Regarding “Autumn Crossing”


The painting ”Autumn Crossing” originated from a preliminary drawing titled “blue heron and the singing bush”, a swamp scene that orchestrated a blue heron and its reflection mingling with a horizontal stretch of bush in which thousands of invisible warblers were chorusing magically.  The ambition was to have both the blue heron and the chorusing bush work spectacularly and whimsically together under the shimmering sky of autumn sun.
 Caught in months of battles and struggles, the “singing bush” was indeed lost from its original drawing.  Yet as its creator, I find the outcome of the “Autumn Crossing” surprisingly satisfactory.  I am intrigued by its persisting powerful presence of which I have not yet fully understood. My guess is that the pondering seems to have created a simple elegant weathered image that silently and directly challenges all our senses of time, of winds, of flowers and of boundaries. How? I am not sure. But it has to do with the mirrored image and what Wang Fu-chih, a Ming dynasty poet and philosopher, had to say in his poem*. Perhaps, like the “Wall of the Blue Butterflies“ (my first butterflies painting which took one 6 1/2 months to finish), it was a painter’s frontal battle with a big canvas and a new subject. All she knew and didn’t know were lined up to achieve the best “acceptable” result (not a good time to abandon brushes). The battle was fierce. There were retreats.  Yet no trickery was ever intended. Every decision and move made was from the heart, the paints, and the soul. The canvas as I accept it now, carrying all its scars and triumphs speaks the language of Wang Fu-chih’s: “After all wars are over, after all chess games are finished, who still sets the boundaries?” A painting without boundaries is a painting empowered with human thoughts and visions, with exuberant sea of colors, and with music of birds and winds?

- Shi-ling Hsiang

A poem by Wang Fu-chih:

Wherein lies our life?
It's being manipulated by cruel fate
into multiple shapes,
Even if one puts up al struggles,
one cannot fight with fate.
Who'd have the extra heart
to be sentimental about it?
After pondering over life hundreds of times,
I decide to just hand it over to the wind
for the creation of the music of heaven.
After all wars are over; 
after all chess games are finished,
who stills sets the boundaries?
Let us be the faint trace of smoke,
drifting through the clear blue sky;
Let us be the light wings of butterflies,
fluttering by the silent flowers.
Let us laugh about how thousands of years,
would turn into oblivion in a split second;
how chance dominates the transformation,
between a tiny turtle-dove, or a giant roc.
Looking back at the countryside, 
I see the exuberant sea of spring.
Facing toward the human world,
I roam about freely.
Through hardships, through adversity,
I will not change my Way.

Translated by Professor JeeLoo Liu, SUNY Genesso 

Close window