Flow with Dust-Secular implications of expressions and states in Tong Zhengang's

  As the story goes, Tong Zhengang has been changing all the time. He hasmade small change in three years and big change in five years comparedwith painters of similar age and career life. Look at his craft brothers, neoliteratipainters are drawing undisciplined abnormal fellows to play withthe sense of brushwork. Modern inkwash painters are experimenting withabstract composition of inkwash works. Many others have gone into blindalleys and started to ponder fashions, turning dizzy like vanes on roofs.Different from these people, Tong Zhengang has been changing, butrhythmically, from one stage to another, with inheritance and innovation.He has abandoned artistic revolution and made reforms instead. Peoplefamiliar with his courses will not be surprised at his changes, but thosefailing to track him for a long period might feel startled.Soon after arriving in Beijing, Tong joined a circle of literati. It was cozyto live an idle life like clouds and wild cranes, but it was hard to survivefollowing his way in such a place. So Tong turned into the circle ofneo-literati painters. I was working as an editor of Annals of TraditionalChinese Paintings during the period, which was the peak hour of neoliteratipaintings in the capital city. I made an acquaintance with him inthose days. I said to him You have nothing in common with this circle.You swing in with them simply to inquire for an organization. In a sense,neo-literati paintings were counteraction of the new tide of 1985, whichadvocated full westernization and modernization. They were imbuedwith dim consciousness of cultural subjectivity, expecting to return totheir own classical values. In their mind, our classical values should berejected before they were truly recognized. These fellows reminded usto ponder where we came from in a more subjective stand. However,neo-literati painters deviated at the point: they over-abounded with thecynical mentality of literati at the end of the Ming Dynasty.  It was naturallywell grounded at that historical stage. Since it entered the 20th century,Chinese art was frequently used as a political tool to serve the interestsof politics. Since art undertook too much unrelated duty and obligations,artists largely jittered in such a context. They ran short of individual egosand unfurled only personality of people, nation and the collective. Theyconsciously served as a tool to fulfill propaganda missions assigned bythe collective. Therefore, all the works presented intrinsic tensions.   Neoliteratipainters held that artists should return to a normal state if art wouldreturn to the natural position. Under such a normal state, artists should nolonger stay as political tools or serve certain purposes. They should alwaysbe strained to avoid committing mistakes. Theymust return and be themselves, live in the worldof selfhood and eventually relax themselves. Inthis sense, neo-literati paintings were a reactionto the mainstream ideology of the time when theartists assumed such a collective appearance.Similar to the new tide of 1985, neo-literatipainters were to deconstruct the state of artas tools that went into shape under totalitarianideology over the decades. Tong painted alot of men and women of ancient days as hejoined the circle. The characters largely ran shortof facial features, resembling yellow potatoeswith the seven apertures unopened in humanheads. As the characters had no facial features,expressions became extinct. In this way, menunder his painting brushes showed on only bodylanguage, sitting, standing and idling about.In a word, they acquitted themselves in onestate as utterly worthless persons. These workscame forth largely as small sketch paintings, inthe modes of flat round fans,folding fans andirregular geometries. Many people reckoned theywere simply pastime works of Tong, neglectingthe profound significance hidden behind thepaintings. I was such a reckless fellow.The only pursuit I saw in him was to look forforms and structures in a small space. He wasalso particular about looseness of strokes,including looseness in figure cultivation.He cleared up facial features of charactersbecause he did not want to tell us what hewas wooing and who he was to serve. It wasvirtually deconstruction to call off meaningunder those days. The strongest leash anddogma over fine arts were that an artistic workshould bear significance. The saying was notout of measure by itself. But when it turned intoa dogma and necessity, painters would tenseup, feeling all of a sudden they needed to servecertain purposes and turned themselves intotools. To break the logic chain, they might drawnonsensical paintings. Some painters wereneeded to accomplish the task of clearing upsignificances at that time, enabling people toknow that paintings might be done in this wayand paintings in such modes were not wrong.Painters did not have to pick up paintingbrushes to serve the country and the people, orliberate the proletarians. It helped to dispel thesense of crime in artists hearts.In the wake of such a significance clearup,another mentality edged in step by step.Does it have anything to do with otherswhatever I paint? The ecological environmentof the Chinese fine arts circle had to alter insubsequence, as painters had such undaunted spirits. The contextsof Chinese fine arts experience some major transformation in the 20thcentury. The conversion in the three decades since the 1980s provedmost violent. It was in reverse with what happened in the thirty yearsahead of it. The three decades before the 1980s were known for powerfulthought reform under thunderbolt revolution. Artists were no longerof liberal profession in the society, and artistic works would not showas commodities on the market. Artists and their works constituted ascomponent parts of the country, or more precisely, component parts ofthe Party.   As it entered the 1980s, some young artists, under diversifiedstimulations, started to evade from this mesh and metal-pail organization,exiled themselves, marginalized themselves, and cast away all previoussocial relations. In other words, they threw off fetters previouslyencompassing themselves, settled down at outskirts of Beijing, and wentinto loose gypsy-like art clans. They redefined the nature of art with anidentity of free persons. It was seen as anti-system, thus was repulsedand suppressed under the system. Where there is oppression, there isresistance. As we penetrate into the new-tide works of 1985, we areamazed at the strong sense of revolt concealed in them. But if we simplyunderstand the revolt of the 85 new tide artists as fight against realisticoppression, we underestimate the revolution nature and significance ofthe age. As the case stands, that generation of people, particularly theliberal artists consciously fleeing from the system, were fighting against anintegral citizens personality that was cultivated by the system. That wassystem-based personality, systematized personality or systematization ofpersonality. They had been enslaved by such systematized personality.Since I have realized that such systematized personality is found in peopleanywhere and anytime, I have found it is closely associated with myself.They are not one person, but us all including ourselves. You cannot shootat a fellow, a group of people, or a historical event. You could only shootat the plural of me, or the plural of a portrait selected to serve as asymbol. As a result, Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Guangyi, Fang Lijun and YueMinjun turned into representative artists ironizing, dissipating, resistingand mourning such systematized personality. Fang Lijun and Yue Minjunsymbolize the systematized personality with the plural of me. ZhangXiaogang takes family photos as symbols. Wang Guangyi makes imagesof Mao and the great criticism movement as symbols.Upon these, I would like to discuss the sketch paintings of TongZhengang in his early days. The charactersof these paintings shared potato-like headswithout any facial features, and wore long whitegowns. As we turn over to think about it, sucharrangements should point at something. IfTong produced them into oil paintings uponbig canvases, spectators and commentatorswould unlikely ignore the implications behindthe images. They were surely plurals of mewho edged into the new literati paintingsthat would return to the ancients, but lookedmuddleheaded without clear countenances.Who were they? Were they ancients? Whywe failed to identify with their countenances?What made their features so obscure? Whydid they lose their own looks? How shallwe communicate with persons of blurredappearances or even of no features? Thefirst image of Tong should have survived interms of hermeneutics. It was a pity it wastotally neglected, either by his carelessness orinattention of critics. It certainly had somethingto do with his failure to stand in a correct line.He should not rank himself in the peers of neoliteratipainters. He should neither draw literatisketch paintings in a cynical touch. All thesemoves would direct spectators and critics intoa meaningless game of brush and ink.Anyway, we are wrong if we insist to turn TongZhengang into someone like Fang Lijun orYue Minjun because of the significance of theworks. The historical position of an artist restswith his friction with contemporary ideology. Hewill prove a great artist and walk at the head ofthe time, if he shows sharpest conflict with theera. He will be forgotten in the artistic historyif making no frictions. He will be sacrificed ifcontradicting with it in the face. It is of timesignificance and existence value, if it edges andrubs out blazing sparks rather than perished infrontal confrontation. As we reflect it nowadays,the new-tide modern paintings of 1985 rubbedout stronger sparks. Therefore, they are betterknown and recognized in the world.What about Tong Zhengang? He was incontradiction with the time, which howeverdid not look so strong. It might be associatedwith his personal state. I have always thoughtthat Tong is a hedonist and a merry nomad,flaring with an unconventional personality thatis exclusively found in people growing up in the wild Xinjiang region. Tongdid not grow up in a community of large population featuring tense humanrelations. Therefore, he will not turn into an artist like Zhang Xiaogang, FangLijun, Yue Minjun and Wang Guangyi. He is pursuing aestheticism, whichmakes him against the grain of the somewhat ugly-oriented modern art.Such a personality decides that Tong is hard to show his talent underthe context of the time. But strangely, Tongs works have attracted wideattention of artists in Beijing. Many artistic circles persuaded Tong to jointhem as a member. This illustrates his complexity. It is hard to accuratelyidentify him. But his works are admired by many people. There comesa theoretical question: why do men aspire for artistic works? Classicismaesthetics give a simple reply: glorify our lives and edify our sensibility.We raise positive demands on art. But when we weigh some profoundworks in history with classical norms, we have too many problems withthem. What we learn from some classical artistic works is not so sweet.They might even look grievous. It shows that man has deeper demandsin exploring artistic works. And this accords with the complexity of humannature. The seamy side of human sub-consciousness, strong conflictsand desires, which were oppressed by morality in the classical society, arebetter understood and tolerated in modern days. People approve moreon the pursuit of human freedom. By all appearances we would allowthe art to release many things that we used to believe on the dark side.In this process, many modern artistic works prove ugly and disgusting,challenging our base line in the five sense organs, intellectuality andrational knowledge. Such a challenge is often made by progressing threesteps and retreating two steps. It marches forward in the end. It broadensour aesthetic scopes. We become fidgeting about under the stimulationof the avant-courier art. We come to deny them. But when we turnaround, we see we have gone ahead in a big step. We have improvedour tolerance and endurance. In this circumstance, artists benefit mostbecause they enjoy wider scopes and freedom for artistic creation andthe culture turns more tolerant. It was impossible for Tong Zhengangto paint the belle inkwash series 10 years before he did. Thanks to themodern artistic exploration, Tongs works are more readily accepted. Nowten years have passed, and his works remain looking classical. You couldnot imagine how his works were accepted in the past, which were bigheadbabies and narrow-eyed girls and boys. Werent they malformed?Anyway, you might feel some lingering charm and taste in them that arehumorous though not teasing. We do not find them ugly. Instead they arepretty lovely.   We must thank the avant-garde art at this point, since it helpspeople expand aesthetic realms. In the old days, we might only appreciatebeauty in a county-bound scope. It is enlarged to cover a province, anation and the earth in succession. Isnt it wonderful? We used to admireonly those in heaven. Nowadays we are able to appreciate things on earth.We could even enjoy things at hell. Interestingly, for a short period, TongZhengang actually wanted to express the theme of hell. He mixed denseblack and white colors upon big boards and painted a list of horrible andugly things like Change in Hell. He asked me to look at them and makecomments. He was disappointed at that.I told him: It is not a road for you. Whatever you do, you will never forgetwho you are in heart. You are essentially a man loving beauty, dressingstyle and extravagance. You expect to cluster round with beauties everyday. You are such a man in your heart. Why will you paint such uglythings that make yourself and others painful? In drawing ugly things, youcannot do better than Fang Lijun and Yue Minjun. In drawing distortedand baroque objects, you cannot match Picasso. Most importantly, youhope to disguise yourself as an ideologist. Isnt it funny? What you wantto see most in wild fields are humans, particularly women. Therefore, youfeel affectionate to see people. You feel more intimate to see women andif they are pretty, you are above the world. You do not resemble thosewho feel bitter to see people, and become more annoyed to see theChinese. They are in sharp conflict with the society. They are rejected bythe Chinese society, because their works deeply touch the awful natureof Chinese people! You come from open fields of Xinjiang. You have nevermet any oppression in the course of growing up. You have nothing toconflict with the society. You are flowing with dust at any time and in anyplace. What would you ponder at? What would you criticize? In a word, itis not a road for you.In essence, you are not an artist good at thinking and criticism. Youdo not materialize your value of existence here. You are educated as atraditional Chinese painter, knowing about calligraphy and seal cutting.You know that each traditional Chinese painting has a natural sealingplace, and you will find out the place of yours.In a certain sense, modern paintings are creating symbols. Providedthey successfully produce a symbol and make it their own label, artistswill have a seat in the modern artistic circle. However, it calls for arduouseffort to create cultural symbols of real historical significance.   Manypainters have been racking their brains to look for symbols over centuries.They have tried hard but failed in the end. Fang Lijun and his fellows arelucky enough to find them out in the very beginning. They have expandedthe connotation and extension of the symbol and generated a serial ofsymbols. Finally, they become an existence in the hermeneutic sense,thanks to interpretation of critics and supporters. They might producea new context for us to make new interpretation if we only modify thescenes and regroup them.In this way, their paintings are interpretable. In contrast, it is not so easy tointerpret paintings of Tong Zhengang, as it is easier to appreciate them. Iwas attracted by the aesthetic quality of his paintings in the very beginning.I have the conviction that an artistic work will claim the peak of perfectionwith its unique skills rather than simple concepts and notions, no matterwhat carries them out. The difficulty in workmanship is the major sourcefor aesthetic appreciation. Concepts and notions are main sources ofinterpretation. It hurts the art to abandon or neglect the appreciationeffect. Tong has never given up or defied the appreciation quality of hispaintings from the start. He has always given priority to the nature ofaesthetic appreciation.The appreciation effect might trigger disputes. What is the appreciationeffect? Whose taste is applied to measure it out? What are the norms?It is hard to answer these questions or reach consensus on them. I havean ingenious method, which is old hand sees the micro. Women andchildren see the macro.By old hand sees the micro, I mean insiders think a lot of technologicalcontents, or the force and skills as constantly quoted. They include theuse of brushes and ink, colors and structures, which are essentials ofpaintings.By women and children see the macro, I mean whether women andchildren like the works or not. These people are largely amateurs, andrespond by intuition. They are not influenced by artistic dogmas. Tongspaintings are widely loved by Chinese andforeign women and children, an evidence ofhigh appreciation effect on the macro sense.Old hand sees the micro focuses on internalbeauty. Lets begin with his inkwash paintings,because I see his inkwash paintings are betterthan oil paintings in this respect.These days, we see many counterfeits of worksof Tong Zhengang on the market. It shows hisworks are highly valued and demanded. Letsput aside his oil paintings for a moment.   Theinkwash works of Tong are highly fake proof.In the beginning, he puts some fake-proofelements in the works, making it difficult tocounterfeit. It is laborious to complete inkwashworks like his, and it is impossible to finishthem in a while. These two elements extendedthe gap between his inkwash works and thoseof other Chinese painters. Many fake workproducers have no idea what pigments Tonguses, so the imitated ones are exposed inan instant. Modern inkwash works are oftenmisread as something calling for less basictraining. People would simply try it if they arecourageous enough. It is exactly what manypeople do with modern inkwash works. The artof strokes is nothing to them. They largely playwith structure, black and white, and ideas.But the modern inkwash works of Tongare about the art of brush strokes. He putshigh attention to the use of strokes, whichis associated with painstaking efforts oncalligraphy in the old days. Many contemporarytraditional inkwash painters are not so goodat calligraphy, not to mention those dedicatedto contemporary experimental inkwash works.They have only learnt something essential onmodels and pencil sketch in academies of finearts. After that, they are bold to practice it onrice paper. Many have no idea that paintingand calligraphy come from a same source.Painters must stress the bone method in theuse of painting brushes. They must also ensureelasticity and aesthetic images of lines. Theymust be sensitive in the use of ink and water.Counterfeiters think that Tong does not stressthese elements in his paintings. So they simplycounterfeit his works at will.In practice, lines look fairly strong in Tongsinkwash paintings. They are flat strokesfrom medium-body styled use of paintingbrushes. Many hold that it is easy to draw aline straight. They do not know it is actuallyvery hard to draw a straight line with a softpainting brush. Writing calligraphy and paintingpictures are different matters. Tongs paintingsbasically take lines as frameworks. His forms,structures, black, white and grey blocks, areconsiderably heavy. Later on, when he applyother integrated materials upon paintingworks, the black and grey heaves presentgreater texture and weight. The weight mustbe supported with lines. If lines fail to standup, his paintings will tremble in the balanceand fall.Despite focusing on such gentle themes as newbelle paintings, Tongs works impress us with asense of heaviness. This differentiates him fromDing Xiongquan. Spectators often misread hispaintings as sculptures when they are shown onwalls. This element distinguishes his works fromconsiderable amount of experimental inkwashpaintings. For instance, his inkwash paintingsoften close about big blue-white porcelainbottles, which are typical freehand brushworksin traditional Chinese paintings. Human bodiesin his paintings are largely composed of a fewbold lines. But take a close look at these lines,and you will see they have attained fairly highaccomplishments in the use of medium-brushstrokes: going without start or end. Mr. Li Keransaid that Shi Tao had no start or end in paintingstrokes. In the 1940s, Mr. Li learnt from Shi Taoand Zhu Da when he strove into the traditionalartistic circle in Chongqing. He was alwaysdreaming to have his lines flowing without startor end on paper. It was something hard tounderstand. A line would naturally have a startand end, but real good and vigorous lines wouldfloat naturally and smoothly without beginningor end. They are different from what we learntin primary schools, as they go without so manystops. Good medium-brush works do not gothis way. The first principle in the use of brushesis to keep it flat, and being flat has no beginningor end. Tong has persisted in using such aline in all his paintings. The lines may vary in allforms, but the foundation is to keep flat. Whatdoes it mean to keep flat? It implies that in theprocess of running the brush, painters mustkeep their hand steady. In addition to years ofpractice, painters need to balance their breathand focus their attention on the strokes for bestmental status. The ancient did not disclose thetruth. But we can explain in modern languagewhy it is best to keep flat, because painters arein the best condition if they could keep lines flat.This explains why we stress ink and brushwhen discussing traditional Chinese paintings.We will not only talk about their concepts,models and colors. We will relate to ink andbrush and start with brushes. Chinese cultureholds that all artistic labor and creation aredone when physical body resonates best withmentality. The works will be good when theyare finished in this state. We will never leavesuch a state to discuss the works in isolation.This is the greatest difference betweenChinese and western paintings. Our cultureshold that whatever men do, their ultimateobjective is to cultivate their body and mind.There are many rules governing the process.Good psychological stability is not confinedto mentality only. It is manifested in body, acombination of temperament and profoundcultivation. Whatever a man does will be good,if he is in such a state. Without this state, wewill not do anything good. This is what wesay we are not in the mood or we cannotconcentrate on our minds.I admire the inkwash paintings of TongZhengang, because they exhibit classical naturein the coat of modernity. A very interestingand strange thing with Tong is that he wouldcomplete some structures with mediumbrushes. Many of his works are actually playwith structures. In his modern calligraphicworks, dots, lines and strokes are fullytraditional and classical. But the final structureis unfolded as something modern, becausethere is a structure in it, and his dots and linesserve his structure. The inkwash paintings arein the same pattern, composed of dots, linesand planes. But the works are apparently reinedwith planes that rule over dots and lines. Thisis exactly the weak point of traditional Chinesepaintings. In traditional Chinese paintings, dotsgenerate lines, and lines generate planes. Incontrast, modern inkwash paintings operatein an inverted order. They have structures first.Structures are segmented into lines, and linesare combined to generate dots. Because of thisreverted course, dots and lines are put downin calligraphic quality. I saw a professor from aSpanish academy of fine arts who was caughtup by the rainy sight of an isle in the West Lakeof Hangzhou. He brushed his impression of theWest Lake in an inkwash work in a four feetrice paper. There were dots, lines and planes.But he apparently used the painting brush inthe mode of drawing oil paintings. A number ofdots and lines look interesting, as luck wouldhave it. But they were surely no calligraphicstrokes. His thought was structure-based. Hefirst worked out with a few structure planes,upon which black is spread. In the end, dotswere used to intensify relations of black, whiteand grey colors. It was apparently a style offoreigners, because dots and lines had nocalligraphic quality. Modern Chinese inkwashpaintings must stress the calligraphic qualityof dots and lines, if they expect to separatethem from western inkwash works. Otherwise,they are of little significance. Chinese cultureis superior exactly in the calligraphic quality ofdots and lines. Another element is the senseof texture. Tongs inkwash paintings alsodisplay texture effects of diversified materials,in addition to lines, calligraphic quality andstructure awareness.Mr. Liu Guosong delivered a famous theorypreaching that light-ink strokes advocatedin ancient China are actually about textures.Figure paintings stress the use of strokes,while landscapes, light-ink strokes. In figurepaintings, lines are largely used to draw broadoutlines and clothing wrinkles. There are manyways to draw lines. Landscapes demandmore than contour outlines. Soils, stones,grasses and woods call for diversified light-inkstrokes to express the sense of reality.   Lightinkstrokes are actually dense combination ofdots and short lines to weave planes. In thissense, all light-ink strokes originate in nature.For instance, hemp-fiber texture strokes areinspired by the sense of hillside earth in SouthChina. Raindrop strokes of Fan Kuans comefrom the exhibition of sense of granites inZhongnanshan Mountain. Axe-cut strokes of XiaGui and Ma Yuan originate from the section ofbasalt in South China. On all accounts, they areenlightened by nature. The Chinese would notstress it however, because if they admit it, theyare simply imitating nature. They would turnresemblance to nature as an objective. But it isnot the goal of Chinese painters to simply makepaintings look like the reality. To draw an earthslope to the life, painters would woo in particularthe sense of earth slopes and overlook the selfgovernedaesthetic feeling of inkwash. Theywould prepare or directly use paper couch toimitate the texture of granite. But in this way,they would lose the most essential elementof paintings, which is to express ourselves byway of expressing nature. Therefore, we mustwithdraw from imitating nature to the use ofpainting brushes. Among so many works withhemp-fiber texture strokes, why do we say thatDwelling in the Fuchun Mountains of HuangGongwang has attained a height beyond reach?Of the works of raindrop strokes, why do we saythat Travelers on a Mountain Path of Fan Kuan isnot to surmount? As for rope uncoiling strokes,why do we say that Wang Meng does the best?It is because these masters draw the best linesin respective realms and cultivation. Under suchcircumstances, we cannot simply understandlight-ink strokes as textures, because they arenot simple imitation of natural materials. Actuallythey mirror self-cultivation of painters in the useof painting brushes. This exactly illustrates anature of paintings. Although they always clingto nature, paintings incarnate the realms with theself-cultivation implied in brushworks rather thanmere resemblance to nature. This is the essentialaesthetical essence of paintings, which isreferred to as inner beauty by Huang Binhong.But why the sense of textures will arousesuch resonance in so many modern painters?It actually originates from reading, becausecurrent young painters, including painters ofour generation, read far more western classicalworks than they do with our cultural heritage.They have become far more familiar withwestern classics than with our own traditions.It is a context of the time, and as men of theera, we have no way to change the situation.Western countries stress textures, as they doin oil paintings and sculptures. Marbles havetheir own sense of texture, so do bronze andegg tempera oil paintings. Polished oil paintingshave their own texture senses, while those notpolished have their respective texture senses.Oil paintings appeal to a texture of uniquethickness to create some special artistic visualeffects. It is a language of western paintings.When it comes to modern paintings, painters,especially American painters, would directlyproduce certain texture to achieve visual effectand even strong visual impact force. When theybecome increasingly conscious of pursuing thesense of texture and sense of touch, westernpainters straightly introduce integrate materialsfor plane drawing. All materials that were neverexpected to appear on plane drawings werebrought in, such as newspaper, plastic, cementand metal pieces. It smashed our concepts oftraditional plane paintings. Afterwards, peoplefind out that in a public exhibition environment,works boldly using all sorts of texture materialsexhibit greater visual impact and stronger effect.They would mobilize your touch sensation aswell as visual perception, thus becoming oneof the language symbols of modern paintings.Some contemporary Chinese inkwash paintersare also doing texture works, including addingblending agents in ink for richer texture effects.As I see it, Tong has done a fairly good job inthis respect. He applied many new materialson paper. Paper looks considerably thick andlooks like relief works in some places, showinga sharp contrast to the dense and semitransparentsense of pure inkwash works.His works are admired for new explorationin languages and use of special pigments,compared with traditional inkwash works. Itmust be noted that raw rice paper has beenin a strange relation to pigments. Rice paperis actually a screen, upon which pigmentseasily miss out. Therefore, paintings always fallshort of saturation and always look pale. In thisregard, Tong made a bold experiment in theuse of pigments. He does not use pigmentsfor inkwash paintings. Instead, he used dyeingpigments. After modulating and applying specialtechnologies in positive and negative faces,pigments surpass traditional painting pigmentsin saturation and density of colors. His use oflarge block of ink and expression of textureswould strongly co-exist in a contrapuntal mode.Why dare he use sharply contrasting big colorblocks? Tong resembles Georges Rouault,a master of the beast school of painting, inthis respect, because when we maximize theuse of ink and black, we can press against allcolors. This is what folk artists summarize aspressing five ink colors. Folk new-year paintings are drawn with heavy colors, looking blatant.But in the end, the ink-based plate would press down colors. Tong applied black to suppress theflorid colors of red, blue, green and yellow. If we take out the black from the framework, thesecolors might not look good when coupled up. Just imagine, if we do not use the texture materialsupon the black to intensify serenity and even coarseness of black, traditional inkwash works willnot necessarily hold in the colors. Qi Baishi is reputed as a master of freehand brushwork in thetraditional Chinese painting sector, because he was bolder and more civilian than all others in theuse of colors. He would use large blocks of primitive colors of red, green and yellow. How couldhe keep away from being gorgeous and coquettish? He used blacker Chinese ink than others.His painting brushes were more forceful. It is very interesting to compare the works of Qi and WuChangshuo. Wu was better than Qi in the skills of inkwash paintings, as his strokes looked rounderand more literati. However, Wu was not equally admired as Qi, because Wu stayed at the final stageof classicism while Qi strode the threshold. Qis works became fairly modernized. He was the firstChinese freehand painter to enter the modern threshold. His works stressed flatness, structure, useof large blocks of single colors, and control them under brushes. All these were modern paintingconsciousness. He did not consider too much the harmoniousness among them. Instead, heexaggerated conflicts and maximized the tensile force of Chinese ink and colors. Under such highintensity, he managed to reach a high balance than a low balance. He was the first artist to applyChinese ink as a color. As a result, he was not so meticulous on the five grades of ink of eachstroke when he applied Chinese ink to draw leaves, desks, chairs, trunks, feathers, and skins ofpied magpies, doves, cats and dogs. He was not meticulous as Wu Changshuo in this respect. Hepreferred to paint in a flat way, which was actually modern structure awareness. Therefore, Qi Baishiwas more powerful in drawing structures. Tong Zhengang shared with Qi in this aspect.Tongs inkwash paintings fall into three aspects in significance, which are the fan covering structure,flower bed scenery, and paper landscape. As mentioned previously, the fan covering structurelargely reflected a world of man, a chaotic old-type literati world. It was a dim cultural world thatwas mixed with calligraphy, seal carving, and modern structure consciousness. It was not Chineseor western, new or old. In terms of image and form, it retained the sensitivity of Tong over theatmosphere of the early 1990s. It also reflected a mixture of his concepts and behavior: He wantedto enter the state but disliked it as he could not identify with it. The flower bed scenery was aseries lasting for 10 years. He flew from the chaotic literati world of fan covering structure, hid inthe meticulously built flower room and became intoxicated in the pure womens world of flowerbed scenery. The women of the flower room were modern urban ladies, who lived idly, decadentlyand somewhat piteously in the upper circles. One day, Tong awoke from 10 years of dormancywandering about the flower bed scenery. He felt that he should once again get away from the smallpiece of land of flower room. Upon that, he started to draw paper landscape on large piecesof paper since 2004. He was found to come out to wild fields, under blue sky and white clouds,neighboring mountains and rivers. A list of worldly men and women blissfully bathed under sunlight,dipped their squabby bodies in clear water.They looked so weary, brimming with worldlycontentment without any grief or rage. Womenno longer felt lonely or aspired for petting andembrace of men as they did in the flower bedscenery series. They were accompanied withsoftheaded handsome young men who worehonorable clothes, casting aside lady killingexpressions in their eyes. Landscape wasused in irony, because it had solemn, grandand serious implications in traditional Chineselanguage. It degenerated into a realm forworldly men and women in the works of TongZhengang. It deconstructed all positive valuesin tradition, which happened to be the virtues ofcontemporary artistic elites. Tong was admittedinto a new artistic circle exactly because of thepaper landscape series. He changed into acynical popular artist from an aesthetical artistwith indistinct stance, who wanted modernitybut recalled tradition. He was hailed by morefollowers. His studio turned into an everrunning party. Men and women from home andabroad, who had fortune and social status inthe Vanity Fair of this world, came to his studioin succession to buy his works. These worldlymen and women would enjoy once again theblessed life as shown in the countenances ofthe works. Thereafter, the smart and marketoriented Tong exploited the victory to marchinto the oil painting sector. He worked out alarge number of oil paintings under the themeof big-head babies hiding in peonies. When heset out to exhibit the works at 798 Art Zone, hecalled me to make a title for the event. I askedwhat he thought of it. He said he preferredto call it sexual contentment. I disagreedwith him, proposing to call it happiness.Happiness naturally covers more thansexual contentment. The girls in the flowerroom might have sex but not necessarilyfeel happy. The worldly men and women inthe paper landscape series, particularly thegirls like the Silly Sister, would surely have sexand feel happy. You would see sheer sexualcontentment from their expressions andstates. But in this group of oil paintings, sexhad become more implicit. It introduced theforms of marriage and family photos of Chinesepeople. Therefore, the man-and-woman sexualtheme evolved into Yangliuqing new-yearpaintings that express harmonious family life,bearing children, and carrying on the ancestralline. What are the themes of Yangliuqing newyearpaintings (I repeatedly mentioned themin the article), as well as other Chinese newyearpaintings (Taohuawu new-year paintings,Wuqiang new-year paintings, Weifang new-yearpaintings and Mianzhu new-year paintings)?Happiness. Yes, that was happiness. Tongaccepted my views. At the inauguration cocktailparty, I spoke impromptu, saying that this groupof works bore very high happiness index, sincehappiness index had been widely appliedby local governments and the media in recentyears. I said that in addition to the worldly menand women on the paintings, the guests wereenjoying high happiness indexes. In particular,Tong had been enjoying high happiness indexthese years!I proposed to drink a toast forcontinuously soaring happiness index of all thepeople. As a result, the group of oil paintingshad a general title of happiness index. Asa matter of fact, the happiness index hadhistorical implications behind it. Young fellowsborn after the 1980s might not understand theemotions experienced by people of my age.The 1980s was a culturally heroic age. Theoverall intellectual and cultural circles werepuzzled with a number of great and historicaltopics. To answer these major questions,people immersed themselves with greatthoughts. Everyone was proud to be a pioneerof thoughts in the time. But since the 1990s,the whole society took a sudden turn fromidealism to realism. At a single blow, themacro discourses of ideals, spirits, nation andhistory became so illusory that they seemedirrelevant to peoples individual welfare. In asudden, people felt that they should returnto individual identity and pursue their ownhappiness in present days. In this way, thereawoke the sense of consumption. People wereindulged in the tide of consumption. Peoplewere particular about wearing name brands,drinking wines, and paid particular attention tohousehold decoration and furniture. In the wakeof it, consumption oriented magazines andfashion magazines came forth in succession.Correspondingly, the Chinese started tohave their night life. At one blow, sexualconsciousness became exceptionally open.Such a social and life state would naturallyshow themselves in the art. At this point,Tong was one of the Chinese painters comingearliest to the historical stage. His first groupof new belle paintings actually manifested thementality and physical state of the Chineseentering the consumption cultural age. Whydo we say it is the mental state? We could notsee their eyes gazing upon the distance. Wecould not find out the physical intensity in theirbodies that was inspired by a lofty objective.Their eyes always stared at their tiptoes. Theirbodies were most relaxed. They practically hadnothing to do. They were somewhat decadent.But interestingly, when we look back at them,we might perceive that they were a little at aloss and hesitation. This was surely not whatTong expected to express at that time. Hehad no idea that the girls under his paintingbrushes were melancholy and perplexed in selfperception. He simply felt it real to depict thegirls in such countenances and relaxedness.It was something like many people in theCultural Revolution period who stared blanklyat cameras. It was a most genuine state, acollective unconsciousness rather than doingit for show. As a matter of fact, the state of thegirls in the new belle inkwash series of Tongwas also a collective state, which in a certainsense was a return of gender consciousness.To begin with, human beings were separatedinto men and women. They served as othersto each other because of the gender diversity.Man was the other of woman, and woman,the other of man. They observed others in theidentity of others. In the course of such lookon,appreciation, sympathy, understandingand misunderstanding, some consciouscultural phenomena came into being. It issaid that the overall civilization is a process inwhich man writes about woman and womanwrites about man. So far, the opposite sexeshave not understood each other. It is exactlybecause of the gender consciousness that thehuman emotional world becomes so subtleand complex. It is interesting to note thatthe Chinese revolution brings about womenliberation in the first place. It is a positivehistorical progress. However, this progressis accompanied with serious deviation. Animportant symbol of women liberation is theelimination of gender consciousness andstandpoint of women. Women no longer feelthey are women above all. So they come closeto men in dresses, profession choice, bodylanguage and voices. In this process, they clearup the gender consciousness. But with theremoval of the gender consciousness, our artfalls into heavy troubles. How will we expressthe beauty of women?We were at a loss at it. Anyway, actresses wereneeded to put up shows with actors in theeight model dramas. Directors did everythingto weaken female traits of heroines, such asLi Tiemei in The Red Lantern, Xiao Changbaoin Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, FangShuzhen in Seaport, Wu Qionghua in TheRed Detachment of Women, and Xier inWhite Haired Girl. But that was not whataudiences liked. As a matter of fact, the bestloved were The Red Detachment of Womenand White Haired Girl, because actresses inThe Red Detachment of Women wore shorttrousers and showed their legs, and actressesin White Haired Girl were the most beautiful.In the second round of model dramas, YangChunxia acted the part of Ke Xiang, lookingso attractive when she stroke a pose on thestage. People eventually saw beauties in modeldramas. It explained that no matter what we doabout woman emancipation, gender diversityand mutual appreciation are always basicrequirements of human beings. You may lookupon it as a base desire, an instinct. You mayalso eulogize it as something noble. But asthe case stands, it is amoral and a universalhuman nature. The Cultural Revolution wasrebuked as a period of vanished humanity. Amajor accusation was that it called off genderconsciousness, compelling us to be dead orslow to all feelings of beauty and charm ofwomen. In this sense, isnt it a gracious pursuitfor us to resume the perception of femalebeauty and take women as women? Isnt itan exhibition of social healthiness? Isnt it areturn to humanity? I still remember a story toldby a granny. In the Cultural Revolution in the1960s, Chinese women abandoned lipsticksin full. China went without lipsticks. One day,an AP reporter saw a girl applied with lipstickat Wangfujing Street, Beijing. The reporterwas so excited that he reported it instantly.What did he say? He said that he finally sawa girl applying lipstick among a group of blueants. It showed that communism ideology andpuritanical practices could not fully snuff outthe Chinese in pursuit of beauty. Thus therecame the tiny bit of lipstick. He felt that Chinawould walk out of the communism ideologyone day. He was right in the prediction. WhenI went to university, dancing parties swung back to the campus. A girlfrom our class, coming from Shanghai, stirred the campus because sheapplied lipstick. Just think of it. It was up to the 1990s that we finallyfelt to take it serious to treat woman as woman. Women began to havespecific places to exhibit their charms of the fair sex. In the 1990s,these special places were actually bars, night clubs and Karaoke rooms.Actually, women, particularly pretty women, should not appear only atthese places. But strangely, pretty Chinese women showed up only insuch places at that period.I still remember what I saw when I went for the first time to Shenzhento shoot TV programs in 1992. One night as I stepped out of a hotel ofLuohu District, I was amazed to find out that My God, beauties of allChina showed up in the city. I never saw so beautiful women, especiallywhen they appeared in a same place at a same time. I must admit thatI was conquered by the beauty of women for the first time. And it wasin that kind of place! Tong drew such girls in a batch of paintings. Heappreciated women with his male consciousness and attitude. As Isee it, this was a historical progress by itself, because you could recallwhat women were presented in paintings just a few years before. Thewomen intellectuals in Zhou Sicongs New Seedling returned to reportto the principal how they planted trees.  The girls in I am Storm Petrelreceived phone calls in tempests. And there came iron girls ceaselesslydigging in mountains. Women assumed a lot of social roles that theywere not expected to be charged with. And we eulogized it as a socialprogress. Compared with such themes, the paintings of Tong lookeda little decadent and puzzling. Female roles that apparently returned toplaythings of men looked like backslide to feudalism and capitalism days.We need not look at such matters with ideological sight. This is simplymens appreciation of women. In the abstract, human civilization is heroesplus belles, and talents plus beauties. They are historical roles and culturalroles. History and culture are well balanced with these elements.The happiness index has vertical historical coordinates, which are clearlyunfolded in the three major series of Tong at the three respective stages.Happiness in the flower bed scenery series was dim and perplexed,defective and wishful. The paper landscape series introduced anagreeable man. The heroines were no longer beauty or modern. Theywere village women and fat girls recently migrating to cities. They hadred cheeks, red lips, fleshy noses, and eyesblest with happy urban life. The smilinglyeyes revealed exceptionally high happinessindexes. The women were healthy, strong andgorgeous. The most touching element wascontentment! We must know that contentmentwas something of the spiritual world rarelyseen in this world desiring for material wealth.Only in this stage as we look back at themodern beauties of the previous period will wenotice that their expression-free countenancesconveyed so many implications. They wereclassical expressions of pretty maidens of welloffurban families in a consumption age. In sucha consumption age pursuing material gains,they positively grouped themselves into thesame ornaments and consumables as bluewhiteporcelain bottles, rosewood chairs ofMing Dynasty, crystal fish jars, double-faceembroidered fans, and Persian cats. They wereequal to the symbols signifying consumptiondesires. Tong paralleled the women with theobjects in a same platform, meaning to treatthem equally. But strangely, when we returnedto look at their countenances after someyears and even a decade later, they disclosedboundless grief, sorrow and helplessness. Tongcould not have intentionally expressed suchfeelings at that time. He was unaware how thewomen collectively put up such a feeling.Yes, it was a collective unconsciousness whichmight vary along with the change in life and thementality of painters.When Tong decided to draw a group of oilpaintings of men and women under peonies,the collective unconsciousness changedonce again. His oil paintings had the nature ofpopular in concept and technology, somethinglike the Yangliuqing new-year paintings of the midQing Dynasty. Yangliuqing new-year paintingswere the most popular art in the 19th century.First, Yangliuqing new-year paintings bear suchconcepts as auspicious cultures, which arepermeated with great happiness, longevity,multiple children, affluence, auspiciousness,promotion, talents and beauties. These arethemes closely relating to the happinessindexes of flourishing kindred, marvelous life, andrealization of dreams. Second, Yangliuqing newyearpaintings adopt the languages of forms andcolors that are most loved by the people. Theyare expressed with smooth lines, fresh colorsand exquisite edification, which arouse nothingoffending sensory organs of people. Third,Yangliuqing new-year paintings are produced inproduction lines, whose production proceduresare separated into a number of stages. Theyare accomplished by different people. Thismakes it possible to produce them in batches,with minimal differences. All these features arepresented in the works of a group of trendy artistsin Beijing, who are also known as contemporaryartists. Naturally, their concepts are no longer oldfashionedtraditional Chinese auspicious cultures.Instead, they focus on the views (some of whichare prejudices) of China and the Chinese peoplethat most foreigners could understand. Theseviews are very popular. The expression modesare also very popular. Foreigners know very wellthe language of western oil paintings, just like weare well acquainted with the language of inkwashpainting.Foreigners come to China in search of paintersand works. They do not expect to find outmasters commanding classical oil paintinglanguage in this piece of land. They comehere to look for concepts and expression ofthe concepts. In other words, they come toencourage and support actions and conceptsthat accord with their own values. Art is simplya means of carrier. They need to encouragethe Chinese to express the non-mainstreamconsciousness in their minds, without muchattention on skills. The most important elementsare ideas and concepts, because they cometo buy ideas and concepts. Tong has drawninkwash paintings for many years, includingvery trendy contemporary inkwash works. Buthis best-selling works are oil paintings, the typeof popular ones. I proposed him to turn his oilpainting images into sculptures as they are wellreceived on the market. These very popularsculptures also sell well.A woman assistant of Tong made a marvelouscomment on this batch of oil paintings: let metouch your grey gentleness with my fingertip.How sensitive and wonderful comment! Is Tonggentle? Yes, he is a man showing a tenderheart for the fair sex. Are the women underthe painting brushes gentle? Yes, they aregood girls. They yearn for caress and touch asshown in their countenances and limbs. In hisinkwash paintings, I used to see only beautiesaround him. He would admire the beauties sonear that they did not keep away from him,take him as a lady-killer or feel his presence.They would relax in front of him, drinking wine ifthey liked, revealing breasts if asked, wrappingaround gowns, or playing with kitties. Tong felthappy with it. His happiness has seeminglygone beyond that. He has been intoxicatedwith life. The protagonists of the present batchof paintings have turned from women to men.He has projected himself upon canvases. Inthese oil paintings, the girls are no longer simplyforgetting themselves or others in front of him.They have taken the initiative to gang up withhim. Tong has his moment in it, narrowing hiseyes, laughing from ear to ear, reveling in it. Hewould wear name brand clothes, drink wines,feeling very fortunate indeed. His happinesshas become something of the collective, openoriented. In his inkwash works, the girls wereliving in a closed environment, something ofincarceration, fully indulged in themselves. Youwill see the loneliness in the characters of hisinkwash works.While their mothers have to do many mensworks, wear mens clothes, and wor klaboriously, these girls need not follow suit andwould work in a relaxed way. But they are a littlemelancholy and suffer from loneliness, a resultof absence from the masses. As they enter theoil paintings, they become a part of the masses.They would come out as a man and a woman,a man and two women, parents and children,or lover with lover. In a word, they are membersof public groups. They come out from secludedboudoirs to public areas, such as bars andKTV zones. They would embrace nature, andgo about under blue sky and over the sea.They would smile merrily among blossoms.The space is open and their minds are open. Itshows that over the past decade, the societyhas become more open in comprehendingthe issue. It does not necessarily mean thesepeople are so noble in spirits, or they cherishso great obligations and ambitions in life. Itgoes without it. They are simply flimsy freedomfrom worldly cares. On many occasions, weconflict with ourselves. From the elite point ofview, we would like to pay a tribute to heroes,forerunners, tragic characters and martyrs. Theywere the objects we used to spend a lot of timeto eulogize. However, as we question ourselvesthese days, we are wondering what are theultimate goals these forerunners and martyrsstrive for? Their ultimate goals are actually theflimsy freedom from worldly cares as pursuedby all living beings. They are to enable commonpeople to live merrily in such a state without anyanxiety, pains or annoyance. The world shallbe a harmonious land, an ocean of blossoms,where even birds rejoice with narrowed eyes.Tong once again flows with dust and lives agood life in a harmonious society.Therefore, having experienced 100 yearsof bitter, solemn and stirring days, Chinesepeople eventually live the life illustrated bypainting brushes of Tong. And that is good.Revolutionary martyrs shall smile in the netherworld. This is what we say as melting tensions.His language is also very interesting. In theprevious inkwash stage, Tong was using alanguage of intense conflicts, such as relationsbetween lines and picture planes, inkwash andhard materials, black color and blazing colors ofred, yellow and green.It illustrated that he managed to relax himself atthe stage, but failed to relax enough. He did notpaint any oil paintings previously. He suddenlypainted oil paintings in such great breadth. Hechose to use a slippery language, somethingslightly like sketches, shining as porcelains,plastics and high-grade blended spinningcloth. Such a language by itself representsthe frame of mind of Tong himself. He was inthe hope that in the process of producing thisbatch of works, he could maintain a soul asslippery as silk. When he painted these bigheadbabies, peonies and clouds, Tong feltthere should be a sense of fingering, feelingsmooth and comfortable like touching theskins of babies and maidens, or the surface ofsilk and porcelains. As you see, his lines arearc-shaped, each plane is slippery, and eachtransition between light and shade is slowwithout any conflicts or violent opposition.This partly explains why his works draw somany audiences.   Many people have access tosuch a happiness index. They have young andbeautiful wives, lovely children, and possiblyenchanting mistresses. They have luxurycars and live a life sweeter than honey. Theynaturally hope that such happiness will lastforever, and the happiness index will soar evenhigher. It is joyous to hang such paintings athome, reminding us traditional Chinese newyearpaintings and folk clay sculptures of Wuxi.Big-head babies were not initiated by Tong,as they showed up as early as in new-yearpaintings of Song Dynasty. Big-head babiesbrought about auspiciousness and festivalsto the Chinese. They are a happiness indexby themselves. When it comes to New YearsDay or other festivals, Chinese people wouldsurely paste such paintings at home. Whypeople like big-head baby paintings of Tong?For thousand of years, Chinese have seengood luck and happiness in big-head babies.We shall recognize one thing the Chinesehave always believed that big forehead givesa hint to smartness. Men of crescent eyes andcherry mouths would have some evil ideas,while women in such countenances look a bitsilly. As a traditional saying goes, woman lovesthe naughty man, and man covets seeminglyslow-witted woman. The sketch-based slippery plane drawing isapplied to manifest happiness. This technique was understood andmastered by Yangliuqing new-year painting artists at the end ofQing Dynasty. Happiness feels smooth and slippery. Watching suchpaintings, audiences expect to rest on them, because happiness impliesconsistency, evasion from competition in actual life, and relaxing bothbody and soul.It is funny to note that Tongs touch actually mirrors ceaseless changesof unconscious expressions, if we compare his drawing methods,gestures and power he applied in these methods. When he draw modernbelles, he paints delicate, slender and pale countenances and bodieswith approximately rough lines and splashes colors. He even introducessolid materials of gypsum and cement on rice paper. He has a sadisticimpulse and delight in depicting charming and languid ladies of well-offfamilies. He becomes slender in drawing pretty and coquettish villagegirls entering towns. His touches are console of palms, as if with warmtemperatures. Nowadays, as he draws grey men and women in grey orcolorful blossoms and under grey sky, he would touch your grey softnesswith my fingertips. It is imaginable that when he gently brushes thedelicately changing grey with soft brushes on linen cloths, he is imbuedwith sweet tenderness in heart. He flips fingers gently, as if playing withenamel porcelain of early Qing Dynasty.What kind of collective unconsciousness lies behind such a greytenderness? As a veteran working with all his might in this world of humandesires, Tong has become accustomed to worldly affairs where sex andemptiness are connected with each other. This grey world is essentially aworld of carnal desires! It is also a world of eternal smile of Buddha! Itmight take years for us to understand the cunning expressions of the greymen and women.As I see it, Tong differentiates with other contemporary Chinese paintersin that he has an uncommon quality to cover up his talents in this secularworld. It is such spiritual sinking in a consumption age rather than keepingto relative superiority that enables him to record and summarize, in sheerunconsciousness, the collective unconsciousness of the general public ina stage of the era. When we return to search for the expression of the era,we will notice that such collective unconsciousness is most sincere.The following is an account of my dialogue with Tong at his studioin Laiguangying, Beijing at the night of June 18, 2007. Despite wehad been friends for nearly two decades, I remained to ask manyuncalled-for questions, knowing they are meant for third-partylisteners.Wang lu xiang: Where did the inspiration for the creation of these series offigures with big head come from?Tong zhen gang: They came from depicting round fan paintings. Initially,the image was about women with exquisite neck in gorgeous costumeand accessories enjoying leisure. Afterwards, because of some unhappyissues concerning my family and my health, I painted the Red Series inorder to express painful and restless feelings. Prior to painting these bighead figures, I made some drafts and discovered that the feelings aredifferent and unequal when ladies with long or short neck. The feeling oflong neck is an ideal female form, whereas when a lady is shrinking herneck, she is monotonous, dispirited, at a loss, solitary and lack a senseof security. I created the Round Fan Series because the Art Gallery ofInternational Art Ltd. in Hong Kong invited me to publish an album andhold an exhibition. It so happened that at that time I was painting the BigHead Series, thus concentrating a period of time to create the seriesfor them. These paintings are depicted with materials and format of inkpainting; therefore, they are small creations full of literati taste, without thesense of grandness and strong visual effect. Consequently, I transformedthem to a lager size by using a new manner. Similarly, they are big headfigures, under the blue sky and white clouds; they play freely in the waterwhich is beyond the horizon. These kinds of images not only comprisestrong visual impression, but also are vivid and vigorous in modeling,which integrate with my feeling. With sunshine, blue sky, white cloud, redflower, yellow flower, and peony, the bright and colorful images are richin the feeling of playfulness. Later on, I found that the effect of paintingusing ink and color on paper is too soft. The colliding of water and papercannot produce the visual effect of inflexibility, rigidity and toughness I waslooking for. These result in the creation of my recent oil paintings. Amongthe oil paintings, there are a black and white series and a brightly coloredseries, including naughty smiling eyes, blue sky and white clouds, lakewater, red and yellow peony and someone look like bad guys. Althoughall of them have no ears and eyebrows, big head with smiling eyes looklike bad men, they actually show their unique character of opennees andsincerity. I think the Bird Series is the best to my satisfaction. This is amans state, and is also a state of life of the minority of modern people.Wang: All figures in your paintings are without ears, why?Tong: I remember when I was young,I heard a story about reading: ascholar could not concentrate on reading because of noises around him.He was very distressed.   Subsequently he destroyed his own eardrumso that he could no longer hear the noise and calmed down. As longas he could not hear, the ears became stage property, then there is nodifference whether to have ears or not. Therefore, hearing nothing is areflection of a certain kind of happiness.Wang: In that case, you can put two monkeys ears: bended and pointed,on the position of those bad mens ears. The pointed ear of monkey isthe representation of craftiness. Sometimes, ear can be an emotionalexpression.If you paint two droping ears for him, the man will appearto possess the character of Buddha, whereas if you raise his ear withpointed tip, he will have the character of monkey.Tong: I think it is not a question of ears. If I depicted pointed ears, he willbecome a pictorial explanation. The image will tell you what kind of story itis narrating. I omitted the ears in order to let viewers think, to ponder. Theart of painting is the enlightenment of the painters view, not an analyzablediagram. Sometimes, my paintings do not have any facial expression andfeatures; what I want are lines on the whole and conscious of constitution,which will produce strong tension in terms of vision and modeling.Wang: Now, we are discussing about different figures in your paintings,including your own state of happiness. Do you have an idea regardinghappiness? Is there any kind of life that is considered as happy?Tong: Happiness is an index. It sublimes unceasingly. Painting is a kind ofbliss to me, because it is an indispensable part of my life. In the courseof creation I am very happy, through my hand, my pleasure, anger, griefand happiness are expressed. The life style of human being should behappy. Certainly, one half of a person lives for oneself, the other half is forother people (I mean, only a minority of peopleare like that). As a complete artist, when he iscomposing his art works, he is entirely spiritualwithout the concept of human customs. He isdevoted to the philosophic value of analyzing theexistence of human beings in an undisguisedway. When the painter finishes his creation, hebecomes an ordinary human being, which isa mundane state. Therefore, we have to talkabout firewood, rice, oil, salt, discuss famousbrands, women, wine, and others. If one canadjust the states of being a human and a God toa bliss state, an extremely happy state, then hishappiness index will become very high. On thereverse, it will be a suffering index.Wang: We have known each other for a longtime; your life changes a lot following theachievement of your artistic career. However,I find that no matter in which condition, someof your basic things do not change at all.First is your self-confidence. Second is yourunrestrained character. It seems that they willnever be altered according to the change ofenvironment.Another point is that you alwayshave the sense of ho