top of page

Doomsday future

YANG Ermin

YANG Ermin photography:Seiga

It’s been a terrible winter-spring, that changes everyone. Everything on earth seems altered. For artists, now their primary concern is no longer, if it had been, art itself. All the numbers of infections and deaths on the news, all the rumors and hearsays… cultivate my anxiety. I began to think about the medicine, the quest for magical cure, but what is the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), anyway? In the early human history, through out the continents people were using plants, roots, grass leaves, bark, wild fruits, rocks and grass ashes to treat illnesses. In Chinese mythology, it was Shen Nong who tasted hundreds of herbs in order to identify their characteristics and taught people their medical uses. I assume that somewhere in the western world there had also been a Shen Nong with blue eyes and blond hair. By then there were no concepts of East/West in medicine. The traditional medicine paved its way through practices, generation by generation, with sometimes the price of peoples’ lives, then passed on as memory or experience. When I was little, I was once playing on the west hill and cut my hand. An elder boy ran off and fetched me a mushroom, told me that it was a Grey blister (灰疱) which would stop the bleeding. He cut it open by the top, took some of the dark ochre powder from inside and then put it on the wound. The bleeding was stopped immediately and the pain eased up. Later I learned that the Grey blister was a kind of fungi. That was my first memory of medical treatment. One that keeps its earliest form. Compared to modern medical science, it is in no doubt traditional. I am sure of it, no need of historical proof, this is one of the precious primordial human experiences.

Let’s get back to painting. The earliest drawings made by human were in fact writings, which is because the earliest Paleolithic drawings were actually records of events, although they depict the form of objects, their objective was to transmit a literal message -- the initial form of a text. From drawing notes to writing words, the Chinese language followed a pictorial (pictograph) path, whereas western languages converted themselves to the abstract. At the dawn of the thirteenth century, humanity witnessed the rise of science and technology, and the painting grew out of its scribbling stage, into the realm of resemblance and representation. Painters enrich their painting skills by extensive studies on light and shadow, on anatomy and perspective. One of the representatives of them is the Florentine painter Piero della Francesca (env. 1420-1492). Apart from his artistic creation, Piero devoted himself to mathematics and geometry, as demonstrated in the vigorous and well balanced geometrical vision in his paintings. His most acknowledged works include the frescos in the Basilica di San Francesco in Arezzo, among which the Adoration of the Holy Wood and the Meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The portraits that he made for the Duke of Urbino and his wife was also a masterpiece of the Renaissance. Later in his life, he wrote essays on art such as De prospectiva pingendi (On Perspective in Painting) and De quinque corporibus regularibus (On the Five Regular Bodies). Chinese paintings, on the other hand, followed a figurative path ever since the Paleolithic cave drawings, from graffiti to representation and then deformation. Until the nineteenth century, scientific elements, such as light and shadow and geometry, were finally introduced into the painting. Here at last human intelligence from separated worlds converge once again.

Trump 144x115cm

Trump 2019 98.2x67.6cm

Now it seems that this article reaches its end, but what struck me just before closing this speech, was the idea of the chopsticks. Using two sticks to get food, I think it could also have been a solution for western people before Iron Age, before knife and forks were invented. What else could have been used anyway? Walking out of the caves, people continue to use the sticks in the East, the chopsticks, as they call it; whereas in the West, people picked up the iron. Without external forces, China could have continued its farming civilization for we don’t know how many centuries ahead. Luckily all tracks led by human contribute to our common history. Difference makes diversity and dynamic. In catastrophe, artists call out hard to raise awareness. Art might not be as powerful as science and technology as to enlightening the world, but it has an unparalleled capacity to reveal and recover the inner world, that’s what I call its ultimate value for the society, for mankind. Nothing heals the heart as art does, that’s why literature and art were invented in the first place. More so in time of catastrophe, when we need comfort more than anytime.

At such a moment, no matter what happens or how worse the situation gets, or how sad we are, we must keep our self-confidence and the inner strength, for that’s the only way to nourish our soul and our sensibility.

Sunflower 145x367cm 2019

Notre Dame de Paris I 2020

Prince Lotus 69×69cm 2020

Temple of heaven. 95.6x86.2cm 2019

Summer 68x80cm 2019

First day of spring 136×68cm 2019

Blossom competition 2019 67x92cm

Singular Beauty 68x123.5cm 2019

Spring color of gengzi 179×95cm 2020

Canyon 145x367cm 2020

Banker 2019

Notre Dame de Paris III 2020

Universe 2020 (public sculpture) 300x300cm

Universe 2020 (public sculpture) 300x300cm

Yingluck 169.1x95cm

October I 145x90cm 2020

October II 145x90cm 2020

Roses 129.6x67.3cm 2019

Taihang autumn

Our Planet

Author:YANG Ermin

translation:Rebecca QU

bottom of page