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A Time to Spring

Mar 18, 2023 ~ Apr 15

By/Cui Can

Spring is mighty.

It is fierce and cruel. It thrives and continues to rage, without stopping for anything or anyone.

Aqin knows it. She believes her drawing is too slow to catch up with the pace of time. The flowers and fruits are withering as she paints. Her process is to outline what quickly fades first, leaving the enduring therafter, and finally painting the stems and leaf blades. And so, the flowers, branches, and leaves in one painting are drawn at different times, forming a sycnchronic presentation of duration evolution. Still lives of the 17th century also possesses this quality. For instance, the painter would combine flowers from different seasons together to present vividness with observations and memories. However Aqin cannot. Follow this process as she is very restrained in using watercolors, and there has no editing through portraying the areas. Her loyalty to details and textures determines the time required. She is very honest in her paintings: each petal and each corner of the tablecloth is scrupulous with no special treatment or special favors; just like what the spring breeze does when passing through the leaves.

The word “Stilleven” is created by the Dutch in the 17th century. It consists of stil (still) and leven (life), two seemingly contradictory words in Dutch that build a crucial branch of painting. The keyword in the tradition of stilleven is “time”: delicate bouquets, fresh fruits, and glass or ceramic containers. However, all the extremely glorious, magnificent, and fragile things are so quickly gone.

The attitude towards time in Stilleven in the 17th century is the “warning of vanity,” but Aqin’s still life does not have such a philosophical burden. Her glasses are nothing more than containers of branches and vines rather than fancy breakables. In terms of perception and experience, the perspective and light and shadow have no rigorous methods, making her paintings look flat, without dimension like occasional scenes in Pompeii frescoes at a state of leisure (another state related to time) after fulfilling the desires. Time here has no potential energy to take a worse turn; it is a contemplation that does not mind changes. Authenticity reveals and simplicity promotes, embodying a lovable feature.

There is still some time of warmth between a mother and her son. Aqin’s son, You Yong, is an occupational painter. His studio is in Beijing, next to the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting. She was supposed to take care of her son in Beijing, yet holding the paintbrushes is a mother’s decision of inspiration. Longtime company nourishes her silently developing the horizon of life. Aiqin has always been on this horizon, so it is a must for her to paint. After all, the good company enables one to find the path, and painting is a way to accompany the self. Just put away the bowls and plates, lay the tablecloth, change the foods into fruits and knickknacks, turn off the heat, step from the kitchen to the pergola and sit…there has no so-called sense of occasion. With sunlight coming from the south window, this is the spring that belongs to a woman.

People bloom at different times, but they all have a period preparing for the fruit to arrive , the flowers, leaves, and branches climbing on the pergola set the stage.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die;A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to keep, and a time to throw away. Countless springs pass through her like brushstrokes moving on paper calmly without any rush or regret.

Once, our spring was lost, the cycle interrupted.

To prosper ourselves is to rectify the world.