Words Around Paintings -----Tang Guo

By Ah Cheng

While in Europe, I have come across Tang Guo's paintings quite often. It seemed to me that most of his collectors were Italian. I once also saw Tang Guo's works in a home in Hong Kong, and again, they belonged to an Italian.

Italians posses a rich knowledge and understanding of form. They have maintained a long history and even a small lane may contain the style of a national treasure. A visitor can't see everything in Italy because come parts are always obscured by constructions where repair work is under way. Italian Universities offer specialized restoration courses and graduating students can be sure to find an 'iron rise bowl', steady employment is guaranteed.

At dust, my sight turned back into the living room, away from the Italy outside my window, then I saw the (my) lost hometown. In Tang Guo's painting, which was kept on a wall in an other country. The faceless ancient people were flying like swallows in front of Wang Xie Tang. Was I missing old times? I Felt confronted by the dreamlike image presented there.

Of course it was just a moment for me. My reacting to Tang Guo's painting at that time, I can't place it's source. Perhaps the simple shape of the pretty pottery ladies of the Tang Dynasty or the beauty of Jiang Nan in spring rain when the apricot blossoms? Or more likely it was the uninhibited expressive quality in his painting. In short, I don't know where it came from.

If you like a painting, do you demand to know what the painter was thinking? Of course not. If you like it. The average person is unsure how to appreciate a painting. So it becomes a question of understanding. This is where the art critics come in. In fact, painting is robbed of the power of it's direct perceptions.

Later Tang Guo started to place some golden foil on his paintings. Gold's quality is very hard to match. At worth it appears like fake phony wealth and rank. Beautiful, clean skin suits gold. If one inch of beauty equals to the gold, it will seem all beautiful wealth is on this neck. Tang Guo's painting is that clear and beautiful skin, that makes gold interesting. This is like the rhyme of poetry. If the rhyming is not enough it's difficult to form a poem, gathered grudgingly the state / feeling is lost.

But I always feel that meaning is not crucial to a painting. Maybe the meaning is just what we often hear explained and often read. But if painting is meaningful then it is difficult to read the real meaning of the painting. At this point, music also resembles life. Life itself is meaningless. If life itself has meaning, why do we still look for something more? Meaning is in our way of looking, just as my previous thoughts were nothing but my own search for meaning.

Seeking is self deception. Because people deceive themselves, art is coming. But painting has its fatalism. If painting is not art, it's nothing. It's nothing. It's not us. If we are not humans, we still could be animals. It sounds ugly, but it's true, we can never…nothing.

It's difficult to add meaning to these paintings with gold foil. It's because Tang Guo wants to use meaninglessness to explore purity.

???June, 1998