Nurturing, human, noble, looking beyond the pain and straight into the eyes of transforming into the inevitable
In Zhou Qiaoyun’s art, we are witnessing the most primordial but at the same time the most essential elements as we hurl into the future and yet again redefine and reinvent the meaning of being or becoming of a human. One can immediately imagine and create an analogue with a flourishing of the flower, the painful (for us humans - not so much for flowers as they don’t have neural receptors) and yet graceful and glorious process of transformation…. The becoming of a flower as it slowly sets in motion all the required chemistry that leads into patterns, a reflection of a sun, sometimes reflecting the stars in different shades, another times the petals are so elongated that they remind of the rays of light. In this spirit Zhao Qiaoyin’s deeply expressive technique touches in us the blooming, somewhat mysterious process of nurturing, especially in today’s world of self centered survival mechanism.
The question of nurturing which is so much more typical and associated to women then men, at least in larger percentage (primarily associated to children raising) at this point of our evolving civilization makes us question what is noble and truly human? To nurture, give, support and raise from the ashes the innocents of this world or to compete, crush by exploiting the weakness of the opponent in the right moment and make a progress by building an impenetrable shield against the world (be it through words or action), oblivious to the surrounding. I think that we all have found ourselves at either one or the other sides of this pendulum many times through life and this question is the one of identity with only conditional identification of what is right and what is wrong, because they both have a purpose. However, if we take a look at the patterns of our truly ancient past, the times of the Dinosaurs, it wasn’t the ruthlessness and skillful survival technique that made the life after the asteroid impact possible but the ability to nurture that opened a new chapter for the species underground, to flourish on this planet after the ages of darkness and humility. It was the ability to nurture in the hidden shelters of Earth’s crust that we still genetically remember from the creatures so insignificant at the time but possessing the super powers of nurturing and collecting for the future, thinking ahead.
Zhou Qiaoyun’s expression raises this subject, the trajectory of her artwork is rooted in the world and studies of flowers, the process of flourishing through the prism of traditional Chinese painting. Flowers, those perishable, impermanent reminders of wonder are so often perceived only in the domain of aesthetics, but this is an illusion, common to many areas with superficial effects. Once we go beyond the superficiality of perceiving the flower in this context, we discover that the power of analogy reaches far into the question of creation, birth, transformation, growth and a sacred return to the beginning, because the flower almost always leaves the seed, a ray of hope for the next generation to pick up where it left of if the environmental circumstances are right.
Sometimes in Zhou Qiaoyun’s paintings, the appearance of and a dominance of shades ranging from intense red to light red brings association to the comforting feeling relating to the circumstances that would allow the seed to grow back to the flower, reflecting the Mandelbrotian nature of the experience of life. The patterns in most of her paintings are creating a quality of floating in diverse directions, nurturing, tendering, making the world seem less hostile, they give solace, at the same time some of the larger scale paintings seem to make a statement that the life is not only about passive nurtured living, surrounded by the shield of the other or favorable circumstances planted by those before, but also about crystallizing the purpose. Finding the sacred symmetry that makes the flourishing possible.
At the end, the small events can make all the change, just a move of a finger, a wrong thought, an impulse, can distort a reality from a harmonious whole to a fragmented competition for space. Impossibility of becoming, because the greatest pain is the one caused to the living entity that can’t become what it is, but what the circumstances want it to become. These are all doubts and fears surrounding thepain of uncertain future, while nurturing yet another becoming of self or another, originally the self and another was once One. The pain of separation and the ultimate bliss of togetherness are two of the most powerful elements that are strongly communicated in Zhou Qiaoyun’s paintings, a reminder of the times before, sometimes in our own core when we knew that being human means being noble, nurture and make progress in a healthy balance of each other.
Irina Ideas Klyuev