Author: Zhi Min (Executive Vice President of Sculpture Institute of China National Academy of Arts, Doctoral Supervisor)
The series of works “Twenty-Four Solar Terms” is my creation since 2015. It has been going on for eight years, 15 works have been completed, and 9 works are still in progress. This series of works is another series of creations after “Hetu Luoshu” 2011 and “Stronomical Four Gods” series 2013. It allows me to further study traditional Chinese cultural concepts and continuously tap artistic creativity. Over the last ten years, with my own growth and experience, I have gradually formed my own opinion on materials and art, returned to my heart and mother culture in creating art, and began to establish my artistic language himself.
Measuring Shadows with a Standing Table (Sculpture) Zhi Min
“Twenty-Four Terms – The Time and Custom Knowledge System Formed by the Chinese by Observing the Annual Movement of the Sun” was officially included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2016. This is not only is a recognition of the Chinese people’s respect for nature, compliance with the laws of nature, and the concept of sustainable development, but also brings the “Twenty-Four Solar Terms” back to the contemporary Chinese people’s vision of life, deepening people’s understanding of “where are we from?” Awareness of philosophical issues. The establishment of the “Twenty-Four Solar Terms” is the contribution of Chinese civilization to world civilization. It is used to guide agricultural production and the rhythm of life, and at the same time establish the relationship between time and space, that is, the Eastern concept of time and space.
Twenty Four Solar Terms – Awakening of Insects (Sculpture) Zhi Min
The positional relationship between the earth and the sun and the rotation of the earth forms day and night; the inclination of the earth’s axis of rotation and the law of its revolution around the sun form the four seasons. The twenty-four solar terms are an expression of China’s unique view of time and space, philosophy and nature. When people got rid of the era of hunting and gathering and went into farming civilization, they had to look to the sky to eat and wait for the wind and the rain. The study of “sky” became inevitable, understanding laws of nature and circulation. seasons, and mastering the knowledge of astronomy became necessary prerequisites. It can be said that without astronomical knowledge, it is impossible to grasp the seasonal changes, and it is also difficult to create a great farming civilization. My works such as “Twenty-Four Solar Terms”, “Standing a Table and Measuring Shadows” and “Watching the Time” are based on this phrase.
Twenty Four Solar Seasons – Beginning of Autumn (Sculpture) Zhi Min
The concept of “Twenty-Four Solar Terms” is very abstract, and sculpture is a significant form of artistic expression. How to present such a macro image of Chinese culture became a difficult problem during the early stages of creation. I consider the changes of the four seasons as the growth and transformation of yin and yang together. In terms of sculpture, I use two vague images to represent the power of yin and yang. They either separate, embrace, or support each other, showing the dynamic changes of the two forces. In the thousands of years of Chinese culture, it is full of exploration of the relationship between heaven and man, as well as discussing material transformation, displacement, and the relationship between two forces or states, such as heaven and earth, weight, size , beauty and ugliness, gathering and scattering, ancient and modern… This relationship of yin and yang reincarnation, the unity of man and nature, and the cooperation of heaven and earth leads me into the vast source of culture.
During the next few years, on the one hand, I put my intuition into action, consulted the descriptions of the “twenty-four solar terms” in ancient books, observed the ever-changing nature, and I gradually understood the production and lifestyle that corresponds to each solar season; By exploring the deep ceramic language, he gradually established his own artistic creation methodology. In terms of creative methods, I was very inspired by the rules of Chinese character structure. The seemingly simple strokes in “Yongzi Bafa” form different Chinese characters in different combinations. Multiple characters become one word, with more complex meanings, and several words form a sentence. When the words and sentences are combined and transformed, the spirit, philosophy, and culture are the article are presented one by one. This principle is also very evident in the architectural expression of Chinese brick and wooden structures. Bricks and tiles can pave roads, build houses, and build walls, and wooden components can also form ingenious, detailed and varied structures such as bucket arches. These methods of reorganization and deconstruction in Chinese culture have inspired me greatly. The work “Twenty-Four Solar Term” uses ceramic components to create a structure that can be repeated and recreated’ n infinite, echoing the Chinese philosophy of cultural reorganization and circulation.
In December 2022, my sculpture “Twenty-Four Solar Terms – The Beginning of Autumn” won the gold medal in the sculpture category of the Florence Literature and Art Awards 39. I consider it an encouragement to my personal creation. The judging committee mentioned in the reason for the award: Chinese artist Zhi Min’s sculpture “Twenty-Four Solar Terms – Beginning of Autumn” uses ceramics, an ancient oriental traditional material, as a medium to see the “solar terms” of an agricultural civilization on Chinese Land The invisible gives form to the visible. This is a modern attempt to express “China Time”, which has the significance of warning, regression and calibration for today when human globalization enters “International Standard Time” and gradually produces spiritual difficulties.
In my opinion, the “Twenty-Four Solar Term” series of sculptures is a medium for exchange between Chinese culture and world culture, and it is the mutual communication and learning between human beings when they face the same nature and different cultural backgrounds.
Spring grows, summer grows, autumn harvests and winter hides, the cycle goes on and on, and life is endless. This is true of nature, and so is art.
“Guangming Daily” (version 09, March 19, 2023)