Chinese X Jewish cultures
What is the meaning of ink for you?
This is the first time I’ve used ink in my work. Ink has long been the principal medium for painting and calligraphy in China. I found it to be a very interesting medium, as it can be used on virtually every conceivable surface. There is an enormous expressive potential with this medium and I’ll continue to explore the endless “colours of ink” in my future works. With the use of brush and ink, my “heartprint” is recorded.
What is the role of Chinese calligraphy in your work?
Chinese characters possess both aesthetic value and semantic meaning. Every character is an image with a rich set of associations; each character is pictographic in origin. When compared an alphabetic language like Hebrew, Chinese language has a much stronger graphic identity. Each written word is an object of aesthetic appreciation. I wish to achieve a more aesthetic value of Hebrew by creating new Hebrew characters in the form of Chinese writing.
Only Hebrew readers are able to comprehend the text. How do you communicate with the general audience?
Well, we self-identify, and are known as “the chosen people”. So while it may be true that the general audience will not understand the content, they can still nonetheless see each work as a piece of abstract art. After all, abstraction is at the very heart of Chinese painting and calligraphy. Zhuang Shu (seal script) and Cao Shu are such examples; the former with highly stylized script which was invented 5000 years ago, while the latter is simply self-expressive more than informative. Chinese often well appreciate these art forms, without even questioning the meaning of the texts.
Some have criticized your works as a replica of the style of Xu Bing’s “Book from the Sky.” Can you distinguish yourself from the master?
For those who make this comment I would strongly recommend they research the concept behind Xu Bing’s works. They should especially consult “According to Ink Art,” from an exhibition catalogue edited by Maxwell K. Hearn and published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
“Against the backdrop of this childhood trauma, (Xu Bing’s) Book from the Sky is the artist’s remarkable response to the often blatant contradiction between propaganda and reality, words and actions, in a China where doctrine, news, and history were continually being rewritten and texts could no longer be trusted. While the work is inspired by the form of typography of traditional Chinese woodblock publications, faithfully replicating every stylistic detail of traditional Chinese printing, not a single one of its invented characters is intelligible. Xu’s text conveys the illusion of legibility but remains defiantly undecipherable.”
My work is created to narrate my double identity of being Chinese and Jewish; it fulfills my need for self cultivation. As a native Chinese, I have the pride to meditate though calligraphy. As a Jew, I have the obligation to learn the Torah. Reading and rewriting the Bible texts form the spiritual pillars of my works.