirror¡±.

This painting Brief Encounter of Wang Wang Wang could actually be added a subtitle, ¡°our spiritual plight and our spiritual outlet¡±. Coincidentally, recently a Christian scholar Ji Dian wrote an article spiritual plight and spiritual outlet. In this article, he talked about the academic change and life renew (similar to Wang Wang Wang¡¯ s works) of a friend of mine called Ren Bu Mei. He had such feelings when reading Ren Bu Mei¡¯s article:¡± I was deeply moved when I was reading, for the spiritual pain and sadness we bear; weeping in heart for the spiritual suffering we experienced; and praying for our spiritual let-out.¡± Ji Dian then talked about a group of young cultural beings who were interested in Christian culture including me, he said:¡± I was often amazed by their keen insight and profound understanding of the spiritual plight of the young Chinese intellectuals, and also pray for them deep in my heart---what they are talking about are the question of faith, which is exactly the sincere searching and crying for the ultimate truth, for the God and for the ¡°real on the cross¡± (by Liu Xiao Feng) by the soul of human being. According to their profound thought and ponder, I believe that the ¡°sense of crisis¡± for the spiritual plight is absolutely not moans without being ill, but the realest and most basic cry for divine by the people who live in the plight of Godlessness.¡± I think that Wang Wang Wang, Ren Bu Mei and other friends around are all travelers ¡°on the way¡±. Wang Wang Wang¡¯s Brief Encounter is rather a painful call from the wilderness than a shocking fact. After experiencing ¡°wondering about¡± for more than 100 years, we should ¡°farewell wondering about¡±. And the premise of the farewell is to turn you yourself into a person with the strength of faith, and to turn yourself into the one with the capability of love. I believe that when we are turning from ¡°brief encounter¡± into ¡°sincere embrace¡±, we will possess the profound and everlasting love.
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