Floating Images

by Stone

Numerous wise philosophers are concerned about the present time in which the material world demonstrates a super-authentic quality and flaunting adjacent distances with narcissism from which the perspective for the poetry of vision and soul is nowhere to be found.

However, Gulistan presents an abstract world transcending secular life and explores a space of cruising vision and expecting soul with the images in her paintings. Such images, which cannot be achieved with mechanical methods, are like floating above one’s soul.

In her works, there is no shock of “cruel youth” or strategy of “videoed existence”. Not self-expressionist like slogans and unrelated to bitter wandering or self-exile, her painted works are filled with faint colors, vague images, gleaming lines and unconscious or occasional traces, which are separated from the hilarious reality and naked ideas with a big gap, being as if an old memory is flashing in one’s mind.

No matter how old she becomes, perhaps there will always be a nook in her heart for the moment when she entered dance school as a child. Outside the window the sun is shining in her hometown Sinkiang, with notes flowing in the air and a giant piano arrogantly occupying a corner. In the training room, she practices stretching, further and further day after day as if floating above water.

Such experience in her childhood constructed the imagery of Gulistan’s spiritual homestead, which embraces the objects of nature, poetry, love and meditation. Such a spiritual homestead becomes the spiritual mother of themes which, later on, she encounters or intentionally catches on the blank canvas from time to time. Each of her works is produced with “the impulse to seek her homestead by such nostalgia”. Free stretching was replaced by the oil painting brush: with the brush, she is tentatively exploring a world of mystery, hoping to meet divinities to find solace for a fragile soul.

Therefore, Gulistan is infatuated with the sensory world and beauty, pondering on her growing of song, dance and music and missing and cherishing the memory of the primitive state of body and mind. However, Gulistan feels a tension from the imbalanced living space in the metropolis, where excess pursuit of wealth and speed are prevalent. A tensile force is created by the contradiction between spiritual needs and physical reality. Instead of propelling her passively to cancel her “present” position to merely call on the memory of the transient and finite past, the tension serves as an activator for blending her “memory” and current experience of existence and make them flourish.

In the series of Where Are We Going, Gulistan calls on the dancing shoes from her memory. The pompous style and decoration of the shoes seem to originate from the Western European singing and dancing opera which she used to watch and still fancies. The image of the dancing shoes not only arouses the poetry of the line “In festivals, brown-colored women are walking on the splendid ground…” but also poses the classical questions: “Who are we?” “Where are we from?” “Where are we going?”. Such cultural reflections, which also belong to the global age of consumption, imply Gulistan’s anxiety for the vagrancy of culture. Mottled texture of paintings, traces of unrepeatable encounters, spots and lines like letters, are all her personal possessions. Generated from the bottom of her heart, the symbols, like notes, constitute her unique language system. Different from the stand of aestheticism that art and life absolutely conflict with each other, Gulistan manages to avoid being hurt by the captivating illusionary scenes and “rhymes” blemished by malicious intention with her elegant narrative rhetoric, meanwhile keeping a secret passage for the soul pervading anywhere.

The Essence of Memory, Contemplating the Middle Ages and About Time are Gulistan’s important painting series. These serially published paper works, emerging in the electronic world where hand-written letters have passed on, are a delicate metaphor by themselves. The presence of paper brings a sense of mystery: with creased paper or paper books of plural forms in hand, one feels the void in the gloom light. In the Contemplating the Middle Ages series, there is also an illusion of a Gothic church and the vague creased gowns of monks. The revelation and meaning are similar to that of a religion, which she indicates is like a myth in dreams and illusions. It is not difficult to trace these pages and the sculpting and rhyme of hands back to the works of masters in the earlier Renaissance such as Giotto and Francesco. In terms of the origin of the drawing style “vagueness and reality mutually exist, traceless lines make marvelous spots”, it can be found in the Chinese traditional art. The series Nuwa’s Dress and The Latest Works are filled with fascinating images such as clubs on broken branches, blue-flowered porcelains, paintings of legislators with traditional themes, folk vessels, murals and myths in regions such as Sinkiang and Dunhuang. These numerous and complicated images are merely the encounters in her unfettered spiritual travel. Only when they are understood with the elegance of her deeply rooted culture considered, can these images become so sensitive and charming.

Just like her mixed bloodline of Uyghur and Han nationalities, the bloodline of the images in Gulistan’s painted works are mingled, with each image being freely applied. Gulistan travels among symbols of different cultures. Just like playing a game, she apprehends and juxtaposes these symbols at will. The personal taste faintly revealed in her works illustrates her exclaiming curiosity and innocence about the world. She is intoxicated with the soundless dance on the canvas, modest and low-profile. The floating images are but a hint, “…moreover, since the ancient times, the languages of the gods have been hints”.

Translated by Gao Liqun

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