TING: Zhou Ting Solo Exhibition was presented by Field Art Center from 5 January through to 27 January, 2020. This exhibition showcases the people and events in Zhou Ting’s paintings using a narrative of cinematic language, as if spectators are being invited into a “pavilion” (Chinese pronunciation: Ting) where there is a gentle breeze and visitors can listen to how Zhou Ting tells the emotions and stories of the people of “me” and “my world”, including savoring the joy, sorrow, sweetness and bitterness of her life.
Prof. Ma Lu, Dean of the School of Plastic Arts and Director for the Department of Oil Painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts who instructed Zhou Ting has commented that she paints with “sentience”, with a super painting literacy and authentic feeling, she works hard to experience and portray real life. Professor Fan Di’an, President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, specially wrote an essay for this exhibition, and he thought that Zhou Ting projects the feeling of “ego” into the real space she is in, and she shapes the object with the spirit of “I”, thus constituting a dialogue between “ego” and “world”.
Qin Jianping, Curator for this exhibition and Propaganda Minister of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, emphasized on the narrative nature of this exhibition, to highlight the relations among the artist, the epoch and society, if a small “ego” world was placed within Zhou Ting’s emotional autobiography it would be an exacting rich social album.
The exhibition featured Zhou Ting’s “My Grandparents”, “Me and My Them”, “Memories of Moments” and other series of work.
“Ego” and “Others” in the Great Epoch
—Written on the occasion of Zhou Ting’s Solo Exhibition
Zhou Ting belongs to the “Old Three Sessions” of Central Academy of Fine Arts, from the High School Affiliated to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, undergraduate through to postgraduate study at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, she spent over a decade in study and has stayed to teach at the High School Affiliated to the Central Academy of Fine Arts. This long-term experience in the Academy has endowed her with a distinct advantage, as she values the academic tradition and practices with a focus on artistic quality. In style, color and hue, she pursues pure aesthetic taste and reflects an elegant style. In my impression, Zhou Ting had such an excellent quality since she studied at the High School Affiliated to the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Later she has specialized in oil painting and she keeps true to her distinctive character, working hard to build her own art world. However, a long-term career at the campus also has its limitations, that is, the lack of a broad understanding of the world outside ego, sometimes it might lead to a fear in contacting society, even psychologically staying away from the reality full of changes. Zhou Ting’s art might be developed in the either close or far relations, separation or union between ego and the outside world. This process, for her, is accompanied with confusion and distress, but she also continuously achieves breakthroughs and transcendences. All the exhibits realistically “restore” her exploration, especially her sincere expression in the dimensions of “ego” and “others”.
An expression starting from “ego” generally originates from psychological loneliness, therefore the image in the expression is often a compensation for personal thinking. However, for Zhou Ting, the image of “ego” is not just a depiction of the status quo of her own life, instead it projects the feeling of “ego” into the real space in which it is located, and she takes the spiritual experience of “I” as the object to form a dialogue between “ego” and “world”. In her work, this world is a world where “I” and “he” or “me” and “my them” get along. Therefore, the double image in her work embraces her existence, but it should also be taken as a perspective, an observation, an alternative experience when “ego” is placed in her social life. She draws her family relatives, friends she is familiar with, and “others” she sees, all of which have been brought into the sense of “ego” as a basis for her description. When she draws, she has a realistically close feelings to the object she portrays, thus she achieves a sincere statement. The decisive use of brushes and affirmative shape, especially the expressive styles in her paintings, are expressed naturally, as if an unhindered language flows out of her heart, forming an atmosphere and situation in the picture, integrating the relation between “ego” and “others” into an organic field, elevating the realistic feeling to the expression of spirituality.
Emphasis on spirituality is an important character of an art academy, on which Zhou Ting has a deep understanding. Therefore, on a subject that is not broad at all, she strives to endow a wide background to the work and let the characters reside in the space where they exist. Whether it is the living environment or urban background, she aims to create a space full of breath, so that the characters and the background are integrated into a spiritual integrity. In such creations, I find that she does not stay far from reality, even the changes of epoch, her experience of traveling and studying at home and abroad have added a sense of reality to her art. However, she just walks through the distance from reality, it can be either close or far. I once saw a series of landscapes in the rain that she saw through a window, those scenes between blurry and clear visions were captured and painted by her, she portrays dynamic images in static moments, and she expresses lyrically in her oil paintings. Similarly, in this exhibition, her series of work with the nature of psychological autobiography shows her unconventional spiritual pursuit, as she transforms her authentic and sincere feelings into a fresh prospect.
The great epoch we are experiencing provides a broad context for artistic creations, the integration of ego into the epoch is the only way to develop art. Efforts to express her “ego” and “others” in the life vision and cultural context of this great epoch can be found in her work, I sincerely hope that she embraces broader creations while maintaining the artistic quality of oil painting and protecting her soul.
President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts
Chairman of China Artists Association
Remarks by Prof. Ma Lu
People will live a quality life, which does not only mean the satisfaction with “clothing, food, shelter and transportation”, but people will live with “sentience”, not just being simply “alive”. A painter, refers to a person who excels in visual expression, he or she can see, experience, and have the ability to draw. If we say someone has “sentience”, it is a praising evaluation on his or her painting quality, not everyone has it. Zhou Ting, is an artist that paints with “sentience”, and her paintings are excellent in quality. However, people currently are busy with many other things while pursuing diversified satisfaction, they never take “sentience” seriously.
I hope that everyone will give up some pursuit and increase some “sentience” if possible, since the foundation of value is “sentience”. I also hope that Zhou Ting knows how valuable her “sentience” is and how meaningful her exploration into “sentience” is. When no one has “sentience”, “sentience” is the most precious.
Ma Lu, Dean of the School of Plastic Arts and Director for the Department of Oil Painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts
22 December, 2019
An Excerpt from "Pshychological Interpretation of Zhou Ting's Paintings"
Self-awareness and consciousness are what set humans aside from other beings. Introspection of self is particularly intriguing at this age of stimulation explosion. Zhou Ting’s art work faces this deep challenge. She visualizes highly abstract yet central psychological themes such as memory, consciousness and metacognition, creating an experimental artistic language that materializes internal cognitive representations onto the canvas, with great potentials to link scientific studies of the brain and artistic expressions of the mind.
A ChangJiang professor in IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research
The State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, at Beijing Normal University
Distinguished Young Scholar of National Science Fund
About Zhou Ting
2006-2009 Master’s Degree, the Fourth Studio of Department of Oil Painting, School of Plastic Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; She has stayed to teach at Central Academy of Fine Arts since graduation;
2001-2005 Bachelor’s Degree, the Fourth Studio of Department of Oil Painting, School of Plastic Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China;
1996-2000 High School Affiliated to Central Academy of Fine Arts;
Projects and Exhibitions
2019 Selected to attend the “Young Artists’ Sketching and Academic Exchange Project in Italy” organized by Jin Shangyi Art Foundation;
2017-2018 Selected to attend the “2017 Art Talent Training Project” organized by the Ministry of Education and commissioned to study at Dartmouth College by the China Scholarship Council (CSC);
2016 “Taste of Memories” was awarded by the 2016 Talent Funding Project for Fine Arts, Calligraphy and Photography organized by the China National Arts Fund, and the final achievement was selected as a key (rolling) funded project and collected by the China National Arts Fund;
2014 The Project on “Paintability Research by Means of Change and Vagueness” Taking “Taste of Memories” as an Example, was awarded support from the First Talent Funding Project for Fine Arts, Calligraphy and Photography by the China National Arts Fund;
Her exhibitions have been presented at CAFA, the New Beijing Gallery, Jiu Chang Ai Zong Art Space, Dun Art Gallery, and Art@GoldenSquare in London, UK., AVA Gallery &c Art Center in Dartmouth, U.S.A., Xin Beijing Station, Beijing and so on.
Translated and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO, Photo Courtesy of the Artist.