Tetrachromacy: The Beauty of Iridescence
Curator: Xia Kejun
Artists: Sang Huoyao | Wang Aijun | Tian Wei | Yu Yang
Contemporary Chinese painting is starting to make a turnaround in the direction of beauty itself. This beauty is internal, but also relates to a refinement of color, the mindfulness of viewing. Otherwise put, through a perceptual link between temperament (xinxing) and nature (ziran), colors are once again allowed to let their auras radiate. These paintings are possessed of the natural and poetic meaningfulness of the Chinese color palette, yet they also possess the richness of Western contrasting colors as well as the conceptual qualities of monochromatic painting. The most important question is: how can the aural color-sense (se gan) be rediscovered in this age of technical replication and proliferation? How does this relate to the metaphysics of color? In this modern age of nihilism, Buddhist views on color and space possess all the more possibilities for stimulating an “introspective meditation” (neiguan, i.e. Vipassana) and deconstructionist thought. Given the repeated simplification of black and white, black isn’t really black. Rather, it becomes a profound color (xuan se), a mysterious darkness that swarms with potential color. White isn’t really white either. Rather, it is an imaginary color (xu se), a virtual color in which a chaotic turbidity is implied. The colors of modernism don’t just reveal colors and hues. Rather, they open up spaces in which the depths of profound colors (xuan se) recede into meditative thought of the innermost being, and the etherealness of virtual colors (xu se) opens up the dimensions of nothingness.

Colors are festivals of painting. They constitute a politics of poetry. Moreover, colors are the rhythmic temperament of breathing. The color-sense of colors is generated in the respiratory rhythm between temperament and nature. Four artists present us with a new “tetrachromacy”: the black/white and turquoise/ochre of Chinese ink wash painting. The color-sense of color schemes (she se) and monochromes (su se) is confronted with Western black/white monochromatic painting. Subtly connoted, rich color gradients

are implied within the apparent monochromacy. Sang Huoyao uses overlapping pieces of silk, giving shape to transparent silk-like colors that possess an ethereal beauty and display a superposition of abstract spaces, as well as integrate a modernist sense of imperfection. The artist allows for jade-like, turquoise and light crimson colors to regain their modern aural beauty. Wang Aijun uses a new “boneless” painting method to reinvigorate the aura of blank spaces. He lets giant blank spaces reverberate within the world’s subtle color-transitions and -fluctuations. The subtle beauty of the color of water (shui se) manifests itself in what appear to be oil paintings and watercolors. He sees to it our inner being remains unperturbed and peaceful, even when confronted with unforeseen, huge events. Through his Buddhist cultivation practice, Tian Wei lets streaks of mysterious, white light dominate the canvas, thereby conducting a surge of color-layers. His seemingly monochromatic paintings actually implicitly contain endless subtle changes in color-layers. Confronted with a cacophonous reality, the artist helps us regulate our state of mind using the colors of introspective meditation. Finally, using the color combinations of his color strips, Yu Yang presents us with an abstract and minimalist aesthetic. With black/white and light crimson as his key colors, the artist carries out constant rearrangements and tonal changes. Through hollowing out and overlapping, he effectively reimagines planar depths in his canvases.

By antithetically pairing these works and letting them engage in fourfold response to one another, a contemporary ethos of “imaginary color” (xu se) appears. The works’ implicitly concealed colors reveal a subtle inframince aesthetic, into which the traumas and fractures of modernity are admitted, as well as tender care and love. “Tetrachromacy” serves as a testimony to micro-metaphysics.