“There was a pond of yore,
Of silence and of peace,
Amis the froth a leap rang of its spark,
Of water and of life.”
By Anqi Zhang
Translated by Yijie Zhang
Derived under the pens of ancient Japanese writer Matsuo Basho, the title of this exhibition is a sheer portray of one of the most acclaimed scenes of his poem “Old Pond,” in which a lost frog, amid the silence and loneliness of a forlorn pond, leaped with faith over doubts, dashing that one echo of the splash. It was not the leap that marveled the writer; it was the silence that rendered it marvelous. In many ways, arts are the same, for it is not the mere strokes or brushes that adorned a masterpiece; it was also the very surroundings and the souls of the painter that gift it the true meaning behind. Standing before such a crossroad, lost, drowned, as the pandemic escalated everything to its pinnacle, the newest generation of artists have found themselves strangled in the stereotypes of this society and the myriads of art styles. It is just like the lines from Yiduo Wen’s poem, “This is a ditch of depressing dead water, where no winds can blow half a ripple.” In such chaos, in such demise, the isolation from the physical world has made us more sensitive than ever. We watched; we perceived, without emotions, without beliefs, without the audacity to resist or to judge, without thinking, and without dreams. We jumped just like that frog, into a world that was crumbling right beneath our inactions, without questions, and without doubts.
Struggling between rejections and replying, we were forced to scramble in the net of technologies, yet without giving up the infinite possibilities brought by this combination of virtuality and reality. Unruffled by the indelible media or the hinged prejudices in arts, we sought to change the vulgar narrative of a fixed ending. We remove, recultivate, rejuvenate, and re-surpass ourselves, using the ever-changing views to accept and achieve, breaking all that had been thought of as banal and dull, just like what Jean-Paul Sartre had said, “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us. We are our choices. So, create!” When the past experience became blemished by this ravaging scourge; when the unknowns re-gifted us the wings of freedom, we marched and howled and created, unshakeable and unstoppable, fighting amid the secrets of none, echoing every voice in this chamber of reality.