Art is His Life
――Random Thoughts on Fu Xinmin’s Contemporary Sculptures
Sun Zhenhua (Dean of Shenzhen Sculpture Academy, PhD)
In the artworks exhibition room and studio of Xiamen sculptor Fu Xinmin, his contemporary sculptures and his state of working gave me a great shock. His zest for art creation and the rich accumulation of art materials and creation ideas keep him always in a state of “on the way” in sculpture creation. His sincerity and piety for art and the diversity and prolificacy of his works all make him a unique artist in China’s contemporary sculptor circle.
Especially after I got to know Fu Xinmin’s art experience and background of his creation, I am more interested in exploring the answers to these questions: What is the significance of art to our personal life in such a transitional period of China’s society? Is there still any room for the development of artists’ manual handwork in such an age of full of information, images, clone and mechanical duplication? In the noisy uproar that “art is dead”, market is everything, what is the reason for artist to hold his ground and stick to his artistic pursuit and personal value?
Some artists’ creation may be directed to the history of art and solving the problems in art history, while for artists like Fu Xinmin, I feel that their art creation is more about exploring the significance of people’s life in the modern society. Their enthusiasm and perseverance for art express a sort of life attitude. Art has become a lifestyle for them. They place their ideals and beliefs in art. In such a spiritual deficient age, they use art as a way to keep a ceaseless dialogue with the world, and in such a process, their art enrich their thoughts and enhance their capabilities of imagination and creation. For the society, the significance of their art creation is they fully show the diversity and possibilities of people’s lives. And their work provides some spiritual topics, an activation of thoughts and optional life wisdom in such a daily materializing society.
Fu Xinmin is very sensitive to materials. He has the ability to turn waste material into something miraculous. He can discover the beauty in the daily ordinary things which people usually get accustomed to or turn a blind eye to, and transform them into art.
His years of root carving experience trained him to possess a great command of the natures of different materials. He always applies the materials with high proficiency, which is attributable to his long-term contact with natural materials. He has fully understood the texture, nature and expressive force of different materials. The materials he has collected all the way from the past have become a big fortune for him at present and in the future.
Wooden material has an indissoluble bond with Chinese culture. Especially in the spatial art. History of several thousand years of Chinese nation has formed the unique aesthetic experience to the wooden material. There is a profound cultural accumulation in Chinese people’s understanding of the relationship of craftsmanship and nature, form and spirit, skillfulness and clumsiness in wooden material. Therefore, although Fu Xinmin’s contemporary sculptures have taken in the concept and method of western contemporary sculptures creation, the Chinese culture root in his works is still so strong and distinct.
What is more important is he is not only an artist who is good at dealing with materials but also an artist whose works have rich philosophy, which comes from the nature, the observation of life, and the ancient Oriental wisdom. The states such as conflict, comparison, inserting, parataxis, mutual complementing, conformance and harmony in his art works are the embodiments of artist’s thoughts implied. The sculptor residing in France, philosopher and poet Xiong Bingming once remarked, “There is a kind of spiritual legacy which is not available from the books. It can only be passed down by a fresh person, a living personality, a real life experience, which is the so-called ‘passing heart by heart’ in Zen Buddhism.” This is just what Fu Xinmin is doing. He learns from life, from the tradition, from the West, taking in the strengths of all and forms his own contemporary sculpture art style.
To create in life, to live in creation, this is the art life of Fu Xinmin.