Author: SONG KUN 宋琨
Signed and dated: Painted in 2015
Final Price: RMB 1,600,000
2015 Asura Sukhavati: Song Kun / P70-74 / Hive Center for Contemporary Art
2021 Painting – Macro / Guangdong Museum of Art
signed and titled in Chinese, dated 2015(on the reverse)
2015 Asura Sukhavati: Song Kun, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
2020 Painting – Macro, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou
As one of the most prominent female artists, Song Kun, born in the late 1970s, has experienced the whole process of China from being closed and conservative to a country that is pluralistic and open. In this era of rapid and constant change, Song Kun has experienced first-hand the bizarre and sophisticated in the world. She creatively integrated individual experience and subculture, and then continued to express the two dimensions of society and individual through her unique paintings. In her signature series “Asura’s Pure Land”, Song Kun imitates the six samsara of Buddhism and the Western Paradise to re-create the existence of “Asura’s Pure Land”. In addition to the tranquil scenery of the pure island, there are also Asura, “Six Guardian of the Earth”, human beings lost in the dark ocean and Tiracchana animals (jellyfish, snake, octopus) and so on. In the “Pure Land”, there is not only the tranquility of heaven, but also the alienation and uneasiness of hell. Behind all living beings is the reflection on what is the ultimate for survival.
This Pure Land – Sukhavati presents an island shrouded in blue mists– “pure land” on a large scale. The paining has a crystal blue of the deep ocean and an almost symmetrical harmony as transparent and pure as the bright future in the world portrayed by science fiction. However, a closer look shows that this “tranquil and balanced” virtual “pure land” is deeply integrated with the strange real world, that is, a kind of contradictory and unified “multiple reality”.
On close inspection, the clouds, water, mountains, air, and the clear blue that stand still in time seem to exude an unsettling atmosphere. The dark crevasse in the center of the island seems to be surging with chaotic undercurrent, and rain is about to fall on the calm lake.
Through the subtle and sensitive color transition in the details of the picture, the extremely exquisite brushwork and the superb atmosphere creation, Song Kun shows us that the ultimate dreamland shore has changed. It is no longer the Oriental poetic fairyland, nor the Arcadia or paradise in the western classical context. Nor is it the merciless “Nirvana” in the Buddhist context. It is crowded with complicated reality and strange vitality. It is both the best and the worst; it is not only the pure land, but also the hell, and ultimately the mirror image of the human world; not only the past, but also the future; it is also the allegory of the present.
Therefore, the “pure land” is not so much a fiction as the artist’s most real experience and perception. In this way, Song Kun effectively responds to the current real world full of contradictions - a complex world in which nature and man, biology and machinery, virtual and reality, creation and destruction mingle and intertwine, and in which is declared a grand narrative ambition based on the individual perspective. At the same time, this split but organic unity of contradictions is also reflected in Song Kun’s choice of artistic language. The clear sketch relationship, stable modeling structure, rational and calm strokes, coordinated and unified tone and properly controlled soft strokes demonstrate the quality and interest of traditional academy art.
However, on the other hand, the underlying emotional expression and extreme individualized self-consciousness, together with the deep influence of subculture, religion and philosophy, reflect Song Kun’s attention and response to the culture of her time. Thus, the Pure Land – Sukhavati represents the artist’s deep insight into the inner desire, soul and belief of the times, and with the infinite fantasy of the anime world, it exudes an illusory yet unpredictable charming quality.
In fact, the naked (gray) tone of this painting, the segmentation dislocation of the image and the sense of alienation between them are metaphors of this mechanical and alienated world. For Song Kun, painting is the bearing of reality and the outlet of spirit. Therefore, her practice has never been separated from the self reference mechanism of painting.