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Experiencing the State of Life
——Reflections on Zeng Ling’s Oil Painting
Liu Chun
As early as the mid-1980s, the philosophical tendency of the so-called New-Wave Art in China brought about a large quantity of works in the form of surrealism. Although the nation-wide cultural reflections during the period were apparently oriented and characterized by a collective consciousness, a wealth of originality and innovation was readily there to be identified. There was especially a kind of revolution concerning the concept of art as a conveyance of meaning through imagery. At present, with an active exploration and implementation in art and language, the new concept has been widely accepted and applied in Chinese art in general.
In my opinion, the conveyance of inexplicable meanings, sensations, and other secrets and complications of the human mind is the most effective and appropriate through the art of painting. During the period of 85 New-Wave Art movement, Zeng Ling took the surreal approach to painting as her artistic pursuit. In the past two decades, among numerous contemporary artistic styles and forms, Zeng Ling has ingeniously attained her own unique expression and individuality. The vitality of life and vividness of expression have now become consistent features in Zeng Ling’s art, which would come promptly outward upon viewing.
    曾玲笔下的花卉,几乎被内部和能力漫射出来,让人感受到生命最原始  的自然气息,画面的内部又好像充斥着一种焦虑与不安。充满魔力的、性欲的、生物的却又自由的,具有物质能量的生命物与自我的自然接壤。尤其是,由具体而向意象发展的面貌更加清晰,画面结构常由一个意象开始,被描绘的植物似未进入意识层面,就沿着她的感觉流淌。在这里,生命胜于秩序,形象代替了语言。
Therefore, Zeng Ling’s flowers are not just painted on the surface of the canvas, they pose a spatial existence in it and tend to shine in all directions, both internally and externally. Nevertheless, they are by no means artificial, but natural. One would sense a primordial form of life presented there in her paintings, filled with anxiety, tension, and unrest. They are magical, sensual, biological, and more importantly uninhibited and boundless, characteristic of a natural combination of the physical energy with the artist’s personal expression. In particular, the concrete substance is perceptibly evolved into aesthetic images. The composition would be based on such an image, and the object or flower to be represented would remain its natural quality, but flow along the emotional path of her own. Here, life is superior over order and imagery replaces the language.
Zeng Ling’s flower works have also enabled us to see the dual nature of life: dazzling and dull, glorious and treacherous; sanctifying and damaging, constructing and deconstructing, hot-blooded and cold-hearted, caring and unfeeling, loving and freezing, noisily red and quietly still like a fairy land. They bring to the viewer everlasting flames of life and far-reaching thought, mysterious and unknowable. Hence, those flowers become outward appearances of the artist’s inner feelings. All of them are inexplicable occurrences generated continuously out of her personality, past experiences, bewilderment of life, etc. Importantly, those images have surpassed the sexual distinction and expressed the conflict between the expansion of life and the constraint of self. To this end, Zeng Ling has put all her inner feelings into her works. In the process of depiction and expression, the moments of life of the flowers are perfectly captured and set in frames. The vitality and sensual quality of the flowers and plants will thus perpetually make us feel refreshed and invigorated.
Maybe, my above interpretations are still way too simple. Zeng Ling has definitely provided the contemporary art scene with a kind of deeply mysterious and sophisticated images of life. Importantly, through years of perseverance and hard work, the purity and strength of her artistic language have enabled her to accomplish what she had cherished for so long. In my mind’s eye, her paintings are beyond doubt the most truthful expression of her own experience and state of life, consequently revealing the value and significance of life under the contemporary conditions.
During my flight from Singapore to Beijing, March 22, 2013
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